Your Self By Your Own Design
I am a work in progress.
I can’t help but stop for a moment on my Facebook Timeline each time I see someone post the “How have you aged?” challenge. If you are not familiar with the latest post-craze, allow me to explain. People are posting their profile pics pictures from 10 or so years ago, and then their recent profile pics to see how they have aged.
I would love to see something a little bit deeper than just how you look different. After all, I don’t know if it’s just my friends, but I sure think that everyone looks better NOW than 10 years ago! JI want to know how your life is different. How do you feel differently? What have you done to design the life you live now! Is it by default? Have you made serious progress? Have you set out to make changes on purpose?
Ten years ago, I was in a completely different stage of my life. I boasted on my Facebook statuses about how hungover I was – almost a gauge of how fun the previous night was. I rarely went 3 days without going ALL OUT with my friends – whether it be a Denver Nuggets game, a Colorado Rapids game, a Red Rocks concert, or just bar-hopping downtown Denver – everything was a party!
There was another side to me as well. I thought the only thing that mattered professionally was high up the corporate ladder I could climb. And so I climbed…and climbed…and climbed…
But somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to be someone different. I wanted to be someone who could tap into my creative side. I wanted to be in charge of my own life. I wanted the ability to go for a run in the middle of the day if I wanted to. I think in one word, I wanted FREEDOM!
…and so it began…I started to design my life. Hey, it hasn’t been easy. I made a ton of sacrifices (and still am today) to have the life I want. I have had incredible support along the way, but it has not been the easy road that everyone wants you to think it is. I have been broke, I have been financially free, I have been scared, I have been high on life, I have been in a unhealthy relationship, and I have found love – all in the same journey.
But I remember someone asking me what my perfect day looked like. I said “taking a walk on the beach whenever I wanted and no alarm clocks.” It was funny at the time. Funny because it seemed so unachievable.
However, that is exactly what I set out to do, and that is exactly how I designed my life. Now, I get beach walks (or runs) whenever I want them, and you guessed it…NO ALARM CLOCKS!
So what does your perfect day look like? How do you want to design your life? What will your 10 year “Design My Life Challenge” look like for you?
Self-Design offers us a unique opportunity to care for and make ourselves a priority. This feeling of being lost can be driven by some factors ranging from not working in the “right” career to making the wrong choice to living in a particular town or state.
Every day, we make decisions that we think will align with what is we want to do, who it is we want to be, or where it is we want to go only to find that we may not be living the life we were meant to live or being the real self that we are supposed to be.
Studies show that in 2017, only 50 percent of Americans were satisfied with their job. Although these levels are the highest they have been since 2005, the reality is that there is still a significant number of adults out there who are not happy with what it is they do.
These statistics only shed a small bit of light on the story. Although half of those surveyed were satisfied with the job they do, there’s another half of the American population who is not so happy for a variety of reasons.
Dave Evans and Bill Burnett of Stanford University suggests that for each of us to own our design, we must first do a little work to understand if we are where it is we are supposed to be.
Knowing your self by design requires having a self-awareness of who you are and creating a design based on multiple ideas about who it is you want to be and what it is you want to do on a professional and personal level. To be self-aware means to have a clear perception of your personality, your strengths, your motivations and a keen perception of how others view you.
Willingness to Test Your Theories about Who You Think You Are and Who You Want to Be
We all walk around with an idea of who it is we want to be and the things we want to do, but some of us are not so good at acting on those thoughts. Owning your design requires you to take a chance and test your theories about what your passions are and those “if..then” statements.
For example, if I open my own physician practice, I will be far happier than working shifts in a hospital. If I start that coffee house business I have been dreaming about for the last ten years, it will be far better than working for someone else.
Designing yourself requires you to take action to validate our perceptions about one’s self.
Envision Three Scenarios for your Future
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans suggest that you should consider three ideas for your life before taking the plunge. This action is particularly important if you have several ideas of what it is you want to do. First, you should take action to redesign some part of your life, whether personal or professional, that allows you to experience the things you enjoy most. This action will enable you to determine if your self-assessment is accurate or if you are moving down the wrong path.
Determine Your Alternate Life
Imagine what you would do if your current life or job went away and you could no longer work in the role you have been in for years. Is there a different job you would perform? Think of this as your “ultimate job.” What is the thing you would do that is in place of this?
This final approach is perhaps your most accurate life design. What would you do if you did not have any financial worries? Imagine a world where you did not have to worry about the rent, mortgage, car loan, or grocery bill each month. You have all of the money in the world. Now what? What is it that you would do to achieve fulfillment.
Each of these steps in the Designing Your Life approach will help you to establish your life by your own design and not someone else’s.
I will ask you the same thing someone asked me, “What does your perfect day look like?” Go…do that…start designing now!