3 Questions To Design The Life Of Your Dreams
A few years ago someone asked me what I thought about all of the Connor McGregor hype.
This was at the height of his fighting and personal brand success when he catapulted to global fame. Right after he won the double belt for the first time in the UFC.
And I said, “It’s been crazy fun to watch, but I just really hope he doesn’t have a fall from grace and can just truly keep going like a great martial artist.”
Yet, Connor McGregor did indeed have a huge collapse. If you want the details feel free to look it up, but the point is, he’s messed up many times.
This happens time and time again to people when they reach what they think is the mountain top of their goal. But, if we decided that learning was the goal itself, rather than some peak, in theory, these major collapses would not happen.
Just Keep Learning
Speaking of martial arts, Kano Jigaro, the founder of Judo insisted on being buried in his white, beginner belt, instead of his black, expert belt. This highlighted his lifelong pursuit of learning and humility.
When it comes to the art of life we are all perpetual learners. We should always maintain a beginner mindset, regardless of our expertise or accomplishments.
And this is most important when it comes to learning about our own lives.
No more distracting ourselves with social media, entertainment, chores and responsibilities. No more ignoring, or putting off our ambitions, it’s time to learn about our ambitions and design life around going for them.
Personal Life Design
Our past and future can be major distractions. Worrying about things that happened, or could happen is a major source of shame, guilt, and stress.
But, learning about ourselves through self-examination can have a very positive impact as well. If we learn about ourselves in a healthy way we can access those scary, big dreams stirring inside us. Feelings of “I was meant to do more” can be negative, or extremely positive.
Either way, it call comes down to buying into the concept of personal life design. Becoming a deliberate creator of our lives, as opposed to wandering around like zombies.
I’ll talk about the three main questions that help us figure out what we want in a minute. But I want to point out two important things about life design overall.
One, this self-examination is not something to put off. It’s not like, “I’ll start my exercise routine on Monday. This is something that should start right now.
And the other thing is, to make self-examination a lifestyle. We should all have a regular practice of uninterrupted reflection on where we are, where we wanna head, and what we are going to do about it.
Actually, a third thing. Sorry. The concept of Just Keep Learning is really valuable here too. Self-examination is a lifelong pursuit. We are always searching, trying, and discovering new things about our ambitions.
Our Ambitions Change
I was playing golf the other day and I played great. It brought back memories from when I spent every day trying to get better at the game. I was obsessed.
I had a friend training to play on a pro tour and spent as much time as possible trying to follow the same practice plans that he followed.
Working so hard to improve was always exciting. At that time.
I don’t really play that much anymore and I certainly don’t practice. If I’m obsessed about putting in the reps right now, it’s with podcasting. That is where the far majority of my skill-building energy is placed. Right now.
In the past, I was focused in the same way with hockey, football, wakeboarding, writing, teaching, fitness, and probably a bunch more things.
If we think all the way back to our earliest memories, I’m sure we have all had some ambitions come and go. And that’s O.K.
Know Your Ambitions At Any Given Moment
I used to waste energy being disappointed that I spent so much time on activities that I didn’t end up continuing to pursue.
Sunk costs were not something I was good at moving on from.
I felt guilty.
Thinking about the money spent on equipment, resources, or coaching I would feel like a failure.
But mostly I felt upset by wasting my most precious resource, my time.
I realize now that all of that negative energy was misguided. Being multi-passionate, trying different things, and enjoying learning at that exact moment is the actual valuable thing. Not what comes of it down the road.
So, it’s actually really important that each of us re-evaluate often.
At any given moment, who are we, where are we, and what do we want?
In this way, we make sure we are always, throughout our entire life, pursuing the things that are in alignment with our current ambitions and values.
Do You Know Who You Are?
Before my brothers died I had a few powerful conversations with them. One thing that stood out was how similarly they both knew what they would love their identity to be. In one case, filmmaker and in the other case, gamer.
It breaks my heart to think that they hardly took any steps toward those ambitions.
But why not?
That is the interesting question that I feel could really help me, help others, even if I can’t help them anymore.
And it starts with understanding first, who you are?
Are you a people pleaser? Or do you not give a shit what anyone thinks of you? Do you wait around until friends, family, or your boss tell you what to do? Or do you decide for yourself how you’ll spend your time? Do you spend your time achieving other people’s expectations, or your own?
Most of us get lost in the demands of school, family, and work. Our identity gets buried beneath chores, assignments, and helping people. Sadly, it’s rare that we take the time time, and space to figure out who we really are.
Who Are You?
So, who are you? Do you know?
To double-check that you aren’t settling in life, take some, undistracted, uninterrupted reflection time. This must be at least twenty minutes and should not include any other tasks, people, or entertainment.
Great examples are taking walking in a forest, sitting in a sauna, or lying in the park.
Ask yourself, if you go beyond the distractions, are you living your true life? Is your calendar filled with the things that you desire, or is it filled up by others?
Are you living life based on routine, convenience, and what is readily available? Or are you focused on creating the life that defines who you truly want to be?
Are You Living Your Life?
A couple of creators that I’ve had the pleasure of learning from in the online space create a lot of their content on the topic of life design.
Trav Bell is known as the bucket list guy. His brand is built on the 12 steps to help you achieve all of the things you would like to do before you die.
Jesse Itzler created a brand, called BYLR, build your life resume. The goal of this company is to help people live the life of their dreams. Instead of a traditional resume, you build habits to add things that are tied to your own personal ambitions.
I look up to Trav and Jesse because I have a very similar goal. It may not be as well organized yet, but I want to help as many of you create the life of your dreams too. And no matter what system we use to accomplish this, knowing where we currently are is a big step.
Do You Know Where You Are?
Think of entering a massive mall for the first time. You don’t know the layout at all. And you don’t know where any of the stores are.
What’s the first thing that would help? A map.
Whether it’s a physical one in the mall, or you pull out your phone, you’re going to take a look at a map. That is if you are to avoid wandering aimlessly. You’ll look for that star that says “You are here”.
Life is very similar.
We want to create a map, but it’s not about geography. It is about defining new directions. And this starts with that little star that says “You are here”.
Where Are You?
Think of this like playing a video game for the first time where it’s just loading the first level. Or as a starting line that you’re waiting at.
We want to define our beginning, our baseline. Be completely, brutally honest with yourself.
You can come up with your own questions, or just randomly reflect on where you are. But here are some examples of what we could ask.
1. Are you satisfied with your current career or job? Does it align with your passions and values, or does it drain your energy and enthusiasm? Are you living in alignment with your values and principles? Do your actions and choices reflect who you truly are and what you believe in, or do you often compromise your values for the sake of others?
2. Do you have a clear sense of purpose and direction in life? Are you actively pursuing your goals and dreams, or do you feel stuck or unsure about what you want?
3. Are your relationships fulfilling and nurturing? Do you surround yourself with people who support and uplift you, or do you find yourself in toxic or draining relationships?
4. Are you prioritizing self-care and personal well-being? Are you taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health, or are you neglecting these areas in favor of other obligations?
What Do You Want?
This is one of those things that are super simple, but not easy. What do you want?
We want to replace the things that we have settled for with what we actually want.
What things light you up so much that you could do them all the time? Achieving these things take a while, but the most important part is working on them anyways.
When it comes to figuring out what we want it can help to learn from others. We can learn from our jealousy. What do we see others doing that we might also desire? Or more formally we can learn from mentors and heroes that give us some guidance.
But, we need to be cautious with tapping into others. We need to keep our eyes on our own prize. To figure out what we long for we can not ask anyone else.
We need to write our own, unique field manual. In the military, a field manual presents the fundamental principles, tactics, and guidance for conducting operations.
Once we know what we want, we need to be the creators of our own field manual. It will be entirely our own, like no one else’s.
Build A Reflection System
The world is a busy place these days. And even if we start designing our life, there are so many distractions that could put us right back in a rut.
So, like any great habit, it’s important we build a quick system to do this. When will you self-reflect, and for how long? The answer here is not important. The only thing that matters is that we do it.
I would say we benefit most from not too much and not too little. So a few times per year, or as much as once per month would be reasonable.
The goal, and remember it’s a lifelong one, is to become as much of a mental minimalist as possible. We want to declutter our mind. This way our energy can be spent on things that we want to do and are in alignment with the thing we really want to achieve.
Everything else is a distraction.
Marie Kondo explains minimalism greatly as it relates to our physical possessions. And we can borrow some great ideas from her work to apply to our life design as well.
- The first step is to imagine your ideal lifestyle and discard what doesn’t belong.
- Commit to a permanent system of tidying our minds, rather than a quick fix, or once-in-a-while thing.
- Make big decisions first, and then work your way to the tiniest impacts.
- When adding, or taking something away, the decision should be based on how much joy it brings us.
Thanks for reading. Your pal,