Over the past 12 months of living a year designed just prior to my 30th birthday, I got to fully experience an extended lifestyle project (called Chapter 30 – consisting of 465 challenges for the year) comprised of two of my life’s philosophies:
1) Creating a life by design and
2) Punctuating time.
(Photo taken in Sun City, South Africa, 2013 EH)
See below some tips and lessons I learned that you could take for yourself as you look ahead to all that 2015 can be for you.
Creating a life by design – the basics
So one thing I’ve integrated into workshops and coaching sessions over the past couple of years (and as well have made my personal mantra) is to create a life by design. Here is the quick and dirty breakdown:
-Think of yourself as the creator of your life, not just someone who is surviving the world and taking life as it comes (and consider this perspective in a light and creative sense and not with gravity or guilt)
-Think of your life as a fun project you get to do or an experiment you get to test out (keep it light, fun, exploratory)
–Take ownership over your life and don’t let circumstance pull you in every other direction than that which you desire
-Feel a sense of scheming and excitement about your life (“Yeah! I get to choose what I want for myself”….and go ahead and make it happen)
-Think of everything you want in your life in terms of some type of action toward the ultimate goal (it’s so reaffirming and empowering to think of what you want and break it down into things you can actually do today or this week that start you on the journey toward your goal)
–Be okay with the act of planning being part of your life. Planning or thinking about things ahead of time doesn’t need to feel rigid or boring – in fact it can help keep a strong mental direction to what you want so when spontaneous opportunities arise, you will be primed and ready (and be clear you want to say “yes”).
What does it mean to “punctuate time”?
Punctuating time is an idea that I use to keep my life fun and full of rich experiences. So we all have routines, commitments, habits and other activities of daily life. Punctuating time is what happens when we insert something above and beyond the norm in our lives. It can be things like travel, social gatherings, classes, hobbies, etc. It can also be as simple as moments of chatting with a stranger on the subway, making a small effort to do an act of kindness or doing something typically routine in a slightly different way. The activity or experience punctuates time because it is memorable, different, enlivening, scary, life-changing or makes you vulnerable, connected to others, joyous, delighted or perplexed. I like to consciously add these things to my life so when I look back at a period of time, I have little milestones and experiences to remember. It’s a way of purposefully enriching my life experience and story.
What worked this past year of creating a year by design?
-Ensuring that all aspects of my life that matter to me had a goal/challenge attached to it (learning, travel/exploring, being connected to other people, making a contribution, eating/cooking, health, etc.)
-Setting a timeline (1 year) and then taking time each week and each month to plan (breaking the larger goal into smaller actions)
-Having accountability buddies through friends as well as a weekly meeting via skype with other people taking on life (Team Awesome). From encouragement to brainstorming, this tool kept the wheels turning even when life was busy, when I thought I was ready for a break, or [insert other excuses here]. They had my back. Also, reporting out on all of my goals through the blog and other social media definitely held my feet to the fire. I wanted to have good things to report to my community (and my gosh, the feedback really kept my energy up).
-Making goals that were firm enough that I new how to approach them but flexible enough that I could re-jig if I found a close substitute that incited inspiration.
Tips for creating a year that excites you:
–Start by thinking freely about what inspires you, what brings you joy, what feels “right” for you, what aligns with your purpose(s)
–Give yourself a break from conversations with yourself that start with “I should….”, “I really need to do ….already”, etc. Bracket those for now and try starting with a blank canvas – what would you add?
–Think about all aspects of your life so you can consider goals in any/all areas of your diverse self: family, romance, career, learning, financial, health, spiritual, social, leisure, etc.
–Move all of your goals/visions/ideas into action language. Basically break larger goals down into actions starting with the next actionable step (which could be as simple as doing some online research, calling a friend who may want to join you for that 5km run, cleaning out your cupboards, adding a link to a 5 minute youtube meditation video to your calendar each morning, etc).
–Put everything into space and time. This means use any existing system you have (paper day book, digital calendar, phone reminders, etc) and place the action steps into your calendar so they take shape in your future life.
–Review your goals. I always liked taking a personal tea time on a Sunday morning to look through my goals. During this time I would move forward anything that was scheduled but didn’t get done, I’d rework anything that just wasn’t working and I’d plan for the week ahead (so I’d email friends, look online for yoga classes being held that week, check discount sites for tickets I wanted to purchase, etc.).
–Get an accountability buddy and agree on how and when you will check in with each other. You could use skype, text each other, have a shared online spreadsheet, create a facebook group, meet for coffee each week to gab and review. Getting your community involved will expand what you’re doing far beyond your own amazing capacities.
–Set yourself rewards along the way so you can reinforce your awesome follow-though and celebrate your accomplishments. This can be something social (an outing, event, meal), something rejuvenating (like a spa day), something you buy yourself, etc.
-Leave space for your own humanity and don’t get bogged down when you’re not there yet or you have deviated for a short time. You are not a failure and you are totally deserving of prioritizing the things you want once again. Ask yourself, what can I add that would make a difference? When asking this question you might realize that fun is lacking so perhaps instead of a rigorous exercise boot camp, dance class is a better choice for you right now. Don’t be too rigid, but definitely accept you can do it even if you haven’t been able to do it yet!
I love, love, love working/playing with people on trying out ‘a life by design’ for themselves, so definitely comment below or email me.