The trick is to enjoy life. Stop waiting for things to happen.
Why wish away your days waiting for better ones ahead?
Do the crazy thing. Get out there and make them happen!
~ Maya Mendoza
I’m sure you have plenty of dreams for your life. They might bubble away at the back of your mind. They might loom in your thoughts all day. They might even keep you awake at night. Dreams can be powerful, encouraging and even a bit scary. But a dream alone isn’t going to get you far in life. What you need is a well thought out plan that inspires and re-designs your life.
If that sounds too boring, or laborious think of it this way: if you want to actually live your dream, a Lifestyle Design plan is the map that gets you there.
So what is Lifestyle Design?
The idea behind Lifestyle Design is to create a lifestyle where day-by-day you get to do more of what you really want to do, and much less of what you don’t want to do.
In a practical sense it is about:
- making the choice to live the life you truly want
- taking control of your life now
- eliminating compromises as far as is possible
- investing your time, money and energy in getting what you want
- planning and taking action to achieve your best life
Here are five clear steps for turning that vague lifestyle dream you ponder on into a concrete and achievable Lifestyle Design plan:
Step 1: Write Down Your Dream
How many of your dreams have you actually written down? Perhaps the idea of committing your dreams to writing is a little scary. It is quite normal for people to resist planning. After all, the action of putting something into black and white is the beginning of a commitment and that can be unnerving.
Writing things down is evidence that you are taking your dreams seriously and that getting ready to make desirable and positive changes in the way you live.
The benefits of putting your plans onto paper are that you get to test them. It is a pre-planning stage where you can begin to walk yourself through your vision and get more familiar with the pros, cons and challenges.
This is a very powerful method for grounding your vision and it’s an essential step for achieving your Lifestyle Design goals.
Step 2: Brainstorm you Lifestyle Design Plan Possibilities
Whatever your dream, the more you brainstorm it that more you will discover that there is more than one way to achieve it. For instance, if you want to make lots of money, you could:
- Change your career to something more lucrative
- Work better in your current job to get a promotion
- Go back to college and study for a degree
- Start up your own business as an on-line entrepreneur
- Save up money and put it into a high-interest account
- Marry someone rich
- Buy a winning lottery ticket
Some ideas will be ones you have never considered before, others will seem absurd or too risky. Then where will be some that feel down-to-earth and easier to manage.
The important thing is not to dismiss any of your ideas too early on. Brainstorming is meant to open up possibilities and lead you in unexpected directions and conclusions, so throw caution to the wind for a few minutes and let your imagination run wild.
Step 3: Pick One Clear Lifestyle Design Goal
Once you’ve figured out some possibilities, come up with one clear goal. You might decide, for instance, that your overall Lifestyle Design goal is to change to a particular career which will give you an additional $80,000/year paycheck.
Look for a goal which is somewhat challenging, but also achievable. You also need to get excited when you think about achieving it.
There’s no point in picking a Lifestyle goal you are half-hearted about or one you really do not believe you are able to achieve. That is a recipe for failure and you will either end up back in a rut or on the hamster wheel living out your thwarted ambitions in a world of daydreams.
There is no point in constantly thinking about a better future without taking purposeful action towards getting there.
Step 4: Give your Lifestyle Design plan a clear timeframe
Stepping into new territory will always feel uncertain and scary so be willing to accept a few bad days where you have to overcome the discomfort of change and challenge once in a while.
That being said, it is often much easier to fire up a plan when you’re working on a timeline. You might want to tie the timeline to a specific event in your life – say for instance your 40th birthday or Christmas 2015.
With the example of changing career, you might decide that three years feels about right. Again, you want to be realistic here – anything is achievable when you take considered and consistent action.
If you’ve got a really big life changing goal, it makes sense to break it up into a number of mini-goals. Then you can celebrate your progress and use that sense of achievement as a launch pad to propel you towards the next phase of your plan.
As your progress towards your final goal, remember to give yourself a number of shorter deadlines over a period of two – five years. Smaller goals that you can achieve within a year will be far more motivating than chasing a single BIG deadline.
Step 5: Make a map of how to get there.
OK, now you are getting onto the Lifestyle Design plan itself. This is where you really get to dig into the nitty-gritty and start turning that dream into something real.
With big Lifestyle Design goals, it’s often helpful to imagine yourself in the future living your dream and then work backwards from that point to figure out how you achieve it. It is helpful to imagine asking your future self some questions about what you did to get there. Using the example of changing career you would ask:
- What are the skill requirements of your new career – what it a typical day?
- How did you build up your knowledge and skills – did you take night classes for instance?
- What pre-requisites, challenges and hurdles did you have to face and overcome – how did you do that?
- What habits did you have to let go of and what new habits have you taken on.
- What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
Focusing on the details backwards like this, you will be able to get a clear idea of what steps you will need to take to achieve your goal.
Let’s say you realise you need some seed capital and want to “save $50/week for six months”. What specific actions will get you to that result? What spending behaviour would you need to change? What saving behaviour will you need to start?
If you have any steps which you don’t know how to complete, break them down into smaller steps. Figure out exactly what you need to do to achieve dream – and then you will have a personalised Lifestyle Design plan that will really change your life.
What about you?
Do you have a great tip or story that will help or motivate others who want to break free and follow their dreams? What works for you might help someone else.
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