Designing the Life You Love

December 10, 2018

Over the past few months, I have been obsessed over the idea of designing my life. A cross between architectural studies, sociological innovation, and self-awareness, designing the life you love means completely ridding yourself of anything you don’t love, and intentionally adding in each thing you do. It’s a minimalist life. Self Design is quite literally constructing your life as if it was the most important, most crucially determining factor of your human existence. Because, oh wait, it is. 

To me, designing the life you love is a radical approach to self-love. Having the strength to reevaluate your entire being is not an easy task and requires coming face-to-face with many of our greatest fears. However, when executed correctly, self-design has the power to transform our lives into masterpieces we are happy to live out each and every day.

“Your life is your design. Make it resemble you, reflect you, and be close to your heart” - Ayse Birsel

Contrasted directly with passively going through the motions of our lives, self-design requires actively removing any external forces from the steering wheel of your life and taking full pilot mode on this plane ride of a journey. As I practiced self-design throughout the past few months, I came to realize there are four necessary steps in achieving the design that aligns most with our truest inner beings. The biggest red flag in your life that would signify a need for restructuring is lack of true peace so, if you find yourself restless with your current circumstances, take a deep breath, back up, and 
repeat these four steps:

Get Clear on Your Goals. 

THIS. LIFE. IS. YOURS. Seriously. In this stage, I request you to put on your most favorite sweatpants and sweatshirt, find a comfortable, calm place to lean back, close your eyes, and literally just brainstorm your ideal life. Where are you living? What meals are you eating? How is your free time spent? What does your job look like? I urge you to not think inside the box, not just think outside the box, but try to reinvent the box itself. Create a job even if it doesn’t EXIST YET because chances are, if you put your mind to it, you can create that job for yourself. 

Evaluate.

Aerial city shot.

Similar to any architectural plan, the second step in the design process is embodying a truly objective, birds-eye look at every aspect of your life. It’s getting on the balcony and observing the scenes of your daily life play out free of any internal bias. Do you like what you see? How does this view compare with the ideal floor plan you created in Step 1? BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. Any disparities between step 1 and step 2 should be fully analyzed. Determine if this difference could be resulting in an internal struggle and, if it is, it’s time to...

Make Moves.

Before we can take the driver's seat, it is necessary to realize that the seat is yours for the taking. Over the past few months, I have quit three jobs, moved to a new city, transferred schools, chosen a new major, created my own job, and once again found inner peace. Humans are designed based on the principle of “Fight or Flight.” Our ancestors were taught to run from anything that is a threat to our survival, our well-being, and our peace—so why should we do any different? Designing life requires a shift in perspective from taking each moment as it comes, to quite literally reaching for the next moment before it arrives. It’s positioning yourself in the right places at the right times with the intention of a specific outcome. As American Novelist Alice Walker once said,  

“Look closely at the present you are constructing; it should look like the future you are dreaming.”  

To me, the key to ensuring inner harmony is aligning what you want with what you are doing, and the rest will follow.

Stay True to Yourself & Make Mistakes.

It is important to note that the biggest lessons learned do not come from our most impressive successes, but rather our grandest failures. 

“Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.” 

In life, the biggest mistakes we made we obviously thought were good ideas at one point. I use my example of choosing a major for this. Obviously, at one point, I thought that environmental engineering, finance, and actuarial science were all things that I felt passionate about—and it wasn't until after going through the classes and experiencing first hand that these things were not for me that I got closer and closer to the things that did inspire me. It is through our mistakes that we gain clarity. But we must take the time to reflect, acknowledge these choices are not bringing us inner peace, and allow ourselves to start over.