If I mention the word design, you may initially think of a hipster, fashion runway, web graphics, or even a specific kind of art. Design is everywhere and it’s an important part of life. Design is not only about how things look, but also about how we put them together, how we innovate, what’s the overall experience and what kind of a feeling it evokes. Design is about harmony.
In this blog post, I want to talk about a special kind of design. I want to talk about a design where you are the lead designer, even if design is something completely alien to you or you never considered yourself to be a designer. But you are. You are the designer of your own life.
Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.
In this blog post, I will explain to you why you are the designer of your own life in today’s time. By reading this blog post, you will learn the following important facts of life:
- How and why institutions in history more or less designed life for almost all people
- How and why you became the designer of your own life in this century
- Why most people are unfortunately poor designers of their life
- How you can be different and really create the life masterpiece that leads to the good life you deserve
Buckle up and get ready to become a really inspiring and breathtaking designer of your own life. Let’s begin creating!
A few decades ago, life was more or less designed for you
From the whole human history to a few decades ago (that’s thousands of years), life was more or less designed for you. You became a potter or a blacksmith or a farmer like your father, or your duty was to take care of the home and kids if you were a woman.
If you were really a rebel and wanted something with more prestige, then becoming a doctor or a priest were the only respected and possible options. Oh, or you could go into the army or become a wanderer. Self-discovery was rare, travelling was only for traders and your real talents were rarely developed.
There was only one kind of religion that you had to follow or you were beheaded, there was one kind of a diet you could eat because there was no abundance of food, and you definitely had fewer opportunities to date or, more probably, your marriage was already arranged, so you had zero alternatives at all about who to spend your life with.
Your occupation was determined by your family heritage, your diet by locally grown food, your marriage by your parents or the very few options you had in your local village, and your values by the local church.
In history, your life and your destiny were more or less determined by the environment and its institutions (family, government, church, company etc.). If you wanted something else, you really had to make a crazy decision, like pack what few clothes you had in a bundle and leave everything behind, hoping to find something that fits you better. But it rarely happened that you found something better.
There were almost zero options for designing your life as you wanted. Your lifestyle and your future were a done deal. No room for freedom, no room to create. Today things are luckily a lot different.
Finally, you have the power to design the perfect life for yourself
Today we live in a very different world, in the free developed world. For the first time in history we live in a world full of material abundance, unlimited options, worldwide interconnectivity, high mobility and connectivity, easy access to information and knowledge, and much more. It’s true that the new era also brought us many new challenges (uncertainty, complexity etc.), but there is one big overall advantage we are rarely aware of.
Now you have the complete power to design yourself the perfect life you want. You can build your dream life like a mosaic from many different pieces that suit you best. In most parts of the developed world, you won’t be judged no matter what you choose, as long as you aren’t hurting other people or breaking the law in some other way. When your preferences change, you can replace one piece of the mosaic with another one (going from a job to freelancer, to entrepreneur and back to a job).
Stop for a moment and think about this great advantage. You finally have the power to choose who you will be, what will be happening in your life, and you can finally co-shape your destiny together with the environment that you choose. Institutions have very little power over your life, if we compare it to a few decades ago.
You can finally build your dream life like a mosaic from many different pieces that suit you best.
In every area of life, you can find things that fit you best, you can really do things that you enjoy or are good at, develop your talents to the full, travel the world, and you have the opportunity to potentially connect yourself with all the 7 billion people alive today. Opportunities and options are endless, all at your disposal as pieces of your dream life.
Violence is in big decline and consequently the world is becoming an increasingly safer place to be, tolerance is becoming a more and more important value, further technology development will enable us to be even more mobile, interconnected, productive, creative and educated. It’s totally awesome. Soon you’ll even be able to choose which planet to live on.
Below are just a few things I want to highlight as part of the options you have today to build your masterpiece called life that weren’t at your disposal at all even a few decades ago:
- You can be an atheist, choose from more than 15 major religions and many different belief systems or even invent your own religion. A few decades ago, you were hanged for even thinking of converting to another religion if you weren’t forced to do so (religious wars).
- There are more than 800 occupations you can choose from and new ones are constantly being added to the list with the technology development. Today, you can even do a completely different thing than you studied as long as you are motivated enough to develop new competences.
- There are more than 190 countries you can travel to and around 2,000,000 cities worldwide, freely choose where you can live and settle in the place that suits you best.
- You can choose from more than 50 different diets. You can now really eat the food you love, be it Italian, Mexican, Chinese or whatever you like. International restaurants, local organic markets, new creative dishes, cooking books and websites are popping up daily.
- There are more than 200 different types of hobbies, more than 1000 different sports, and you can buy the cheapest smartphone for 30$. We see more than 20,000 new products monthly.
- There are more than 200 social networks with 1+ billion people online you can connect with, not to mention all the IM apps, clubs, meetups, social organizations and different parties where you can meet many different people.
What you will wear, which competences you will develop, defining your value system, doing body art, your sexual orientation and the number of sex partners, where you will live, what you will believe in, what kind of technology you will use, …
… how you will make you money and where you will invest it, countries you want to travel to, what kind of art you’ll express yourself with, which sports you will do, where you will work, with whom you will forge relationships, how you will help make the world a better place, everything is more or less completely up to you.
You can finally choose, you can finally design your perfect life. I know there are still limitations, I know that the level of freedom and abundance in different parts of world is not the same, but the trend is more than obvious. In the future, even more options await.
Freedom brings responsibility
It’s really awesome that you can finally design the perfect life you want. Nevertheless, this huge benefit comes with a huge price. More options mean more freedom (to choose), which is obviously good, but more freedom also means more personal responsibility.
If the government, church, parents and family heritage aren’t designing your life anymore, you can’t blame them for the poor choices you make. Today, you hold complete responsibility for your life, your happiness and your potential.
With good decisions and choices, you can design yourself a really awesome life. By making too many bad choices, your design can quickly become an ugly photo.
- Your government is not responsible for your pension anymore, you are
- Your company’s union is not responsible for your job safety anymore, you are
- Your local grocery store is not responsible for your diet anymore, you are
- Your parents are not responsible for your occupation anymore, you are
- Your local university is not responsible for your skills and education anymore, you are
- Your local church is not responsible for your values, morals and soul anymore, you are
- Nobody is responsible for your life happiness but you
It’s up to you how much money you will earn and, even more importantly, save, which talents you will develop, what kind of people you will surround yourself with, whether you will go after your perfect job, and so on. Today you can do whatever you want with your life. That is freedom, but it’s also a huge responsibility.
You weren’t programmed to handle many choices well
But here’s the catch. Since the jungle times, you haven’t been programmed to make good decisions and live happily in the abundance world. You were programmed to make bad decisions. Many bad decisions actually, which we can call the desire for instant gratification.
Sugar was rare in the jungle so you were biologically programmed to eat as much sugar as quickly as possible. Biologically, you were programmed to spread your genes, so you have the desire to mate every time the opportunity shows up, which makes it more difficult to be faithful in monogamous relationships.
You were programmed to save as much energy as possible, because food was rare, so storing fat and lying in front of the TV on a couch is the perfect thing to do nowadays.
You can see where this leads. You have many options, the freedom to choose, but you were genetically programmed to make bad choices in the world of abundance. Having too many options (more than 50 types of cereal on the shelf) is already a big psychological burden, called the tyranny of choice.
Taking poor responsibility of your life (and also a bad design) in the abundance world means:
- Getting fatter and fatter because you consume too much sugar
- Taking poor care of your health and eating chips on the couch while watching TV instead of exercising
- Getting in debt and buying things you don’t need or even things you can’t afford (car, home)
- Doing a job you hate with people you don’t like, because you are too lazy to develop your talents
- Isolating yourself or having only superficial relationships due to of a low capacity for love
All these things are much more frequent than you’d think. The majority of people make bad decisions in the abundance world, and thus they are slowly turning into zombies.
In the end, they blame the government, financial markets, capitalism, religion, companies or whoever for their misfortune. I’m not saying that institutions aren’t responsible for people’s suffering in some cases, but people often destroy their own life through poor life design and making too many bad choices.
Luckily you aren’t programmed only for instant gratification. You’re also programmed for carefully planning your future, investing to have more tomorrow instead of spending today, you’re programmed with the curiosity to acquire knowledge, an ability to discipline yourself and considering all that, to consequently make better life decisions.
You just have to make sure you also develop these abilities and you really get the power in your hands to not only design your life, but to design your dream life, the good life you want and deserve.
If you want to live happily in the world of abundance, you have to develop new healthy habits. A counter point for the jungle behavior. It’s that simple. You have to educate yourself, build a superior life strategy and then consistently follow it in an agile in lean way (because today’s times are also very uncertain). The end result should be you making many good decisions, big ones and small ones.
It may be hard in the beginning but at some point, enforced healthy behavior becomes a habit, and a habit is automatic subconscious behavior that takes zero effort to perform. If it at first takes a lot of willpower and ability to develop a new healthy habit (the ability of making good life choices), it becomes a part of your lifestyle and who you are in the long run. That’s why we say that the hard road becomes easy, and the easy road becomes hard.
- Developing healthy habits (hard thing to do in the beginning) in the abundance world leads to real happiness and real abundance (easy way to live).
- Only taking the best from the abundance world (easy) without taking any real responsibility for your life leads to fake abundance. Only looking rich but not really being rich, having many online friends but few real ones, having a lot of food at home but drowning in health issues (hard).
Design your life with a superior life strategy
Let’s repeat that again, because it’s really important. If you want to live a successful and happy life in today’s world, you have to take full responsibility for your life. Complete and full responsibility.
Taking responsibility means either deciding to develop discipline to make good life choices or to completely accept the misery that bad life choices bring and not blame others.
You are the artist with the empty canvas called your life, and you can create whatever you want. That means madly educating yourself by going straight to the best knowledge for all life areas, shaping a superior life strategy, being superproactive, employing a first-rate decision and personal management system (like the ALL productivity framework), finding the right balance between instant gratification and investing into a better future and then taking the best that today’s world has to offer.
If you do that, you really open the doors to the dream life, to the good life, the best life possible on this planet that was never ever accessible before. And all that leads us back to design as a profession.
You have to see yourself as a designer of your perfect life
It’s somehow nice that people are posting pictures of their life on social networks, especially Instagram, with the desire to show all other humans how they are designing their perfect life. I hope that many people are really living a life that’s as awesome as they are posting it on the social networks.
The best way to design your perfect life is to systematically search for what works best for you.
But life design is so much more than just taking photos and posting them on social networks. Design is about problem-solving, user experience, beauty and putting the right things together. Thus you have to see yourself as a designer in a broader sense. You have to see yourself as a designer of your perfect life, in every aspect.
- How it looks: Your style, home and office decorations, the photos you take etc.
- Elements: Your life strategy
- How it works: Your productivity system, your habits etc.
- Overall experience: How happy and satisfied you are with your overall life experience
- Prototyping: How many new things you try and constantly optimize
Take full responsibility for your life. Stop blaming others. Develop your talents and healthy habits. Make good life choices and design your dream life as it suits you best. Appreciate this chance given to you, which more than 100 billion people who lived in the past didn’t have.