Recently I picked up a book from the library called “Design the Life You Love.” I have really been wanting to change and improve my life, and its cover caught my eye. I always come home from the library with more than I bargained for.
The thing I liked about this book was the unique approach it took to creating a plan. The basic theory is that to design something, you have to deconstruct what you already have and examine the pieces. Then, you thoughtfully put it back together, give or take some pieces, in a new way.
Why this was novel to me, I don’t know, but when I think about my dream life, I had never thought about first looking at where I was starting. I had also never thought of my life as a whole, to be designed. I had always looked at one small piece and tried to change it directly (ie. “I want to lose weight”).
The author likens life to a recipe. You can look at what you are already doing, and how it is turning out, and then start tweaking the ingredients and the processes. I really struggled with this, since I don’t feel very positive about my life, and I didn’t feel like I have a lot of other options available to me, but I tried to just be open and follow her lead. What could it hurt to try?
The style of the book is a workbook, with many different exercises to get you thinking about what your life is, and why. She recommends working on it for about twenty minutes at a time, and starting each session with a small exercise to get the creative side of your brain warmed up, like sketching.
The book uses a lot of mind maps. I made mind maps upon mind maps. It was kind of relaxing.
You examine the elements of your life, your priorities, patterns or revelations, and the balance of the different areas of your life. I swallowed my pride and did almost every exercise in the book, even the ones that felt pointless or ridiculous. I could tell I was getting somewhere, so I decided I would trust the author. I had to stifle some eye rolls. Especially when it came to creating a metaphor for my current life and my ideal life….like being trapped in quicksand vs flying? Yes, I even have a letter to my future self.
The book also covers identifying who your mentors are, and what it is about them you admire. Then, you try to imagine yourself with these characteristics. Seems simple, but I found it to be challenging and enlightening. I realized I admire Dwayne Johnson. I wouldn’t have guessed that before!
After half a million mind maps and thinking exercises, I came up with this…
There was a problem though. At the end of the book, I found myself thinking, “now what?” Although her insight on evaluating and re-imagining your life is excellent, I found myself wanting more. I still wanted a how. I have a vision, but that’s not the same as a plan.
So I’m not completely sure what the next step is, and the book didn’t really give any hints. I’m thinking the best thing to do is to look at what I want my life to become and define some goals or habits that will help me get there. Still, I found the book a worthy read and incredibly helpful in knowing which directions I want my life to head in.
Have you ever thought of yourself as the designer of you life?