Do you want to explore and grow your potential to make a bigger impact? Do you want more joy in your life but struggle to fit it all in? Are you constantly busy but feel like you never actually get the important things done? Do you want to thrive instead of just going through the motions?
You know that change is going to happen, and you want to be flexible and adaptable. Yet you also want more discipline in how you live your life. You want to know how to get more done so that you have more time and energy for friends and family and activities you enjoy.
In my experience, there are six steps in designing a life you love.
I call this an integrated life. This is a life of joy, fulfillment, and balance. It is a life you choose, a life you live with intention.
6 Steps to Designing an Integrated Life
Step #1 – Get clear on what matters most to you.
Have you ever found yourself working on a project or at an event and you felt resistance or friction? Something was “off” or didn’t feel right.
The good news is that feeling of resistance is self-awareness. Resistance often comes from being out of alignment with what is important to us.
Here is an example:
One of my core values is freedom, and I started my own business in order to have more freedom. I took on an assignment I thought would be fulfilling, but it felt really difficult. It felt like a chore. After several weeks I realized this feeling was resistance. While the work could have been fulfilling, I was stepping on my core value of freedom. Without realizing it, I was limiting my freedom with this commitment.
Here is another example:
One feeling I want to experience regularly is inspiration. I regularly attend conferences with inspiring speakers who will introduce me to new concepts and techniques.
Identify your top 5 values and your top 5 feelings you want to experience regularly. The list doesn’t have to be perfect, and it can change as you discover more. Write these down, so you can easily reference them. When you are feeling resistance, look at this list and ask yourself if you are stepping on a value or not feeling the way you want to feel. Then act with intention.
Step #2 – Assess your health.
Health includes your body, your mind, and your soul. These three aspects of health are interrelated and affect each other. If you don’t use your mind or you body, they will degrade. Ultimately, our body, our mind, and our soul are what enable us to enjoy life and to operate at our peak performance for greater impact.
Think about your physical activity, your diet, and your sleep patterns. Think about how frequently you challenge your body and your mind. Consider how connected you are to yourself, to others, and to your creativity.
Step #3 – Know where you spend your time.
We live in a culture of busyness. Busyness is like a badge of honor. But if we are busy doing things that don’t bring us joy, that don’t help us fulfill our goals, that cause us to sacrifice our health or relationships, we are not living our best life.
What are you doing out of obligation? What feels like a sacrifice?
Step #4 – Set meaningful goals
Re-visit your results from Steps 1-3 above. Now examine any goals you may already have for yourself. Do those goals align with what matters most, what keeps you healthy, and how you want to spend your time?
If not, maybe you want to drop the goal or change the goal to be more meaningful. It is easy to end up with goals that reflect what someone else wants for you. Those are the goals that we will likely never achieve because they are not truly important to us. Or if we achieve the goal, we do not feel the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Remember to look for where the resistance shows up.
For goals that do align and any new goals you set for yourself, visualize yourself just past the finish line. How do you feel? What was important about achieving this? What is now available to you?
Really build out that vision of success, and this is something you can keep going back to when you feel stuck or when you face challenges.
Step #5 – Design with a purpose.
The goal in this step is to design the elements of your life in alignment with what matters to you. We want all aspects of our life pointed in the same direction. This is where we reduce the resistance and feel that sense of integration.
From your livelihood to your personal growth. From your family and friends to your professional relationships. Consider your connection to your communities and society and the world.
Start from a clean slate. This means you do not have a to-do list. There is nothing on your calendar. Using what you learned about yourself in the steps above, decide what is important. Slowly, deliberately decide what you add to this clean slate.
What are your top 1-3 goals? How do you want to spend your time? How will you keep yourself at optimal performance?
Step #6 – Experiment, reflect and adapt.
You don’t design once and stop there. You have to experiment and see what works for you. We have to reflect on our results and adapt based on what we learn.
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan, there are processes and techniques we can apply from the world of agile product development. If you treat your life as the product, you can optimize for joy, fulfillment,and balance.
What habits do you want to form? What is your routine for success?
Break down big goals down into small, valuable increments.
What little thing can you do or deliver that will add value now? Or what do you want to learn that can help inform your next steps?
When you design and live a life you love, this will amplify your impact in everything you do. You get more done without feeling exhausted and stressed.
When you live an integrated life, you make space for joy, fulfillment, and balance.