What is Life Design?
Ever been stuck in the “Perfection Bubble”? You know the same fantasy world where your ideas are existing in their most elegant form, the most beautiful thing about this bubble is that there is no upper cap to the layer of perfection that you can add to your ideas, it’s possibly limitless. Yet the biggest constraint is that it hardly lets you get started upon your idea. Because in order to implement it perfectly you need to have ideal conditions, skillset, etc. And in reality, it’s never gonna happen, the fear of converting your “perfect” idea into something abominable is way too high.
But why am I talking about this? Because I have been stuck in this bubble for a long time, and it still manages to get me occasionally. And probably that’s why I haven’t been able to write this blog. So don’t mind if it ain’t perfect
So before we begin, the first rule to remember is, “ Don’t focus on perfection or greatness in everything you do”. I know ideally this statement sounds completely wrong yet it’s the most realistic one you can get.
The unattainable best is the enemy of all the available betters
Ever since I started my not-so-long journey in design, I have always been interested in solving Human-Centered( ones devoted to the welfare of humanity) problems. So basically these are the problems that affect the majority of the population. And I had one such problem in mind, the one which is more personal yet it’s affecting almost everyone. The problem called “Life”.
The fear of uncertainty, the desperate desire to find passion, to seek meaning and happiness in life, figuring out what’s best for you, and then to choose and abide by it till the end of the line. If that’s not a problem worth solving, then I don’t know what else is.
The worst part is we all suffer from these so-called symptoms and they have been there for a long time, yet there’s no robust solution for it to date. This made me wonder, why can’t we apply the concept of design thinking to design our own life, and not to my surprise, the design school at Stanford University has already been working on the concept of “Life Design”. Here’s the Ted talk on it
Although I’d suggest you to watch the above video but in case if you’re in a hurry, here’s the summary:
In order to design your life, you must let go of these 3 Dysfunctional beliefs
1. You need to find your one single passion: Not everyone has one single passion, so don’t stress over it
2. You should know where you’re going in life by now: It’s totally okay to not know your end goal
3. Always be the best version of you: Focus on all the better versions you can be instead of aiming for the best
After this, try to understand how do you define meaning in life?, what steps are you taking to achieve that?
Try to think of all the possible versions of you. And then boil it down to the 3 versions you would most likely to be, and then finally choose the one. And keep on iterating.
Finding the code
Now the real problem lies that all these talks and motivation, they just try to scratch the surface by telling us the obvious, but most of the time they fail to deliver the exact guidelines for achieving that, which in my opinion is the major problem that needs solving, because there are so many notions and ideas that we have hardwired into our minds and that’s what drives us crazy. So is there a code or algorithm that can solve this problem?
It has almost been a year since I read this amazing book called “ The Code of the Extraordinary Mind”, the book focused upon some interesting insights, which I’ll be sharing with you, although I would suggest that you should read the book
You can download the pdf from here
The book talks about certain critical points that we often tend to neglect( consciously or subconsciously)
We live in two worlds:
- The world of Absolute Truth : the things we can all agree on (fire is hot)
- The world of Relative Truth: the ideas, models, myths, and rules we’ve developed and passed from generation to generation.
The world of relative truth can either be extremely empowering or incredibly limiting. If you think about it, there are so many notions we have just accepted for the sake of it, like the concept of you having to take this subject, to get into this college, to get this type of job, so that you can achieve that lifestyle, which should be ideal for you because that’s something ideally accepted by the society.
Our body is a piece of complex machinery, and it has its own hardware and software, this book highlights the concept of Consciousness Engineering. Think of consciousness engineering as an operating system for the human mind — one that you control. It has 2 components:
- Models of Reality(Hardware): your beliefs about yourself and the world
2. Systems of Living (Software): your behavior and actions(skills, habits, etc)
Extraordinary minds question the Bullshit rules when they feel those Bullshit rules are out of alignment with their dreams and desires. They recognize that much of the way the world works is due to people blindly following Bullshit rules that have long passed their expiration date. We constantly upgrade our electronic models and systems, but many of us live with outdated beliefs and habits without even knowing it. When you swap out old, expired models and systems that limit you, you’re elevating your consciousness and opening the path to extraordinary living
The purpose of a goal has always been to act as a checkpoint in our journey so that we know we are moving on the right track. But how are goals going to help you when you have no clear idea about where you wanna go? When we try to be “mature” and systematic about goal setting, we may end up dissatisfied because most modern goal-setting methods are fundamentally flawed.
There are 2 types of goals:
- Means Goals: Goals that are means to an end and usually about meeting or conforming to societies norms
- End Goals: These are the ones that follow our heart, excite and inspire us and put our ultimate target in our sights
But here’s the catch, we set goals based on our current model of reality, which means that our preferences change with time.
So is it possible for us to set up long-term end goals?
No, it’s not really possible, as I mentioned earlier, that in order to have an end goal, one must follow their hearts, choose things based on their preferences and perspective, which changes with time, and that makes you wonder if the concept of using goals as a unit to measure the level of happiness in your future is correct or not?
The fact is, goals are meant to change, the one thing that we should focus upon is Vision, as they are determined by the basic nature of a person, which doesn’t change so quickly.
Vision can be described by asking the right questions, in this book the following questions have been emphasized:
Question 1: What Experiences Do You Want to Have?
If time and money were not a constraint and I did not have to seek anyone’s permission, what kinds of experiences would my soul crave?
- Your Love Relationship: Vividly imagine your ideal love relationship. What kind of person do you want to be with?
- Your Friendships: Picture your social life in a perfect world- the people, the places, the conversations, the activities
- Your Adventures: What kind of adventures do you crave for?
- Your Environment: Conjure up the feelings of being in environments you love. What would your ideal home, car, travel destinations look like?
Question 2: How Do You Want to Grow?
In order to have the experiences above, how do I have to grow? What sort of man or woman do I need to evolve into?
- Your Health and Fitness: Describe how you want to feel and look every day. What about five, ten, or twenty years from now?
- Your Intellectual Life: What do you need to learn in order to have the experiences you listed above? What would you love to learn?
- Your Skills: What skills would help you thrive at your job? If you’d love to switch gears professionally, what would it take to do that? What are some skills you want to learn just for fun?
- Your Spiritual Life: What is your highest aspiration for your spiritual practice?
Question 3: How Do You Want to Contribute?
If I have the experiences above and have grown in these remarkable ways, then how can I give back to the world?
- Your Career: What are your visions for your career? What contribution to your field would you like to make?
- Your Creative Life: What creative activities do you love to do or what would you like to learn? What are some ways you can share your creative self with the world?
- Your Family Life: What can you contribute to your family that is unique to you? Remember, your family doesn’t have to be a traditional family — define “family” as those whom you truly love and want to spend time with.
- Your Community Life: Your community could be your friends, neighborhood, city, state, nation, religious community, ethnicity, or the world community. Looking at everything that makes you who you are, what is the mark that you want to leave on the world that excites and deeply satisfies you?
Having a perfect balance in all these 12 domains might lead to a satisfactory life.
It’s completely understandable if you’re skeptical about your choices in the given areas, but the idea about these end goals is that they have to follow your heart, and things that resonate with you. Since most of our choices are influenced by the world around us.
The biggest sources of Influence are books, movies, and TV shows. And it’s completely fine to set goals based on them as long as you resonate with that concept, and have proper reason for liking it. Thus the most fun way is to assign a life from any book, TV show, or movie to all the given domains. Just like an Inspiration list.
If you now try to combine this logic with the one mentioned in the Stanford University video, you’ll be able to identify 3 possible life visions, and you can choose anyone out of it while keeping on iterating the goals to aim for the most optimal life.
Just like in any successful company, the mission and vision is always constant and is given the utmost priority, no product in a company should be developed that goes against the company’s mission/vision. Similarly, you should stop running around after goals that don’t even align with your ideal vision of life
Running the Code
It’s great that by applying the above-mentioned techniques we can create an ideal vision for our life and the goals that align with it. Yet here’s the tricky part, for some of us who already know what we want to achieve, still we are unable to act upon it, this raises another problem.
What is the ideal way to implement your ideal goals?
Imagine if you really want to use the latest version of a software that has high system requirements, you know using that specific software is gonna make your work more efficient, but the problem is both your operating system and your system specifications are such that it won’t support the software. So what will you do? Will you just abandon the idea of using that particular software?
If yes, then perhaps it never was important to you, and you need to keep on looking for something that you really want.
If no, then you most definitely need to upgrade your system.
And in order to do that, we must look into the concept of Behavioral Design.
I’ll be covering that part in my next article, I hope you would have found this article helpful. If yes, then don’t forget to press that clap button :)