So you want to design your life? Great, then this guide is for you! Whether you’re looking to make a specific change or just want to understand how your current habits and expectations are limiting your ability to achieve goals, this guide offers practical insights and suggestions on how you can design your life.
Step 1: Set SMART goals
Making goals is essential in order to achieve any significant change in your life. And because it’s so important, most people stumble at the first hurdle. Many goals don’t have a clear purpose or meaning. Other goals are too vague and can be almost impossible to measure, let alone track. SMART goals are specific, measurable, aspirational, realistic and time-bound. Specific – What will you know when you’ve achieved it? Measureable – How will you know if you’ve achieved it? Aspirational – How high should you aim? Realistic – What are the odds of success? Time-bound – How long will it take to achieve?
Step 2: Build a habit loop
A habit is a behavior that is done regularly without thinking. When you don’t think about it, you’re building a habit. So the first step to creating lasting change is building new habits. Habits can be the difference between success and failure. They can also create substantial time savings and increase your quality of life significantly. There are 2 types of habits: – Simple habits: Examples include exercising everyday or reading a book before you sleep. – Complex habits: Examples include maintaining a consistent work-life balance or healthy relationships. It’s important to understand the difference between simple and complex habits. Our brains are limited so it’s unrealistic to think we can create a complex habit overnight. Instead, we should focus on building simple habits and adding complexity. Simple habits can take as little as 30 days to form a new habit and become a new behavior you do every day. To get the ball rolling, try creating a list of things you’d like to add to your life. Next, put the things you’d like to add in order of how often you’d like to do them. When you have a list of things you’d like to add, think of ways to incorporate them into your daily life. For example, you could make exercising part of your daily routine by doing 30 seconds of jumping jacks at 7:00am before you start your day.
Step 3: Break the cycle of new behavior
It’s one thing to create new habits, but another to sustain them. New habits are always fragile and delicate. They require effort and willpower. They are vulnerable to the whims of our egos. They can be broken by distractions. They can be abandoned when we get busy. They can also be lost when we get lazy. To break the cycle of new behavior, you need to make the new habits stronger. To do this, you have to learn how to nurture them and make them stronger. There are 3 key elements you need to make any habit stronger: – Trigger – A specific cue that triggers your habit. For example, you could set recurring alarms on your phone to remind you to exercise. – Routine – The specific actions you perform. For example, you could make walking to work or exercising 30 minutes a day a part of your routine. – Reward – The specific outcome you hope to gain as a result of performing the habit. For example, you could save for a vacation or take a class you’d like to learn.
Step 4: Stay on track
Most people start a new habit, get some momentum and then crash and burn. They get so busy that they forget why they got started in the first place. Or, life gets hectic and the habit gets squeezed out of time. To sustain new habits, you need to put in consistent effort. That means you should aim to make your new habit a priority in your life. This doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to do it every single day, but you need to make it a priority. If you don’t, then you’re going to forget and let your new habit fall to the wayside. You also need to make your new habit fit into your current lifestyle. When you do this, you create a sustainable habit that doesn’t require you to compromise who you are or what you love.
Designing your life means coming to terms with your limitations and identifying the things that are outside of your control. In order to design your life, you need to set specific and measurable goals, build a habit loop, break the cycle of new behavior and stay on track. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be well on your way to designing your life.