One question I’ve always asked myself–especially these past few years–is this: How do I design and build a life that I will truly love? How do I make that crucial leap from just staring at images on my Dreamboard, to actually living a life where dreams of all shapes, sizes, and forms are coming true in many different ways?
One of the answers, I’m finding out, is to design a life that is as authentic–as honest and as true to myself–as possible. To build a life around the things that I love; to make time for the things that inspire and nourish me, and fill my heart with joy; and to make a difference in areas that truly matter to me.
It is definitely not easy. There is, after all, the matter of jobs and bills, family and household, mortgage and legal documents, and many other things in between. There are norms and standards, rules and laws, and what our society and culture says we “should” do. There’s a constant tug-o-war between the “needs” and the “wants”, the “If I could onlys” and the “but I know I shoulds”, the daydream and the reality.
This, to me, is the exciting challenge that is embedded in each of us. We were all born–and we continue to operate and live–with certain “givens” and parameters; even our bodies themselves pose certain limitations upon us. How, then, do we create a life that is truly reflective of our true selves, passions, hopes, and dreams–and how do we do that without turning our backs on the realities that face us every day?
I’d like to share with you parts of a piece I wrote for Bloom TV, a new online project that I’m very proud to be part of. I’ll be sharing it here in a series, but if you wish to read the full article already, please do so on the Bloom TV website.
8 Steps for Designing an Authentic Life (an excerpt)
1. Woman, know thyself. Give yourself a “Life SWOT.” At work, many of us have often used a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis to get a snapshot of our organization’s position and potential direction. But how many of us have actually taken the time to do the same for our own selves? Whether you’re in the corporate world, an entrepreneur, an artist, a stay-at-home mom, or everywhere else in between, your life deserves a closer look. Hole yourself up for a little “life strategic planning session”, give yourself a “Life SWOT”, and reflect on what you discover.
If you’re uncomfortable using a corporate tool on yourself, find other ways to give yourself an honest self-examination. Remember: every journey to authenticity starts with self-awareness. Be honest with yourself, and let the truth set you free.
2. Know what matters to you. Design your life around your priorities. One of the Merriam-Webster definitions of “design” is “purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.” When you examine your daily routine, does it look like there is “purpose, planning, or intention” behind it? How can you build more of what matters to you into your days?
For instance, if you’re artistic at heart and want to infuse more creativity into your career, what career options should you begin considering? If you’re a mom looking to spend more time with her kids without sacrificing earning potential, what changes should you start to make? If you want to have more time and money for traveling, how can you design your lifestyle to make this possible?
This is exciting, although easier said than done. Often, designing your life with greater purpose also means ditching your comfort zone and “the way things have always been done.” Then again, wouldn’t it be worth the challenges in the end?
3. Know that you can’t have it all. I once asked a female executive, whom I considered a mentor, how she was able to achieve “balance” in her life. Her answer: “It’s not about balance; it’s about making tough choices.” The harsh reality is that life isn’t a “free-for-all” game where you can take everything you want with very little consequences. As you may already know, there are choices and compromises to be made for everything. Even Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the controversial memoir Lean In, has written that “having it all [is] perhaps the greatest trap ever set for women.”
She writes, “Each of us makes choices constantly between work and family, exercising and relaxing, making time for others and taking time for ourselves.”
The key here is to choose based on your priorities and being at peace with that choice. You may not be able to have it all, but at least have what’s important to you.
I’ll definitely be posting more on this subject soon. Stay tuned 🙂
*Love and light*