Four steps to living life by design

We often spend our lives reacting to everything around us. But there is another way to lead a life aligned with your values.

Steffan Surdek
July 13, 2020
Life by design

A few years ago, I learned a big lesson while in an intensive coaching program. You do not need to go through life reacting to everything around you.

It is possible to live a life that you design. It is not an easy process though! In this article, I will share with you the top 4 lessons I learned doing this.

1. Be clear on your intentions

What kind of life do you want to live? If you died tomorrow, what would you want people to remember and share about you? Having a clear intention of who you want to be is the first step to being able to do something about it.

Do you want to try a challenging exercise? Take an hour and try to write your own obituary. It can be a jarring and sobering thing to do but it can also help you get clarity of what is most important to you. Will your current actions and behaviours get you to the person you describe in your obituary?

Look at all aspects of your life such as finances, family, values, health. What is important to you? What does your designed life look like? Draw a picture and make it feel real!

2. Align your actions with your intentions

When you get clarity on your intentions, you need to take a closer look at what you are doing in your life. How are your actions aligned with your deeper intentions?

You may find this part difficult if you look at it from a perspective of good and bad or being right or wrong. You are human, you will mess up!

The point here is not about being perfect all the time. It is about checking how consistent you are in your actions. When you mess up, that is all fine, but you need to be able to own it. You need to be able to tell others as well when you behave with them in ways that are out of alignment with your intention.

3. Take 100% responsibility for your life

What happens for you when you are unable to succeed in something you are trying to do? Do you assign blame to others? What could be different if you took 100% responsibility for everything in your life?

Your kids never listen to anything you say or never do what you ask of them? Instead of blaming them, take a look at how and why you are allowing them to do so. You cannot lose weight? What if you made a different choice than to grab that bag of chips as a snack in the evening?

Taking responsibility for your actions and behaviours is hard and painful, but it is also very empowering. Remember you cannot change other people, you can only change yourself. When you make others responsible for not being able to act, you are creating your own limitations.

4. Focus on continuous learning

Are you the type of person that needs to hit a home run every time you step up to the plate? When you do something, do you look at your results as success or failure? Are you so afraid of failure that you would rather do nothing than fail? How are these limiting beliefs impacting your life?

What could be different if you focused on what you learned instead of success and failure? How could the lessons you learned help you to take another step towards your goal?

Take a moment and think about something you are trying to do. Instead of hitting a home run, what could you do to get to first base? For example, imagine you want to write a book. This is scary for many because we are talking of writing hundreds of pages.

What if you wrote a series of small articles instead? What if each of them fed off the previous one? Using this approach, you would eventually have your book's content. Each article you write could also provide you with quick feedback on whether or not your topic is interesting to other people.


What first step could you take to start working on your designed life? What could you learn from this step? What is the next place you could take it from there?

You do not need to be content with living your life on a day-to-day basis while reacting to what happens to you. It is possible to design your life and every day make different life choices based on what you want.

Taking 100% responsibility for your life is one of the most empowering things you can do. Imagine all the power you give to others when you blame them for what is happening in your life!

Tell me, how will you start living your designed life instead of settling for the one you currently have?

This article was originally published on in March 2018.