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Follow These 3 Steps to Start Living Your Life by Design Not by Default

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living life

Every single individual walking this earth is alive. But that doesn’t mean that you’re actually “living.” Living, in this context, refers to taking control of your life, creating a vision, creating goals, and then executing on those goals.

Not everyone does this, sadly enough. If you find yourself waking up every morning without a sense of direction and going through every day without aspirations to improve, you’re living by default. You’re not taking control of your life, but you’re letting life take control of you.

Now, if you live life with a purpose, chase your hearts desires, and wake up every day with a goal/plan in mind, you’re living by design. Design being that you’re creating your life to create the reality you wish to live in every day. It’s safe to say that you shouldn’t be living your life by default.

Follow these three steps, and your future self will thank you for it:

1. Wake up with a goal in mind

If you wake up without a goal in mind for the day, you’re better off remaining asleep. By starting your day off without a plan or a goal, you’re essentially just “winging it.” Winging it throughout your day is, in essence, letting whatever life has planned for you happen. You’re like a zombie just going with the flow.

This is living by default because you’re not designing your day. If you continue this bad habit, you’re going to find yourself wondering where time has gone a few years later. You’re then going to realize you didn’t create your reality, but instead let life have its way.

Many individuals who end up here have a habit of blaming the world and everything else around them for their mistakes, when the person to blame is the one staring back in the mirror. The point is, wake up with at least one goal in mind, if not multiple goals each and every day, and attack them.

“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning… Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” – Miles Daves

2. Stop letting time be a determinant

The saying “time goes on with or without you” is the theme here. So many times we allow time to determine whether or not we should take action or pursue our dreams. Lots of millennials believe they’re too young for certain professions or to start a business, and older adults believe they’re too old to pursue old passions.

This is completely wrong and has been proven wrong time and time again. There are entrepreneurs in the world as young as 9 years old making a difference. There are also adults who are 65 years and older starting a business for the first time. Mind you, these are all things outside of the norm.

It’s never too early or too late to do anything. When I first started my business in college, I felt a sense of urgency to further grow it. My parents would always tell me “you have your whole life ahead of you, slow down.” I ignored them, of course. It doesn’t matter how much time you have left in your life. You should take control of your life and start creating your reality immediately and unapologetically.

3. Execute, execute, execute

This follows the last point. Once you stop letting time be a determinant and start creating your life, you have to execute. Simply creating the life you want in your mind and not executing on those goals aren’t enough. The world is full of individuals who have dreams, goals, and passions who never do anything about it. Once you visualize and know beyond a reasonable doubt, what you want your reality to reflect, begin attacking those goals, never give up, and never look back.

“Vision without execution is a daydream. Execution without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese Proverb

It’s easy to live your life constantly putting off important tasks that will catapult you towards your dreams by falling into the normal routine. It all starts with a decision to design your life and make your reality a reflection of who you wish to be.

Wake up with a goal in mind, ignore the imaginary limitations society has made you believe, and execute. One day you’ll wake up to a life you’ve built, and not one that was given to you. I’m not saying this will be easy, but I am saying that it will be worth it.

Are you living your life by your own design or somebody else’s? Leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Brianna Bussell is the CEO of WebInsightCo.com, a marketing and web development company. She started her business in college, and began writing for many reputable entrepreneurs after publishing her own E-book "Creating Value in The Workplace". She also enjoys coaching millennials on how to become successful.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Ryan Biddulph

    May 21, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Hi Brianna,

    #2 is one of the oldest and lamest excuses in the book 😉 I figured out, if you are planning to be alive and to spend time here on planet earth you may as well spend the time doing something worthy. I’ve been circling the globe as a pro blogger for the last 6 years. I started blogging in my early 30’s, and did not start traveling until my mid 30’s. I know bloggers in their 80’s who just started and are rocking it out.

    Thanks for the inspiring share!

    Ryan

  2. Shauna Walker

    Feb 18, 2017 at 3:39 am

    These are some great tips! Sharing!

  3. Miller

    Feb 15, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Totally guilty of the first step.

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Life

What Les Misérables Taught Me About Our Values

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Who am I? The ultimate question many of us try to answer. When I think of values, I think of Victor Hugo’s 1862 book, “Les’ Miserables”. In Hugo’s book, Jean Valjean, is used as a protagonist to highlight the power in redemptive love and compassion. Valjean goes into prison for stealing a loaf of bread, entering as a simple and decent man. His time in jail seems to have an unrepairable effect, where he emerges from the chain gang as a tough, bitter criminal who hates society for what it has done to him. (more…)

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7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away

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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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