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8 Ways to Create the Life You Want (Even if You Don’t Know What You Want)

8 Ways to Create the Life You Want (Even if You Don’t Know What You Want)

April 19, 2012

Life gets busy. For everyone. Sometimes one seemingly innocuous decision one day spirals into setting the tone for the following month. Then, like a big boulder rolling down a hill and gaining momentum, that month becomes a year. The only way to stop it or change its direction is to jump in front. Yet jumping in front of that massive boulder becomes more and more difficult the more it gets prolonged.

Consequently we forget how to dream. We start to focus too much on the practical side of everything, without digging into what we really want out of life. While practical can sometimes be good, it doesn’t always guide your heart in the right direction. Here are 8 ways to create the life you want, even if you don’t know what that is:

1. Write down your goals. Or don’t.

It helps to visualize the life you want. So…write down what you want. Everyone is unique and has their own goal-setting path. Some are cheesier than others but do what works for you. Me? I love the cheese factor. My cheesy yet challenging goal is: to be happy. I’m choosing to give back and meet with other like-minded, inspiring people. Instead of checking off cities to visit on some irrelevant, cliched list, I’m heading off to cities for their events instead. A bunch of upcoming shenanigans are planned for this year – they just so happy to be in pretty ahhmazing cities. None of which are on a generic “must see” list. 

2. Remember that your goals are just that – your goals.

Don’t let age or other people dictate what you should be doing. If everyone you know is getting married or pregnant, just get more awesome. If everyone is buying a house in the suburbs and you want to rent for the rest of your life, do it. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, there are plenty of reasons why you should NOT buy homes. Forge ahead with the power of knowing that the decisions you make for your life are the best for you – not anyone else. Stop trying to fit the mold of society.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, because the world needs people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

3. Realize you have options.

If you don’t like your job, quit. Don’t like where you live? Move. If you’re flat-out miserable do something about it. We are influenced by our environment, but we also create our environment. If we realize that we always have a choice, we’ll be much more content in the long-run. I moved 200 miles away from “stability” to live close to the beach and near the best city on earth. Boy has it been a bumpy ride. But the joy that comes from doing what I want is *that* much sweeter.

4. Let Go of Fear.

Ever realized that not much happens in your comfort zone?

Fear is for losers.

But fear is also natural. It’s hardwired into our brains. We fear others not liking us for the choices we make. It’s a huge release when you learn to not care. If we all confronted our fears and did what scared us the most, the world would be a much better place.

List your fears. One by one. Then tackle ’em. Hard. Yes that means try the blowfish.

5. Stop Buying Stuff.

Embrace a minimalist mindset. Do we need a George Carlin reminder that everything we own is just “stuff”?

A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you’re taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody’s got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that carp you’re saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff!

As hilarious as this is, there’s also a hint of truth in it. It’s also true that it’s an uphill battle. Because retail therapy works wonders. Buying those killer heels can make a bad day disappear quicker than those shots of Grey Goose (with less of a hangover to boot). But when it comes down to whether or not you really need that twentieth black shirt to hang in your closet, think about whether it’s simply adding to your “stuff.”

If you can’t go cold turkey try collecting your “stuff” digitally on Pinterest instead – where you can stock up on Prada’s minus the price tag.

6. Declutter and simplify. This goes hand in hand with our “stuff.” We’re not what we own or buy. When we physically get rid of clutter we can think more clearly. We allow ourselves space to exist. After all, simplicity is freedom.

Decluttering and simplifying start out as a physical task, but as you transform your living space, you will transform your life. All of the tools that help you get there will become less and less important. It won’t be an overnight process. It won’t be easy, but it will become easier as you start to experience freedom.”

Get rid of what you don’t wear, eat, or use. Pronto.

7. Carve out free time. Just as we need to eliminate physical clutter, we should strive to make time for ourselves. Then study how the time gets spent. You may think you love photography but then find yourself drinking instead. That’s a sign. Either you have a drinking problem or you really just don’t love photography that much. Or you just love drinking a little bit more than photography (that’s fine too – just give your bartender career some more thought). We make time to do the things we love. Unless you don’t love doing anything. In that case, go cuddle with your kitten because it’s hard to connect to people with no interests. At least take up playing the accordion or something.

8. Embrace Failure

Failure isn’t as scary as we think it is. One of my favorite questions I like to ask folks is “How did you fail?” The enlightened ones reveal their failures and offer a brief explanation of what they’ve learned. The slightly more stubborn ones? Crickets. Shouldn’t we all be about learning, growing, and creating together? We’re all byproducts of our opportunities, experiences and yes, that means (gulp) – failures. The good news is that finally failure isn’t as taboo as it once was to discuss. In fact, there’s now an entire conference called FailCon for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success. With failure, comes knowledge. Truth.

What are some ways that you steer your life in a particular direction?