Mountain Stream Coaching in words with M stylized as mountains and S stylized as stream
A diagram with boxes for Bedrock, 4S's, Goals and Tasks, and Achievement. An arrow for TEA and Act.

This is the first in a series of blogs related to Life Design.

In this blog, I begin by introducing a supporting piece, a “Life Achievement Model.” This is my mental model for the ingredients and processes that support a recipe for life achievement.


The achievement model begins with what I call the bedrock. I choose this term as it suggests the solid ground that everything else is built on. Others label these same concepts as their North Star. In a well-lived life, you are always moving in the direction of your North Star. This is fine; however, for my psyche, the bedrock metaphor is more powerful.

The four bedrock components are values, why, mission, and vision:

Values: Deeply held concepts that guide your behavior and your sense of what is right and wrong. For example, honesty, self-reliance, and sustainability.

Why: Your ‘why’ is your strongest base-level motivation for why you do what you do. ‘Purpose’ is an alternative term for this. I prefer ‘why’ because it is easier to distinguish from ‘mission.’ Why keeps the focus on motivation versus what you do. For example, my why is to “give back and make a difference” during this otherwise retirement phase of my life.

Mission: What you do and for whom. For example, my mission is to help people become the best version of themselves and to achieve more of their heart’s desires in all areas of their life. I do this via individualized one-on-one life coaching. My ideal client is someone that is facing, or desiring, a significant life or career change.

Vision: Where you want to be in five, ten, or more years. What do you want to be doing? Who do you want to be with? Where do you want to be living? What accomplishments have you achieved? Etc. For example, my vision is to have a successful coaching practice that sustains me and provides the opportunity to impact 1000 lives.


The next piece of the model is what I call the 4S’s. These are the key ingredients that feed achievement.

The ingredients are:
The Self: This is the most important ingredient, your own mind and body. Your achievement is dependent on motivation, strengths, personality, mindset, what you internally already know, your habits, and many other attributes.

Smarts: External knowledge from the internet, academic papers, books, videos, online courses, formal education, etc.

Support: Anyone that provides you with intellectual or emotional support, including friends and family, work colleagues, mastermind members, consultants, mentors, therapists, and coaches.

Systems: Processes and technology, including a calendar, to-do list, habit tracker, note-taking application, various writing applications, and an overall productivity philosophy and system.

Goals and Tasks

Next are Goals and Tasks. Goals provide focus—they can be as immediate as goals for the day, or as long-term as lifetime goals (i.e., your “heart’s desires”) that support your vision. Tasks are either stand-alone or the output of work breakdown from larger projects. Planning and prioritization are implicit in this part of the model.

Next, the achievement model moves into execution.


Any action depends on the application of time, energy, and attention (TEA). The application of these resources creates the completed work—the achievement. Any lacking in these areas will impact the achievement timeliness and/or quality.

Review and Feedback

The last piece of the achievement model is a review and feedback loop. Each achievement presents an opportunity to reflect on what went well and where there are opportunities for improvement. The identified opportunities drive 4S ingredient continuous improvement.


This concludes the Life Achievement Model introduction. 

One of the uses and benefits of the model is to use it as a Table of Contents for possible coaching topics. For example, to explore personal values, support for life-long learning, or productivity system refinement.

Next, we will review the definition of Life Design.

Download 3-page PDF with the Life Achievement Mental Model diagram and many bullet lists for the next level of detail underneath the model.


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