Mountain Stream Coaching in words with M stylized as mountains and S stylized as stream
Notebook with words 'Life Design' on maple table with compass and mechanical pencil

My personal and coaching business 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. Life Design Coaching is one way I bring this mission to life.

In this article, I outline what Life Design has grown to mean to me. At the end of the article, there is a bibliography of sources that are influencing my thinking. Also see Deciphering Life Design: A Glossary of Key Terms.

‘Life Design’ or ‘Life by Design’ is a multidisciplinary process to consciously and intentionally create a fulfilling and meaningful life aligned with your core values and life purpose.

Break It Down

Life Design is Multidisciplinary. Life Design uses concepts and practices from Spirituality, Mythology, Positive Psychology, Design Thinking, Career Coaching, Adult Learning Theory, Productivity Best Practice, Habits, and Personal Knowledge Management.

Life Design is Conscious and Intentional. Life Design is about taking control of your life and shaping it into something that you want, rather than just letting it happen to you. 

A life lived by default is a life lived in reaction. It is a life spent doing what you should do or have to do rather than what you want to do. (Curtis R. Estes)

Life Design is Dedicated to Creating a Meaningful and Fulfilling Life. A meaningful life is a life that matters. A fulfilling life is a life characterized by positive contribution and impact, connection with others, and growth. A fulfilling life has a deep sense of well-being, gratitude, and meaning. A fulfilling life is a successful life—success as defined by you. Life Design rejects “shoulds” coming from others or your own internal critic.

Life Design is Comprehensive. The goal is to have satisfaction and harmony across all areas of life, including:

Outer World

  • Financial Health
  • Work
  • Service (giving back)
  • Environment (physical surroundings) and Possessions
  • Family (partner, kids, parents, etc.)
  • Social Ties (friends, colleagues, connections, etc.)
  • Fun and Leisure

Inner World

  • Physical Health
  • Mental (Emotional) Health
  • Spiritual Health
  • Intellectual, Learning, and Growth
The grouping by outer versus inner world is an idea from LifeHack.
A successful life includes a successful career, but it is more than a successful career. (Curtis R. Estes)

Life Design is Achievement-Oriented. Life Design involves creating a compelling vision for the future and setting meaningful goals aligned with that vision. This process involves identifying desired outcomes, both short-term and long-term, and developing a clear roadmap for achieving them. This roadmap will help define your mission. Your passion will emerge from this work — passion is an outcome, not an input to Life Design. Prioritization, goal-setting, task management, and other productivity practices are also a part of Life Design.

Strengths, Habits (for better or worse), Knowledge, Relationships, and Systems all play pivotal roles in maximizing contribution and impact. Refer to my earlier article A Recipe for Life Achievement for more of my thinking in this area.

Software Can Support Life Design. Although not essential, helpful software categories include productivity (e.g., calendar and to-do list), note-taking, habit-tracking, feeling-tracking, and meditation apps. The bundle of software supporting your Life Design is sometimes referred to as a Life Operating System, or Life OS for short.

Apply Design Principles

Life Design Begins with a Precise Problem Definition. Life Design seeks to find solutions to the “problem” of living a fulfilling life that is aligned with your core values and life purpose. This requires clarity on:

  • What does a fulfilling life mean to you? — begin with the definition above and customize it to make it your own.
  • What are your wants and unique personal needs?
  • What are your success criteria? How will you know that your Life Design is working for you?
  • What are your core values?
  • What is your “why” or purpose?

Life Design is Powered by Questions. In addition to problem definition questions, ask questions that challenge assumptions, reframe beliefs, stimulate creativity, and help identify potential solutions. Questions like:

  • What if…?
  • Is that true…?
  • How might I…?
  • What are the benefits of…?
  • What are the drawbacks of…?
  • What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  • What are my deep internal beliefs about that?
  • How can I create more happiness and joy in my life?
  • Who do I want to become? What do I want to be known for?
  • How might technology help? How is technology getting in the way?
  • How can I create more harmony between my work and the rest of my life?

Life Design is an Iterative Process. It’s important to regularly reflect on your progress and adjust along the way. In the journey towards the best version of yourself, continuous self-monitoring, self-discovery, and self-improvement (growth and development) are essential. Build on what is working and discard what isn’t. Aim for an attitude of flexibility and adaptability.

Life Design Depends on Prototyping and Experimentation. Life Design encourages exploring different possibilities. This involves pursuing diverse interests, trying out new experiences, and stepping out of your comfort zone to gain a broader perspective and discover what truly resonates with you.

Life Design is a Team Sport. Involve your family, friends, and colleagues in your Life Design. Find a mentor. Hire a life coach. Create a Personal Advisory Board. Join or create a Mastermind Group. Ask for help.

Life Design is a Lifelong Commitment. Life Design is not a “one-and-done” activity. Approach Life Design as if your life were a software product. Sometimes there are major releases (e.g., from marriage, divorce, job change, etc.) and there is always a stream of minor releases with small enhancements and “bug” fixes.

Over to You

  1. What would you add to, or subtract from, the Life Design description above?
  2. Are you currently living your Life by Design as described here? If so, how is that going? — what is working, or not working so well, for you? Or, if you are not living your Life by Design, is this level of intentionality and structure something you find attractive? Will you be adopting the practices described here?

Please answer in a Reply to this article. 

What’s Next and Bibliography

In future articles, I plan to dig further into the Life Design mindset (published 26 July 2023), process flow (published 6 August 2023), and benefits. I also plan to summarize some of the following sources that have influenced my Life Design thinking:

Life Design  

Change, Disruption, and Transition

Note: The book links are Amazon affiliate links that pay a small commission to me upon purchase, at no cost to you.

2 Responses

  1. I wouldn’t change anything about your description of Life Design. It really spoke to me, and I liked the comparisons you made.

    Currently, I’m not living my life as you describe in your article. I’m unsure about my future or what profession I should pursue. Could it be real estate (selling/renting), design (clothing, hats, mugs, etc.), or singing (more about expressing faith than securing a record deal)? These are what I classify as “dreamy” aspirations—things I find intriguing and enjoyable. For that reason, I haven’t taken them seriously.

    I’ve often heard that there’s a significant difference between a hobby and a job, but perhaps this isn’t as true today. I tend to procrastinate when I feel overwhelmed, and although I’m prepared to work hard once I get started, the initiation is the challenging part.

    The idea of living life with a clear plan and purpose is both appealing and slightly intimidating. I believe I should attempt to adopt this approach, providing I don’t become my own obstacle.

  2. Hi Tiara,

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    Regarding ‘hobby’ versus ‘job,’ the distinction still holds today as much as ever. What may have shifted is an increased visibility to the “Do the work you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” meme. That prescription puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on career changers. Sometimes, a job is just a job, and people get fulfilled from other life areas.

    Regarding feelings of overwhelm and intimidation, life design is iterative and a lifelong process. It is important to start with a potential mindset shift to embrace the concept and then work at it, bit by bit. I may be contributing to your feeling of overwhelm by offering so many different pieces. The content I’m sharing is intended as a menu to pick from, not a project plan to complete 100%. Start out small, perhaps with just a single assessment, and then see where that leads to for next action.

    Good luck on your life design journey.

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