How satisfied are you with where you are in life? Do you desire something more? Are you experiencing an urge to move to the next level? Is there a sense you want a vocation or avocation more aligned to your purpose and sense of calling? If so, you may be an ideal candidate for a life design update.
The Bible encourages us to pursue a deeper purpose in life. We are reminded that each of us has a special plan and purpose for our lives (see your: future—Jeremiah 29:11-13, design—Romans 8:28, cooperation—Proverbs 3:5-6). It’s been said:
“As sure as surely as we have a place in heaven to come, we have a special place and work to do here on earth.”
Finding purpose is the focus of Life Design (LD).
Life Design focuses on intentionally designing your life for a productive fulfilling purpose. It is not a cure-all, but a forward-looking plan to help realize where you are and want to be.
Popularized by Stanford scholars, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, in their book, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life (2016), LD is intended for anyone who has a desire to be and do better. Students, professionals, parents, retirees, persons of all faiths, ethnicities and cultures can profitably use LD to enrich their lives.
There is an abundance of research on the LD topic, but it can be summarized in the three ACT phrases below that can help jump-start your design work. Make it a habit to write out your notes using a journal or pad. Also, many people find it helpful to get an accountability friend, coach or group to partner with in their discovery journey.
Burnett and Evans strongly advise: “Start where you are. Not where you wish you were. Not where you hope you are.” The key for your quest is to ACT expeditiously, design wisely to get more out of your life.
A—Assess Yourself: Do a simple LD assessment in vital life areas, i.e., see below. Subjectively, rate your progress or satisfaction, 1 to 5, with one being needy and five being excellent. Assess your sense of purpose-fulfillment in: 1) work—what you get paid to do; 2) leisure—things that give you joy/pleasure; 3) love—quality relationship with God, family, friends and others; 4) health—state of your body, mind and spirit; 5) finances—monetary status; 6) dreams—goals you want to accomplish or service areas to fill; 7) spirituality—connection with God. Assessing yourself will take initiative and honesty.
C—Creatively Explore: Question, probe what matters most to you, beginning from your inside to outside? What values are most important in your life? Do you feel a calling—a need to fulfill? Identify activities that bring you enthusiasm. Research and inquire about strategic subjects you find interesting. Then question and interview others about their experience in relevant areas. Pursue and gather from people who are successful in related areas of your interests. Then ponder your findings. Creative exploration will take research and persistence.
T—Trigger Experimentation: Now begin to test your findings for resonance. Take the resulting data, ideas and discoveries from your research and examine them for feel, validation and do-ability. Validate if they consistent with your sense of purpose and Providence. You want the sense that you have identified genuine can-do, should-do, will-do areas of value that will bring you closer to purpose and fulfillment. Triggering experimentation will take courage and resolution.
Here you have the basics to begin to design or re-design your life. If needed, invite further input, pray more, set an action target. But be bold and ACT now.
Dr. Delbert Baker is an international educator with a broad worldview and an astute observer of human nature. He has degrees in theology, history, counseling and administration with a Master of Divinity, PhD in Organizational Communication and is a certified Executive Leadership Coach.
This article is part of our 2023 January/February Issue