Imagine that you’re about to enter a fortune teller’s tent. As you walk in you see soft lights twinkling overhead and an old wrinkled lady hunched over a crystal ball. You sit down across from her. She sways side to side as she gradually enters into a trance. After some time the crystal ball pulses with light and she flicks open her eyes and proceeds to utter seven words: “Do you want to hear your destiny?”.
What would your answer be? Many of us, I am sure, would rather not know the answer. What if your destiny turned out to be living in a suburb, working a job you hated for 50 years, then retiring as your health declined…
No disrespect to anyone who finds themselves in this situation, but what if by hearing this earlier in life it changed the course of your life? What if this prophecy was what you needed to shake things up in your life and shift you onto a new path?
I don’t believe in prophecies or destiny per se. I believe we have the power to shape our own futures no matter what others may tell us. Maybe you’ve heard from others that you were destined for a certain kind of life. This could have been from your parents, teachers or close friends.
Well, life design as a philosophy sticks its metaphorical middle finger up at such a notion and has you take conscious ownership for the direction of your life.
It’s all too easy to get stuck in a spiral of blaming external factors (been there and done that). But there comes a time when you realise that blame doesn’t get you anywhere. It actually keeps you stuck in one place.
Your power lies in your ability to choose how you react to a certain situation. Whatever it may be. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for a quarter of a century, yet he did not let prison break his spirit. In fact, he befriended his jailers to the point where they would often come to him for life advice.
As life designers, we are inherently interested in such a question. This is because at its core life design is about the conscious act of creating our futures.
We have a lot more control over the flow of our lives than we like to admit. In theory, you could quit your job tomorrow, sell your belongings, and become an aid worker in Africa if you so wished.
Sounds crazy? Well, this is exactly what Scott Harrison (founder of Charity: Water) did.
Huge, sweeping life changes are possible, although they don’t need to be as drastic as this. I believe such dramatic changes are initiated from your Inner Wise Self, rather than from the rational mind. So be careful if you’re in the mood to explode your relationships and go live in a cave for the next 5 years.
The trouble most people face is that they don’t recognise the power they possess to create positive changes around them. Either they get overwhelmed by the deluge of negative news and assume everything is hopeless. Or, they imitate an ostrich and pretend that everything is fine the way it is (even when it isn’t).
I saw a clip of drag queen Ru Paul a while ago and in it, he said something that stuck with me. He said: “No matter who you are, when you leave the house you’re putting on drag.”
What I took from this is that we all possess multiple sides to us. You may put a suit on in the morning and become a financier during the working day. On the weekends you wear a t-shirt and jeans and become a family man.
In a similar way, we put on emotional outfits that colour our worldview. One day we may be feeling rather optimistic about the future, and then BAM we see a negative news headline, our mood sours, and we’re left questioning the point of it all.
I want to clarify here that optimism by definition is not ‘good’ and pessimism is not ‘bad’. We need a healthy dose of each. Naive optimism is seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses and can get you into trouble. Unshakable pessimism puts a downer on everything and eventually makes life not worth living.
It’s after we’ve experienced a helping of both that we find a grounded realism somewhere in the middle.
Naturally, we each possess a baseline emotional state. Our favourite emotional outfit. This constitutes our character. I don’t want to start the nature or nurture debate here, but rather I want to bring your attention to the fact that we never wear a single outfit permanently. And this is an empowering thought.
It is from this place that I invite you to approach life design. No matter how hopeless you may feel things are at times, remember that other outfits are available to you. Maybe they don’t fit as well anymore, in which case what you need to do is gradually tailor them to your size again.
Let us play a game that I’ve just made up called: ‘good or bad’.
Despite common belief, the answer to all of these questions is… well, neither.
Maybe your friend gets fired and after a few months of stress and uncertainty is now rehired in a new role that he enjoys much more now (this has happened to two of my friends).
Maybe your parents leave an unhappy marriage only to bring new people into their lives who support and uplift them (this happened both to me and one of my close friends).
And if the planet gets flooded and we all die… well, that’s good for the planet and you’re dead so you have no say in the matter!
The point I’m trying to get across here is that nothing is black or white. If you’ve been dealt a seemingly bad hand, there is the possibility to draw new cards as you move through life and make the most of a bad situation.
But if you lock yourself into the mindset that life is against you, you’ll miss out on the opportunities to draw new cards. You’ll remain miserable with your shitty hand of cards.
While you’re going through a particularly tough time in your life it may feel like the walls are closing in and all you see is darkness. But things will get better if you are able to let go of external blame and focus on reshaping your own path.
Creating meaningful changes in your life requires a consistent and intentional flow of energy. ‘Big Bang’ changes may work for some, but they are not for the faint-hearted (speaking from experience).
The first step to designing a brighter future is to recognise that you have the power to direct your life path. The beliefs you hold influence the outfits you wear on a day-to-day basis. These directly affect the opportunities you see in front of you and the choices you make.
Sometimes life knocks us to the floor, or pushed us into a corner, leaving us jaded and cynical. It is in these moments that the most growth is possible for us. If you are seeking to change things up then this is the place to help you create it.
The Foundations Path is a series of 6 courses that introduce you to a set of powerful life design concepts and cover the key 5 ingredients for personal growth and transformation.
Part way through the course you will be given access to the Life Compass (within Notion), a system for you to organise your life within and help you focus your energy on the things that truly matter (more on this in a separate article).
We offer the first course for free, a link for which can be found here. When you enroll you will gain access to a private community where you can meet and exchange stories with people from around the world (as well as interact with me!).
Hope to see you there.
Until next time,