Stop settling for just okay.
Someone told me once that if you don’t spend your life fulfilling your own dream, you’ll spend it working for someone else’s dream. It was then that I decided I wouldn’t settle for contentment -- I always knew I wanted more than an okay job and an okay lifestyle. I want challenges, growth, and freedom from financial and time restraints. I want flexibility and control. I want to live life on my own terms, not on the terms of a job contract.
That said, we all have two choices: Make a living or design a life. When you create the opportunity to design your life (“create” being the key word because no one is simply given the opportunity to do so), you can design a life that makes you happy, fulfilled, and successful, whatever success looks like to you.
Here are seven tips to get you started on the path to a well-designed life.
1. Evaluate your current situation.
First, ask yourself what your status is. Are you a student? Recent graduate? Young or mid-career professional? Your life status will direct many of your goal-making decisions. Then, evaluate your current level of happiness. Be honest with yourself. Do you thoroughly enjoy your day-to-day activities, or do you power through on autopilot? If your answer is the latter, it’s time to ask yourself what you can do differently.
2. Define your dreams.
Be big, bold, and audacious here. You’re dreaming — nothing is off-limits. It’s human nature to want more than you have. Use that to your advantage and decide what you want to gain from life. Maybe you want to be an exec at an internationally renowned ad agency one day. Maybe you want to become a travel journalist and get paid to visit every corner of the world. Maybe you want to be a professional athlete or become a fashion model. Dig deep and hash out everything you want in life. Pro tip: Physically writing out your dreams may help you organize them.
3. Do your research.
Whatever you want to do, someone has probably already done. Instead of letting that discourage you, take some time to research professionals in your field. Try to understand the path to success in your industry or niche and make a list of people who are successful in that industry. Follow them on social media and sign up for their newsletters. If you already have role models, don’t be afraid to reach out for tips and guidance. Many successful professionals are happy to help aspiring young people.
4. Make a list of priorities and a timeline.
At this point you should have a good grip on where you want to be and what it takes to get there. Now you make a list of priorities. If your goal is to run your first 10K in six months, your first priority should be finding a training plan. Then, you need to plot your big goal into smaller goals. For example: Run two miles without stopping by next month; run four miles without stopping by the third month; run six miles without stopping by the fifth month. In month six, you should be ready to run your first 10K!
5. Decide on one thing you will do everyday to reach your goal.
This part is easy. Want to be a successful writer? Write for an hour every day, even if it’s just brain-dumping. Want to be a business owner? Spend some time each day developing your brand elements, such as your logo, or developing your assets, such as your website. The key to this tip is making a commitment. Don’t sell yourself short by disregarding the small tasks you can do every day to grow. Just like in fitness, small habits add up to massive changes over time when we’re talking about life goals.
6. Be realistic.
Growing anything, including yourself, takes time. It’s easy to get frustrated by slow growth, but sometimes you just have to give yourself a reality check. No big, successful brand spontaneously erupted overnight — they grew through consistent, purposeful efforts that eventually led to habits. They grew because they were patient and engaged in trial-and-error.
If you set unrealistic goals, you will set yourself up for disappointment. An example of a realistic goal for a writer is “I will submit 12 story pitches to editors in the next three months.” That boils down to four pitches per month, giving the writer at least a week to thoughtfully develop each one. An example of an unrealistic goal: “I want to write for The New Yorker.” How is the writer going to get there? What’s the plan? What will they pitch and when? Do they have the requisite experience to get published in this publication? A realistic goal leaves few questions to be answered.
7. Continuously re-evaluate.
Every week, every two weeks, or every month, sit down and check in with yourself. How have you grown since you last evaluated your situation? This step is crucial. Without re-evaluating, you won’t be able to give yourself feedback. Feedback is what drives continual change and growth. If you’re happy with your progress, congratulate yourself. Celebrate! If not, identify areas where you can improve and adjust your plan accordingly.
By Amanda Capritto
Amanda is the cofounder of Smarter Sweat. She's a certified personal trainer, health coach, and functional fitness coach. She also owns another business, where she writes about all things fitness, nutrition, travel and lifestyle.
About Smarter Sweat
Smarter Sweat is a fitness company built from the ground up by fitness experts Amanda Capritto and Ashley Phantz. Amanda and Ashley are both dead-set on cutting through the clutter of the fitness industry and providing raw, real, utterly honest information about fitness and wellness.