In Essays on
August 21, 2016

How to Design a Life You Actually Love*

 

*No trust fund or major financial privilege required. 

 

I’ve read a lot of self-help books.

All have a common theme: only you have the power to change your life.

Take this Tony Robbins quote for example:

“Most people are so busy surviving and making a living, they forget to design a life. And if you don’t take the time to design your life, you’re going to miss out. You’ll snap your fingers and ten years will happen. You’ll look back and think: where’d it go? Ten years from now you will surely arrive. The question is: where?”

Great, in theory. But how do you actually put it into practice when bills need to be paid and commitments have been made?

Newsflash: there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Happiness is a deeply personal thing, after all.

But here are three approaches that have helped me create a life I actually love (on most days anyway, let’s be real) and will hopefully help you, too. No trust fund or financial safety net required.

DAY JOB

Let’s cut to the chase. You have to work. And sometimes it sucks. But while you may not be able to change your day job instantly, you *can* change your mindset a little more each day.

You don’t need to be wholly dedicated to your job.

You don’t even need to love your job.

You just need to accept your job for what it is: something that provides you financial security. It’s all experience. It’s all learning.

If you only wait for extraordinary experiences and THE dream job, you’ll always be discontent.

A lot of life is mundane. It’s about taking ordinary experiences and making them great. About seeing the possibility and pleasure in the little things.

Give yourself time. It’s easy to look at yet another bill and feel like you’ll be stuck in 9-5 employment forever. But you have options. You can move on.

Whether you adore or detest your job, start saving however much you can a month. It doesn’t have to be much, just something. Call it a freedom fund. Because life becomes easier when you feel you have options.

SIDE HUSTLE

If you’re searching for your purpose, stop. You’re not going to find your “purpose” overnight. It’s a process. But you can start a project to get you closer.

Side hustles remove the sole focus from your day job. They stop you from putting all of your emotional eggs in one basket. They give you equilibrium.

A life based on goals alone can only be disappointing. But a life made up of passion projects is enriching, whatever the outcome.

Start by thinking about what you enjoyed as a child. Perhaps you loved to paint? Or make jewellery? Or write? Try it again with the intention of learning and having fun in the process. You may even make some £££, too.

And if you think you don’t have time, think again. Let’s do the maths. A full-time job is, in fact, only 23% of your time. Everyone has 168 hours a week. Your day job is only 40 or so of yours.

NON-PROFIT PURSUIT

If you have a job, somewhat of a social life and a side hustle, you may feel you’re too busy for anything else. But I beg to differ. You can’t afford to be too busy when it comes to giving back.

In order to feel like we matter, we need to do something, however small, that matters. 

Once a month, I spend a few hours away from my everyday reality to try and better someone else’s. It could be gardening at your local community centre on a Saturday afternoon, doing a shift at a charity store, mentoring a young person or donating your old things to people in need.

Giving changes your whole identity more than any top job or degree can. Everyone has something to give. We all need to get out of ourselves and our own problems for a while. What better way than to help someone else with theirs?

If you found out you were dying, you’d want to try something new, right? Well, you are. We all are. I rest my case.

Don’t settle. There’s no fun in living a life that is less than you’re capable of.

But instead of thinking how to solve your whole life at once, try adding to it instead. One good thing at a time.


This post originally featured in my weekly newsletter! Subscribe here to receive musings on careers, creativity and more. :)

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6 Comments

  • Laura

    I really needed this post today! It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster but reading this helped, a lot. I especially loved this:

    “A lot of life is mundane. It’s about taking ordinary experiences and making them great. About seeing the possibility and pleasure in the little things.”

    It’s so true! I definitely don’t love my day job, but I have to accept it for what it is, and maybe I can even make some friends along the way. I’m so excited about other things in my life, like starting blogging and getting a big passion for it, so I should instead think about those things rather than stressing about work.

    Thanks for writing this and I hope you have a lovely Sunday evening!

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

    August 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm Reply
  • Walkiria

    I love this post!!! The realisation that as humans we are all finite, is an important one. I feel you are very blessed to understand and feel such existential concepts at your age. But then again age is just a number and time only a concept!

    Thank you for all you give us with your writing Bianca

    August 21, 2016 at 5:38 pm Reply
  • A Life Based On Goals Alone Can Only Ever Be Disappointing

    […] does that work when you have bills to pay? I’m talking about exactly that in my latest post, How to Design a Life You Actually Love* (no trust fund or major financial privilege […]

    August 22, 2016 at 7:12 pm Reply
  • Emma

    Absolutely LOVE this post and its certainly something I needed to read on a day where I am just lounging around and thinking about the future.

    I know what I want to do with my life, it’s just building up with two more years of university and having just a part-time job. Sometimes I feel that I need to work more but I know that with university I just won’t be able to cope with the work load, but as someone who wants a career in publishing I am reaching out and making contacts in the industry to help me on my way in my spare time. For example this summer I have sent off my applications for work experience with some of them for next summer, again its something I want to do and a stepping stone to the life I want to live. It may take a while but I know what I’m doing 🙂

    Sorry for the life story there haha but yes, lovely post and a lot to take in and think about for sure.

    Emma @ Emma’s Bookery

    August 23, 2016 at 3:28 pm Reply
    • carees

      hi,thanks for sharing the nice post it.

      February 18, 2017 at 6:24 am Reply
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