What is Life Design?

To give you an idea of how the life design process works, here is a rough outline, a quick road map. Because the process is highly interactive and iterative, it will change but is likely to contain these guideposts.

The underlying idea is the VAST process from permaculture design:

We don’t learn to create a vision for our life, so this step is as much about learning how to vision as it is about coming up with the actual vision. There are two elements to our vision: Our world and our lives. My approach to life design is grounded in a larger vision: The world we would like to live in. Once you have at least sketched a world vision, we envision the role(s) you play in that vision.

For your personal vision, we’ll start with a “day in your life” scenario and then build on that. This step also involves gaining clarity about your core values and needs. The key will be to let yourself imagine a life that meets your most important needs.

If we discover that there is something in your vision you would like to try, we’ll brainstorm how that might look like in a small step. Maybe there is a class you could take to explore that aspect. Or maybe there is a small change you can implement to find out what happens.

The goal of the assessment step is to figure out where you are in relation to your vision. We’ll look at aspects where you are close and where you might have a far way to go. We’ll take a look at all the components in your life and how they interact. We’ll assess if these components complement each other or not.

We’ll also assess potential roadblocks, constraints, and obstacles, which can include inner and outer barriers to change. This step also involves loads of learning to accept where you are. It is okay to currently live far away from your vision! You can view what you have tried so far as one big learning experiment. You now know a slew of things you can avoid doing if you want to live closer to your vision.

If you have started taking small steps toward changes, we’ll assess how those changes are working out for you. Maybe the class showed that you don’t really want to become a nun or monk. Or you realized that you absolutely love jewelry making and have great skill for it. Either way, we will have more information about what works for you and what might not.

Once you feel comfortable with your vision and your assessment, we’ll brainstorm strategies: How can you move from here to there? The idea is to come up with lots of different ways for you to get to your vision. Some of them might work better given potential roadblocks and constraints. Others might be completely unfeasible.

Changing our lives, even a little bit, can be very, very scary. It can help to have a specific plan – full of little steps – that we intend to complete within a certain timeframe. That class you want to take? Let’s commit that you do that by the end of the year. You want to learn to meditate? You can do a 28-day program in the next month to see if you like it.

If these steps seem overwhelming, remember that we’ll start small, the process is completely iterative, and we won’t write anything in stone. The first permaculture principle is “observe & interact,” which essentially captures the idea of a sophisticated trial-and-error process. You try something, observe the effects, and adjust as necessary. If you find something that works – great! If you find something that doesn’t work – great! Both give you valuable information that you can build on.

The important thing in this process is to be patient with yourself. Making changes is exciting but scary. Starting with small steps can lead to bigger changes that you feel much more comfortable with.

The most important thing, though, is to have fun! This process gives you the permission to try out new things and see what happens. Have some fun with it!

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