I’ve often referred to myself as a lifestyle engineer. Recently, someone asked me what that was. I offered a short, quick answer. But I thought it would be better to give a more complete answer. It’s something that’s incredibly simple, but not at all easy in practice.
Why Do We Make The Choices We Do?
Get good grades, get into a good school, and get a good job. The secret to the American dream right? Absolutely, if that’s the lifestyle you want to lead. I’ve had several good jobs. They all made me miserable. The lifestyle they created for me just wasn’t what I wanted for myself. For those of you like me who need something different, that advice is a recommendation toward depression.
We are conditioned from an early age to live our lives in a particular way. This conditioning greatly influences the life choices we make for ourselves. If you are going to live consciously, it is absolutely essential you question this conditioning and decide for yourself what is right for you.
Are you living the life you want? What are you happy with and what would you change? Do you know what the life you want to live looks like? The gentleman who asked me what a lifestyle engineer was responded to my explanation with, “I just call that living my life”. I am curious if he is living consciously or not. I truly hope he is. If you are going to live consciously, I think it’s essential to take some steps to get there. What you don’t decide for yourself will be decided for you.
Here are the things I like to do to ensure I live consciously. First off, write it down. What does your 10-out-of-10 life look like? How can you get where you’re going if you don’t know your destination!? I overlooked this one for years. I thought it was pointless. Of course, “I know what I want my life to look like”, I thought. But in reality, writing down what you want is an important step. It makes your vision more concrete and gives you something to reference regularly.
Let’s take a minute and look at that list we just wrote. What we’re looking at is a list of things that make up our ideal lives. For each item on that list there’s a question we should be able to answer. Why is that item on my list? If the answer is something like, “because I’m supposed to”, is that item really serving us and do we really want it? Understanding the motivation for a goal is at least as important as the goal itself.
Next, look at your life right now. What is helping you meet the goals of your ideal life? What would you like to change? So much of life is about what you don’t do. Editing out as many things that you don’t enjoy doing is really the secret to the art of living consciously. How many of the things that you tell yourself you have to do, do you really have to do? If you don’t look at what you want for yourself and compare it to what you are doing, how can you change your situation?
Highlight the things you would like to change. Why would you like to change them? Why haven’t you changed them already? There is without a doubt a list of reasons you’ve told yourself as to why you can’t change this or that. We’ve all done it. This is problem-centric thinking. It’s time to change our wording to open up possibilities!
As soon as we start asking ourselves, “how can I change this” we allow ourselves the freedom to create solutions. It doesn’t have to be a perfect solution, especially since they don’t exist. It just has to be better than what we’re doing right now. We can always improve later. A little change is better than continuing on with something that doesn’t serve us!
What you believe to be true, inevitably is true. If you believe there is no solution to a problem, you won’t find one. Your brain won’t accept anything presented as a solution if you don’t believe a solution is possible. Often the tiniest step taken to improve the situation will give some breathing room and allow you to see that the situation can be improved.
What do you wish you were doing that you aren’t? Why aren’t you doing it already? Find ways to live the way you want to live. Sometimes it’s just looking at a problem in a different way. Making $5 an hour every hour over the life of a 30-year mortgage will cover the cost of a $600,000 home. Don’t try and buy a $600,000 home. Instead, find a way to make an extra $5 every hour.
Come back to your list regularly and reevaluate. Sometimes you’ll need to change or add things. Sometimes you’ll just want to see how many more things you’ve checked off the list. But the important thing is, you’re making the decisions that guide you toward the lifestyle you want.