The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines design as the art or process of deciding how something will look, work…by drawing plans and making models. Design is is also defined as an anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides your planned actions (WordNet). Its synonyms are purpose, intent, and aim.
As you read this article, I want you to pause and look around you. What do you see? …Well, the fact is that everything you see around you that is useful was designed by someone. Nothing useful just appears!
If you will not leave your house in the morning without deciding beforehand where you’re going, how can you possibly embark on your life journey without having it planned?
Attributes of design
Someone said the two main qualities of any design are utility and significance. Utility refers to the need for a design to serve a purpose, that is, perform a function, whilst the significance aspect of a design means it should be beautiful / elegant.
A designed life works in and looks a particular way. The questions to ask are: Do I have a design of how my life will function? Is my life so well designed that it motivates me to want to live it out? How motivating is my life to those around me? Would someone look at my life design and be so captivated by it that s/he will decide to model it?
If the answers to the above questions are not in the affirmative, the next question is why not?
Why live by design?
The main reason for living your life by design is because you’re a creator. Whether you believe it or not, you were created by God to be a designer. To that extent, you have the imaginative and creative abilities of God. With these abilities, you can pre-determine the outcome of the events of your life. If you’re not living by design, it means you’re underutilizing your potentials.
The other reason you should live by design is because it’s the most effective way to live. It is the sure way of ensuring that you do the right things, always! We live in a world of aggressive marketing. The use of subliminal advertising is also widespread. Having a design for your life is the only guarantee you have against deception and distraction.
A life lived by design is an efficient life. Economists would tell you that resources are limited. This statement is truest when it comes to your time (your most important resource). Every day you live is one day less the total number of days you will spend on this planet. Since life is measured in time, living your life by design ensures that you maximize your life.
The overall justification for living by design is that it’s simply the best way to go. Living any other way will be suboptimal.
Requirements for a designed life
The fact that design is a creative process means that you need an imaginative mind to come up with a functional and significant life design. The creative process is a 2-step process: First, you see the end product (in your mind’s eye) then you create what you already saw in your mind.
The second requirement for a designed life is a resourceful network. The Scripture says: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13 verse 20). Your current network of friends is taking you somewhere. The question is: Where? If you have not designed your life, it’s most probable that: One, you are in the wrong network. Two, you’re headed the wrong way.
Your third requirement is strength. You need strength to pursue the kind of life you want because the road will be rough. Aside physical strength, you need the strength of character to ensure that you do what is required of you to accomplish what you’ve set out to achieve. Without the strength of character, chances are that you’ll succumb to negative attitudes and influences.
The last but not the least requirement is courage. The need for courage is because a designed life is not like anything you have done before. As it is with everything new, you will have to deal with fear and apprehension. Courage helps you to confront these powerful forces. In Joshua chapter one, God told Joshua (Moses’ successor) to be strong and of good courage. If a man appointed by God needed courage to accomplish what God appointed him for, you need courage for your life journey too.
How to live by design
To live by design, you must know your life purpose. Your purpose is the essence of your being. Not only do you draw strength from your purpose, it also gives focus to your efforts. I recommend you read my article on “How to find your life purpose” (Through this link http://waleadeniranye.com/how-to-find-your-life-purpose).
After defining your life purpose, the next step is to set clear goals in line with your purpose. It’s advisable that you write down your goals, preferably break them down into short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. The achievement of these goals keeps you in line with your purpose.
Develop a plan for achieving your goals. It’s not enough to define your goals; you need a workable plan for achieving them. Your goals are as powerful as the plans you have for achieving them. Without a well articulated plan, your goals are not worth more than the paper on which you’ve written them.
Finally, take action! There’s no substitute for action. As they say, nothing works unless you work them. The killer application for living a life of design is to work your plan.
What it means to live by default
To live by default is to ignore everything we’ve talked about up to this point and hope that somehow everything will turn out well. Your guess on the outcome of this kind of mindset is as good as mine. Jim Rohn said, “If you don’t have a plan for your life, chances are you will fall into someone else’s plan. Guess what they may have for you; not much.”
Living your life by default amounts to choosing a destructive path because things left unattended never aggregate, they disintegrate.
After I created my email account (a Hotmail handle) in 1996, there were days and even weeks that I didn’t receive a single message in my inbox. It used to bother me so much that whenever I saw a mail in the inbox, I felt elated and I relived the experience for days after. After some time, I noticed that the times I received email messages were times I had earlier sent mails to some people. When this awesome truth dawned on me, I felt it was stupid to have been expecting mails when I hadn’t sent mails to anyone.
The few mails I received without sending mails to anyone ended in my junk box. Almost always, I found that those unsolicited mails were of no use to me. This taught me one of my early lessons on living on purpose. Just as there’s no value in unsolicited mails, the product of a life that’s not designed is usually of little or no value.
In 2009, when I was writing my book, LIVE THE SIGNIFICANT LIFE, I sent a mail to friends asking them to give testimonials on the kind of person I am. The request was a structured email message. In return, I received 75 responses also by email! To say the least, it was a defining moment for me. One lesson I learnt from that experience is that value begets more value. I was awestruck by the common attributes of some of the adjectives used to qualify me. It was as if most of the respondents gathered in the same room to discuss what to write about me before they wrote the testimonials.
A friend, Yinka Mayugbo (Director, Africa Movie Channel) had this to say about me: “Wale knows and is strong in his conviction about what he wants, and how he should go about it. He is not easily swayed or influenced by the noise and all the goings-on around, and what is in season. He is what I will describe as a “long-termist”, with his actions and decisions primarily informed by what will immediately or ultimately afford him peace of mind and peace with his fellow man.”
It still amazes me that some people know me so well. The point to note is that those incisive testimonials weren’t just sent to me by default. No! They were designed. I took the design initiative by asking for them.
Living your life by design is the best life there is to live. Don’t sell yourself short by settling for any other life. If this article has been of value to you, please share it with your friends and colleagues. They can also subscribe to receive articles on ‘Personal Development for Significant Living’ through the link http://waleadeniranye.com.