Design your life

I’ve realized that I’m really weird.

I love everything about my life. I wake up, even on the hard days, and marvel at this amazing gift. I have made it to age 36 with very little, if any, hatred, fear, resentment, or burdens in any part of my life. I am not scared of getting old or dying. I am content being single. And, to the best of my reflection, I think it mostly stems from this one idea I unknowingly stumbled upon a long time ago. The belief that I am not here for what I can get from the world, but what I can give to it. For whatever reason, I started considering that every day of my life is my opportunity to fulfill that purpose.

This realization, mixed with my creative inclinations, like I think some of you might have, has helped me discover a tremendous opportunity. Just like we can plan out a novel, or envision a painting, or design a building to give to the world, you and I have the opportunity to give to the world every day by DESIGNING OUR LIFE.

We can make our life our creative masterpiece.

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I know we are each different, and if your way of life is serving you well, then totally just keep doing it! But if you think this might be of some help, try it out. So, here are some gritty life hacks that I’ve stumbled upon in the process. And ones that have helped me to maximize my resources toward this goal.

First, I try to refine my purpose and survey my tools. I think my best guess at my purpose is “to draw people closer to God.” And my tools are the VIN-diagram of where my passions, talents, and opportunities overlap.

Tools VIN diagramEach of our personal combination of tools is what makes them powerful and also what makes what we give to the world unique. My writing is my passion. I have tons of weaknesses, but my natural talents are drawing and being outgoing. And my opportunities are being single and a freelancer. So I try to write books and blogs that will draw people closer to God, and I use my drawings and friendliness to spread the word. Our goals and our tools take time to identify and can be moving targets so when I’m confused about them I just set one foot in front of the other in the direction that seems closest. And when I do that they usually steadily become clearer.

Another one near the top for me is this. Trim off the things that don’t contribute to your goal. Stuff like TV, unhealthy relationships, or oversleeping. Getting rid of that stuff probably sounds dreadful. I mean, we don’t need to have a one dimensional life, and many things in our lives have value outside of our goals, like family, community, recreation and rest, but it seems like when I trim off distractions and am putting my efforts efficiently toward my purpose I feel like I have MORE energy, have more of myself to give to others, and I enjoy what I do more.

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Also, get good at saying yes, and get good at saying no. When opportunities come up that could move my goal forward, or teach me something new that that might help my goal, I try to say yes and jump in and work out the details as I go. But when people ask me to do things that move me in the opposite direction, I usually try to delicately, and graciously say no.

Try to see every negative in terms of its positive. A couple years ago I prayed the ridiculous prayer for God to give me a fund source so I could write full time. The next month I got let go from my job. I thought, “this is a good opportunity to try freelance work.” And I found out I could earn enough money in half the number of hours I used to put in. In the rest of the time I could pursue my dreams.

Along the way, give value to others by what you do and seek out how accomplishing your goals can help them accomplish theirs. Then instead of encountering resistance, you will be creating investors, fans, collaborators. I’ve been wanting to promote my books so this last week I partnered with a non-profit to sell books for their charity at parties! The first one went great! So I think I’ll look for more opps like this.

I try not to do things just because others have. I try to figure out why or why not do the status quo. Why start smoking or spend a ton of money on clothes? Is ‘because the cool folks do it’ enough reason for my goals? Would getting married or having a baby get me closer to my purpose? Perhaps a spouse and baby IS one of your goals! I try to just be aware of if I am doing something just because others are doing it, or because it feeds into my purpose. If it doesn’t, I try to trim it out. I try not to let others’ expectations distract me from the purpose I think God put in me.

Use distractions in your favor. If you know that both video games and cleaning your house distract you, hide your video controller, and put your broom in full view. That way as your mind is looking for distractions (which is normal when getting around to a big project), you’re tilting the scales to make yourself productive.

With projects, find the balance of excellence vs. good enough, and too small vs. too big. If I pick too big of a project or have such high standards, I often burn out before I can complete it. Blogs are great because I can sometimes hammer one out in a few hours, I feel rewarded enough to do more, I can quickly re-edit them, and I get quick feedback to hone my craft. But in the background I have longer writing and drawing projects that are being fed by the blogging practice.

Now. . . just do it! If we don’t honor the muse she might not come back! Let’s start living our life for our purpose! We have been given something that the world will benefit from. It is called life. Let’s design our lives. Lets make it our masterpiece.

Happy purpose seeking, friends!

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What has been your experience in this so far? Please share what has worked for you!

Raw Spoon, 11-17-15

6 Responses to Design your life

  1. Pingback: With a Monster in Theology | Year end update | Raw Spoon | illustrated Christian insights

  2. Thanks Ross. Such an awesome read, my major take aways are:

    1. I’m not here for what I get from the world but what I can give to it. This really puts a lot of things in perspective.

    2. The fact that we can pray and really believe God to provide alternative streams of income as well as free up some of our time so we can focus on our key purpose.

    Awesome!

    (Just discovered your blog, been binge reading)

    • raw spoon says:

      Hey Chijioke!! So great to get this message from you. Thanks so much man. I looked at your site too And left a comment. Your thing you got going seems stellar! Way to go man. And i hope you like the site. Oh btw, im curious how you found me?
      Peace,
      Ross

      • Hey Ross!! Thanks! Just saw your comment, means a lot. I really do like your site, it’s not only very visually stimulating but has a ton of relevant content and advice for me as a creative. Yeah, so how I found you, I stumbled on a write practice article by Monica Clark yesterday so I checked out her blog, she mentioned that you wrote as well as illustrated in one of her posts, so I decided to check you out. Great site! I’ll be frequenting.

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