Greener Pastures Ahead: Design Your Life in 2011

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That which matters the most should never give way to that which matters the least.

We are the designers of our time or, more broadly, our life.  This is a key insight I took away from my first semester of graduate school.  The topic came up during my “Critical Thinking For Business Redesign” class, and I’ve decided to reframe the lessons I learned into a 2011 “Critical Thinking for Life Redesign” mission.   Now, this type of thinking doesn’t require making sweeping resolutions you probably won’t keep, or tackling a complete life overhaul.  Rather, it requires looking inward to tap into what simply makes you happy.  Or makes you tick.  Or makes you want to get up in the morning, excited for another day.  Basically, it’s the best (and most fulfilling) use of your time.

Seem unrealistic or too difficult?  After all, you’ve probably written down your 2011 Resolutions already and stuffed them in a drawer, glad to be done with that task.  Well, go find your list or a clean piece of paper if you haven’t made one.  I’ve boiled down Life Redesign to three steps that can be applied to any area of your life – from going green to becoming better at your job.

  • Define your Higher Purpose. This doesn’t have to be saving the world from starvation, or rescuing every stray kitten.  It could be something like “Improve my eating habits,” “Switch to clean, non-toxic personal care products” or “Travel to Spain.”  You can have many Higher Purposes – you are not limited to one! – though I would recommend focusing on no more than two at a time.
  • Write down relevant Opportunity Statements. These are concrete and well-defined actions you must take to further your Higher Purpose.  For “Improve my eating habits,” an opportunity statement could be “Make dinner at home four nights a week” or “Allow only 25 percent of my shopping cart to contain pre-made, processed food.”  By being specific and concise (write down a single action – no and’s allowed), these statements give you an easy framework of next steps to make your Higher Purpose a reality.  Aim to start with two or three, and then add on (or revise) as needed.
  • Remind yourself frequently of your Higher Purpose and track the progress of your Opportunity Statements. Whether you want to make an eye-popping dream collage to hang on your wall (see Sophie Uliano’s recommendation on, or prefer to go the journaling route, find the inspiring method that keeps you accountable and moving forward.  Take a picture of your list and have it as your computer background, or put up Post-It notes around the bedroom mirror – use your imagination!

Though I must admit it isn’t made from recycled materials, I received Moleskin’s Wellness Journal, which is part of the company’s limited edition Passion series, for Christmas and it has been perfect for my 2011 Life Redesign plan.  The majority of the notebook is focused on health-related goals (such as diet and an exercise log), but there is also a section for Inspiring Quotes and Images, as well as empty tabs and pages to fill with whatever I like, such as keeping a list of books to read or jotting down random business ideas.  I keep the journal in my purse and update it as needed, but if you aren’t looking to be as dedicated, keep it by your bedside for a morning or evening recording session.  Any tiny step towards realizing and creating the life that makes you happy is worthwhile.

When we respect and take care of ourselves, we will – by extension – be taking care of the planet.  And you can’t get any more green than that!

Greenista’s Healthy Brain Candy:  What feeds your passion?

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