Very often, the way we live our lives is that we go through the motions: We do our work, try our best, tackle the things we have to do, take on our obligations, or we slack off on those obligations and find comforts where we can.
What we often forget is that no matter what, we’re creating our lives.
What if we took a more intentional approach and created our lives on purpose?
What if we took life as a blank slate and decided what we really wanted it to look like? What if we felt empowered to choose, to create, to bring to life what our hearts really wanted?
In this article, I’m going to share three questions to seriously take on if you want to create your life.
I highly encourage you to take these on with full commitment. Pour yourself into them, don’t just read and think about them. Set time aside, go for a walk, take along a notebook, and really create something here. It’s your life you’re creating.
Question 1: What Do You Want to Create?
If you could have anything you wanted in life, what would it be? Not just possessions (although those, too). Think about relationships, an experience of life, a way of being, or a way of living.
What does your heart really want? Why do you care about that? Why does it matter?
For example, some things my heart wants include:
- Serving people by helping them be with their fears and create meaningful lives
- Deeply intimate and nourishing relationships (wife, kids, family, friends, my team)
- Vibrant and strong health
- Adventure, curiosity, and wonder
- A house on the beach, with daily dives into the ocean
I’m actively creating those things (the house on the beach is a ways off, though). I’m only actively creating them because I decided that I really want to create them—they’re what my heart is calling for.
Spend some time feeling what you want to create in your life. What matters to you? Are you willing to do what it takes to create those, including stepping out of your comfort zone? If not, you might consider that comfort is the thing you want most.
Don’t worry about getting the list right. Just put what comes up for you. You can always evolve the list, like any creation. But write it down. Talk to others about it. Go for walks and contemplate some more.
Question 2: What Are the Required Actions?
Once you have a decent draft of the life you want to create, ask yourself: What actions would be required to create this life?
Make a list. Don’t worry about getting it right. Put the things that are absolutely required.
- Vibrant and strong health: 7 1/2 hours of sleep per night, eat 90 percent whole foods, and daily exercise and meditation.
- House on the beach: save money to buy a small plot of land near the beach and increase income to be able to save. [Insert actions for what I’d need to do to increase my income.]
For some, I can live them right now; I can live my life with wonder, curiosity, and adventure in every moment. For others, such as my intimate and nourishing relationships, I need to put in time each day to nourish and be nourished by my loved ones.
What actions would you need to take for each thing you want to create in your life? Make a list. Take an action from each item and commit to them.
Are you willing to take those actions to create the life you want? If not, reconsider how much you really want these things. How important are they to you? Is there something else you want more that’s not on the list, such as comfort or rest?
Question 3: What Do You Tend to Do When Those Actions Meet With Resistance?
Start to take the actions each day. Put a short list of required actions (and what they’re helping create) in front of you each day.
Do a review at the end of each day and each week: How’s it going? What’s getting in the way? What do you need to adjust?
Most importantly, what’s your tendency when the actions are met with resistance?
Do you tend to gravitate toward distractions, comforts, busywork, beating yourself up, overwork, addiction, perfectionism, or hiding?
This is where things get real. Up until this moment, things were just abstractions. When we meet resistance, our patterns show up. These patterns—and the fears that lead to them—are exactly why we haven’t created the lives we want yet. They’re why we let ourselves fall into routine and obligation. It’s not our way to face our fears.
The work begins here: Turn toward the fears and be with them. Love them. Live the life you want to create in the moment when the fears show up. For me, that means being with the fears with a sense of curiosity, wonder, adventure, intimacy, nourishment, service, vibrancy, and strength. Diving into the fears as I would dive into the ocean—with zest and love.
How do you want to live when the fears show up?
Creating the life you want means living it, as you create it.
What will you create from this moment forward?
Leo Babauta is the author of six books and the writer of Zen Habits, a blog with over 2 million subscribers. Visit ZenHabits.net