When you move, it’s the perfect opportunity to re-invent yourself, to become the best version of you. But, what if you’re not sure what that is? What if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up? Most of us don’t. That’s why it’s helpful to have a road map for how to design your life after you move.
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans are the co-founders of the Life Design Lab at Stanford and authors of the book Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. After reading their book, I decided to host a family workshop. In case you’ve ever wondered what the kids of self-help authors do on weekends, now you know.
To design your life after you move, you need to figure out three things:
- Where are you now?
- What do you believe?
- What are you doing?
Don’t take these questions literally since, geographically-speaking, you probably are somewhere different now than you will be after the move. So, where are you, in a more metaphorical sense? If you need some help, Burnett and Evans posted a sign over their design studio that says, “You are here.”
Design your life: Where are you now?
Before things get too existential, print out the Dashboard Worksheet from the Designing Your Life website or take a look at the example below. Use the worksheet to determine how you feel about your current health, love, work, and play. Color in each category first and then decide which category you would want to improve. Next, think about how you would make that change happen.
For example, your meter may look something like this:
Your meter will look different at various stages of life since sometimes we focus more on one area than another as we try to get a job promotion or we plan our wedding. If you find that one area of your life isn’t as high as you would like it to be, make that a priority after you move. Then, write down what steps you would take to improve that particular meter. (If you’re looking for inspiration, you can check out my Sample Moving Resolutions Chart.)
Design your life: What do you believe?
Next, figure out how you feel about life and work. Take some time to write down your thoughts. Burnett and Evans ask you to delve into questions like: Why do you work? What’s the meaning of work? What defines worthwhile work and how does money, fulfilment, and experience play into it? Continue with these deep thoughts as you think about your life. What’s the meaning of life? How do other people and your community and religion fit into your lifeview?
Once you’ve written down your thoughts about life and work, compare them. Are your views in line? Is there a conflict between what you do at work and what’s important to you in life? If there is a conflict, think of ways you could make some changes.
Burnett and Evans claim that, if conflict exists between your lifeview and your workview, you don’t need to change jobs. Instead, you can find ways to work within the framework of your current job. However, since you are moving, you’ve been given an opportunity to make a drastic change if that’s what you need to be fulfilled and happy.
Design your life: What are you doing?
Think of the things that excite you and energize you throughout your day – both at work and at home. Keep a journal of these items over the course of the next couple weeks. (For resources, including a sample Energy Engagement Worksheet check out the Design Your Life website). After you’ve figured out what brings you joy, you’ll be ready to make a mind map.
Here’s your mind-mapping exercise:
- Grab a piece of paper.
- Set a timer for 3 minutes.
- Write down something that engages you and circle it.
- Draw 5 lines coming out of that circle and write down the first 5 things that come to mind.
- Add 2-3 lines to the items you just wrote down and write whatever comes to mind again.
- Repeat until timer beeps.
- Circle the words that pop out of you.
This exercise will provide insight into things that excite you or are important to you. For example, let’s say you started with the word “cooking”. When you look at the big picture mind map, you see “cupcakes”, “friends”, “bakery”, “starting a business”, “community”. You don’t know what’s lurking in your subconscious until you tease it out.
Now, for my favorite part: Your alternate life scenarios.
Or, as Burnett and Evan call it, “Odyssey Plans”. For your final step, write down what your plans are for the next five years. Here’s the twist – you need three completely different life scenarios. This is how the Design Your Life co-founders recommend coming up with your three Odyssey Plans.
The life you’re currently living
The life you would live if Life #1 wasn’t an option
The life you would live if money or image were no object
Once you’ve written down your three life plans, you’ll see you have options. In a short amount of time, you’ve delved into some pretty deep thinking. Now, what will you do about it? With a life design in place, how will this impact your life after the move? I’d love to hear about it!
 Don’t worry. Coffee and donuts were offered. Fun was had by all.
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Burnett, Bill and Dave Evans. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.