Designing the Life You Want

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Modern life has gotten us in such a tizzy. We spend the first 20 to 30 years of our lives studying up a storm so that we can get a great, and, more importantly, well-paying job, and as soon as we’re settled into the ways of the work world, we start to realise how taxing it is.

There’s the sometimes unrealistic boss who makes unreasonable demands, the stresses of interacting with colleagues and customers, the forever glare of the computer screen, the continuous leash you’re kept on with a corporate Blackberry and laptop, and let’s not get started on the traffic jam to get to and from work.

In the midst of all this we become drones, waking up at the same time each morning to get ready to take on the daily stresses that we’ve come to accept as a normal part of life. By the time the weekend arrives, we either use whatever little energy we have to run errands, lime, or collapse in our beds in hopes of gathering new strength for the week ahead. Long ago, weekends were relished. Saturdays and Sundays were a welcome break from the taxing week. Now, weekends seem to rush us by. Everything is happening so quickly that you stop one day and realise, but wait, five months have already passed us in 2010? Soon enough, we’ll be looking at winding down the year, and picking up that New Year’s resolution list again. But here’s a question. Has the end of the year ever met you ticking off your checklist of dreams, and feeling especially fulfilled doing it? Or do you sigh, and promise to actually achieve some of your goals the following year? The corporate world takes up loads of our time – so much so that we often don’t have time to do the things we want to do. Unless you’re in a job that fulfils you to a great degree – and that’s a small percentage of us – we’re effectively spending the majority of our year doing someone else’s bidding, instead of going after our own destinies.


“The modern, capitalist system represents new age slavery.

The difference is that you’re empowered to be a slave to the system”


I like to say that the modern, capitalist system represents new age slavery. The difference is that you’re empowered to be a slave to the system. They may you think that because you have a degree, wear a fancy suit, and get a decent job title, with a cushy office, you’ve achieved something. Yes, you’ve achieved something. Come on, anyone who makes it through the stresses of education deserves a round of applause. However, if you really think about it, have you achieved what you want for yourself? Did you pursue a degree because you really wanted to or because it was the expected move? We tend to transition from Common Entrance (now SEA) to CXC, then to A’ Levels, and then to university – never exactly questioning whether it’s the path that will cause us to express our true selves or find our true selves. Do we stop to ask ourselves whether we’d rather have tonnes of money and little time for our personal life or experiences or a little less money, but a far more interesting life?

Last year a friend of mine made a gutsy move. At a point in her career where she thought she should study again, she began looking at MBA programmes, figuring it was a natural step to take as someone in marketing. Then in preparing for and sitting the GMAT exams, she had an epiphany.

“I just wasn’t excited about the idea of doing my Masters,” she said.

So she decided to do something she liked. Bake. Making an about turn, she opted to pursue a Bachelors in Pastry Making. Now, she bakes all day, and gets to fuel her creativity in an area that she’s passionate about, and which she will find joy in doing for a long time. Which brings me to the point of this article – instead of following the typical, planned path society expects you to take, you’d be better off stopping for a moment to consider what you really want out of life. Is it a well-paying job that you don’t really love, but fattens your pockets? Or do you want to follow your dreams and passions, and find a way to fatten your pockets doing what you love, knowing all the while that even if you don’t achieve extreme wealth, your riches lie in doing something you love every day and having more control over your life?


“There’s freedom in breaking away from being a slave to your wage”


In the popular book, “The Four-hour Work Week”, the author, Timothy Ferris, argues that you can join the new rich. Who’s the new rich? The people who go through life racking up enjoyable and meaningful experiences, doing what they love. Some take breaks from work to take time out for themselves. Instead of planning for retirement at 60, they retire at intervals. Okay, so you’re going to say I can’t afford to do that. Maybe. But maybe if you’re on contract, you could take a break between your next job, and take that trip to Italy you’ve been salivating for. You’re employable, and you’re creative. You’ll find a way to get back in the money game – maybe even better than before. There’s freedom in breaking away from being a slave to your wage. There’s also a need for astute financial planning to make such a move. The reward in it is living the life you want to live, and getting more time to do the things you want to do or to spend time with your loved ones. Life can’t be all work, and it can’t be all about having someone else direct your path and control your time and ability to achieve your personal dreams.

If someone asks you about the things you want to do outside of work, often you can list several options. Problem is you hardly get the time to actively initiate and pursue them. There’s value in regaining that control. What exactly is it that you want out of work and life, and why? Work at ridding yourself of fears about stepping away from conventional assumptions or safety zones, so that you can free yourself to follow your dreams sooner, rather than never – because in modern life, later sometimes never comes.

As locally based business coach and author of “The Amazing Race to Entrepreneurial Freedom” Georgina Terry says,  “the power of passion, vision, belief, focus and massive action will enable your dreams to come true!” Designing the life you want is totally in your hands. The question is, are you brave enough to do it?

Here are some questions crafted by Georgina, which can help you to start your design.

Passion – What do you love to do? What will having your dream do for your life?

Vision – What will your life look/ be like if your dream became a reality? Cut out come pictures that represent your vision

Belief – Test your belief in yourself – Why do you deserve your dream? Why must it become a reality?

Focus – What one area can you put your energies on to right now? What do you need to do to stay focused?

Action – What one action, can you take today, to ignite one of the areas that need to be present? What one action can you take to take you one step closer?


Image credit: fatbwoy


Karel Mc Intosh

Karel Mc Intosh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Outlish Magazine. She's also the Lead Communications Trainer at Livewired Group, where she conducts workshops in business writing, social media, and other communications areas. A real online junkie, when she isn't surfing the Internet, she's thinking about surfing the Internet. Find out more about her here or tweet her @outlishmagazine.


  1. Nicole

    May 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    It takes a lot of guts not just to get started, but to keep going and keep believing in your vision especially when you hit those first bumps in the road. :-)

    Cheers to you guys at Outlish and your venture and your passion!

  2. Coreen

    June 28, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    This article is the answer to my prayers. “They may you think that because you have a degree, wear a fancy suit, and get a decent job title, with a cushy office, you’ve achieved something.” I have said this time and time again, and just like your friend (whom I am hoping is real!) I too have reach a point where I am at the end of a goal that I never wanted.

    I too shall be brave enough to design my own life, after all, it is MINE! Great article!!!

  3. karel

    June 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Glad you liked it Coreen. The person in the cushy office was me. I just needed to get out of the corporate world, even thought I’d reached a so-called peak. My friend with the pastry is very much real :)

    Go ahead and do what makes you happy. It’s way more fulfilling than any fat cheque… though we doh mind the fat cheque eh :)

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