At fifty-three, I am living my best life – mentally, physically, and professionally. I live in a beautiful home, in a Connecticut town that I love. My only boss is me, as the founder and principal designer of an interior design firm.
I’ve never been more passionate about my work, and a newfound sense of calm flows through my days. I have faced many challenges in my life: divorce, romantic struggles, motherhood and a professional career that has drastically shifted not just once, but twice.
It took me decades to take command as the designer of my life. I realized building a life is not something one does with a wandering mind and insecure fears. Our lives can only be created with real commitment.
Hence, feet — two of them in particular — should be planted firmly in the world in which we want to live.
The world extends outward, from our minds to the space around us. Life is a four-dimensional object, with time included. We can map the territory and plot the land. Our lives are homes we build for ourselves and those we love.
How we feel about ourselves affects how we feel about our surroundings. We must consciously cultivate our internal and external worlds to reflect not just who we want to become—but who we truly are.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn
Becoming the designer of your own life can be broken into four stages. This can be the work of a lifetime:
- First, the foundations must be laid. This can go as far back as your early childhood and upbringing. Foundational pieces range from your parent’s discipline style to the living environment of your childhood. Your early school and friendship dynamics are critical here. The memories and experiences of our youth leave an imprint in that beginning stage of who you are. Foundations can be first loves, first jobs, or first experiences that drive an inner passion toward the life you want to live.
- Then, the framing will be measured, cut, and established. The framing of one’s life can begin with choices for schooling after high school, a geographic choice for starting your adult life, or an industry selected for a potential career. Finding a person to marry and deciding to have children are also important components to the framing of our lives. These are the walls that will support us through the ups and downs of life.
- From there, the finish work hones in on the smallest details that make all the difference. Developing into a parent and navigating the paths of marriage will require great finish work while you grow and evolve into a more in-depth person. Deciding on a parenting style, and on the critical values you wish to instill in your children, will become the foundations of their lives. Learning how to maintain a sense of self while balancing parenthood and working presents a continual test of our finish work. As careers develop, decisions are often presented that allow for finishing choices with our professions. Management, increased job responsibilities, new career choices, and often new employment locations are all details that help refine our lives. The roles of self-care, nutrition, exercise, and life/work balance all come into play heavily during this stage.
- Finally, we must bring our innate sense of design to life, curating and creating the spaces in which we can thrive. Taking full command of the design of our lives is where the hard work of earlier years often shines through. What life details make us feel that we are truly living? That could be the location of your home, your developed career path that might be ready for a tweak, or a need to focus inward to find a greater sense of peace in your life.
My designed life has led me down a variety of paths.
My foundation started as a child with divorced parents in a household that lacked love and a sense of emotional connection.
The framing of my life was built on a career in sales, two divorces and becoming a mother (my daughter is now 17).
The finish work took shape when I had to learn to decide which should come first: life or career. I started listening to my body and the signs it was giving around my health, both physically and mentally.
The design of my life has enabled me to change careers and start my own interior design business in addition to writing my memoir. This stage has exposed me to the importance of mindset and being the creator of my happiness.
As you reflect on designing your life, your tools are not just hammers, nails, paint, tiles — but chosen family, love, self-care, and wellness. From this, we all can build lives we never imagined possible.
I finally have my fabled “house on the hill,” but it started out looking like a rather patchy piece of empty land. That’s how all things look in the beginning, though, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Just flip your mindset — and that emptiness becomes pure, glowing potential.