Lifestyle Design 101: Discover Your Identity
Find The Centerpiece That Truly Excites You
Designing your ideal lifestyle begins with a strong understanding of your identity and core values.
This requires you to become self-aware, to identify and imagine the activities, the context and the people who participate in the ideal vision of your life. With a strong sense of your identity and a working vision for what your lifestyle should entail, the path to reach those goals will begin to take shape.
When you begin to take concrete steps towards your lifestyle goals, the obstacles don’t seem as big and it becomes easier to bounce back from adversity. By adopting a mindset that true happiness is a result of success that is earned, you can re-contextualize difficulties as a down payment on the lifestyle of your dreams and all incremental progress as a reason to celebrate and refocus.
Let’s go through an exercise that will help you discover your identity in business and in life.
It involves describing three areas of interest in your life and the activities that express them.As a guideline, these three areas of interest and their associated activities should comprise the majority of your waking hours.
This becomes a snapshot of your identity at this point in time, but keep in mind that what interests you and inspires passion on any given day is in a constant state of flux. So this you should revisit this exercise from time to time to ensure it is still an accurate reflection of your lifestyle goals and ambitions.
What I’ve found useful is to create an Identity Map that outlines what you want to be doing with the majority of your time. These three areas overlap creating three areas that combine each combination of your interests. And in the middle lies the centerpiece. This is the sweet spot!
The activities and experiences that integrate your three most prominent interests (at any given time) naturally light up your life. These are the times when you’re firing on all cylinders and radiant. People you interact with can’t help but notice something good must be happening for you to be so positive and upbeat. It’s as though you know a secret that lights you up and effortlessly gives others a positive impression of you. The middle area comprises your Centerpiece.
As you define and continually refocus on what exact activities and undertakings will keep you operating from this position of strength, your centerpiece will become magnetic, attracting in the actors and circumstances to further your cause.
In my experience, the people you meet, the places you go and experiences you have that reflect your core interests become the most cherished, visceral memories. And when you reach a big goal or hit a milestone that incorporates your core interests, the feeling ranks among the best in life.
Therefore, becoming self-aware, identifying and pursuing your core interests IS what Lifestyle Design is all about. As you’ll see throughout this blog (as well as my book and trainings), the Centerpiece becomes the foundation for defining a dream lifestyle and creating a business that supports it.
Let’s go through this exercise using a recent snapshot from my life where I would describe my life as having Personal, Professional and Academic components.
Personally, my interests are international travel and experiencing new cultures, long-distance road cycling and developing relationships with interesting people.
Professionally, I am an entrepreneur, a business development consultant, an author and speaker (and formerly) a dating coach.
Academically my interests range from studying political economy and Mandarin Chinese to staying informed on current events and penning academic articles. So elaborating the initial diagram to reflect these interests looks like this:
Identify Your Overlapping Interests
Once you begin to have a clear view of what three primary categories comprise your identity, it is easier to distill down what activities, events, and circumstances arise out of the overlapping areas of the Identity Map.
These begin to be more dynamic and specific as we move closer to the centerpiece. Remember that it is perfectly valid for some of these activities to be in your life presently and some to be goals that you will realize by reconfiguring your life to support them.
At this point it is important not to limit your imagination by excluding things that may sound unrealistic given your current circumstances. Go through the whole lifestyle design exercise and complete your Identity Map, then entertain thoughts about what is feasible, when, and how.
The Centerpiece: Firing On All Cylinders
We have elaborated the basic building blocks of a strong identity and expanded on them to reveal the activities that express them. This exposes the areas where overlaps exist and interests can be combined to amplify the things which give the greatest charge.
The goal of Lifestyle Design is to construct an identity where you spend as much time as possible engaged in centerpiece activities. These are times when you are firing on all cylinders and feel most enthusiastic and alive.
Now it is time to set the crown jewel: The Centerpiece. This category is your sweet spot where you are firing on all cylinders, where you feel genuinely excited and enthusiastic to spend time. These are the activities, lifestyle pursuits and potential business ideas that leverage your core interests and combine them in creative and engaging ways:
Often times the simple things in life are reached through long and complex processes. Such can be the case with lifestyle design. These two sentences encapsulate the majority of what I focus my time, energy and resources towards…and yet, it was no small feat to reach the point where I could state them so simple and so plain.
Clarity – It’s a beautiful thing!
Now it’s your turn. Attached here is a downloadable version of the Identity Map for you to print out and work on as many times as you like. My gift to you – and keeping in line with one of my centerpiece activities to “deliver extraordinarily valuable coaching and training…”
What To Do Now:
I recommend you download the blank Identity Map, grab a pencil, put on your favorite playlist and spend 15-20 minutes filling it out. This is the first step in Lifestyle Design 101 and in less than one hour you could come up with a new idea that sets your mind at work in a new, exciting direction.
Above we used the three general categories for exploration: Personal, Professional and Academic. However that is just one example.
Here are some ideas for filling out your Identity Map, try the exercise a few times using different combinations of categories:
Health – Wealth – Relationships: The personal development trifecta! How do you maintain and improve your health? How does that overlay and impact your relationships and wealth generation? This is a great combination to explore.
Know – Do – Be: What are some areas where you have a relative level of knowledge or expertise (Know)? What activities do you love, where do you like to go (Do)? What qualities of character do you want to embody, what roles do you play in the world (Be)
Local – Regional – Global: This triad is geared towards people who value contribution and want to make an impact at home, in their country or region, and on the world stage. What can you do at each level and how can they all work in tandem to maximize impact (the Centerpiece)
Closing Thoughts on Lifestyle Design
The Discover Your Identity exercise is a great first step to gain clarity on what you would like to be doing day-to-day, as well as generating ideas for businesses you could start. There are no right answers, just as there are no limits on what your imagination can conjure up. This is entirely subjective. And that is as it should be.
Lifestyle design is not about opting-in to someone else’s idea of how you should live, rather it is about taking a small step into the unknown and trusting that you will find your footing along the way. In future posts, I look forward to sharing some of my best ideas on how to take these initial ideas and develop them into exciting new lifestyles and businesses.
For now, I hope this article serves you and please leave any comments or questions below!