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Designing your lives...

“We’ve found that where people go wrong is thinking that they just need to come up with a plan for their life and it will be smooth sailing. If only they make the right choice (the best, true, only choice), they will have a blueprint for what they will be, what they will do and how they will live.”
Dysfunctional belief: I need to figure out my best possible life, make a plan and execute it
Reframe: there are multiple great lives (and plans) within me, and I get to choose which one to build my way forward to next

Chapter 5 is all about developing what the authors grandly call your “Odyssey Plans”. These are three very different plans for the next five years. Each of them should be interesting, possible and also likeable – it’s not a plan A, B and C where plan A is your preferred option and Plan C is the one that you really hope that you won’t get stuck with. And, they say, don’t worry about choosing yet – we’re still in the idea generating stage.


If three don’t come to mind immediately, then they recommend the following approach:

  1. Life One: The thing that you do. This is either your current life expanded forward or (if that’s really not a future you look forward to with any degree of enthusiasm), an idea that you’ve been mulling about for quite a while.

  2. Life 2: The thing that you’d do if Thing One were suddenly gone. If the job or industry that you were thinking about suddenly disappeared, what would you do instead?

  3. Life 3: The thing that you’d do if money or image were no object. Often we refrain from doing something because we’re worried about money, or what others would think of us. What is this thing? This one can be a little wild!


They also advice including other life events within your plans, whether this is developing hobbies, travelling, or things like relationships and children. Other considerations could include where we want to live, what experience/ learning we might gain, what the impacts might be of choosing this option, and what life would look like overall.


We each came up with some options during our session, and then developed our plans in more detail during the week - how did we see things evolving on a year by year basis over the course of the next five years? For each plan, we came up with a six word title, and three questions that we had about each of the plans – what concerns did we have; what kinds of things did we want to test and explore? For each, we also marked on a dashboard:

  • Resources: Do you have the time, money, skills and contacts to pull off your plan?

  • Likability: how do you feel towards your plan?

  • Confidence: How confident are you that you can achieve it?

  • Coherence: does the plan make sense and is it in alignment with your workview and lifeview (see previous blog post)


During the session, we took it in turns to present our plans to the rest of the group – with everyone else helping the presenter to dig into their plans in a bit more detail by asking probing questions. What was it about the different aspects of our plans that really attracted us? What were the underlying themes? Did our plans feel congruent – like they fitted together well? This was a really thought provoking exercise, both in terms of seeing how it felt presenting each of our plans – how much did they energise us – and also to get that outside perspective that can sometimes be lacking.


Again, this exercise is not about designing the rest of your life, but more to explore options and to be curious about possibilities. And it was a great set-up for our next week, when we started to think how we could actually trial some of our ideas in the real world.




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