Are You “Making A Living” or “Designing A Life”?

Creative, strategic visualization is a fundamental part of my daily routine. It has been a daily habit ever since I decided that I wanted to leave law and pursue a different path in life.

About a year ago I realized that for most of my adult life I had been reactive. I had been on the path of “making a living” rather than “designing a life”. For me, the first four years after I graduated law school were the hardest years emotionally in my life. I attribute this to the fact that I had no clear direction of exactly what I wanted to accomplish with my life. When I was at a big firm I found myself having no interest in the path of partnership. Also I found that money was not that much of a motivator for me (when my basic needs were met).

After I left big law and started my own shop I found that the prospect of doing residential real estate and wills for my entire career didn’t excite me. In fact I dreaded it. Nevertheless it was what I found myself doing each day, so there was an unsettling perpetuation for me. I was constantly doing something that I had very little interest in long term, yet the problem was that I hadn’t taken the time to clearly articulate for myself a vision of a future that was actually meaningful to me.

In school the destination was always clear – pass the course, get the credit, get the degree. Because my goals were clear I was able to focus and achieve a state of psychological flow many times. As a result, school was quite enjoyable for me. Because my goals were not clear after I graduated, I quickly found myself caught in the trap of “making a living” rather than “designing a life”. For many people “making a living” is just fine. However, for me it wasn’t. I was driven to find purpose, meaning and fulfillment in my life. So I realized that I could not be passive anymore, I had to be active.

When I started the process of designing exactly in my mind what I wanted with my life I realized I had to leave law to accomplish it. It was very clear what I wanted. It involved four specific things:

  1. A business that would provide a passive income stream, in a non-traditional setting (ie. home or internet based) so that I would have the cash flow to pursue my ultimate dream (#2). I also wanted the freedom not to be constricted by employee and lease obligations. Therefore a traditional brick and mortar business would not work. I saw direct sales as optimal. My wife was already experiencing success, so if I joined her we could double the effort and double the results. I was driven by freedom (so I could pursue my other interests), and contributing to others, not prestige or excessive wealth. So I had to choose a path that maximized freedom. Direct sales was the perfect path;
  2. My true passion is writing and public speaking. This is a hard career to crack. It is hard to become a successful writer. The pay is uncertain, and you need time to refine your abilities. You need time to become good. I want to become a good writer and a good speaker. I believe that our direct sales business is the perfect compliment to my writing career because it gives me time and flexibility to refine my craft;
  3. Physical health is of paramount importance to me. My life is not fulfilling if I am not healthy; and
  4. My family is the number one priority in my life. Nothing else matters without them. Therefore, everything I do had to compliment my family and allow for me to be the best Dad I could.

After I decided with clarity exactly what I wanted, I had to cultivate the habit of creative visualization for many reasons.

First, it is very scary to leave stability to pursue a “dream”. People criticize you. People doubt you. If you listen to them then you will start to be scared and you will start to doubt yourself. In practice I found that a simple daily meditation, where I visualized the successful accomplishment of my ideal life – where I actually saw myself living my ideal life – had a tremendous calming effect on me. It created courage, and belief. It created desire and resolve.

After I did it over and over I found that I was almost immune to what people said or thought. I was completely focused on what I wanted to achieve. I started to get bold. This is how I got my book contract – by pitching ideas to a publishing company. I wouldn’t have had the courage to do this if I couldn’t see myself as an author in my mind. I had to see it first in my mind before I could believe it.

Now visualization is a part of my daily routine. I use a simple methodology. I have four songs I listen to. During each song I visualize the successful accomplishment of each of my four ideals noted above. I actually see, feel, smell, and experience what life would be like having successfully accomplished what I want. I do it each day. Each day I am driven with energy and passion and resolve.

Sure I’m not a best selling author, yet. But in my mind I am, and when I see it in my mind I get certainty in my body that I will do whatever it takes to make my dreams a reality.

How is your visualization going? Is it a habit for you yet? Are you doing it every day? Can you actually see the successful accomplishment of your goals? Do you re-condition this image every day? Does this image fill you with excitement and passion and energy?

If so, this habit will pay off massively for you

If not – WHY NOT!!

Don’t tell me you are too busy. That is only an excuse. It only takes five minutes a day to create a picture in your mind of the successful accomplishment of what you want.

Here is WHY you should do it:

  • The more you visualize the more you will believe in your ability to achieve your goals;
  • The more you visualize the more energy, excitement, and passion you’ll have;
  • The more you visualize the more creative you will be in your business or life; and
  • The more you visualize actually accomplishing your goals, the better you will be able to see the path of HOW to accomplish them.


It makes no sense to go on a road trip without a destination. It makes no sense to try and find someone’s house if you don’t first find out where that person lives.

Your life is exactly the same. You need to determine with clarity exactly where you want to go, and see yourself going there, BEFORE you start moving. Otherwise you get caught in the continual trap of making a living instead of designing a life.

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