How to Design Your Life for YOU

Lifestyle Design

My brother Pierre with his daughter on a recent ‘workation’ we took with our families kiteboarding in Dominican.

175. That’s the number of countries thirty-something Chris Guillebeau has visited to date. He has never earned a paycheck or held a real job.

His’s “secret sauce” is a system that is surprisingly human and tangible—concrete goals combined with a schedule, priority system, and relentless determination. Rather than waiting for everything to fall into place, he designed a life with purpose and meaning.

When Chris published his book “The $100 Startup”, it came with some well deserved merit. Here is a young entrepreneur doing and writing about designing your life. Helping you imagine and build a life where all your time is spent on the things you want to do, while making a living doing it.

Though you don’t have to travel to the corners of the world to build such a life, you do need to understand a few principles.

The Big Rocks Principle: Priorities Are Your World

Fact: life is overwhelming. Days are long, nights too short and it’s impossible to accomplish everything we think we need to. You wake up, do your job, come home, make dinner, go to bed, and repeat.

What about family time? What about going to the gym? What about sitting in a room full of the people you want to be working with?

What you need is structure to design your priorities around your life and goals. Rather than jumping into spreadsheets and cell phone alarms, imagine your world as something simpler —rocks.

Your life is a jar. Big rocks are your most important priorities. Little rocks are the lesser important things and the sand that fills the spaces in-between are the least important ones. This simple mixture frames your universe.

With Perspective Comes Efficiency

Continuing with this analogy, imagine that you are trying to fill your jar with your rocks. If you load the jar with smaller rocks, then try to add your big rocks to the jar, the inevitable reality is that the big rocks won’t have enough space to fit. No matter how hard you try to squeeze them in, some will remain left out.

The trick is to focus on the big, most important rocks first. The little rocks will then fill the in-between spaces. Believe it or not, it’s the most efficient way to fill your jar if you want all of your big rocks to fit.

“The big idea is that you must schedule time for your most important priorities first. If you don’t, you will never get to them,” leadership blogger Michael Hyatt said.

Whether or not he realizes it, it’s also the principle that Guillebeau follows.

“If you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else; never teach a man to fish — sell him the fish instead; and in the battle between planning and action, action wins” he said.

‘Who’ and ‘When’ Matter More than ‘What’

Questions of ‘what you do’ are means to ends of who you want to be. Instead of focusing purely on professional accomplishments, let your rocks be fragments of your entire personality. Piece them together to create your holistic identity. Focus on your mind for relaxation, your intellect for growth, your body for health, and your professional goals for career development.

Make time to focus on a few rocks on a weekly or monthly basis.

“In the beginning, just have 4-6,” recommends the Zen Habits blog. “You don’t need to try to do 10 or more big rocks, especially not at first. Later, you may get better judging how many big rocks you can do in a week, but for now, shoot for about one per day.”

Ask yourself, have you designed the life you want to live? What are your big rocks? If you haven’t already started, now’s the time to grab a jar and fill it with what matters.


Have you got a great story about creating your lifestyle?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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  • Pedram Daraeizadeh

    Well done, I believe 5 big rocks for a lifetime is a good start. I love the jar and rock analogy, never saw it that way before but it makes total sense.