5 Simple Steps To Intentionally Create The Life Worth Living That YOU Want

When you’re a type-A, linear thinker who’s grown up in a field like law as I have, thinking about your future life worth living often entails questions about what we want it to look like. Feelings don’t often factor into the equation. 

But when we ask ourselves what we want our futures to “look” like, we tend to focus on things like the prestigious job – you know, the one we enjoy telling other people about at a dinner party and watching their impressed faces (I speak from my own experience – no judgment).

If we, instead, ask how we want our future life worth living to feel, it’s surprising how much that potential future shifts. It becomes less about what will garner prestige and societal acceptance and more about what matters to you. And that’s why, despite being that linear thinking, type-A person, focusing on feelings is by far the most effective way I’ve found to decipher how you truly want to spend, in the words of Mary Oliver, your “one wild and precious life.”

Since I am a linear thinker, let’s talk about how to do this practically and concretely. How can you create this life worth living for yourself?

How do you want your future life worth living to feel, and then back it out

We often don’t have the time or brain space to think about our future all that deeply. Given that reality, we need to protect time for this. I encourage you to block about three hours on your calendar for this exercise sometime in the next two months. Call it something like “Thinking Time – see Article” and copy and paste this article’s URL into the calendar description.

Aim to do it when your energy is good, somewhere quiet, and, while it may sound weird, somewhere that’s special to you. For example, rivers have an uncanny ability to make me feel solid and like myself, so if I can do this sitting on a rock by a river, I will.

For you, it might be in a quiet space in your home, in a nice library nearby, or in the woods. It goes without saying, but if you have kids or pets, find some child/pet-care for them so you can really focus and let your mind wander.

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During this time, even if you’re not a journaler (I’m not), I encourage you to have a notebook with lots of blank pages and some pens. 

Think and write about this question first: What do I want my life worth living to feel like in one year? (Or three or five years – whatever makes sense to you in this phase of life.)

Write down whatever comes to mind about what life worth living looks like. For example, you might want life to feel more calm, less stressful, more exciting, have more time for you (if you have young kids or take care of an aging parent, you know what I mean), more financially stable, etc. Write and write, and don’t judge yourself for any of it.

Next, ask yourself: what has to be in place for life to feel that way? This is where you get to be more concrete about building your life worth living. For example, do you want to move to a different city, switch jobs, go part-time, step it up at work for the next few years to get the promotion you want and then shift focus to your personal life, reconnect with old friends, find a partner, leave a partner, have a child, have another child, not have children, etc. Again, write and write and don’t pass judgment on it. Just get it all out. 

Then, try to pick the most important one or two things you’d like to focus on in the next 6-12 months to build your life worth living. Ask yourself which things would get you closest to how you want life to feel. It’s frustrating to limit yourself to one or two things, but the reality is that we’re all busy enough that taking on more than that will lead to being overwhelmed and giving up in two months. We need to stay realistic to make it a reality.

Read More: 10 Ways to Create An Effective Goal Setting Strategy That Sticks

Next, bring your life worth living to life

At another time when you’re back near your computer, I recommend spending an hour plotting out the action steps to bring those 1-2 things you decided to focus on to life. For example, if you want to explore other job opportunities, calendar 1.5 hours a week to job search, reach out to people in jobs similar to the one you want for informational coffee chats, hire a career coach, update your resume, and more. (Once you plot all of this out, you’ll understand why I limited you to 1-2 things to work on.)

My experience: Moving to a new state

Here’s an example of how this played out in my own life. I spent six years living in San Diego. My husband finished residency there, we got our dog and eventually had our two daughters there, and we made a ton of wonderful friends. That said, it never felt totally like home to me. I couldn’t settle. 

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After thinking and journaling for a few hours (yes, by a river in Colorado), I realized I wanted life to feel easier, more cozy, and more connected to family. To get there, in terms of what I felt like had to be true to get to that feel, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to move back home to Minnesota.

Let me tell you, most people look at you like you’re crazy when you voluntarily leave San Diego for Minnesota. To me, this shows the power of focusing on how you want life to feel versus look. It really helps ground you in what a life worth living means to you, even if it doesn’t make much sense to others.

From there, I thought through all of the things I would need to do to make that happen – from helping my husband come to the same conclusion (thank you, couples counseling and trips to Minneapolis) to helping him with his medical licensing and finding a job there to all of the little things that go into moving kids (e.g., new schools). 

Once back at my computer, I scheduled time to work towards the most important issues: communicating with my husband about the move and, during naptime blocks, researching the medical licensing process for my husband (given it was my request to move, I figured I could at least help with that time-consuming process).

Given all of the things to do and the unknowns, I couldn’t plot out all of the action steps then, but I could start calendaring the first steps. I also calendared time every week to calendar the next steps, making this a process that evolved with our reality toward this life worth living.

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We had hurdles in the process (e.g., the pandemic leading to a 1.5-year hiring freeze for emergency room physicians in MN, which delayed our move), but consistent chipping away at the process helped us eventually do it. We’ve been in Minnesota for 1.5 years now, and I’m thrilled to report that it’s been amazing and has helped me feel the way I want to feel in my life worth living (and thankfully, my husband is loving it too – thank goodness!).

Making big changes in your life – from career changes to health journeys – take intention, time, and consistent action, but they’re worth it. And hopefully, this approach resonates and will help you get there.

Read More: How to Use Manifestation Techniques in Your Life

Now you have a game plan to help you take concrete steps towards a life you’re truly excited to live. I recommend repeating this exercise every 6-12 months. Again, we understandably tend to live our day-to-day lives in the weeds, and it’s critical to protect the time to look up and make sure we’re working toward a life worth living, that we truly want.

Want to start manifesting your dream life? Your Guide to Visualizing Your Highest Self.



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5 Simple Steps To Intentionally Create The Life Worth Living That You Want

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Kelly Nolan
Kelly Nolan
I’m Kelly Nolan, an attorney-turned-time management strategist and mom. Using realistic time management strategies, I help modern working women (especially moms) manage everything on their plate with less stress and more calm clarity.

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