How many articles about lifestyle design have you read that left you inspired to change your life but unsure what the next practical step is? How many times have you been told to target a niche market, outsource to a Virtual Assistant and automate your business processes but have been left wondering how on earth to apply all these great business tips when you don’t even know what your desired lifestyle looks like?
While conceptual reading is great for self development and expanding perspective, our desired lifestyle is only going to be realised with focussed and relevant action!
In this post you’ll learn how to design a lifestyle to achieve happiness and fulfillment, recognise areas within your lifestyle design that require re-balancing and how to seize the opportunities that significant life changes create to lead to greater happiness and fulfillment!
Needs-Based Lifestyle Design
Before you can progress towards your desired lifestyle you first need to know what this lifestyle looks like. I believe that the essence of lifestyle design is creating your world to achieve personal happiness and fulfillment. Personal happiness and fulfillment is achieved by meeting your basic needs. Therefore:
Needs-Based Lifestyle Design = Happiness and Fulfillment
What Are Our Needs?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Philosophers and psychologists have theorised throughout the ages on what defines the basic human needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs are represented by the following diagram:
Once the largest and most fundamental needs at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid have been met such as water, food, sleep and warmth, we can start moving up the hierarchy to achieve more complex needs for greater life happiness and fulfillment.
Progressing up from the basic needs at the bottom, Maslow suggests that our needs become more psychological and social based. Up towards the top of the pyramid our needs centre around self-esteem, personal accomplishment and the need to realise our individual potential.
Choice Theory (Dr William Glasser’s positive psychology of human behaviour) has similiar thoughts on what comprises our basic human needs. Amongst other principles, Choice Theory states that the basic human needs are:
Choice theory is the school of thought that I use to define and assess my basic needs. Its fine to use other models so long as you are gaining a clear and honest picture of what your basic human needs are in life.
What Are Your Needs?
To achieve personal happiness and fulfillment, we each need to satisfy our different basic needs to varying levels according to our personality and character. Understanding our basic needs criteria is the first step in designing a lifestyle to meet these needs.
Complete this free 3 minute Basic Needs Analysis Activity to gain a greater understanding of your basic human needs profile.
Design Your Life to Meet Your Needs
Now that you have a better understanding of where your needs lie, assess your life and actions against your needs criteria. Happiness and fulfillment are difficult to achieve when your actions in life are not appropriately meeting your needs. Where an imbalance exists (generally identified by negative feelings such as frustration, disappointment, anger etc) determine actions that you can take to re-balance your life against your needs.
This is practical lifestyle design in action!
For example, if you feel that your love and belonging needs aren’t being met join a new club or set up a weekly date with your partner. If your power/empowerment needs are not being met join a specific interest group and start exerting some influence in an area that is important to you. If you are not meeting your freedom need make a date with yourself each week to do what ever spontaneously takes your fancy.
Re-balancing Needs – A Personal Example
I have known for a long time that my needs (in simple terms) are:
- Survival – Low to Moderate.
- Love and Belonging – Low.
- Power – Very High.
- Freedom – High.
- Fun – High.
Up until 09 December 2010 I worked as an officer in the Australian Army for 13 years. My very high power needs were well met through the significant responsibility that I held in commanding soldiers in both training and combat. As my survival need was relatively low there was no conflict with this need and my job.
Many aspects of the Army are fun and adventurous so this need was also well met but there was a conflict within my lifestyle between my high need for freedom and the rigid and heavily prescribed aspects of the Army. As most of my needs were being met, the conflict with my freedom need wasn’t a significant issue. Sometimes you have to compromise!
After 13 years of conformity and large doses of lifestyle prescription, the conflict between my freedom need and the Army way of life started to create increased friction. Along with re-balancing my family’s needs, it was my inability to appropriately meed my freedom need which eventually led to my decision to leave the Army.
Leaving the Army meant re-designing my lifestyle. And re-designing my lifestyle meant creating a world where my basic needs continued to be met. With the Army meeting all of my power and a lot of my fun needs I quickly realised that for me to be happy and fulfilled I would need to include replacement activities to meet these needs.
Creating the ‘Uncork Your Mind’ website now goes a long way to meeting my power need. It allows me to talk about the things that I find important and provides me recognition with every person who visits my website and finds it useful. In the Army I predominately met my power need by having power over people and now I meet this need by empowering other people.
Time will tell if this website is enough to meet my power need noting that it is very high! If not then I will look to join an interest group or local council to exert influence in areas that are important to me.
Leaving the Army and moving towards becoming a ‘lifestyle design entrepreneur’ certainly aligns with my high freedom need which bodes well for my future happiness and fulfillment. If my survival need was high then the choice to work in more entrepreneurial endeavours would have caused an imbalance between my lifestyle and personal needs.
Needs-Based Lifestyle Design = Happiness and Fulfillment
Understanding where your needs lie and including activities and behaviours to meet these needs is practical lifestyle design in action!
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