Five mentors preside over our inner world, each with a duty to guide us through a specific dimension of our psyches. The Compassionate Guardian expresses for love, the Resilient Hero enforces for freedom, the Resourceful Developer develops for prosperity, the Bold Creator expands for destiny and the Joyful Luminary intuits for meaning.
In part three of this five part series, we meet the custodian of prosperity, the Resourceful Developer.
Can you realistically picture a way for today to be ideal?
How about great? Or even just good?
For many of us, the concept of an ideal day is nothing more than an unrealistic illusion. Even the great days are infrequent at best.
Sadly, we must be satisfied with settling for a good day when we're fortunate enough to have one.
The reality is that our lives are simply too much to be enjoyable.
We're inundated with the stress of work, the anxiety of financial security, the discomfort of our health issues, the responsibilities of our family and the obligations of our friends and community. Once all those needs have been met, we don't have anything left for ourselves.
Yet somehow, we find ourselves simultaneously bored to death with the monotony of our lives.
It's no wonder that many of us can't even imagine what an ideal day would look like in the real world that we live in.
Still, we hold out hope that by making it through the overwhelm and drudgery of today, we'll be richly rewarded with an abundance of ideal days in the future.
How is that? We ask.
Perhaps when we're on that dream vacation? Or when we catch that big break? Or when we achieve that big milestone? Or when we strike it rich? Or maybe in the peace and quiet of retirement?
What evidence do we have for this hope? None.
We are living in a life that doesn't fit us.
Rather than continuing to try so hard to force ourselves into this poor fit of a life, its time to try something different. We must engage our inner Resourceful Developer to design an ideal lifestyle customized to our unique needs.
For our initial consultation, The Developer has prepared a new client package that includes an introduction to the proprietary four secrets of ideal lifestyle design.
Ideal lifestyle design secret #1 -- Custom is the only option
The Developer starts the consultation by telling us our lifestyle design must be custom. While custom is more expensive and time consuming, it is worth the cost and effort. Using the lifestyle designs of others may be appealing, but they will never fit us.
We must release expectations of what an ideal lifestyle should look like. Any preconceptions will hold us back from discovering our unique needs and wants. The ideal lifestyle design of each person has its own special mixture of comfort, health, connection, adventure, utility and recognition.
To accomplish this goal, The Developer asks us to describe our ideal day, month, and year and to outline our dreams and desires, including the most distant and far-fetched.
We excitedly itemize the "custom design elements" of our ideal life:
Comfort: the amount of money in the bank, the design/location of our home, the possessions we accumulate.
Health: the absence of physical/emotional illness, the size of our waistline, the number of miles we can run.
Connection: the family we embrace, the relationships we nurture, the level of respect/fame we earn.
Adventure: the places we see, the cultures we connect with, the exotic experiences we encounter.
Utility: the knowledge we accumulate, the skills we harness, the services we contribute.
Recognition: the respect we earn and the awards, accolades and accomplishments we achieve.
With the design elements completed, we eagerly await secret #2.
Ideal lifestyle design secret #2 -- Value Creation
The Developer next reveals that our ideal lifestyle must be built around our ability to create value.
Irritated, we threaten to walk away from the consultation. After all, what kind of developer designs an ideal lifestyle around "value creation" -- isn't that just a fancy word for WORK? That's exactly what we're trying to get away from.
However, we summon our resolve and decide to hear out The Developer to see where the consultation leads.
Seemingly unfazed by our reaction, The Developer repeats the second secret -- our design must be centered around value creation. If we fail to produce value, we fail to create any resources. We can't really build much of a lifestyle without resources.
The Developer highlights that we all have an inborn need to feel useful and valued. Any lifestyle that ignores this truth will leave us feeling useless and unvalued regardless of how amazing the other design elements are.
Reluctantly, we start compiling the list of ways that we can add value. However, The Developer quickly intervenes as our list is limited to careers that would give us the most money for our skills. The Developer warns that doing anything for money alone is a trap that will leave us unfulfilled, resentful and sapped of energy.
Convinced by the reasoned explanation, we take an assessment of our abilities and interests and narrow down the vocations to those that would (a) bring us fulfillment and (b) be something that another person would happily pay for.
Ideal lifestyle design secret #3 -- Simplicity
The Developer continues by revealing our ideal lifestyle requires the feeling of freedom, flexibility and space that comes from a life built on the principal of simplicity.
Sensing our disappointment with yet another predicable and uninspiring "secret", The Developer clarifies that it is not about simplicity in the stark, spartan, sense, but simplicity that allows us to fully dedicate ourselves what truly matters.
The Developer highlights that ideal lifestyle design is about using our resources (e.g. energy, time, attention and money) only in ways where we feel that we gained at least as much as we given in the exchange -- a fair exchange.
Without paying close attention to the expenditure of our resources, we will likely find ourselves consistently feeling that we have given far more than we receive -- an unfair exchange. For example:
Possessions have a real cost in maintenance, storage and disposal. An unfair exchange would include anything we bring into our lives that doesn't bring us real joy or utility.
Relationships have a real cost in the time, energy and attention required nurture them. An unfair exchange would include any relationships we maintain that don't bring us real connection.
Accomplishments have a real cost in the commitment and competition required to achieve them. An unfair exchange would include any accomplishments that don't bring a return of real meaning.
By simply making ourselves aware of the unfair exchanges in our lives, we can begin to move away from the resource deficit that had led us to The Developer in the first place. The exchanges that left us feeling exhausted and unfulfilled.
With the idea of simplicity adequately framed, The Developer encourages us to continue dreaming and designing as big as possible. Often, the design elements we see as the most luxurious, exciting or unachievable are exactly the ones we should be after. That feeling of exhilaration we get from thinking about them demonstrates the benefit will likely far outweigh the cost.
Ideal lifestyle design secret #4 -- Design for the "who", not the "what"
With the first three secrets completed, The Developer shares the last and most obscure secret -- we must design for the "who" we are rather than the "what" we want to be.
Any design elements that don't fit the "who" we are will never fit us. No matter how much we want to be the person with $10MM in the bank, the person who travels around the world, or the person who has famous and influential friends; having those things in our lives will never change the "who" we are.
So instead of thinking about the "what" we want to be, we must reframe the focus of our design to the magnificent "who" we already are.
To execute this change in perspective, The Developer instructs us to go back to the listing of "custom design elements" we created with secret #1 (the "what's") and consider the feeling that each element would bring for us (the "who" that gets to have that in their life). For example:
Have $10MM bank: We crave the feeling of financial freedom. Money will no longer limit the possibilities in our lives.
Travel around the world: We crave the feeling of adventure and freedom of time. We are no longer held back by the obligations of our lives and can go wherever we like, whenever we like.
Famous and influential friends: We crave the feeling of belonging with people that we admire and respect. Relating to such wonderful people, we will know that we're doing something truly meaningful with our lives.
With the exercise complete, we see that many of the "what's" we had originally included on the "custom design elements" sheet reveal the "who" we are in a way we had never considered before.
While we were open to the idea of releasing our preconceptions of what an ideal life should look like when initially introduced in secret #1, we didn't fully understand it until completing this exercise.
With the last secret completed, the consultation comes to a close. We are genuinely surprised at the level of confidence The Developer has in being able to create the ideal lifestyle design for us from just one meeting.
We allow ourselves to consider the possibility that our life could be ideal. Scary, but exciting.
Final Design Review
Shortly after the consultation, The Developer contacts us to let us know that our ideal lifestyle design has been completed. It's now time to move in and give it a try.
As expected, the initial move is incredibly unsettling. We're lost in we're in a foreign place and immediately feel nostalgic for the old life we know.
Uncertain of ourselves, we arrange a follow-up meeting with The Developer to revisit the design plan. Reviewing the details together with The Developer, we are re-invigorated by the truth of the design and are resolved to settle in for awhile and see how it goes.
Within weeks, we can't imagine living in any other design. Our design is ideal!
Each time we revisit our old life, we're reminded of how we had cycled miserably between:
The feeling of worthlessness and resentment we experienced as the Complacent Wanderer. Looking around at the options available to us, we found nothing that inspired us or that was worthy of our natural abilities. We never gave up hope for the big break that would give us the chance to live a life filled with meaning and prosperity.
The feeling of competitiveness and overwhelm we experienced as the Depleted Over-achiever. While life had never felt fulfilling, we were convinced that hard work and determination would turn things around. However, with each accomplishment, we felt ever-increasing exhaustion and disappointment, realizing we were no closer to our goal.
While our new life isn't any easier, it is far more enjoyable. We are now able to interact with life from a feeling of prosperity -- which creates an enormous shift in the possibilities available to us when we experience the inevitable ups and downs.
As we settle into our new lifestyle, we begin to experience those once illusive ideal days with increasing regularity. A lifestyle can be ideal.