Are You Living By Design, Or By Default?

Are You Living By Design, Or By Default?

You and I have been born into a time where we have more opportunity and choice than ever before in history.

But with the benefits of abundant choice comes with the responsibility to make wise choices – ones that enable us to live deeper and richer lives, not just more hectic and stressful ones.

Which is why, as we get up earlier, go to bed later, and work harder to cram more into our days, we have to be careful not to find ourselves living on the surface in our efforts to do everything, perfectly, now.

Of course the idea of ‘having it all’ is alluring. As a woman with a career and four children, it’s a question I’m often asked: “Can women have it all?”

The truth is that no one – male or female; kids or no kids – can ‘have it all.’ (Whatever ‘all’ is!) Every choice we make comes with a trade-off. Because whenever we commit our time, talent and energy to one thing (whether raising children, building a business, taking an extended vacation, or a bigger job) we are by default, limiting our capacity to do other things. And while we can work hard to minimize the trade-offs our choices bring, we can never avoid them.

The truth is that no one can ‘have it all’.

Our challenge is to be deliberate in the choices we make rather than being reactive and opting for the course of least resistance or most immediate gratification (e.g. people pleasing). If you’ve ever said yes to someone only to kick yourself later because it took time away from other priorities, then you’ll know how easy it is to fill up your day, week, and life with stuff. Good stuff for sure, but not always the most important stuff.

Ultimately, what you choose not to do is no less important than what you choose to do. But let’s face it, saying no to invitations and passing up opportunities can be hard. Fear of missing out or disappointing people is wired into our DNA. It’s why so many people find themselves living in the shallows – over stretched, over committed and disconnected from what they yearn for most.

As I share in my latest video below, the busier you are, the more important it is to schedule a regular time -out, to disconnect from the noise of life, and to reconnect with yourself. It’s in the silence that you can hear the voice of wisdom.

There are things that you, and only you, can do with your one and only precious life; things that will never be done if you don’t do them. But you cannot make your highest contribution, nor experience the depth of purpose and joy and meaning in your daily life unless you are living from design, rather than default.

Being truly successful in your work and the big game of life isn’t about
doing more things; it’s about doing the right things.
And like everything worthwhile, that takes courage.

It takes courage to put aside your TO DO list, sit quietly and to focus on who you most want TO BE. Yet by doing so, we can reengage in the world with greater focus and ultimately be far more productive than we would be otherwise.

After all, living well has never been about ‘having it all’. It’s about aligning our actions with our deepest values and highest intentions. Likewise being successful in your work isn’t about doing more things; it’s about doing the right things. And like everything worthwhile, that takes courage.

If you’d like support in doing just that, I’d love for you to take my 10 day Train the Brave Challenge (free for anyone who gets a copy of Brave.) I’ve received some amazing endorsements from people who’ve found it transformational. You can read them at