Have you read Designing Your Life by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett? If you haven’t, you should. Yes, it’s another plan your life and that life will be good self-help montage, more or less, but this one was written by actual designers. Like, Stanford Engineer designers, so they know a thing or two about designing…everything. Being me, of course, I had to add another self-help book to my list and got it immediately.
Life design is something I’ve been doing unconsciously for absolutely years. I mean, what else has all the productivity-blogging and self-help-book-reading and passion-planning and goal-setting been for?
What cracked me up is the part in the book where they ask you to plan out three parallel lives that you could see yourself doing, and then figure out what resources, time commitment, and investment you’d need to make to have that life.
I laughed out loud because I’ve already done that, except I have about ten parallel lives, vastly different from each other, that I could see myself living. It is kind of nice, in a way, because I know I could be happy in each of those lives, but there again is the choice paralysis many of us face when presented with multiple options. I don’t know which one to pursue first. (This might be why the authors have you only pick three – choice paralysis happens less frequently with fewer options because opportunity cost will be lower.)
The whole point of the exercise is to expand your options and to help you realize that no matter which one you pursue first, it doesn’t matter. Just pick one, and that life will be good. We all have different lives available in us, and we’ll never know which one is “best” (hint hint; there is no best) so just pick one.
Ha. Easier said than done.
Let’s take a look.
My Five Plans
I see myself being a writer like my hero S.J Maas. I was reading her on fictionpress.com way back in the day before she became an NYT Bestselling Author. I remember reading Throne of Glass in its early days, and it was very different than the one that was published. The bones were there, but in the intervening years she edited and changed a lot. That’s how writing goes, and every time I think of her journey I get excited because I feel like I could do that too.
I see myself in my office, with journals of notes, a bulletin board with deadlines and events and tours and pictures; spending time writing, drinking tea, starting out my window as I ponder my story…
Yes, I can see myself doing that. I can also see myself writing short fiction, blogging, writing courses for empaths and other sensitive types, creating new RPGs and modules for D&D, and a whole bunch of other writing type things. I’ll never stop writing, but being a writer is a bit different. There are different investments required*.
The idea of being a life coach keeps creeping up on me. It started about a year ago, back in Korea, and has been in the back of my mind like a niggling worm ever since. I was really gung-ho about it at first, of course, and lost interest when my health declined, but I’ve been thinking about it again recently.
Even in my writing, I’ve always wanted to show people there’s a better world for them. Books showed me that, and my big why as a writer has always been about helping people realize their own magic. Coaching is another way to do this. I love it when my friends share their dreams with me, and I love the nitty-gritty of getting down to actions plans and steps and the how-to of dreams. So coaching has always seemed another natural option for me.
I could see myself doing that. Having an office with a filing cabinet for clients, having an appointment schedule book, emailing about packages and questions, skyping with clients and suggesting action plans and tools and books and exercises…
Non Profit RPG/GM Organizer
Another idea that’s bounced around in my head enough times for me to pay attention to it is starting my own non-profit that helps kids learn how to run RPGs. Or start my own chapter of 826 in my area.
This goes back to the whys mentioned earlier; helping people see their own magic. I give this choice of words carefully too, because I really believe that people are capable of their wildest dreams (the magic of life, right?), and I want everyone to be able to achieve that.
And hearing about kids getting into these creative endeavors, creating whole worlds, participating in stories together, learning serious life skills through fun…that just seems like a really important thing to be a part of.
Also I love kids and made a pretty awesome teacher, and I think leading a Game Master workshop would be epic.
(But the title needs some work. Organizer? Workshopper? Leader? Center? League?)
Going back to the writing front, I’ve also considered being a writer for games. I love D&D so much I think working at Wizards of the Coast (which is just around the corner from where I was born so, hello, fate) would be the most epic job of all.
I can imagine sitting down with a think tank of nerds and brainstorming the next big campaign book, the next batch of monsters, the next iteration of D&D itself…yeah, I dream about that a lot.
And if not D&D, then maybe another game company. I could write dialogue and quests, creating a dozen different threads for each player action, and twining them all sinuously until they meet perfectly at the final boss…
Equally as appealing as the other lifestyles, being a stay at home mom is at least a phase I’d like to experience, if not live out, sometime in my life. I plan on having kids, and I plan on raising them to the best of my knowledge and experience as a teacher, creator, empath, and nerd (oh yeah, my kids will be playing D&D as soon as they can talk, yo).
But, of course, alongside that I’ll still be writing, crafting, coaching, and doing everything else, it will just have the volume turned down on it.
You know, it was really interesting to write this post. It was really interesting to see how so many of the lives I could plan out, while vastly different, have this one underlying thread. Helping people see their own magic. And the thing is, there could be a hundred other jobs that satisfy that requirement that I don’t even know about! But five is enough to be getting on with, and as I mentioned in the beginning, choice paralysis is real, and the best advice is to take a step in any direction, rather than stand still.
So the first lilypad, then, is and will be writing.
And now I’ll toss the ball to you. What lives have you imagined? I urge you to do this exercise and see what comes up, especially if you find, like me, the same impetus behind each desired life.
Happy hunting, friends.
*On that front, I have some very exciting news coming up soon!