Design Your Life

latin america May 24, 2019

On the third month of my Remote Year program, I left the amazing city of Medellin, Colombia to fly back to New York for my 10-year MBA reunion from NYU Stern School of Business

When I shared the updates from my life with friends and former classmates, the responses were all a different version of "You win!", if not verbatim.

These responses were from people that are super successful in their own way - CEOs of their startups, owners of charming Brooklyn apartments, married with beautiful children, etc. 

I wondered how they measure success and how I became the "winner" in a race I never tried to compete in.  Then a former classmate elaborated on his comment by saying: "Many people dream about doing what you're doing, but you actually went and did it."

This, my friends, is called "designing your life".  It is about being intentional about the life you want and not just letting whatever happens, happen.  In 2017, I attended a workshop as a member of a professional/social organization called Ivy.  The workshop was called "How to Design a Successful Life" led by the Handel Group.  In this workshop, we were given a list of twelve different areas of our lives: 1) Self, 2) Body, 3) Love, 4) Spirituality, 5) Career, 6) Money, 7) Time, 8) Home, 9) Family, 10) Friends, 11) Fun and Adventure, 12) Community and Contribution.  We were asked to write our dream or ideal for each of these 12 areas of our lives and what success would truly look like to us (not to our friends or family).  

It was challenging at first because we often don't even dare to dream about different parts of our lives in that way let alone believe those dreams could become a reality. 

Then, for each category, on a scale of 1-10, we had to identify how close our current reality was to that dream.  Afterwards, we had to describe our current reality in each category and write the reasons why we felt we didn't have our dream. And those reasons, or should I say, excuses, are what hold us back from living the life we truly want.  It took me almost 2 years to work through all my excuses.  It's a powerful exercise that I recommend everyone tries and the Handel Group can help coach you through it.

I still regularly go back to my list of dreams, update them where priorities or interests have shifted, and consider what actions I can take to overcome any excuses I believe are getting in the way.  You can call me an idealist, but, life is pretty ideal for me right now. :)

The more I become part of this global digital nomad community and meet like-minded people that challenge the "standard" ways of living, the more I feel that I'm designing and living a life that truly makes me feel like I'm winning at my version of success, which is living the life I've always wanted to live. 

Some moments in Medellin in which I've felt like a winner are:

  • Launching a mentorship program for my company from the hammock on my apartment balcony with the best view of Medellin.
  • Meeting Ahden Busch, a woman and digital nomad based in my Medellin workspace (Selina) with whom I share such common ideas and insights on personal development that we are collaborating on a project together coming out soon!
  • Taking daily breaks from work to use the incredible meditation room at Selina.
  • Hiking to the most breathtaking views, eating delicious food, and wake-boarding for the first time in the beautiful town of Guatape.
  • Creating a goal setting women's group with 5 other Remote Year women who want to support and hold each other accountable for achieving our professional and personal goals.
  • Attending a workshop on Love Languages led by our Remote Year program leader in which we all identified, discussed, and agreed to honor the ways our "tramily" (travel + family) members prefer to give and receive love.


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