Every so often, usually when things are going pretty great, my life starts to feel a bit out of control. Not necessarily in a bad way – just in a, “I have no clue what’s going to happen next” sort of way.
This is one of those times.
I have too many dreams, ambitions, goals, and projects that I’m working on all at once, and I don’t entirely feel secure in any of them.
It is at these times that most people start to realize they are overcommitted, and work to clean up their act a bit.
Normally my approach to this period in my life would be to continue wandering aimlessly in the same general direction, with the same general goals, until some of the pieces of this character I’m building named “Tim Stiffler-Dean” would start falling off. Thus, lightening the load a bit and giving me the boost to keep moving.
I would take that approach because I believed that these phases were inevitable. “Just keep swimming and wait for the break in the storm.” I would tell myself, “You’ll come out on the other side very different, but you’ll come out nonetheless.”
Often, after the period of insanity ended, I would feel a bit burned out, quit a few of the projects I was working on, and try to make a fresh start of things and get my feet under me again.
I don’t know if I can take that approach any longer.
It seems strange to me, when I look at the many examples of successful individuals in my personal life, that I have so many dreams and ideas that I try to pursue at the same time, only to come up with nil accomplished.
Other people have similar ambitious outlooks on life, and accomplish a lot of what they put their mind too… so what is it that I am doing so differently?
The key must lie in the blueprints
I was reading an article recently from Michael Hyatt, called, “Why Not Architect Your Own Life?” In it he describes three elements that most architects keep in mind when designing a large structure. They are:
- The Vision
- The Priorities
- The Actions
Architects begin with exploring their dream and drafting a vision of what they want to create.
The famous Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, wished to put on display the “soul of our own civilization” in his architectural designs, and that shows quite clearly in his many beautiful works of art. While Louise Henri Sullivan wished to build bigger and stronger buildings to emphasize the confidence of the US – he is now known as one of the Fathers of the Skyscraper.
From the vision, architects define very clearly what their limitations and priorities with the structure are.
Buildings intended for use as a school will differ drastically from those meant to be hospitals, even if both start with a similar architectural vision. Likewise, a bridge in the wetlands of Florida might not fare too well as an apartment in the mountainous regions of Argentina. Each structure has specific needs, and the architect must know exactly what those are.
Finally, after chasing down their vision and defining their priorities, architects lay out a list of actions to take to finish the construction.
They would not, for example, begin construction of a house by working on the roof. Neither would they pour the cement for a bridge before setting the substructure in place. When proposing the development of a project, they define the steps and timelines for putting all of the materials into place.
Then they act.
It is not enough to create a plan and then walk away as if the project is done. The vision is not realized! The priorities are not met! The actions have not taken place!
The architect must bring a team together, made of exactly the right people, and then ACT on their plan in order to accomplish it.
Becoming Your Own Architect
I, too, must follow this process to become an architect. Not of a building, however, but of my own life.
While I was reading this, it suddenly dawned on me: I’ve always had a general plan for what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, but I never followed the architect’s steps to designing my own life.
- I had the long-term vision, but not the short-term priorities to match up with it.
- I had the long-term priorities, but no day-to-day habitual actions to see those priorities eventually met.
- I had the daily activities and hard work ethic, but none that specifically matched the grand vision of the type of person I wanted to be.
These three things combined have only contributed to the labyrinthian lifestyle that I cyclically find myself living in.
The cycle must be broken.
This week I am giving myself an ambitious goal. I will continue to work hard on the tasks at hand, including the development of so many projects at Aether CS and the brewing of so much coffee at Kofenya, but I will also develop a full blueprint of what I want to see happen in my lifetime.
I will find out exactly who I want to become and create a vision statement. I will lay out my strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and goals as priorities within that vision. I will create a list of habits I need to build, activities I must add to my daily list, types of people I need on my inner team, and timelines I must press toward in order to achieve those priorities.
And I will act.
Then we shall see what type of life this architect can create.
I’m excited. 🙂