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An Engineer's Guide to Building the Life You Want

At the end of the day, we all want pretty much the same thing: to build a great life for ourselves.

I use the word "build" here deliberately. Just like an engineer who sets out to build a gadget, there really is a set of practical, logical steps you can take to build the life you want.

The problem is that most of us are never really taught what those steps are. We are set loose on the world to "go get it," but without a method or approach to do so.

So today, I want to give you an engineering crash course in how to build stuff … in your life.

1. Define the simple goal.

What is the end result you want? To find and marry a wonderful partner? To have a career you are passionate about? Sum it up in one powerful sentence.

2. Identify the specs.

One you have your sights set on the overall goal, you then need to flesh out the specifics. Describe what you are looking for, in detail. For example, in the case of finding a partner, ask yourself what this person will be like. How will you treat this person? What will your relationship be like?

This step can be difficult, and so give yourself time to research the answers. Examine your past to glean lessons from previous relationships. Explore different types of partners by going on dates and learning what works (and doesn't work!) for you. Think about the people you admire, and what you admire about them. All of these are clues for spec'ing out what you want.

Often, you will come up with several different visions, and that is OK. Keep them all, and we will test them later.

3. Find and identify the obstacles.

The minute you have spec'd out that wonderful vision of yours in step two, your mind will likely start to convince you why you can't have it. It's too late for you, all the good ones are taken, you wouldn't be any good at it anyway, it'll be too much work, etc. Sound familiar?

You need to deal with each one of these "yeah buts" in the same way that a spacecraft engineer needs to deal with each possible way that a spacecraft could explode.

Make a comprehensive list of what is in the way of your vision. Most of this list will be scared mental chatter that isn't at all true, and writing it down can help you poke holes in it. For example, is it really too late for you? Show me the data … I doubt you have much.

This is the step where it really helps to have a coach or other third party take a look at your reasoning, and show you how to think of it differently.

Some obstacles may have a true grounding in reality, such as "I don't have the finances to invest in a new company." That may be completely true. For these obstacles, brainstorm a solution to each one. How can you design around, through, or over the challenge?

4. Make a deliberate decision to go for it.

Once you have your vision spec'd out and the obstacles reasonably tamed, it is crucial that you commit to your vision whole-hog. Let me tell you, folks, to achieve your most exciting and audacious goals, you can't afford to second-guess yourself or hedge your bets. You need to be all-in. This means relentlessly thinking about, talking about, and believing in your vision. And this takes a conscious choice. Are you ready?

The truth is that most of us are actually not ready. We are afraid. We are overwhelmed. We doubt ourselves. We feel scarred from previous experiences. And so, while we might claim to want that career or relationship we envisioned, we actually aren't eager to jump in.

That is OK. Spend some time on this step getting ready to take the plunge. Suit up your armor and get ready to be brave. I know it takes something. And I also know that you are ready to figure it out.

5. Create it.

This is the all-out action plan to get your goal. If your life were a house, this is where we roll out the bulldozer and cement mixer and start construction. I recommend that my clients commit to at least five "inspired" actions per week toward their goal. This can mean reaching out for an informational interview, going on a date, updating your resume, attending a networking meeting … there are dozens and dozens of actions you can take to build that house.

6. Test it.

Life is a process, and we usually don't get things right the first time around. Once you have built your vision, examine the results. Do you enjoy the new career you built? Does your new relationship feel right? How would you like to hone it further? This brings us back to step one!

These six steps are a basic approach to engineering just about anything you want in your life. Engineering students spend years learning the craft of building (I spent more than ten!), and now it's your turn.

My challenge to you is to start to develop your inner engineer by picking one thing you want to build in your life, and practice taking these steps to get it.

The end result: you will see that getting what you want is not a matter of luck or voodoo but rather of you learning how to consciously engineer the "gadgets" in your life. One step at a time.

If you would like guidance in becoming a life engineer, come join my Full Throttle 2015 Year Course for Busy People. In one hour per month, I will help keep you on track for making your 2015 dreams a reality. Simple. Powerful. Accountable.

What are you engineering in your life right now? Write me a note and share!

Reposted from MindBodyGreen

Image Courtesy of US Army Core of Engineers

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