So by now you would have completed Assess - the 1st part of the 3 part journey to Design Your Life, on Purpose. 

Let’s move to 2 Stage - Design

Before we kick off, let's download some context before we get started.

Incremental change versus dramatic change 

Often people don’t have the luxury of being able to dramatically change their lives, ie move to Paris and become an artist. Money, time and other commitments or obligations tend to get in the way of dramatic change. Furthermore, most businesses (start ups) take 3-5 years, sometimes longer, to be able to generate enough income to pay the founder. So instead of abandoning the idea all together, you can creep up on it, or leap towards it, depending on the resources you have available. 

My personal experience is I don’t have the resources to support me and my family for 5 years, let alone the additional costs required to build a business. I also find it gives you the time to build resilience and know how, making small mistakes along the way to get you the results to do the next step change. It also allows you to create incremental changes and edits as you go. Imagine taking a gigantic leap and realising you hate it or have no aptitude .

Here is another way to think about it.  Let’s say you are a Netflix watcher and not particularly active and decide you are going to run a marathon. If you got up and ran for 42 kilometres right now, after consuming your body weight in microwave popcorn, it is hardly likely you would be successful. The potential to be really ill is also up there.  Whereas, if you kitted yourself out, hired a personal trainer and started building a km at time, you would get there safe and sound.

So, if you want to make changes to your life, try and do it with incremental changes and then you will be WAY more successful.

Experimental thinking 

The other concept to get your head around is that you do not have to stick to a new thing (dramatic pause)  FOREVER. Try and see what works for a shorter time, eg try a daily activity for a week, or a weekly activity for a month, and see what has worked, Try and see what works for you, as the same will not work for everyone.  This even applies to my advice, my advice might not work for you.  (My advice is spot on EVERY time, just saying, so go against it at your peril, he he)

If you adopt an experimental thinking mindset, it frees you from the pressure of getting it right.  You can explore and areas or a change, without knowing the outcome.  If you treat it as an experiment, you can change tack when you get more information.


Design is about planning the next 3,6 or 12 months to achieve the items you have captured in the Assess stage. For the purpose of this exercise, lets assume that you are focusing on 3 months.

Not sure you have captured the ‘things’ you want.

There is an optional step you can do before or after assess or even as a one off. I call it a 'Dreams Ideation’ - where you will capture over 100 dreams of various shapes and sizes within 7 days. Sign  up for the next one here

Draw out and consolidate 

Through the assess stage a number of things would have jumped out. Consolidate items into similar groupings or trends. We want to see what your subconscious has been trying to tell you or where your desire for change is manifesting.  

How do you know what grouping make sense?

Determine what is the best level to manage it at. What will make it easier to create actions and track progress.

Let’s say you had the following items:

  • Exercise consistently

  • Drink less alcohol or soft drink

  • Regular medical check ups, especially at a certain age

  • Run a marathon

  • Eat healthier

You could bunch them all under health or seperate them into 2, health and movement, or 3, energy, movement and prevention.  Based purely on the list above I would suggest that you keep them in 2 categories. I am not the boss of you, so you can decide.  

Go through the items you have captured in the Assess stage and create grouping or buckets of areas that you want to focus on in the period ahead.

What is the end state you desire?

So take the buckets you have created before and create a goal for what you want those to look like in the future.  Some people get very specific about the goals, down to using the SMART formulae for each goal*.  If that is your thing go for it.  I have found that it constrains my thinking and leaves my creativity sulking in the corner, if it hasn’t decided to take a sabbatical altogether.

I also find SMART goals feels too much like I am doing my daily gig. I don’t want that pressure and laser focus in every aspect of my life. Designing a life you want, should be more fun than that. 

My preference is to focus on a theme or anchor to help give me direction and contextual beacon. If you want to find more about the logic for this check out this post about it (insert post on Jason here) I find doing this is more creative and also more incapsulating. I also find it easier to share and gives me an anchor to focus back to. 

Try this example. If I am deciding on whether to do more study in 2018. I check to see if this will help me achieve my focus for the year - Glitter (2018 theme) - help me spread the good shit I do everywhere. Quickly realising that it will not, and move it to 2019, 2020 plan.

*SMART- Smart stands for Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic and Timebound. A smart goal would look like the following.  To increase my followers on instagram by 20% within 6 months. To run a marathon by x date.

Pick 3 areas to concentrate on, in the next 3 months.

Ideally, the 3 should be spread around in your life, one work or side hustle related, maybe a personal development focus and also one related to you personally.  If you need to sort out a part of your life toot sweet, then you can focus on 3 areas under that particular part of your life.

Now you have your 3 focus area and the goals associated, to make the more likely to be achieved, it is helpful to revise them with an understanding of AWAY and Toward states.

AWAY and Toward states

Us lucky ducks have the most amazing brains, they help us breathe, digest food, grow offspring and heal rather remarkably when hurt.  They also have inbuilt radars, seeking risks in our environment and preparing us to get ready to fight or flight. This is great when we are escaping a saber-tooth tiger, and plenty of other scary things in the modern world.  However, when we want to change something in our life, we also have this risk monitor working, when we don’t want it to.

One study done on people having suffered a heart attack, told that if they do not change their life they will die an early death, 9 out of 10 do not change.  Only 1 person out of the 10 successfully changes their life. Interestingly the research shows this is not because of the fear of death, but because of the life they imagined if they changed their lifestyle. That positive future state, made so compelling, it  motivated them to change.  This is a toward state, with the fear of death being an away state. 

Lets look at a another common and very real example, lets say you wanted to give us smoking (yay, you!)  If give up smoking is your goal, then your brain goes “oh, smoking that is what we are doing” it kind of ignores the give up part.  So instead frame your goal along the lines of “playing with the grandkids or kids in the park” or whatever will be most compelling to you.

Because are brains are tuned to minimise threats, the AWAY state is screaming my comparison to the toward state. The toward state is more of a whisper, so it needs to be so compelling it overrides the away. 

Hence, when we are looking at our goals we need to create a toward state and not an AWAY state, or a risk state.  

Revise your goals

If I lost you with the AWAY and toward state, do not fear.  It boils down to this when formulating your goals, focus on where and what you want, not what you need to give up to get there.

With this knowledge, revise your goals to be as compelling as possible. 


One last option for anchoring and theming, is to understand your personal why. Simon Sinek articulates this best

Essentially, if you can understand why you are on this planet, what your unique contribution will be, it can help you focus. 

No easy task! 

Some people seem to know it right off the bat, Lane Beachley for example. I think that is more the exception than the rule. 

The good news is there is a formula 

I (contribution) so that (impact)

You replace the contribution and the impact with what is relevant for you.

Example; when I replace the contribution and impact it looks like this.......

I unearth possibilities, so that you can design a life that suits you perfectly.

Personally, this has taken probably take about 5 years for it to reveal itself, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen immediately. 

Both why and the anchor and then I mentioned earlier will help keep you true. The reason why these are so effective is that they are both around creating toward states for your year (contextual theme) and life (why).  


You have done some BIG thinking in the design stage of Design your Life, on Purpose. Feel proud!


Next up is DO, we will get into action there. This is when your big thinking gets real baby. 





Design your life on purpose ideation

15 day ideation series to help you design the life you want. It is broken down into 3 stages, ASSESS, DESIGN AND DO.

ASSESS will help you conduct an assessment of the last 6 months, using different tools to get different results.  

DESIGN then helps you frame the future, setting your focus for the next 6 months.  

DO does what is on the box and helps you create clear simple actions for the next week. It also helps you work through traps you might have befallen you in the past. 

At the end you will have a six month plan, immediate actions and hopefully energised to pursue your life on purpose. 

Piloting in September  - Sign up for DYLOP Ideation Series here

Dreams ideation

100 dreams of all sizes in 7 days. Not sure what to design your life around?  This ideation series helps you dream, big and small dreams. Some might be the start of your side hustle, or just things you have been curious about. The idea is to really spend some time being expansive, with no filter. 

Piloting in September - Sign up for Dreams Ideation here

How much do they cost?

To thank you for helping me road test these ideation series the cost is your time only. I know that you will all have magical insights, which I am keen to see.

Prefer face to face

Never fear a Design Your Life on Purpose workshop retreat is in the planning for November.  Likely to be 2 days in some lovely location, not too far from Sydney.  It will get you all set with a plan for 2019. 2019, can you believe it?

If you are interested, send an email to or register via the links.

Christina Morgan-Meldrum (CMM) is an author, speaker, curator, change professional and podcaster. She particularly loves helping people start and scale side hustles, especially creatives and musicians by unearthing what’s possible to design a life that suits you perfectly.

She has cultivated the ability to walk into any industry; see what is not seen, distil what is complicated, and simplify the chaos.  This skill has been forged in a deliberate and concentrated way for over 20 years, through Personal Coaching and working in Organisational Change Management (before it was even a thing).  She is currently working at TAFE on the SMS program as well as exploring many, many side hustles of her own.

Christina fills her time, coaching people on their side hustles, blogging, podcasting - Quirky & Chenille (Christina is Quirky), learning the piano, while working on Change Management gigs.  If you are looking for her, she is likely at her spiritual home JB Hi-Fi or exploring stationery stores or artisan markets.