Is your life what you envisioned 20, 10, or just 5 years ago? If not, you aren’t alone. Studies indicate that many, if not most, people are living a life unlike what they had planned. Sadly, many of those people are frustrated and unhappy. You may be one of them. 
No matter what got you to this point — one (or more) major events or the culmination of a number of seemingly-inconsequential events and decisions — you have the power to change your life. Yes, you really do! As Dr. Seuss said in Oh, the Places You’ll Go, You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

And whether you want to make some minor adjustments or you’re looking for a major life overhaul, this is the time to act.

Not because it’s the start of new year (new decade, in fact!), but because it’s now. There’s no better time than today, this very moment, to begin the process toward living the life that will give you peace and joy. 
You may feel stymied, unsure how to get from where you are to where you want to be. That’s perfectly normal.

The best place to start is with the proverbial blank slate on which to create a blueprint for the life you want to live.

My life-redesign “slate” was 2 pieces of typing paper accompanied by a favorite blue ink pen. You may choose something else — a spiral notebook and crayons or a large dry-erase board and markers, for example. 

Gather whatever works for you — it’s time to start your own life redesign blueprint.

Note: If you are married, you may want to include your spouse in this activity or each of you do the activity individually.

The first step in the process is to brainstorm a list of what you want and what you do not want in every aspect of your life: career, leisure activities, people, emotions, home, possessions, etc.  
The key to effective brainstorming is to write down every idea as it pops into your head. In other words, do NOT second-guess or censor yourself. If “buy a monkey and train it to clean my house” pops into your head, write it down.

You might try brainstorm in one or more ways. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
  • Imagine your ideal week. What would you do every day? Where would you live and in what type of home? What time would you wake up and what would you have for breakfast? What type of home would you live in? What possessions would you choose to have? What would you do in your free time, and what kind of people would you surround yourself with? When and where would you work? What would be the nature of your job?
  • Consider your current life. What from your present circumstances would you keep in your new life and what would you love to discard? What would you prefer less of? What would you like to do more often or have more of? 
When you run out of ideas, consider other ways to explore the topic:
  • Consult some of the numerous “bucket list” sites on the internet and jot down the ideas that appeal to you. 
  • Ask your friends and family members what their ideal life would look like. Ask your Facebook friends.  
  • Go to a local book store or your public library and browse the magazines; select the ones that interest you and then sit down and page through them. Notice what draws your attention. Are you intrigued by magazines and articles about world travel? Hobby farms? Condos in large cities? Quilt-making?
Once your list is complete, set it aside for at least a day or two, adding things as they occur to you.  
When you feel your list is as complete as it can be for now, begin refining it. Combine very-similar items into one.  For example, I had both have more discretionary funds and be debt-free on my list. Obviously, if the relatively small credit card debt I had and my monthly car payment were eliminated, I would have had more money at my disposal, so I combined the two original items into one: get and stay out of debt
Part of the refining process is determining what you really want, above all else, in your new life. Perhaps your original list is small, and it’s completely doable to have everything on it. But if not, now is the time to prioritize your list and/or cull or amend some items. Keep in mind that you should only delete or revise an item for one of two reasons. 

First, if upon reflection you realize you really don’t want that item after all, delete it. Yes, having someone else do your housework for you would be great, but do you really want a monkey? Think of the mess, the cost of bananas! So strike the monkey and consider adding “use a cleaning service”. 

You should also delete (or at least amend) items that are, if you are honest with yourself, truly unrealistic. A 59-year-old friend wrote on her list “become a professional race-car driver”. She knew that, for her at least, that wasn’t feasible. She amended it to “attend a race-car driving camp at least once a year” (yes, they exist). 

That said, don’t be afraid to dream big, maybe even bigger than you’ve dreamed since you were a child. There are people who are traveling the world, without a 9-5 job or a hefty trust fund, all year round because they weren’t afraid to dream and then work to make their dreams come true. And then there’s my friend who retired from her secretarial job at age 60, converted a portable shed into a tiny house with minimal help from her son (she even did the electrical and plumbing work, and both passed the city codes), and now lives completely debt-free on a small parcel of land overlooking a lake.

When you’re done revising your list, create some sort of “final copy” that appeals to you. You might want to create a Pinterest board with an image for each of your items. Or you could cut words and pictures from a magazine and create a collage on poster board or a physical bulletin board. Perhaps you’d prefer to write your list in a rainbow of colors on a dry-erase board. I chose to write my list on the first 2-page spread in a brand new, leather-covered journal that I then used to journal about my own life-redesign process. A dear and very creative friend created a collage of charcoal sketches — one image for each item on her list — and hung it over her living room fireplace.

It’s your turn now. Grab a notebook or some paper and a pen or two. It’s time to brainstorm!