How to live more by design, vs. default

There’s a question that comes up in every program I teach, woman I work with, and even conversations with random strangers:

Question asked: How did you get to where you are? (career, relationships, mindset, happiness, etc.)

Real underlying question: How do I get what I desire too, instead of staying stuck, lost, and comparing?

Comments that often follow:

How do you stay motivated?
What’s the secret to getting it all done?
How did you know what you wanted to do?
Everything seems easy for you (or another woman).
Where the hell do I start?

We make this way more complicated than it needs to be.

What it boils down to is this:

{almost} every achieved desire starts with design.

As I’ve been reflecting on 2014, I can pinpoint exact times I was living by design and on the flip side living by default (i.e. letting life happen to me and old gnarly habits creep back in).

What I confirmed… every actualized desire of mine happened during or because of design: deeper relationships, contagious joy, business growth, play, and my biggie, freedom.

While defaulting looked a liiiittle bit like this for me: I’m in a hamster wheel that I can’t slow down, keep up with, or get off of. I’m reacting to everything and feel like I can’t get my head above water long enough to catch a breath (or space) to be proactive and intentional. Man, I resent saying “yes” to that. I’m doing those same habits I thought I got rid of, ugh. I feel like there’s never enough (time, money, connection…). I’m overwhelmed and I’m half-assing (and failing) just about everything…

So, how do we pull ourselves out of default mode, get more of what we desire (less of what we don’t), and live on/with purpose?


And this year, that’s what I want for you, too.

So here’s my simple secret sauce… the exact steps + questions I use to uncover and craft every desire, goal, and action plan in my personal life and business…

STEP ONE. Create Space.
Space to think, be, play, breathe, and experience. This allows for creative freedom and intuition. It’s hard to figure out what you truly desire when you’re stuck in the hamster wheel always trying to catch your breath. Create space for what you want to show up. As you think back over the last year and moments you had clarity, what were you doing right before? Going for a walk. Traveling. Journaling. Skiing. Playing with your kids. Cooking. Meditation. Set aside 2-4 hours outside of your hamster wheel so that you have space.

STEP TWO. Uncover your true Desires.
Danielle LaPorte says, “Everything we do is driven by a desire to feel a certain way.” If we do/accomplish/obtain something and we don’t feel how we thought we were going to feel, we’re often disappointed, sad, lost, confused, or just plain blah and don’t know why. We need to start with the root (the desired feeling) and create goals based on that. BUT, we have to narrow it down. Research has shown repeatedly we can only focus on one, maybe two, at a time. In the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown says, “…only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.” We must choose our essential desire and stay focused.

Need some direction? Highly recommend: The Desire Map workbook by Danielle LaPorte.

STEP THREE. Detail your Vision.
You must be crystal clear what your desire actually looks like in your life. Every single detail you can think of. What are you doing, saying, thinking? What are you wearing? Who are you with? When do you wake up? What are you eating? Without knowing these key details, we’re aimlessly walking around hoping our desire will magically appear for us and then not knowing when it has because we don’t know what it looks like.

This is a key step most people miss and automatically puts people in default mode.

STEP FOUR. Set your Intention & Strategy.

To live with intention means to do something on purpose. If there is no plan or strategy for how you will do something, then it’s almost impossible to do something on purpose…thus, we default.

Your vision is your intention. Declare it.

Now, strategize how you are actually going to make your Vision (step three) come to life. Brainstorm every single tiny step and detail that would be necessary to bring this vision to fruition. Example: freedom (specifically financial). Exact steps: cook 3 big dishes every Sunday at 2pm so you can eat them through the week instead of eating out. schedule an automatic transfer of funds from checking to savings on the 1st day of each month. Research 3 ways to create residual income by January 31st. Select one way to focus on for February and create all steps needed to act on it. Reduce all memberships to ones used more than 4x/week by January 15th.

Have your vision but don’t know where to start? Don’t just say I don’t know. Read a book, find a mentor, join a program, or study others who embody what you desire. Ask questions. Get curious. Take ownership.

The last step of your strategy is to be proactive with obstacles. This step allows you to be on the offense vs. defense, enjoy the journey way more, and ensure much greater success.

1) Identify every obstacle that might come in between you and realizing these action steps AND come up with your alternative plan. Common obstacles: time, resources, habits, people, etc. Using our financial freedom example: a friend invites you over for brunch on Sunday and it infringes on your Sunday meal making ritual. You want to go. What’s your secondary plan of action that you can put in place before?

2) What obstacles have sabotaged you in the past? What do you need in order to reduce these obstacles this time?

STEP FIVE. Take action.
We can uncover, plan, and strategize til we are blue in the face, but if we don’t act we fail by default. Choose and act. Don’t let life happen to you.

If nothing else, remember this… {almost} every achieved desire starts with design.

Now your turn… what area of your life are you going to design instead of default this year? And, what is one thing you need in order to make it happen?

with joy,

Freedom, confidence & contagious joy on tap.

5-day Challenge

Join IN

are you on the inside?

Get first access to free challenges, inspiration, how-tos, and behind-the-scenes stories to Live By Design
- in life and business.


how to




Get the KDO Insider

Learnings, thoughts, mindset shifts, + 'omg, women need to know this!' e-notes to deepen, lighten, and speed up your journey of becoming, designing, & leading. Be around a different way of thinking + being. No need for heavy & hard.

Plus? Get first peek at new + juicy free trainings, challenges, luminary interviews, and behind-the-scenes of my life + business!


Weekly Setup

Quick start guide

Get the key tools & questions I use every week for inevitable freedom, joy, and success in this free 15-minute audio training + how-to guide to start designing your life, TODAY

THE 5-day mini

Reset Challenge

Simple daily rituals to reset + recharge the body & mind.

Need a li'l boost + refresh for your body & mind? Get 5 days. 5 simple ways to eat clean(er), look good, feel great, sprinkle in self-care & keep it easy. 



5 things I'm loving, using, reading, or pondering {tools, tips, people, products & more} that are currently impacting & illuminating my life -- delivered monthly to 20,000+ women. The content here is exclusive and you won't find it anywhere else.