How to design your way to a better life

Sometimes the best thing to do for yourself and your life is to simply stop. Stop taking calls. Get offline. Just stop and breathe and just be, a point eloquently made by designer and artist Elle Luna on Tuesday.

That’s a tough lesson for many in this hyper-connected, addicted-to-busy-world, but her message resonated with an audience that included many such people at Roadmap 2014.

Luna, who made a splash writing about life choices in  “The crossroads of should and must” on Medium last year reiterated her main points. Most of us deal with having a job (it’s tactical, pays the bills), a career (longer-term, strategic) and a calling (what we would do if could do anything we want, follow our bliss etc.)

Her point is that we are all free to (and should) mix and match the three aspects of our lives in a way that makes sense and allows us to keep on going. She pointed out that composer Phillip Glass was also a plumber. Writer Kurt Vonnegut was also a car salesman (and I’m pretty sure a PR guy for GE). Poet T.S. Elliot was a banker. You get the picture.

If you’re not sure what your calling (as opposed to your career) really is, Luna had a great piece of advice. “Call your mom. Or a childhood friend. And ask them to talk about what you were like as a kid,” she said. There’s no truer picture of someone than her childhood self.

Then, write your own obituary, the one that would go out next week if you die tomorrow. And also the one you’d like to go out. That exercise can help you design and build out the life you want to lead, she said.

And finally, remember to take time, as mentioned above, to go offline and to be alone. “We are so addicted to being busy, it’s important to find time alone,” Luna said. “Creativity needs solitude. Insights need solitude. Make that time uninterruptible and make it your own.”

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