Discovery and Design
In my last post, A Chaotically Joyous Life, I hinted at a philosophy that influences virtually every decision I make: Living by discovery and design. It wasn’t until after I published the post that I realized I may need to explain myself a little better.
Basically, my philosophy of living by discovery and design works like this: I set my intentions for what I want (a.k.a. I design my life according what interests me), but I leave the details of getting what I want completely open (a.k.a. I discover my path by doing whatever feels best in the moment and allowing for surprises and unexpected detours).
I’ll be the first to admit that I live more by discovery than by design, but there’s enough design in my life to keep it from being a complete mess. I do my best to maintain a level of balance that ensures stability while keeping momentum toward the things I want to do.
For example, I have certain non-negotiable tasks I do daily or weekly because well, I just have to. Paying the bills, doing the laundry, and date night with my spouse are examples of my “non-negotiables.” Beyond those, I leave my options open for impromptu meetings with friends or doing something just for myself.
Well… “impromptu meetings with friends” might be a slight misrepresentation. A more accurate way of describing that would be “impromptu scheduling of meetings with friends.” As I said, I have to maintain some level of structure in my life or else it gets really messy really fast. As long as I remember to add things to my calendar and I work from that, I’m able to get lots of stuff done and still have plenty of room for discovery, laughter, and fun.
When I first committed to working from my calendar, I feared that I might be limiting my freedom to be spontaneous, and in some ways, I did. I planned out EVERYTHING, including time for spontaneity. Every waking hour had something assigned to it, like “me time” and lunch time, and so on. I quickly discovered that planning out every waking hour of the day didn’t work for me. I didn’t leave any room for discovery in my life because if something happened outside of a scheduled “open” slot, I freaked out because it would disrupt my carefully laid out plans.
After several weeks of “[Expletive]! That’s not on my calendar!” reactions, I had to take a step back and reevaluate how I could balance discovery and design. After lots of trial and error, I eventually settled on the system I use today; which is to only add critical appointments, time with friends, or important deadlines to my calendar. That leaves me with plenty of wiggle room to do discover the best way forward – which in my case is most definitely NOT a straight line.
I can’t emphasize enough that my method is what works for me – but it may not be what works for you. I merely share my approach because I know it may work for other people as well; but I’m far from being a proponent of “my way is the best way to live a joyous life!”
Let me be very clear: My way is my way of doing things… but the only way I was able to discover my way was to try lots of other ways. I kept what worked and threw out what didn’t until I created hybrid approach that allowed for both discovery AND design. Even better, when what works for me right now stops working, I can still live by discovery and design because I’ll just set new intentions and keep trying stuff out until I discover new approaches that do work.
You can do the same thing. Give yourself permission to include discovery AND design into your plans. Stop being rigid and do what feels best for you. You’re the only one who knows what works for you, so keep what works and toss out what doesn’t – and that includes my suggestions. Joyous living is a process of discovery and a path of adventure. Surprises – some good, some unwanted – are part of the deal… but every surprise gets us closer to what we want until we get what we want and we then move onto the next thing.
Remember that as you move forward with your joyous life.
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, and the daily experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.