What does the life of your dreams look like? Are you exploring the world and working from your laptop? Are you hanging out with celebrities at award shows? Are you at home spending time with your kids every day?
It’s possible to engineer the lifestyle you want. You might not get every aspect of it, but don’t confuse having everything in life with having the lifestyle of your dreams. You don’t have to earn billions of dollars to have it. You don’t need to come from the right pedigree. (I know I didn’t.)
However, for this life-engineering to work for you -- you will need to put effort into the process. Understand this: It will likely take several years to accomplish the planning stage of these goals. What else will it take to engineer the lifestyle of your dreams? Here are some tips to get you started.
What is it that you actually want? You don’t need to construct a vision board, just be honest with yourself. How much money will it take until you feel accomplished? What experiences do you want to have? Write it down if it helps you put it into focus.
Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, conducted a study, and found that people who wrote down their goals on a regular basis were 42 percent more likely to achieve them.
When envisioning what you want, don’t confuse lifestyle with assets. You can drive a Maserati every day without ever owning one-if that’s what you want. In other words, you can experience the lifestyle without the large price tag.
2. Time and effort
There is this odd expectation that people can quit their jobs, launch a business and become overnight millionaires. Achieving anything extraordinary takes time.
Building a business or becoming an industry expert can easily take seven to ten years. You will likely spend several years experiencing incremental changes and iterating on these changes before you have a quantum leap.
Most successful people spend countless hours working and training to reach their goals. If you're not willing to clock in the time, then you shouldn’t expect results.
A mantra that has been highly influential to my own lifestyle engineering is: “The quality of our lives is defined by the people we surround ourselves with and the conversations we have with them.”
In order to create the lifestyle that you dream of, you need to surround yourself with positive people that push and encourage you. Research by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler found that our network-friends, colleagues, and family-influence our life.
Behaviors and emotions can be passed from person to person, even if it is a friend of a friend that you’ve never met. Your network has the power to influence everything from voting habits, obesity, divorce and even happiness, so choose your connections wisely.
Connect with key people. If you're an entrepreneur, you need to meet investors, potential clients and press years before you need their help. If your dream is to be a digital nomad and travel blogger, you need to develop connections with those in the industry to find out what separates the successful people from the wannabes
When it comes to success and career, it is important to also have a diverse network that is made up of both strong ties (loved ones) and weak ties (acquaintances). According to research by Mark Granovetter, people are 58 percent more likely to get a job through a weak tie.
4. Continuous improvement
Psychology Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied what top achievers and successful people have in common. He found that most are able to enter a state of peak human performance, otherwise known as flow state. Csikszentmihalyi claims that the key to happiness and success is flow, and to enter this flow state, you need to do something that is just outside of your skillset.
If it is too difficult, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If it’s too easy, you’ll lose interest. Take on projects and work that you have the skills to handle, but that challenge you in new and exciting ways.
Most importantly, be patient. You don’t need to fulfill your goals as quickly as possible. Instead, always have something that you are striving towards. Continual improvement is more realistic and rewarding than sudden success or stagnation.
Designing your dream life takes patience, hard work and drive. You can expect to put in a significant amount of effort that yields little to no results in the beginning. However, don’t give up. Eventually, all your hard work will pay off.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.