💗 Living Heart:full

Living 2021 by Design ✨

I have a huge confession to make… I have not been living up to the theme and slogan of my own blog: Living by design, not by default. To tell the truth, the only thing I have designed in my life so far is working on my short-term career or work-related goals, that’s it. Because for a goal-oriented workaholic, that was my life in its entirety.

All my energy was directed towards a single focal point and I was barely showing up in the rest of my life. And sadly, everything else that truly matters in the end: my well-being, my health, my body and nutrition, my relationships, my friendships, my creative expression and at times even my spirituality, I had obliviously ignored, neglected and lived through them by default. There was no balance or holistic approach to be found in my everyday life; just my same old workaholic habits in overdrive due to the several career goals I was pursuing all at once throughout the year.

The outcome? Complete and utter burnout… 🧨

So here I am, at the end of yet another year; mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, and what’s more, I had taken mere baby steps towards what I wanted to achieve on the career front. Looking back, it seems that at some point during the year, I ran out of energy, fell out of the race several times and ended up crawling my way to the finish line of 2020 with my bare hands, in tears.

To add to the fire, the COVID pandemic was an alarming wake up call for all of us. In a matter of days, everything we hold dear was thrown in the way of deadly risk: a crippling state of fear of losing our lives, our health, our loved ones, our jobs and livelihoods, our social lives, our economy and the list of what’s at stake goes on. Never was a day in our worldly reality did we imagine that planes would stop flying, streets would stop bustling and people would stop hugging; it’s as if the world had stopped turning.

Did it really have to take a global crisis to wake me up from living on auto-pilot? I’m afraid so. This global pause prompted me to re-examine my own life, where I was really heading, the things I value most and whether or not I was truly living by them. The truth is, I wasn’t ready to die. Not like this. Not with all the potential I saw in myself but had yet to realize. Not with all the indefinitely postponed hopes and dreams of the person I could become which were sidetracked every time I battled with my immediate circumstances. I still have so much more to give. I’m sick of living on the sidelines. I’m sick of playing it safe. I’m sick of firefighting the urgency of everyday adhocness and procrastinating on the strategic things that truly matter to me.

There is an Arabic quote that perfectly sums up my state of emotions that reflect my new-found respect for life; it hangs in my living space as a reminder ever since I found and drew it in calligraphic form:

In English, it translates to: “Sanctify yourself, you are not a second chance or alternate plan. It is either perfection or perishment.”

So today is the day I repent from my current lifestyle. What if, for once, I decided that my well-being was non-negotiable, above all else? What if I lived with a bit more intentionality with each passing day? 2021 is the year I finally prioritize my holistic well-being for a change.

Now as I write this, I realize that holistic well-being is the obvious top priority by any standard of living for being human; we all know it as fact. But do we all truly take it to heart? Or do we more likely take it for granted as something in no need of consistent maintenance? To many of us in the post-modern world, especially workaholics, maintaining one’s well-being and balance in life has become a luxury that happens only if or when we have the time and energy for it.

So my new year’s resolution and life experiment for 2021 is to embark on a journey of living by design for a whole year and see where it takes me from there.

My intention is to search and establish a framework for “living by design” as a model of holistic living that integrates the mind, body, heart and soul without sacrificing one for the other, and just find a way to live modern life that doesn’t end with utter regret. An ambitious endeavor indeed, but one most certainly worth the pursuit, wherever it may lead.

I wish I had a quick fix; a hack; a formula for living holistically, like a lot of things in this day and age. But I’ve come to the hard realization that there are simply no shortcuts to one’s becoming in life. There is no escape from the process. There is no map, only a compass. It is purely an individual journey that each of us are called to embark on. It takes a lifetime to build a life worth living.

And I wish modern culture would stop feeding us otherwise, because our everyday life is neither movie-like nor instagram-worthy; it is an unedited, unfiltered, undirected, unscripted and uncut daily struggle to become. But in the end, the entirety of the experience makes it all worthwhile. Your experience, mine and every other human experience is regarded as singular, unique and irreplaceable.

What does living by ‘design’ look like?

For me, to live by design is to examine one’s status quo and begin to live with intentionality in all dimensions of one’s life: spiritual, intellectual, physical, social, emotional, professional…etc; to become mindful of one’s way of being and doing in the world; to seek to live the unlived life within and manifest one’s essence onto reality; to find a way to make every outer journey a journey within; to live in the arena of life while ‘daring greatly’ and come closer every day to reaching one’s full potential.

This journey is far from linear. The results are far from perfect. No one really knows what they’re doing 🤭… But that is what makes it undoubtedly a human endeavor. We are all humans ‘in the making’. Life is one ‘oblique’ journey to become. You’re not meant to have all the answers or a meticulous grand plan, sometimes not even the next step forward. It will unfold when the time comes, please trust in that.

I leave you with a quote I stumbled upon shared by @thoughtsbyalyaa on Instagram:

“The universe is not trying to break you, my dear, it’s trying to find a way to wake you up, so that you will see what is real, and worth fighting for.”

I hope you’ll consider joining the quest. ✨

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