Do You Live by Design or by Default?

You are going to go through life either by design or by default.
~ Rick Warren

How do you live your life? Do you live by design or by default?

Living by design means living according to a plan in order to achieve your purpose in life. Living by default, on the other hand, means just following the crowd. It’s just letting things happen as you go.

Living by default is a recipe for mediocrity. Your life will be no more than average.

Here are some characteristics of living by default:

  • You have no meaningful dreams. You don’t know what you want to achieve ten years from now. Or if you do, it’s not something that deeply resonates with you.
  • You have no plan on how to reach your dreams. You may have a dream, but you don’t have a plan on how to make it a reality. The dream is just that—a dream.
  • You don’t take action according to your plan. You may have a dream and a plan, but you don’t put your plan into action. As a result, nothing happens.
  • You aren’t consistent in your effort. You may have a dream, a plan, and take some action towards it, but your effort isn’t consistent. It takes years of consistent effort to make things happen, so you won’t achieve anything significant.

So how can we live by design?

You need these five things to live by design:

1. Purpose.

Your purpose is your “why”—it’s the cause that makes your life fulfilling. It’s something that matters to you. It’s something that resonates deeply within your heart.

What is it that makes your life feel alive? What is it that makes your life feel full?

In my case, my purpose is living life to the fullest. Just about everything I do falls under this umbrella. Accordingly, my mission is helping people live life to the fullest. This blog is a manifestation of that purpose and mission.

2. Dreams.

Knowing your purpose, you should have some related dreams. What do you want to achieve? How do you imagine the future?

In my case, one of my dreams is to someday visit you. Wouldn’t it be great if we could meet face-to-face rather than just through the Internet? That’s a dream of mine related to my purpose.

3. Plan.

To make your dreams come true, you need a plan. You need to know how to get to your destination.

My plan for my dream is to build a location-independent business. I want to have a business that I can run from anywhere in the world. Doing so will allow me to travel to different places.

4. Actions.

Having a plan is not enough. You also need to put it into action. It’s your execution that makes things happen.

I put my plan into action by building an app business. I’ve been making iOS apps since 2011. The nice thing about the business is it’s location-independent, so it fits my dream nicely.

5. Consistency.

Your effort needs to be consistent to get results. You need to keep working on it for years.

As I wrote above, I’ve been building my app business since 2011. I’ve also been building this blog since 2006 (it’s been more than eight years!). Sometimes I still get distracted though. I still need to improve my focus and intensity.


Do you have all five of these things? Or do you lack one or more?

Remember: your life is precious, so don’t just live by default. Live by design and you will live your life to the fullest.


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Photo by Aaron Stidwell


  1. Ouch! Made me reflect about my life and dreams. Thanks Donald!

  2. Donald. Your words speak directly to my deepest core. I feel the damage is irreperable, what can be done?

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