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Life Architecture

It’s common knowledge that before any house gets built, architectural plans are created, reviewed, and approved to ensure the design meets all municipal building codes as well as builder’s requirements.

Let’s imagine for a moment, what would happen if a house was built without architectural plans? …The result could be catastrophic!

After the structure would go up, the builder could suddenly realize that the foundation isn’t strong enough to support the structure and as a result the entire house could collapse like a house of cards.

Most people don’t realize that the design and planning process behind building a house is quite similar to building a life. In addition to a solid foundation, consider the following parallels:

In order to decide which spaces and amenities to include in the house design, a builder needs to use their imagination to envision the various needs and wants of a future family living in the house.

This is actually similar to imagining what you would like your future life to look like. In both cases, one would need to dedicate a significant amount of time and thought to the details and evaluate the pros and cons of various decisions that would need to be made.

Another parallel is the careful consideration of the elements to use in each design. Instead of specific types of steel, lumber, glass, and stone…You’ll need to consider your passion, career, family, and lifestyle.

Quite often there is a disconnect between the type of life one imagined having compared to the life they end up living, due to lack of pre-planning.

Here are a few common examples of frustrating realizations, many individuals experience in their 30's and 40's:

  1. The compensation they receive from their job does not meet the cost of lifestyle they would like to have.

  2. They don’t feel passionate about their job.

  3. They lack work/life balance.

  4. Their Life meaning (or lack of it) and Core values are not aligned with their spouse or life partner, resulting in constant friction or separation.

All the aforementioned examples can result in significant stress and anxiety. The good news is that by taking the time to think and properly plan your adult life before you embark on it, can significantly increase the odds of saving your future-self a similar outcome.

Let's start with the following 20 lifestyle questions, every young adult should be asking themselves in terms of what they would like their future life to look like. It's important to be as detailed as possible when answering these questions. Take the time to think about and answer each one before moving to the next:

  1. What are you naturally good at?

  2. What are you passionate about?

  3. What kind of a job do you see yourself having?

  4. Will you work from home? An office? Indoors? Outdoors? How many hours per day/week does the job require? Does the job offer perks/benefits?

  5. Where do you imagine yourself living? Narrow it down to country, state, city, neighborhood.

  6. What kind of house do you see yourself living in? size of house,? size of lot? number of bedrooms/bathrooms? amenities? etc...

  7. Will you have a car? If so, what kind of a car do you see yourself driving? What make? Model?

  8. What kind of clothes will you be wearing? What brands?

  9. What kind of "toys" will you have? Sports car? Jet ski? Boat?

  10. Will you have any pets? If so what kind? how many?

  11. Will you be single or married? If married, will they work?

  12. Will you have any kids? If so, how many?

  13. If you see yourself having kids, do you send them to public or private school?

  14. What will you do for recreation? Will you play sports? If so, which ones? How often?

  15. Will you belong to a country club? If so, which one?

  16. What will you do for fun? Which types of restaurants will you eat in? Average? Fine dining? How frequently?

  17. Where will you shop for food; Walmart? Publix? Whole-foods? Will you eat regular food or organic food? What does your monthly grocery list look like?

  18. Will you have dental insurance? Health insurance? Life insurance? Car insurance? Home insurance? Disability insurance?

  19. Will you travel? If so, where? How frequently? Coach? First class? Which brand hotels will you stay in?

  20. Will you be charitable? If so, which foundations will you support? How much do you donate annually?

Now that you've answered the questions, follow the following steps:

  1. Create a spreadsheet with 4 columns: My lifestyle description, My lifestyle images, My lifestyle cost, My income.

  2. In the first column; write down all your answers in detailed point form.

  3. In the second column, go to google and research every item that you wrote in the first column and fill in the image that represents the item (copy and paste from google images)

  4. In the third column, research on google a comparable cost of each item and fill in the amount/price of each line item.

  5. For the questions regarding house and car, you'll need to use a mortgage calculator and a lease/finance calculator to determine your down payments, monthly payments, and amortization of loan. Ask a parent to help you with this exercise or google for it (There are many mortgage and lease calculators available online with detailed instructions).

  6. In the fourth column, research on google a salary range for your expected job and pick the median range. Then remove all state and federal taxes and break it down to monthly payments.

  7. Once you have all the images and all item's cost breakdown, create a summary on the bottom of the spread sheet of total monthly expenses and income.

  8. You'll probably be shocked when you realize the difference between your expected life style cost compared to your projected income.

9. Now that you had a sobering realty check, you have 3 options:

  • Make changes to your life style so that in fits within your expected income.

  • Make a change to the career you'll be pursuing.

  • A combination of both.

It is very important to love what you do and therefore, your career needs to be both enjoyable and give you a sense of meaning. In order for it to be enjoyable, you need to be naturally good at it and also passionate about it.

Having said that, it's important to realize that a career is not a hobby. For example; you may enjoy spending time designing concepts on the computer and would therefore like to pursue a carer in design. That's a great idea. However, the field of design has many varieties of career opportunities and the compensation structure varies greatly between them.

Let's take a look at the following example: According to google; a graphic designer's salary range in the US is $43k - 59k per year. The salary range of an architect in the US is $93k - $150k. While both jobs are respectable and consist of design, the compensation structure (salary, perks, & benefits) varies vastly between them and as a result the lifestyle each job can afford.

Another crucial element in your life architecture is for you to realize your Core values and Life's meaning. Take a look at the blog post titled: "Your Coat of Arms" with detailed instructions on how to find these elements:

Once you gain a better understanding of who you are and what you stand for (Your Coat of Arms) in addition to what you are looking for in terms of your career and lifestyle, you'll also be able determine if a potential life partner is a good fit to embark along side you on your life's journey.

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