Design or Default?

Do you live your life by design or by default?

What do I mean by this?

Within any given culture ‘most’ people behave in the same way. They follow the same routines; they do the same things. They ‘default’ to whatever is considered ‘normal’ in the culture in which they exist.

Along with most people you and I were taught when we were very young, how to ‘behave’ in our society. What we should do, what we should not do.

Everyone is ‘conditioned’ at an early age to respond in certain ways to different stimuli.

And I’m not talking about ‘basic instincts’, the basic needs and the ‘fight or flight’ reactions that are ‘built in’ to us; but the responses we are taught to make to the societal or cultural stimuli that you and I receive.

What most people do during their daily lives is the ‘default’:

Get up, go to work, watch TV, go to bed, get up, go to work, watch TV, go to bed, get up . . . and so on, with a few other daily rituals and other bits and pieces thrown in and a slight variation in pattern at the weekend.

You’re born, you go to school, you go to work, you pay taxes, you die. That’s it. Oh yes, and you create a family, a new generation, who then proceed to do exactly the same.

As Marvin the paranoid (and generally depressed) android says in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – “Life, don’t talk to me about life”.

Yes, ‘the default’ is really depressing, Marvin is absolutely right.

It’s not surprising that many people look to the ‘celebrity culture’ to inject a bit of colour and variation, living their lives as it were, by proxy.

It’s interesting to note that when people are talking about their favorite sports teams they say “We won” or “We lost” or “We played really well today” when in fact the only people actively involved were the players on the field.

But you and I are different.

You and I are the ones ‘on the edge’ – on the edge of the crowd, not comfortable to follow the ‘default’ way of living.

Sometimes you and I are the ‘misfits’ or even the ‘troublemakers’.

You and I question the default, the ‘norm’, we come up with different ways of doing things, we ‘reinvent the wheel’.

For that we sometimes suffer criticism, negativity or even hostility from the ‘crowd’ of ‘normal’ people who don’t want their default lifestyle disrupted.

But then sometimes you and I are the ones who ‘push the envelope’, who create something new, something that changes peoples’ lives for the better, makes things easier and sometimes actually changes the ‘default’.

Good or bad, think about Steve Jobs and smartphones for a moment . . . did he change the default?

You and I are the ones who reject the idea of living by default. We prefer to decide for ourselves how we live our lives and to design our lives around our vision of what we want to achieve.

This may sound simple, to design our own lives, but it’s not easy.

You see, there’s still all that old default conditioning that you and I took on board in our youth and perhaps for some time after that as well.

It’s all in there, telling us “you can’t do that”, “it’ll never work”, “you’ll fail and look stupid”, and most powerful, “how are you going to do that?”

When you and I have a vision of what we want to be, do or have, we have to get around or ignore all this, especially the ‘how’ word.

Having a ‘design’ for our lives makes it easier to reject this internal (and sometimes external) opposition. We can just say “thanks for sharing that” or “I’ll take that under advisement” (whatever that means – but it sounds good) and get on with what we need to do to realise our life design.

If our design and our vision is clear (remember, resistance is created through lack of clarity) and we resist becoming a ‘defaulter’, then a way towards what we want to be do and have will present itself – never ‘mind’ (think about) ‘how’.

I’m off to do some design work.

You too?