February 16, 2023

How To Design A Great Life – S5 EP001

It’s been a minute, eh? I’ve been kicking my brain all over the place, surfing loads, crying a bit, working through some shame and other stuff (details in future episodes).

But this year more than anything I want you to know that I am here to help you live a better life.

So here’s an episode to give you a bit of an overview of how to design a great life. Feel like life needs a tune-up? Take a listen. Even if you love your life, but if you’re curious about how it might be lighter, calmer, more fun? Listen up.

Let me know how you enjoy this episode, and if you want support, book me for a clarity call here:

With love and gratitude,
Israel. xo

PS I mention in the early part of this episode that it’s a video episode too… but the video broke, so audio only this time. Next time for sure! 😃❤️🙏



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Welcome to the Illuminating Lives podcast. I’m Israel Smith mindset and performance coach for successful high achievers, just like you, who want more meaning and purpose in your life without the stress, burnout and overwork. I’ll share how you can make simple changes to your mindset, habits and choices to stop those racing thoughts or angry outbursts and create more time, more energy, more balance, and a lighter, calmer head and heart.

This podcast is for you, if you’re ready to learn how to thrive in our uncertain world. Prioritize your own well-being and mental health. Improve your relationships with your partner and kids. Rediscover some fun, and just get back on track to living your best life every day. I’m stoked that you’re here.

All right. Welcome back to the Illuminating Lives podcast. It’s been ages. It’s Israel here, your host. And I’m really excited today to be trying a couple of new things. First of all, there’s a video version of this podcast. So if you feel like watching me as I talk through all of this stuff, you’re more than welcome to and second of all, there are a couple of little subtle changes in how I’m presenting myself.

So for the longest time, Illuminating Lives has all been about, I guess, emotional resilience and well-being. And while that’s absolutely still the root of what I’m doing, I’m expanding a little bit because what I’ve realized is for a great many men who are my target audience, the concept of talking about emotions and resilience and well-being feels a bit soft and feels a bit scary and feels a bit vulnerable and a bit horrifying.

And so I want these men. I want you, if this is you, to feel a lot more comfortable, because the way we’re phrasing and talking about things is about mindset and performance and really who doesn’t want to feel like they’re performing better in their lives and everybody can recognize and appreciate that mindset is a huge piece of how that happens.

So to start with this new season of the podcast 2023, it’s the middle of February. I’ve taken a good bit of time in the wilderness just to sort of get my own head screwed on straight about what I’m here to share, to be with. And I want to start this season with a bit of a bit of a primer, I guess, on how to design a great life.

So much of how I live right now has been a conscious and deliberate effort over many, many years to refine and improve Eve and get to a point where most of the time I feel stoked about my days and I feel stoked about my life and I’m really feeling like I’m very aligned and I’m really in this sweet spot and I know that that’s not always the case for my listeners, my audience, for the people that are going to be watching and hearing this podcast.

And so I thought it might be a really useful starting point to revisit some of the things I learned a very long time ago. Now I’m talking 12 years ago when my son was first born. Actually, it’s funny, it was about this time almost to the day 12 years ago when I was first diagnosed with depression, when I first kind of came clean with the idea that I just wasn’t coping and something needed to change and I didn’t know what that was.

I was really, really struggling. I felt like I had everything. I felt like on paper my life was perfect. I was married. I had two beautiful, healthy children, an amazing wife. I had a really successful, thriving photography studio business. I lived in Sydney, in the eastern suburbs. I drove a nice car. I had all of the stuff. I lived in a beautiful home, had a great, thriving amount of income coming in through my business, and I was miserable.

I was so deeply, deeply unhappy that I was just in a complete cloud, a complete funk nearly all of the time. I was short, I was angry. I was yelling at my wife and kids over tiny little trivial things. I was spending far too much time watching crap TV, eating terrible food, and basically punishing myself and feeling horrible about everything.

And I was thinking, I feel so ashamed, I feel so guilty. I have everything and I should be so grateful. And yet I just can’t seem to find the silver lining. I can’t find the sunshine right now. I’d gotten really stuck in this terrible loop of depressive thoughts and patterns and kind of came to this point where my wife actually said to me, You’re not much fun.

You don’t want to talk to me about it. I don’t know what’s going on with you, but there’s something not right. I really want you to try and find someone to talk to about this. And I reached out and I spoke to my stepdad, and I finally admitted, I said to him, I said, What’s up? Why are you calling?

I said, Oh, mate, I’m just I’m not coping. I hate everything. I want to throw my business. So I’m being a terrible father and terrible husband. I know that I’m doing all of the wrong things and I just can’t seem to put the brakes on. I can’t stop. I can’t get back on track to the kind of life that I know I’m supposed to be living and the kind of person that I’m supposed to be who I want to be.

I just can’t find my way there. And he gave me this beautiful and very simple piece of advice which I want to relay to you now, which was you have two choices if you know what the problem is. And you know how to fix it, just go ahead and fix that problem. But if you don’t know what the problem is or you don’t know how to fix it, then you need to find some help.

Someone who can support you with fixing the problem. Really simple binary sort of thing. Either figure out what it is and fix it, or get some help to figure out what it is and fix it. But either way, at no stage was there the choice on the table of staying where I was, I was determined I wasn’t going to stay where I was.

I needed a break. I needed to take a different approach to get life back on track. Excuse me. And this started the journey for me to Ward’s designing my ideal life or designing a great life. So first of all, there was a lot of treatment that I went through in terms of lifestyle realignment and, you know, some some lengthy counseling sessions with a psychologist who was amazing and some really long, hard conversations with my wife.

But but when the dust began to settle and when I started showing glimpses that I was back to my normal self again, we started to have these conversations about, okay, so what is really important to us in our life and what do we want to do and how do we want to live and all that kind of stuff.

And so what I thought I’d do today in this episode is go into a bit of detail and break down some of these questions for you that my wife and I went into detail on and help you sort of get a little glimpse inside the looking glass of how to design a great life, a life that you live, a life that illuminates you from the inside out.

So you get to shine, so you get to be your best, brightest self. So to start is one of the things that I’ve learned. I and I can articulate far better now than even I could back then is that there are really four pillars to health. And if you think about this, it comes from a wonderful book called Fully Human by an Australian guy called Steve Biddulph, and he talks about this thing I’ve mentioned before on the podcast called The Four Story Mansion.

This is what we need to be fully integrated, fully human, to be operating as our best and biomechanical machine is. I guess we have our physical self, which is the first floor of the four storey mansion. We have our emotions, our emotional self, which is the second floor. The third floor is our mental self or our intellectual self, and then the fourth floor is our spiritual self.

And I kind of think of this as like working from the ground up, right? So the ground level is all the first floor. The base of operations is our physical body. Are we rested, are we exercising, are we getting nutrition? Are we looking after all those physical elements to ourselves emotionally? The next level up, I feel like that’s sort of a heart gut kind of combo and, you know, so you can sort of say, I’m working my way up the picture of a human.

Our emotional health is about how do we process and feel our emotions? Are we able to notice the signals when they come through from our emotional sort of self or side? Are we able to respond to those emotions, process those emotions in a healthy way, and learn what we need to learn from the next one is our mental self.

Are we looking after our gray matter? Are we looking after the monkey mind? Are we looking after our thoughts and our interpretations and our stories and our choices and all of the all of the decision processes and other thought processes in our head that, you know, our mindset, I suppose. And then finally, a spirituality. Are we allowing ourselves to connect with and be with something bigger than ourselves?

So all these layers to me are like the four pillars of health. And then on top of that there are things like What do we do for joy and fun and pleasure in our life? How connected do we feel to a sense of meaning and purpose in how we are spending our time every day in what work we’re doing and the communities we’re moving in?

And then how connected do we feel? Are we in good relationships and are we showing up for those relationships in the right way? So all of those things to me are kind of like the core ingredients of a great life. If we are looking after all four pillars of what make us tick as humans, if we feel connected, if we feel joy, and if we feel purpose and meaning, then that’s pretty much it.

If we can look after all of those things, then we’ve got a great life, by and large. Okay, Now I want to talk to this in a bit more detail. Right now. A great life actually starts between our years. I know it’s like those fourth four story mansion things kind of starts with the ground floor of physical health, but really designing and having a great life begins with a choice.

It begins with a decision. It’s a mindset or I thought or a process in our head in between areas, right? So that’s where I feel like a lot of how I’m talking about my work as a mindset and performance coach now is recognizing that we spend an awful lot of time in our heads and the six inches or so between our ears is where we need to start.

That’s what we need to look at because that then determines how do we interpret what’s going on in our world. What stories and narratives are we telling? What decisions and choices are we making? What behaviors are we taking based on? What commitments and values we choose to believe in? All that mental, all of that. It’s kind of the the in-between is the mindset stuff.

So there are some important questions I want to challenge you with here. Or ask, at least not challenge. Let’s just ask or keep this gentle. The first one is what is important, right? So this is a value question. What do you value? What is important to you in life? Is it travel? Is it freedom? Is it family? Is it money?

Is it, you know, going surfing every day? Yes, for me. But what is important to you and I want you to think about that not just in terms of everything that you’ve been doing for ages, but I want you to think about that in terms of are there any little niggly things that are important to you that you’ve been neglecting for a very long time?

Are there things that you have been putting off that you need to acknowledge or recognize as or spend time on or invest in? You know what is important in your life? The next one, What do you need? Right? What do you need? Do you need obviously you need rest. You need good food, you need connection, you need, you know, all of the good things that contribute to our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual health and well-being.

But there are other things that you need to do. You need to be creative. Do you need to make things to feel a sense of satisfaction? You know, what are the things that you need next? What do you want? What are the deep yearnings? What are the things that keep you up at night that make you get really curious about?

Oh, I wonder if I could do that. You know, for me, I really want to explore surfing in Indonesia on some of those amazing waves that you see on. I don’t know that I see on my Instagram feed all the time. I really want to do that. I really want to travel the world with my family and see amazing old cultural sites and share that experience with the people that I love.

Give my kids that opportunity to see more broadly how the world once ticked and grew and evolved. And then from those three things, what is important? What do you need? What do you want? Then? What choices do you need to make to start to bring those things into reality for yourself? Right? Everything starts with choice. Everything starts with choice, right?

One of those choices is who do I need to be for that to come into fruition? Right? What being this? What presents do I need to bring into my life? How do I need to show up in my day to day? And what choices do I need to make to make these things happen? So to give you an example for me to surf Indonesia, well, that’s going to require, first of all, a choice.

Okay, I’m going to commit to surfing Indonesia. Then it’s going to be a case of, well, how much is that going to cost? What’s the right time of year? Choose to put it on the calendar, choose to commit the money to buy the tickets, choose to connect with people locally. So I’ve got some mates I can go over and share it with, you know, some other die hard surfers who can’t wait to get back into the warm water.

Indonesia, all that kind of stuff right there. The choices that we need to make to bring those things into reality. So what’s important? What do you need? What do you want? What choices do you need to make and who do you need to be to bring that into reality? And this is a really important one. How much is enough?

What is enough for you? Any conversation around having a great life really does require we look at what is our innocence, What where do we draw the line? What’s the threshold at which we say, okay, that’s enough now, in a lot of situations, that conversation is most relevant around money because we live in a very consumer and capitalist driven society and so often we get caught on the hamster wheel of more and more, more, more, more without realizing that actually there is a point at which we can say, That’s enough.

That’s enough for me. I don’t need any more than that. I don’t want any more than that. And I will tell you, simplifying our life by having a very clear picture of what our enough point is can make such a profound difference, such a profound difference to the momentum we can build towards designing, creating that amazing life. Like when my wife and I traveled Australia, we had such a simple way of living.

We wanted for nothing. We literally wanted for nothing. And we lived off as a family of four, about 400 bucks a week. We had set ourselves up with our boss. So that we paid an average of about $75 rent per week. When we first started traveling the entire first year on the road with just it was basically caravan park phase.

We’d spend one night a week roughly in caravan parks, or we’d go for super cheap options like, you know, $10 a night farm stays or going to showgrounds or whatever. But for us that was enough. We wanted to have good food on the table. We wanted to have peace and freedom and time to be with our kids and to enjoy this incredible country we were traveling.

And that meant then for us that what we needed, what our enough was, was just all of those simplicities, all those basic elements of life. We didn’t need a Ferrari behind the bus. We didn’t need a luxury. Five storey mansion right on the cliffs of the most expensive part of Australia. We didn’t need any of those things. Now, I’m not saying any of those things are bad or inherently alright.

There are some concerns I have lately about, you know, resource usage and how we’re going on the planet and the fact that we’re starting to see very real glimpses of what climate change is going to look like as it degrades our environment. And an enormous part of that is the profound level of resource usage over and above what the planet can contain and cope with.

But that’s not the conversation for today. Today, this is a conversation about how do you design a great life and all the elements that go into that and what is enough for you. And so often we’re scared to simply look at that because it actually requires challenging our belief systems. But I really do want to challenge you on this point.

What is enough? How much is enough? When do you know when you’ve made it? When do you know when you have achieved that goal? I really give some thought to that. Now, once you’ve got all those questions answered right, like what’s important or what do you value? What do you need, What do you want? What choices do you need to make?

Who do you need to be and how much is enough? Once you’ve got all those things, then the next step to designing a great life is getting rid of everything that does not align. Everything non-essential. And I don’t mean like doing Marie Kondo and like empty Your house, but what I’m talking about is simplification. The more simple our lives are, the more we have time to be present, the more we have time to appreciate and be grateful for all the cool things we do have.

The less time we spend running around servicing a lifestyle that is surplus or superfluous to needs, right? So getting rid of the non-essential, the next step there is prioritizing your priorities. I’m pretty sure I’ve spoken about this in the podcast before, but I want to reiterate it because it’s such a powerful concept. Your priorities are not what you say they are.

Your priorities are what you do. That again, your priorities are not what you say they are. Your priorities are what you do. So, for example, if you say My priority is to be healthy and to live a long life and what you actually do is a junk food and sit on the couch all day, every day and all evening watching TV.

Then actually your priority is being inactive and setting yourself up for an unhealthy, shorter life. But if you prioritize something that means you take actions in accordance with that. So if you say it’s really important for me to be a present father and I’m going to delete social media off my phone so I can stay engaged at home rather than just default to staring at a screen for hours and losing hours of my day and disconnecting from my family, then you’re in alignment with your priorities there.

Right? But if you say, I really want to prioritize my family and then you do spend all those hours scrolling social media, then your priority is actually scrolling social media. Your priorities are not what you say they are. Your priorities are what you do. They are the actions you take and how you live your life. Now, another thing here is a lot of the ideas that I’m talking about are unusual.

Not traditional, not common in terms of how we have all evolved to live over the last 5000 years, 50 especially. And so it’s important to recognize that there may be some discomfort, there may be some culture shock, there may be some challenges that come your way as a consequence of answering these questions and taking the actions in accordance with these questions or with your answers.

So it’s important that you are ready and prepared to break some traditions and to know that ultimately it’s your life and you answer to yourself. And then the other part of it is to have a great support network so people that you can have around you who are going to help support you as you make these unorthodox choices or as you start to realign your life.

And that may be your partner, that may be a group of friends, that may be an online community who have very similar aligned thought processes, whatever it is, you need support, right? That’s kind of you as far as how to design a great life, right? It’s literally think about what are the ingredients, those four pillars of health, connection, relationships, joy, purpose, meaning it’s about recognizing that that great life starts between our use of that mindset, answering those questions, what’s important?

What do you need? What do you want? What choices do you have to make, who you have to be, and what is enough? And then getting rid of everything that doesn’t fit with those, getting rid of everything that is not aligned, prioritizing your priorities and then being prepared that this is going to feel a bit odd and a bit awkward and a bit out of place compared to the way the majority of the world live.

I hope that all makes sense. Right? So that’s the that’s the primer on how to design a great life. Now here are the next steps. What is your mindset right now and what do you need to do to look after that? And I want you to think about this in terms of I’ve done this at least two, possibly three separate times.

I’m quite well versed in helping guiding my clients through this. Is this the kind of thing that you need support with? Are you certain that you want to create a great life but you just need some extra help, you need some accountability, you need some insight? Do you need a second pair of eyes? You need someone to help give you tools to make these transitions yourself.

Give me a call. Let’s set up a clarity and discovery call. Let’s help you get clear about what is so important in your life and what are the ingredients of your ideal life. Because that’s what I do as a coach. I help my clients create better lives. Lives with. I feel more fulfilled, feel more passion, feel more purposeful, more meaning and satisfaction, feel happier, feel like having better relationships, feel like they’re more connected to their work and to their communities, and most importantly, feel like they’re healthier in all four pillars for themselves, in their own life.

So what’s working what’s not working for you right now? What do you want from your one life? You know, like we only get one of these journeys through the world. We run and get as far as as far as we know, depending on your belief in your faith tradition. Right. But this this experience of being human, this mortal coil that we’re all part of, the best we can do is take the approach that we only get one go.

We might as well make the best of it. Right. And so my question to you to help conclude this is after having thought your way, all of all the way through all those different things, I’ve asked and prompted, do you need some help and how can I help you? Because that’s what I’m here for, right? I’m literally here to help people create better lives, to help you create a better life with more fulfillment, more purpose, more happiness, more joy, more connection.

That’s my role as a coach. That’s what I do with my mindset and performance coaching. They’re the tools of my source framework about how we look after our self. That’s the s, our relationships as the are and our contribution is the same, right? So RC or source framework, that whole approach is how I help you. You get from where you are now to where you want to be.

And it’s how I help my clients turn their lives around and then send me the most amazing messages afterwards of I was just sitting with the family and feeling so grateful because we’re all having so much fun together. And then just reflecting on the time that I spent with you, Israel, and learning from you and you know how I feel so grateful that our paths crossed and that I was able to learn from you and get coaching.

That’s a legit text message I got from one of my clients not that long ago. So if this sounds like something you want to do some time, you want to spend an investment in yourself and in the quality of your life that you are ready to make, then I want you to give me a buzz. I want you to reach out either via email, through my website, me, ODM, whatever the method is, there’s plenty of ways you can find me starting with the Shownotes and my website Israel Smith dot com.

Let’s book a call. Let’s have a conversation about where you’re at, what’s happening, what’s working and what’s not working. And then let’s talk about what you really want, what you’re afraid to hope for, What keeps you up at night? What is the number one on the list of things that if you don’t accomplish in this life, you are going to feel profound regret?

And then from that, let’s see how I might support you as your coach. It’s so good to be back. I’m loving being back on the podcast. I can’t wait to hear your feedback on this episode. I hope it’s been profoundly useful for you. Please share. Please bring this message far and wide. More people need to know this skill about how to build and design a great life for themselves, because I feel like there’s an awful awfully big percentage of the population sort of going through the quiet desperation and just not sure how to put the steps together to actually change things.

But it’s available to everybody. All right. I’m sending lots of love and gratitude. Have an amazing day wherever you are, and I will speak to you on the next episode season. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode. Since you are still listening, you’re probably the kind of person who loves to get the most out of everything in life.

So let’s have a conversation about that. I want to invite you to book in a 30 minute clarity session with me where we can talk about what you want, what’s in the way, and what the next steps look like. Plus, we can also have a chat about how I work and if we’re the right fit to work together.

So take a minute now jump over to my website at Israel Smith dot com slash coach me and grab a spot on my calendar. Let me help you get the most out of your life, your work and your relationships in the first place to start is with a clarity session that’s Israel Smith dot com slash coach me I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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