Designing A Life – An Introduction to Section III


To become wise we must will

to undergo certain experiences,

and accordingly leap into their jaws.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

s there anything more bleak than tucking yourself into bed at night knowing that there is nothing about tomorrow that piques your interest? Imagine experiencing that night after night. Every next morning that you face – as far as you can imagine – would require that you exert a ton of willpower just to get out of bed. There certainly would be no “rise and shine!”

How sustainable is a life when your first cup of coffee in the morning is the highlight of your day? I can tell you one thing. When this situation reflects to any degree what you are experiencing, you will be convinced that it is your fault. You will likely look back on your life to date and conclude that there is something wrong with your character.

Section III of the website builds on Section I and is dedicated to further disavowing you of that egregiously mistaken sense. You are not a weak and unimpressive person. If your life feels like it is at a standstill, doesn’t it make sense to imagine that there may be roadblocks hampering your forward progress rather than assume there is something off about your willpower?

This part of the website should convince you that it is not your fault if you are struggling with feelings of boredom because it contains the proof of why it is not your fault with respect to not having excellent future plans. Further, the articles in this section outline the powerful and transformational steps you can take to unlock the potent verve you were born with, allowing you to reverse back out of the stuck place in which you find yourself and then proceed forward with a clearer sense of where you want to go in life. It is, however, the most difficult section to complete because it contains the most meaty existential concepts.


The Courage to Create

- Rollo May


Elizabeth Costello

- J. M. Coetzee



If you take the time to send me your questions, I'll take the time to send a reply. You can reach me at


Let me start this introduction, therefore, with a little pep talk. I want you to believe two things headed into this dense-but-rich material: no one is unable to reconnect to the gumption that was present in the personality of their tiny, newborn selves; and the antidote to the despair described in the opening paragraph is a vital future memory created by that gumption.

That last paragraph is referring, of course, back to the material covered in Section I of the website that describes the ways your childhood underserved you. Because none of us can acknowledge this truth too many times, let me review it here. In doing so we will also connect the dots between the resiliency characteristic of our past (openness to experience) with that of our future (surgency). They are definitely first cousins when it comes to strengths that help us rebound from those stuck places in life that can fill us with the terror of believing we are too far down the wrong road to ever find our way back home. When curiosity and surgency are both liberated and freewheeling we can get back on the road again.

We all want to be able to hop out of bed on most mornings hungry for what our day ahead offers.


Who would guess that childhood daredevilry morphs into a necessary strength underlying adult resilience? Knowing what we know now, though, we can see that rambunctious kids are practicing a set of skills that will serve them very well later in life. Understandably yet sadly, grown-ups don’t tend to respond well to the bold and exuberant experiments being run by their kids. The exhausted adults often fail to recognize the verve and courage their kids are demonstrating and they take steps to curtail audacious behavior.

The question that we then face as adults is this: if our particular level of resilience-enhancing extraversion has been trained out of us, can we reconnect to that childhood buoyancy in order to rehabilitate our natural ability to seek excitement?

We absolutely can. Our gumption never dies, it just retreats deep within us, saving itself for the day when we choose to release it. This section of has been created to help you free up your daredevilry by covering two aspects of human spunk and imagination – how to become more resourceful in general when designing a life that makes your heart go pitty-pat (will to power), and how to specifically create or double check career choices such that they take you to ever more interesting versions of yourself (finding work you love).

In other words, the articles in this section are designed to reawaken in you what the cultures of your upbringing have lulled to sleep.

That brings us to the second thing I want to reiterate in this introduction: we access our nonnegotiable future memories through our gumption. The existential term for this process contains my most favorite phrase: will to power.

Will to power

Human beings are actually well designed to look toward the future with an eye to what will matter to them when they get there. As always, however, the world that raises us very often leaves way too much of this activity to chance after, ironically, having inflicted some serious damage to our natural navigational system. Some people are lucky enough to stumble into relationships, careers, communities and hobbies that are deeply satisfying for them. For the rest of us, we must grope around in the dark trying to find a life that matters.

But all of us were created with an inborn wayfinding capacity. To regain control over this ability in yourself and thus enhance your ability to be resilient, you need to clear the way to releasing your will to power.

Will to power – that most stirring of word combinations – is a clarion call that will take us right into the heart of the solution for this dilemma. We are, however, now entering the domain of the existential philosophers and that means the terrain is going to get rough. All the articles in this section of the website are meant to help you understand and surmount the truth that we alone can determine for ourselves what creates meaning for us. There’s no doubt that this is the most difficult section to get through, but what’s on the other side of that effort is truly miraculous – a passionate life that allows you to engage your will to power to both delight you and to contribute to the good of all. In other words, will to power can guide you up toward peak experiences where you were designed to live. To use Nietzsche’s words, will to power represents the “instinct of freedom” – a marvelous natural desire to tap into.

Two things to keep in mind as you work your way through the heavier material in this portion of the website. First, many of the skills that we need to assemble to get our pluck back are going to run counter to what you have been taught growing up. It will be up to you to think your way through each article then customize your belief system according to what feels like a truth that you can live with and live through. And second, your life is actually meaningless to everyone but you. This second stark truth creates both loneliness and freedom within us as we go about designing and implementing what Sartre called “our fundamental project.” Keeping these two thorny realities in mind can alert you to the need to gather support for yourself as you work your way through this formidable existential material.

Having said all that, I believe these articles will help you address these difficult truths in a steady and manageable manner.

Once again, for theory-minded readers, here is a replay of the flight path toward our natural will to power. Future Vector: Our lives will never be boring if we are willing to surge out into our world in search of delightful and meaningful activities that bring out the most genuine parts of ourselves. When we can routinely do this, we are full of ourselves in the best possible way and other healthy folks will find us energizing.

Creating a meaningful future

The first article in this section, Why We Don’t Like Ourselves, introduces you to what I have come to see as the complete list of awful – those five indictments our caretakers often throw at us when we strive to enact our budding resiliency traits. Do any of these sound familiar: stupid, childish, boring, cowardly or unlovable? How about the catchall term “lazy?” If any of these words are ringing in your ears, please read this challenging article carefully.

Next we look at how the culture at large systematically shames our attempts to be us in the article called The Seven Deadly Sins. This list of wrongdoings and the attending penances was developed as a way to control the behavior of a large and potentially unruly mob of folks. We are all better off psychologically when we can put these human characteristics in harness rather than try to beat them out of existence.

The next two articles are very intense skill-building articles that address how to put enterprise back into our lives using profoundly existential concepts. They look first at how to think of life as a series of experiments designed by us, and then how to acquaint ourselves with the rich notions of will and will to power. I will admit that these two articles – Mad Scientists: Designing the Experiments of Life and Will and Will to Power – can be difficult to understand. But, keep in mind, I am here ready to answer your questions. Just email!

The next article – Mastery: Being Über Human – may be a little easier to read in terms of content, but perhaps a little more difficult to hear in terms of existential challenge. It describes the very real necessity of experiencing mastery if we want to live a marvelous version of the life we were designed to live. If your life feels a little flat, please gather the courage to face this trek up into the concepts underlying peak human experience. I guarantee you that you can handle it. You just take one step at a time.

Finding work you love

If you have a job that delights you, you can either skim or skip the next few articles in this section. If, however, you have yet to find something in the world of work that makes your heart sing, please take the time to read through these pieces designed to help you find a profession you love. Again, there is much effort required to navigate through these articles, but, also again, on the other side is a job that feels like someone just told you to go outside and play. And they’ll pay you.

The tiny article called Before You Leap is just a wellness check to ensure you have the resources necessary to proceed up the mountain. The next article – The Existential Roots of Career Choice – drops you back into the dense jungle of heavy reading. The article on how our upbringing misleads us as we seek the job of our dreams – Cultural Myths That Clutter the Career Selection Process – will help you clear the way toward the trailhead leading to a bright work future.

Finally, Finding Your Employment Bliss outlines the process you need to take if you are serious about finding a career or making a career change. It is a doozy. You will need to commit to several weeks of homework if you choose to tackle this one!

Future memory

One more time – there is no doubt that this section involves some heavy reading, but, because we humans are tasked with finding both the meaning in life and the meaning of life, it is well worth the effort. There is a delightful future waiting for you, but you may have to trust yourself to take some back roads to get to it.

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