How To Make Good Choices That Help You Design Your Life


In this last sneak peek into the book Designing Your Life, we’re going to be examining the process of choosing. As the book points out, most of us fall victim to negative thinking when overwhelmed with life decisions, and the voice inside our heads issues ultimatums that get in the way of being the architects of our own lives. We hear things like “To be happy, I have to make the right choice.”, instead of “There is no right choice — only good choosing.” But how, exactly, does one make a good choice?

You’ll remember that in last week’s exercise, we created a mind map with one idea at the center and free form off-shoot words that connected to that central concept. This was an exercise in letting your mind run free and literally just generating associations. Once we got a few layers of words outside the center concept, our brains were emotionally disconnected from that meaningful central concept and that allowed us to objectively come up with some actionable ways we could get closer to, and test out, real life situations that would put us closer to that meaningful center concept.

Today we’re going to go through the simple process and steps of the life design choosing process. The choosing process has four steps, so click through to see them in order and learn how to put them into motion for your life design. –Caitlin

Image above via GIPHY


This post is brought to you in collaboration with Designing Your Life. All words and experiences are my own and I highly recommend this book as a tool for moving forward into a thoughtful, considered life that you’ve designed.

So first you gather and create some options. If you did last week’s exercise, use the words on your outer layer to create some real life options. Next, you narrow down your list to your top options simply based on the ones that appeal to you most. Then you finally choose one to pursue. Lastly, you agonize over your decision. NO! This is what you will want to do, but do not do it. Don’t overthink your choice with thoughts of which would be easiest, etc.

The last step is to LET GO & MOVE ON.


Step 1. Making good choices comes from having really good insights about yourself. Creating mind maps and keeping journals that note the specific, daily things that energize you or deplete your energy are both good ways of keeping track of what works for you, and more importantly — what doesn’t. There are more exercises in the book that can help you flesh out the type of insights about yourself that will be helpful in designing your life. These exercises will help you complete the first step as you gather and create options.

Step 2. Narrowing down your choices will feel difficult. Try not to let it. Pick a maximum of five options. There are so many studies on how having too many choices paralyzes people’s decision-making process. If you find yourself struggling with this step, reframe your idea of options by realizing that if you have too many options, you actually have none at all. Remember that options only actually create value in your life when they are chosen and realized.

Step 3. Now it’s time to choose. To choose well, we need to understand how our brain works when we choose. The part of the brain that helps us make the best choices is our basal ganglia, which is part of the most primitive area of our brain. The basal ganglia does not communicate in words. It actually communicates in feelings and guides us wisely through our life. This part of our brain stores our accumulated life wisdom, but when we are faced with a choice, it’s the verbal brain cortex we hear and that cortex is louder than the basal ganglia’s nonverbal cues. Luckily, the basal ganglia and its connections to our intestines are many, and can tell us what is right or wrong for us. Cut out the noise of overthinking and go with your gut feeling. Trust your intuition, not the voices and words in your head.

Step 4. In order to let go and move on in life, you have to understand that you always have options. If the choice you made in Step 3 ultimately doesn’t pan out or you develop new goals for yourself, you should now have confidence knowing you created many options before and you can do it again. When in doubt, as you may often find yourself when working on Step 3, let go and move on. Only by taking action with the choice you made in Step 3, can you move forward.

“Happiness isn’t having it all, it’s letting go of what you don’t need.” 

–from Designing Your Life

I hope this series has brought you to a comfortable place to actively tackle designing a life you love. Since I began writing the series and articulating some areas in my life that I’d like to move forward with, I’ve had several brushes with things and circumstances that fit right in with the work I’ve done thus far. My central concept of “Be more social” has seen two impromptu opportunities literally knock on my door in the last two weeks. Thanks, universe! This book couldn’t have come at a better time.

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Designing Your Life, leave a comment affirming that you think you’re up for the challenge of creating your own options!

from Design*Sponge

sexy black frames.

black windows in office area / sfgirlbybay

entrance makleri (above + just below).

i have to say, nothing quite emphasizes a view like black framed window casings. something about them it adds an element of sophistication you just don’t find anywhere else — a bachelor pad feel perhaps? though it’s a classic look when paired with exterior facing windows, black steel framed windows and doors bring a whole new, albeit open look when used inside as a segue from one room to another, dividing a space but adding an interesting, sexy and architectural edge.

black framed window casings in office area / sfgirlbybay

black framed window casings in loft / sfgirlbybay

anne sage for marvin windows & doors (above + below).

exposed wood beams and black framed window casings. / sfgirlbybay

black framed window casings in loft space / sfgirlbybay

Birgitta Wolfgang Drejer photography for elle decoration.

black framed window casings inspiration / sfgirlbybay

clockwise, l to r: calvin klein’s home via curbed; entrance makleri; design*sponge; coco & kelley; house & garden; cote de texas; bohemian wornest.

door with black framed window casings / sfgirlbybay


open living room with black framed windows / sfgirlbybay

kinfolk at home book.

sliding doors with black framed window casings / sfgirlbybay


black framed window casings on hallway doors / sfgirlbybay

studio maclean.

floor to ceiling door and windows with black casings / sfgirlbybay

mr harris tweed.

windoes with black framed casings / sfgirlbybay

mad & bolig.

dining area with doors with black framed window casings / sfgirlbybay

heidi lerkenfeldt photography.

black framed window casings on picture window in dining room / sfgirlbybay

est magazine.



from sfgirlbybay

8 Things Every Creative Should Know

Design*Sponge – 8 Things Every Creative Should Know – Adam J. Kurtz

There are plenty of tips and anecdotes and case studies and advice for “Creatives,” and a lot of it is very good stuff, but sometimes it feels like too much to digest. This month I thought I would focus on some base elements. Eight simple, maybe obvious things that are worth remembering. If you can look past the clickbait headline – #5 Made Me Laugh ‘Til I Cried! – one or all of these might be an important reminder for right now.

This month actually marks my one-year anniversary of writing monthly guides for Design*Sponge, and I am just so happy to be a part of this family. I can sentimentalize anything (and am literally writing this on my birthday) so bear with me as I use some of the items on this list to reflect on past guides that dig deeper in a few similar directions. –Adam J. Kurtz

Design*Sponge – 8 Things Every Creative Should Know – Adam J. Kurtz
Design*Sponge – 8 Things Every Creative Should Know – Adam J. Kurtz
Related Guide: How To Get Over Common Creative Fears (Maybe)

Design*Sponge – 8 Things Every Creative Should Know – Adam J. Kurtz
Design*Sponge – 8 Things Every Creative Should Know – Adam J. Kurtz
Related Guide: What To Do When You Fail

Design*Sponge – 8 Things Every Creative Should Know – Adam J. Kurtz
Related Guide: How To Be Yourself

Design*Sponge – 8 Things Every Creative Should Know – Adam J. Kurtz
Related Guide: Seeking & Accepting Help From Others

Design*Sponge – 8 Things Every Creative Should Know – Adam J. Kurtz
Design*Sponge – 8 Things Every Creative Should Know – Adam J. Kurtz
Related Guide: How To Be Happier



adamjkurtz-pickmeupAdvice is a tricky thing to give, because even “the experts” (and I’m definitely not one) don’t know you personally. You are your own expert, and the advice you give to others is often exactly what you need to hear yourself. My new journal PICK ME UP: A Pep Talk For Now & Later is the guide you’ll write yourself to get through the dark parts.



Adam J. KurtzAdam J. Kurtz (better known as ADAMJK) is an artist and author of 1 Page at a Time & Pick Me Up. His dark (but optimistic) humor comes to life in an offbeat line of gifts and small trinkets. Follow him at @ADAMJK or in real life (he lives in Brooklyn because of course he does).




from Design*Sponge

In Pittsburgh, an Urban Homestead for Hospitality and Sanctuary

In Pittsburgh, an Urban Homestead for Hospitality and Sanctuary

There’s a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA where the rusting metal of an abandoned steel mill still stands, a symbol of both what the city was and the potential it has for reinvention. Like its mill, the area of Hazelwood seems rough around the edges, but if you meet a few residents, it’s all too easy to become smitten with the tight-knit neighborhood. This was the case for Dylan Rooke, who had heard of an available fixer-upper, met some neighbors, and fell for the passionate community.

He had also fallen head over heels for an unforgettable woman in Missouri. He was the touring musician, and Amber was the venue manager. Sparks and heart-eyes later, Amber and her trusty dog Emma traded the Bible Belt for the Rust Belt. Dylan and Amber married on a family farm near Pittsburgh, and the fixer-upper in Hazelwood is a result of the couple’s combination of design and building talents.

Old homes in Pittsburgh have their fair share of charms, but the utility bills are rarely one of them, so step one was to install a new, energy-efficient boiler system. The couple made enough cosmetic upgrades to move in and have been remodeling room by room for the last three years. The pair has a knack for salvaging and curb-picking, so most of the furniture has been reclaimed and upgraded. This also speaks to the Rookes’ commitment to sustainability and hands-on design. With each passing season their home becomes more of an urban homestead. Their big yard plays host to six raised garden beds, a chicken coop and a hive of bees.

The garden has not only provided fresh produce, but it has connected the Rookes to their neighbors, both young and old. The neighborhood kids are frequently found in the backyard learning to harvest greens or pronounce new vegetables. Amber is an inspired educator when it comes to healthy and sustainable living. She worked for years at a nonprofit organization and had the kids digging in the dirt, hiking and choosing garden-fresh veggies over sugary snacks.

The backyard also features their workshop, which will come in even handier as the two embark on their next chapter of collaboration. Dylan and Amber are combining their passions for design, building and sustainability in their new business, Rooke Creative, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store! —Quelcy

Photography by Quelcy Kogel 

from Design*Sponge

Penelope Dullaghan Pattern Download Day 2


I definitely dream in color, and sometimes I wake up and try to capture the colors in a journal next to my bed. This pattern reminds me of one of those dreams, filled with sublime greens and my favorite shape of leaf. I just want to dive into the dark green and swim around in my own private sea of nature. Penelope just gets me. —Caitlin

Download today’s pattern here (vertical) and here (horizontal). 

If you missed  yesterday’s pattern, click here . *Please note these patterns are for personal use only.

from Design*Sponge

domino goes down under.

loft office space via domino / sfgirlbybay

well, isn’t this the loveliest looking loft-like space? recently featured on domino, it’s the home of creative couple Erika Garaerts and Charl Laubscher. the two took on the daunting task (all by themselves!) of converting a warehouse in the old Foy & Gibson Factory in Collingwood, a suburb of Melbourne, australia into a liveable, and very stylish place. they’ve turned something long forgotten and left in disarray into a minimalist modern, but charming home sweet home with killer high beamed ceilings and natural pine wood floors. for the full tour and some expert design advice, visit domino.

living room loft space via domino / sfgirlbybay living room area in loft featured by domino / sfgirlbybay modern loft space featured in domino / sfgirlbybay black and white loft decor featured in domino / sfgirlbybay loft dining area featured by domino / sfgirlbybay modern loft dining space via domino / sfgirlbybay domino loft feature / sfgirlbybay indoor loft plants in pots / sfgirlbybay  stainless steel and green kitchen decor via domino / sfgirlbybay domino green and stainless steel kitchen decor / sfgirlbybayloft bedroom decor via domino / sfgirlbybay

• photography courtesy of domino.



from sfgirlbybay

ALL NEW Inspire Me e-course

Hey bloggers and small biz boss peeps! I’ve decided to mix things up with an all-new format for the next Blogging Your Way e-course to bring us all closer for a deeper connection and to learn in a new way and have a totally fresh experience. For the upcoming online course, I’ve dropped most of the reading and will produce mainly content you can listen to or watch. Screencasts, podcasts and videos from me to you, plus an end-of-the-week live video chat where you can ask me anything that you’d like and I will answer live. This e-course is called #inspireme and I plan to do a lot of that! It will run for 3 weeks November 4-28 and the cost is so unbelievably low but it’s a good way for me to try the new format while also bringing you a major discount as these classes will be much higher in the future. Everything can be downloaded and saved and transcripts will be available too.

ALL NEW Inspire Me e-course

This is a giant step for me but I’m really ready for it. This is a rare class taught by only me and I plan to deliver something pretty magical in each lesson so you are guaranteed to walk away with a new understanding of yourself, your business and your blog and social media approach. Content for this class is only for THIS class, nothing has been previously taught or recorded.

You can expect: 1 screencast, 3 homework assignments (optional), 6 podcasts (30 min or less each), 3 recap/cheat sheets each week on Friday, 3 live stream open chats, and 6 videos from Holly Becker. You will also have full access to our student forum and class site until January 1, 2017. All materials can be downloaded by students.

Click here for more information and to enroll. Once the class fills up, I’m closing enrollment to keep it small. Can’t wait to see you, just two weeks away! Time to JUMP START your social media and blog, small business and overall mood. It’s time to get inspired!!!

(Photo: Susanne Irmer, Styling: Holly Becker, Model: Ditte Burmølle Knudsen)

The post ALL NEW Inspire Me e-course appeared first on decor8.

from decor8

10 Moody and Masterful Ways to Use Grey in Interiors

10 Moody and Masterful Ways to Use Grey in Interiors

I do a bit of interior design work on the side, and I don’t think there’s been a project yet where I haven’t used grey. I love it for walls, bookshelves, furniture, floors — anything. My son’s room is, by far, my favorite room in my house and not because I feel a sense of nostalgia when I’m in his room, but because of his grey walls. His room is painted “Sweatshirt Grey” from Benjamin Moore, and there’s part of me that would paint my whole house that shade if I could get away with it. I’ll just be over here, dreaming about a whole grey home, while taking in this roundup of fantastic grey interiors and our favorite uses of grey in decor. —Erin

from Design*Sponge

a little dab will do ya.

orange striped throw pillows / sfgirlbybay

orange — the color that starts popping up in the fall just as we enter october. the color of jack-o-lanterns and the changing leaves. it’s a bold color choice, and one i can only take in small doses — a little dab will do you right. these rooms have just the right amount of the outgoing color orange and i find that little pop goes far in creating some beautiful rooms. simply add pillows & rugs, a favorite print, even a fridge!

artwork with pops of orange / sfgirlbybay

bri emery of designlovefest’s house, photo by me.

kitchen with a pop of orange / sfgirlbybay

the design files.

orange smeg refrigerator / sfgirlbybay

wave avenue.

home decor with pops of orange / sfgirlbybay

clockwise, l to r: i love wild fox; loom & kiln; @presentandcorrect; alanya ottoman from anthropologie; lilibaba Pink and orange watercolor feathers; sanforized; loom & kiln; schoolhouse electic noble notepad; carmen mitrotta.

metal lounge chair with orange upholstery / sfgirlbybay


modern bedroom with pops of orange / sfgirlbybay

pampa fine art print.

orange home decor and accessories / sfgirlbybay

clockwise, l to r: wood fiber clay vintage satillo pillow; the design files; bertoia chairs via design*sponge; @pansyco; telegraph uk.

oversized painting with splash of orange / sfgirlbybay

luxe source.

orange sofa with patterned throw pillows / sfgirlbybay

brittany ambridge for domino.

orange smeg with rustic kitchen decor / sfgirlbybay

jason grant’s book, a place called home.

modern dining area with wood table and leather chairs / sfgirlbybay

the design files.

orange button-tufted sofa / sfgirlbybay

hus & hem.

from sfgirlbybay