How to Design Your Dream Life

Ryan Murdock

The ultimate expression of a person lies in their dreams, the ideals and benchmarks they set for themselves are what define the life they will lead. As a new year begins our dreams often surface as goals or to-do-lists, but without creative design or daily direction our dreams soon dwindle and remain unfulfilled. Travel is one goal many of us have so, I’ve asked Ryan Murdock, an expert on the subject to share his secrets on designing your dream life…

I spent over two decades trying to create the life of my choice, and looking for ways to maximize my own personal freedom in the process.

I studied a lot of resources during that time. And I talked to a lot of happy successful people who embodied the sort of free vibrant life I was trying to create for myself.

Okay, “talking to” is a polite way to put it. I locked these people in a room or cornered them in the bar and interrogated them on EXACTLY how they did it.

I didn’t have time to mess around with poverty anymore, and I wanted to steal their most successful ideas for myself.

Looking back at all those conversations, the men and women who were most successful at designing their dream lifestyle had a number of things in common. And when I averaged it out, they tended to hit the following specific benchmarks during clearly defined decades of their lives:


Find a mentor
Start to travel
Make exercise a habit
Hone your discipline and the power of your will
Get clear on your purpose
Start sketching out your personal philosophy—these are the years of experimentation.
Avoid debt


Clarify your personal philosophy—you experimented in your 20’s, by now you should have a much clearer idea of your core beliefs
Assess where you are in each area of your life, and understand clearly where you need to go
Focus on filling in the holes and shoring up the areas you’ve neglected in the past
Build your profession and start to earn decent money


Your profession is on track and you’re earning more money
You know what works for you—when your most productive times are, how you work best, your strengths and weaknesses—and you’re getting superior results with less effort
You’re comfortable in your own skin— the uncertainty of your twenties is behind you
Your finances are under control, and you can comfortably fund some of your greatest dreams
Start crossing off items from your “bucket list”

How does YOUR life line up against these “decade benchmarks”? Have you accomplished at least half the milestones that those who achieve their dream lifestyles tend to hit in each decade?

If yes, GREAT! You’re well on your way to creating the ultimate lifestyle of personal freedom, fun and accomplishment.

If not, do you know where you went wrong or why things are off track? Knowing exactly where the problem is means you can fix it if you start taking positive action right away.

Or was your answer neither “yes” or “no”? Did you just throw up your hands in despair? “There’s no hope at all! I’ve barely even started and I’m already 45!”

Well don’t give up on your dreams just yet. I’ve got a little secret to share with you…

I wasn’t one of those people.

I barely hit any of those targets within that timeframe. But I STILL managed to get where I am today.

It doesn’t matter how late in the game you think you are. I hit most of those “decade benchmarks” right near the end of each 10 year period—and in many cases I barely made it.

But I did make it. And when I hit those targets, I was able to make just as much progress as someone who had hit them 7 or 8 years earlier.

My process was streamlined and efficient. I learned how to cut out the unnecessary, and how to hone my intentions like a laser so I focused my energies on the actions that mattered most.

Perhaps most important of all, I avoided the TRAPS that caught so many of my friends. The lifestyle traps that suck you down like quicksand and rob you forever of the dream lifestyle you could have had.

Finding personal freedom and creating the life of your choice is actually a pretty simple process. It’s a matter of clarifying what you want, looking honestly at where you are right now, and figuring out how to get where you want to be.

Start by using the “benchmark” list above. I’ve given you the very same key milestones that I honed in on. Focus your efforts on those specific achievements—in that order—and get to work filling in the blanks in your life.

Ryan Murdock is the author of Personal Freedom: A Guide to Creating the Life of Your Dreams and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. When not helping people find their own brand of personal freedom, Ryan travels the world’s marginal places as Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Outpost magazine.

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
Inga Yandell

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