By the time I reached 30, I realized the life I had built for myself wasn’t really what I wanted, after all. I had a corporate job where I was considered a high performer, was about to graduate with an MBA, had a husband and suburban home.

White picket fence dream. I was adulting, all right. But I was not happy doing it.

I did all the things that were expected of me, but found myself questioning– “Is this what I really want?” and “What kind of life do I want to have?”

It’s too easy to fall into those pre-worn paths that have been laid out by our family, community, and society. It took me a few years to sort it all out, and much of it was incredibly difficult (divorce is never easy), but I am now on my own path to being the person I want to be. I have started living the life I truly want and making the type of impact that matters to me.

There have been so many times that I have asked “Why didn’t anyone tell me I could think differently about my life? Why didn’t someone tell me I could design my life, and not just coast through it?”

So, I’m here to be that voice for you and tell you:

You can design your life, find your purpose, and do so creatively.

There are three areas where I think it’s essential to “adult” Creatively: Lifestyle, Education, and Profession. Read on to find out how to do it.

1. Lifestyle.

The actual style and format of your days, weeks, and years will have the largest impact on everything else you do.

Tradition (and our grandparents) said to get a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job, two weeks of vacation a year, and work the rest of your life around that. This tradition is already being blown apart by remote working and the laptop lifestyle.

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But don’t just think about where and when you are going to work. Lifestyle also includes the kind of home you live in, the kind of relationships you have, where and when you travel, how and what you buy, and, of course, how you make that money.

Question what really matters to you. How do you want to structure your days, weeks, and years? What people, experiences, and things are important to you? Which of those excite you? Make those a priority, and build your life from there.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You can design your life, find your purpose, and do so creatively. Here’s how:” quote=”You can design your life, find your purpose, and do so creatively. Here’s how:”]

2. Education

Learning today doesn’t stop with a diploma or a degree. The world is changing so quickly that anything you did learn in school will be outdated in just a few years. No matter what you chose to do for a living, continuously learning will be critical to your success and there are more ways now to do so than ever before.

You can learn from the greatest experts in the world alongside hundreds of others with online courses. You can learn from everyday practitioners, doing their craft and sharing their knowledge through YouTube.  You can gain from the experience of hundreds of people who have tried one single thing in the comments of blog posts. Use these to your advantage.

Related: 4 Ways to Keep Learning Once You’ve Graduated

Don’t just wait for classes or professors or experts to tell you the theory of how something works. Learn the practical steps, and start doing it. There is no learning like doing something for yourself and seeing how it turns out.

Advanced degrees – and many times traditional bachelor’s degrees – are being set aside for real world, on the job learning. Employers want people who have real experience, not those who just know theories. Trade schools and apprenticeships are growing in popularity.

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Question what you really need to know to do your job and enjoy your life. Talk to people already doing what you want to do and ask them how they got there. Then, find a way to learn those things.

[clickToTweet tweet=”There is no learning like doing something for yourself and seeing how it turns out.” quote=”There is no learning like doing something for yourself and seeing how it turns out.”]

3. Profession

The lifestyle and education you choose will play a huge role in the way you earn a living. That includes not just what you want to do, but where you work, who you work with, how many hours, and what level of control you have.

The rate of change in society matters as well. While baby boomers might have worked one or two jobs at one or two companies, and Gen-Xers had multiple jobs at multiple companies, and we are working while we have a side hustle, the next generation will have four or five income streams at any given time. There are jobs today that didn’t exist ten years ago, and there will be jobs in ten years we can’t even imagine today.

The options for how you earn a living are limitless. You can create your own (or multiple) jobs – right now. Figure out what your strengths are, determine the kind of impact you want to make, and then find the people who are willing to pay for that.

It sounds both simple and daunting at the same time. It absolutely is. But people are doing it every day. There are professional cuddlers, for goodness sake. I’ve never heard a better example of thinking creatively about how you earn a living.

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Each of these areas is crucial to your fulfillment as a person and your ability to be a productive and successful adult. Take time to think about and question each one.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The options for how you earn a living are limitless. ” quote=”The options for how you earn a living are limitless. “]

The following exercise can help you dive in:

Make three columns on a piece of paper or in a doc. Title the first column Plans, the second column Why, and the third column What If.

In the first column, write down 3 to 5 big plans that you have in each of the areas listed above in the next 5 years. There might be some overlap and that’s okay.

In the second column, write down why you want to do each of those things. Be honest. Ask why multiple times of your answers so you can get to the root of why you are doing something.

In the third column, write down what would happen if you chose to not do those things, or do them differently.

This is a simple way to start thinking about and consciously designing the life that you want.

Don’t just do what you “are supposed to do.”  Adult creatively.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t just do what you “are supposed to do.” Adult creatively.” quote=”Don’t just do what you “are supposed to do.” Adult creatively.”]

By Jessica Kinsey

Jessica Kinsey is a visionary and strategist, a defier of status quo, and a passionate problem-solver. You can find her creating and implementing winning solutions every day and contemplating if coffee or wine brings better ideas. She is the founder and CEO of Prodigy & Co, a strategic consulting group that thinks differently about problems and works with passionate entrepreneurs to build business that thrive. Connect with her on Twitter @jessicamkinsey.