How to Become Extraordinary by Design

I seem to be immersed in the Mindvalley approach to living at the moment. I am studying an old Extraordinary by Design course which, I think, was supplemental material from when I bought the Code of the Extraordinary Mind when it was first released. It has taken me some time to get around to it!

The course is broken into 12 modules, each reflecting the 12 areas of life we should all seek to improve ourselves in, set goals in, and seek balance in. To live a fulfilling life we should seek to balance the 12 areas and, by doing so, often find more opportunities arise and more abundance manifests for us. The 12 areas are as follows:


  1. Love,
  2. Friendships,
  3. Adventure,
  4. Environment.


  1. Health & Fitness,
  2. Intellectual Life,
  3. Skills,
  4. Spiritual.


  1. Career,
  2. Creative,
  3. Family,
  4. Community.

Why the 3 headings: Experience, Growth and Contribution?

Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley, argues that we often define ourselves in terms of means goals. For example, I will get a good degree which means I will get that good job, which means I will earn a good salary, which means I can buy a nice house, which means I can provide for my family, etc, etc. The problem with means goals is that they become conditions for our happiness – I will be happy when I get my degree, I will be happy when I get that job – and each time we achieve the success of each means goal, the happiness simply gets deferred to the next means goal and is short-lived.

Instead, Vishen encourages us to set end goals under the three main headings of Experience, Growth and Contribution which represent the things we are truly seeking without conditions. The problem with Brules and the Culturescape is that they come with pre-defined models which we don’t question but may be inappropriate to help us achieve our end-goals and dreams. The pre-defined life path of “get a good education, good job, good house, good car, etc” might not be the best way to get where you want to go.

Means Goals vs End Goals

You may have heard may coaches say “Start with Why” and this is the same approach here. Instead of adopting a pre-determined path, find your own why (and what) and the how will take care of itself. The “why” – your end goals – becomes a blueprint for your soul and they can be grouped into three broad categories of Experience, Growth and Contribution.

A Blueprint for your Soul

Vishen asks us to answer the 3 most important questions (see the video below) to determine what we really want – our personal “why”. We can then take these three broad categories and break our personal end goals down into the 12 life areas and define our picture of a fulfilling life. And once that’s done, we can decide the best way to get there. It’s like deciding your destination on a map and then deciding which route you want to take instead of just jumping in the car and going to the first stop that somebody else says is the right way.

Three Most Important Questions

What’s Important in Life

The Extraordinary by Design program asks us to find our “why” in each of the 12 areas of life, feeding off the 3 most important questions but going deeper into each area. There are supplemental materials in some sections including excellent talks by Marissa Peer, Marie Diamond, Michael Beckwith, Lewis Howes, Lisa Nichols, Peter Diamandis and Kamal Ravikant (for example) which help frame each area with better paradigms than the brules we pick up from our formative years or peers.

There are a few plugs to ask you to sign up for the Consciousness Engineering program which is a growing library of talks from thought-leaders in all areas of life. I’m not sure if this still exists as I cannot find mention of it on Mindvalley and, given this was back in 2016 and Mindvalley has evolved since then, I’m pretty sure it’s been subsumed into their other programs and quests.

The Extraordinary by Design program (now referred to as a Mindvalley Classics Premium Program) requires self-study and Vishen asks you spend about 3 minutes on each of the 12 life areas free-writing what you think your end-goals are, after which you can tidy them up into a coherent plan.

Mindvalley’s Lifebook Online Quest

One interesting side-note is that Mindvalley offers a Quest (their term for a structured program over a set period of time – usually 28 days) to build your own Lifebook. This is led by Jon & Missy Butcher who guide you to build your perfect life plan in 12 slightly different areas:

  • Health & Fitness
  • Intellectual
  • Emotional
  • Character
  • Spiritual
  • Love Relationship
  • Parenting
  • Social
  • Career
  • Financial
  • Quality of Life
  • Life Vision

At the time of writing (early July 2020), the course is being offered for free. However, you have to pay USD500 upfront and, as long as you fully complete the program in 7 weeks from the start date (mid-July) you will get your USD500 returned. The normal price is USD1250.

There is a Masterclass available (for free) which provides an insight into the Lifebook program. Note that Mindvalley Masterclasses often run when there is an intake to a program coming up, so the Masterclass may not be available all the time but there is always something available for free to view and gain some insight. Masterclasses are usually about 90 minutes long (based on my experience).

Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.

― Terence McKenna

The Lifebook system is similar to the Extraordinary by Design course in that it asks 4 fundamental questions in each of the 12 areas to get to the core of your why. In Lifebook Online you spend about 30 minutes on each life area (the Extraordinary by Design is about 3 minutes) but Lifebook Online looks at internal aspects of your life such as character while Extraordinary by Design seems more externally focused, though you could easily add sections if you so desire. I like the holistic nature of Lifebook that balances both internal and external goals to create what I refer to as The Hologram of Self (hence this site’s title).

The Lifebook Online program claims to add three further pillars which are habits, goals and the essential element of accountability (according to the Masterclass). Accountability is probably the biggest key to achieving success and is achieved online and inline with the program via the community of other people who are taking it plus Mindvalley Ambassadors.

Do I think the Lifebook Online is worth doing as opposed to finishing the Extraordinary by Design program? With the refund option, it looks like an easy choice, but I will need to add 3-6 hours of study time each week. This is a small trade for an extraordinary life, plus it asks you to work on internal areas of yourself and not just external interactions such as family, finances and fun. If you’re a highly self-motivated person, you could get similar mileage out of Extraordinary by Design.

I’ll tell you how it goes!

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