This post contains the Chaordic Stepping Stones design process rewritten for the purpose of lifestyle design and relationship nurturing. While the number of overall steps is the same and the questions are similar to the original Chaordic Stepping Stones, they have been reworded and rewritten where necessary to be pertinent to an individual, couple, or group designing a lifestyle and/or intimate or working relationship.

The interplay between chaos and order – a fine balance between each is where the greatest opportunities lie.

That might sound like a bit of a dull sell, but upon completing this deeply introspective process, you (and your partner(s)) will come away a much great understanding of what is necessary and what is distracting fluff when it comes to creating the lifestyle you want and the relationships that call you to put forth your best self in all you do.

Here are links to the full version – view and copy the Google Docs version – or simply download the PDF or Microsoft Word versions.

I’ve also made a single page version with just the step descriptions and the step objectives – very helpful if you’re selling the idea of this process to  others so they can get a broad overview quickly.

Enjoy the process!


  1. Need: The compelling reason for doing anything. It is the thing served by the lifestyle/relationships I/we will be living/creating.
  • What is/are the need/s that this lifestyle must uniquely meet?
  • What does the state of my/our life require this process to be?
  • What time is it for the world right now? What time is it for my/our life right now?
  • Why am I/are we going through this Chaordic process? Why is it important?
  • What context am I/are we operating in?
    • Context is a broad and uniquely nuanced descriptor. It is influenced by the current and preceding generational constellations, the dynamic interplay between economy, energy and the environment, as well as more local forces like demographics, geography and biophysical climate.
  • What are the challenges and opportunities I am/we are facing?
  • Why is this commitment to designing my/our life important ?
  • OBJECTIVE: Condense and clarify your answers to these questions into a single sentence Need Statement.
  1. Purpose: From the need flows the purpose. Purpose statements are clear and compelling and guide us in living our highest frequency life.
  • If I/we should live up to my/our fullest potential, what do I/we dream or envision is possible?
  • What is the purpose I/we can adopt that will best meet the need?
  • What can my/our life/lives do/create/inspire?
  • What is the next level for my/our life? Where should I/we be heading?
  • What is the simplest and most powerful question I/we could keep at the core of my/our life?
  • OBJECTIVE: Create a concise Statement of Purpose for this life.
  1. Principles: Will help me/us make decisions aligned with my/our highest purpose. Must be simple, co-owned and well understood. These are crisp statements of how I/we agree to operate so that over the long term I/we can sustain the ethics/values/relationships that fully realize my/our life’s purpose. These principles should be visible and referenced often.
  • What do I/we think is most important to remember as I/we design to meet the need and purpose?
  • How will I/we know if I/we am/are being successful?
  • If I/we should live up to my/our fullest potential, what do I/we envision possible for myself/us?
  • What are the principles I/we want to abide by to successfully fulfill my/our purpose and meet the need?
  • What is the desired culture and atmosphere that I/we seek to create in my/our life?
  • OBJECTIVE: Create a list of the Principles that each individual agrees to employ in guiding their decisions, governing their actions, and informing their methods of communication.
  1. People: Map the network of people involved and that need to be brought in to manifest your vision for this lifestyle/relationship.
  • Who is in the room?
  • Who is not in the room and how do we bring them in?
  • What are my/our skills/experiences/strengths/weaknesses/personalities?
    • ***This is a great time to do a Skills Audit or SWOT Analysis of the people at the table or others that are deeply involved in the project. Compare what skills are already present with those needed to successfully execute the project. Any missing skill sets will help inform deciding who else to bring in.
  • Who do I/we need to engage to meet the need, pursue the purpose and follow the principles?
  • How do I/we leverage relationships to propagate the ideas underpinning my life’s purpose?
  • Who are my/our mentors and guides? Who holds important information?  Who influences my/our ability to succeed?
  • Whose perspectives need to be taken into account?
  • What are the particular strengths, resources and gifts of each of the participating organizations and individuals?
  • Who will be interested in the results of my/our life’s work?
  • Who do we expect to block our work? Who could be or create obstacles to our success?
  • OBJECTIVE: Create a ‘people map’ for the project, complete with names, needs and feedback loops.
  1. Concept: As I/we move to a more concrete idea of what my/our structures are, I/we begin to explore the concepts that will be useful. This is a high level look at the shape of my/our life. For example, if my/our need is to design a way to cross a body of water, I/we could choose a bridge, a causeway or a ferry. The concept is important, because it gives form to very different structures for creating and realizing my/our life’s purpose.
  • What are the organizational shapes that we might choose for our work?
  • What is the deeper pattern of my/our life/lives and what organizational forms are in alignment with that?
  • How might I/we activate my/our principles in the course of daily and seasonal life?
  • How am I / are we going to organize together (to meet need, pursue purpose, follow principles and serve the people)?
  • What is a map of the relationships and value exchange between stakeholders?
  • What key concepts do I/we need to integrate into my/our life?
  • What is the minimum amount of form that will allow me/us to work together in a collaborative and effective manner?
  • OBJECTIVE: At a minimum, establish baseline protocol for conscious lifestyle creation – conversations, accountability, external support, introspection etc. – while also brainstorming organizational structures.
  1. Limiting Beliefs: So much of what I/we do when I/we organize myself/ourselves is based on unquestioned models of behavior. These patterns can be helpful but they can also limit me/us in fulfilling my/our true potential. I/We cannot foster innovation in the world using old models and approaches. It pays to examine ways in which I/we assume life works in order to discover the new ways of being that might serve work that yields new results. Engaging in this work brings me/us into a functional/co-creative working relationship with the world around me/us, where I/we can help myself/each other step into new and powerful ways of living individually and/or together, alleviating the fear and anxiety of the unknown.
    • What am I most afraid of?
    • What makes me/us tremble, and what do I/we fear about new ways of living/working/relating together?
    • Who would I/we be without my/our stories of old ways of working?
    • What will it take for me/us to fully enter into working in new and unfamiliar ways of working/relating?
    • What do I need to let go of to enable this lifestyle to be realized?
    • Where am I/might I be blocking myself/others in realizing this lifestyle?
  • For those in or looking to create intimate or working relationships: What do you need from your partner/boss/coworkers to feel supported in the places that make you anxious?
    • *** We have found that sharing each partner’s Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Four Tendencies or other personality examination with one another to be very valuable here. In particular pay special attention to desired methods of communication for your individual type(s) and share with others or your partner how you are best communicated with to consistently call forth your highest self.
  1. Structure: Once the concept has been chosen, it is time to create the structure that will channel my/our resources. It is in these conversations that I/we make decisions about the my/our shared resources: time, money, energy, commitment, zones of stewardship, and attention.
    • What structure best supports my/our shared aspirations?
    • Who am I/are we becoming when I/we live this way?
    • What is the lightest structure that will serve my/our purpose and need?
      • Any necessary legal structures?
    • How do I/we combine the organizational concepts laid out thus far to support my/our lifestyle/relationship?
    • How do I/we fund this lifestyle? Who has control of the funds? How are they administered?
  • For Couples
    • When there is disagreement, how do we come to a decision?
    • How do we decide if a decision is necessary or not?
    • See Decision Making for Effective Executives decision tree as one incredibly left-brained way of making decisions.
    • What role does the body antennae play in decision making? How can we share what it tells us without making the other person wrong?
  • OBJECTIVE: Identify necessary structures (legal, formal, informal etc.) and put them in place.
  1. Practice: The ongoing practice within the structures we build is important. This is the world of habit creation, communication and principle driven interaction. The invitation here is to practice working on myself / with one another in alignment with the lifestyle I/we have chosen.
  • What ‘nuts and bolts’ practices are needed to sustain my/our lifestyle/relationship?
  • How do I/we leverage relationships and support and engage the power that arises from connection?
  • How do I/we sustain and nourish my/our relationships and collective aspirations? (affirmations, rituals, traditions etc.)
  • What commitments am I/are we willing to make to contribute to the health of our lifestyle/relationship?
  • What are my/our organizational practices so I/we can stay grounded through change?
  • What methodologies do I/we know work with iterations of action and learning?
  • OBJECTIVE: List the ways I/we will work with myself/one another and the community within which my/our life/lives is/are held to optimize the contributions of all vested parties.
  1. Harvest: There is no point in creating this lifestyle unless I/we plan to harvest the fruits of my/our labors and leverage its yields towards fulfilling my/our purpose. Harvesting includes making meaning of my/our life, telling the story and feeding forward my/our results so that they have the desired impacts both on it and in the world. A harvest must be planned up front.
  • What are the forms of harvest from my/our work that best serves the need?
  • What intentional harvest will serve my/our purpose?
  • What are the feedback loops that I/we need to design to ensure that my/our lifestyle self-regulates as much as possible? That learning and change accelerate themselves?
  • What do I/we intend to get out of my/our lifestyle and how can I/we make sure I/we gather, evaluate and share what is most essential?
  • What are the artifacts that will be the most powerful representations of what I/we create in my/our life?
  • How will I/we stay open to new, involved and fresh learning?
  • How will I/we evaluate my/our lifestyle to best accelerate our learning?
  • OBJECTIVE: List what my/our lifestyle/relationship will yield, how it will meet my/our needs and fulfill my/our purpose, and how I/we will know when it is ‘ripe for the picking’!


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