Whose Life are You Living? – About linear and nonlinear life plans

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Whose Life are You Living? – About linear and nonlinear life plans
October 11, 2017 Nicola Neumann-Mangoldt

Have you ever consciously asked yourself whose life you are actually living? Many people oftentimes answer rather quickly “Mine, of course!” Yet, it is still worth questioning this answer. We often think that it is us living our life, but why then are so many people only conditionally happy?

One reason could be that they carry unconscious conditionings that prevent them from living their own lives. Instead they probably live – at least partly (e. g. in their jobs, their relationships or in small daily life situations) – the life of their parents, other authority figures (e. g. teachers or idols), the media or society in general.

Recently I received an email from a participant after a training, who asked himself exactly this question with regard to his job. Until then he had thought that he was living his life according to his preferences and that especially the choice of his job was based on his own decisions. After the training he suddenly realized that his job was instead based on the fact that he wanted to meet the expectations of his father. Having this insight, he decided to no longer follow this path in the long run, but instead design things they way he felt it in his heart.

Whose life are you living? Here are some examples that might help you explore this question a bit deeper:


  • Do you do certain things to get recognition from others?
  • Would you like to please your Mom or Dad?
  • Do you do things, because others expect you to do them respective not to disappoint others?
  • Do you do things to prove others how great you are?
  • Or probably, because somebody told you that “this is good for you”?
  • Or do you even do things to prove something to yourself?
  • Which daily practices have you copied from your parents unquestioned?
  • Do you wear clothes at work that actually don’t comply with your personal style just to be part of the team and be considered as competent?
  • Do you stick to habits you simply took over from society following the slogan „Well, that’s how you do it!“? (e. g. to be a „good citizen“ you ideally don’t stand out, adapt to authorities, keep things in order, get married in church – if you are a woman it hast o be in white dress – and have a regular job).
  • Do you copy the media that make you believe that you are only successful if you own a nice car and get a great salary or that you are only attractive, when you look young and slim?


Unconscious conditionings oftentimes result in people having a very linear life-plan. A linear life-plan means that everything follows in a row, i. e. in a way that is common in society: you are born, you are raised, you go to the kindergarten, then you spend years in school (where you are standardized), you do an apprenticeship or study, then you enter into job life, you get married – civil and in church, found a family, get older while you are trying to somehow survive with your job or in best case make a lot of money , then you retire and die. That’s the most common life-plan.

A linear life-plan is clocked and predictable. It doesn’t allow many deviances, because as soon as you deviate from your plan, it could happen that other people look at you interrogatory. In a linear life-plan the different areas of life have specific characteristics. You can for example on learn in school or in seminars, you have to earn money with your job and you can only have fun in your leisure time. In a linear life-plan most of the time only defensive learning is possible. That means that knowledge builds logically. If unexpected impulses reach you that might question the linear life-plan, theses impulses end up in the dustbin of forgetting. That’s why it is possible in a linear life-plan to keep up the illusion of security, structure and “having everything under control”. A linear life-plan is standardized, ordinary, generally accepted and seemingly secure. In a linear life-plan decisions have long-term effects; i. e. decisions are made to last 5 or 10 years or even longer. This is neither good nor bad. For some people it is highly satisfactory to follow a linear life-plan. The question is: “What do YOU really want and what are the areas in your life where you do not live according to YOUR ideas?”

In contrast to a linear life-plan there are also nonlinear possibilities. In opposite to a linear life-plan you can make a new decision in every moment, when you follow a nonlinear life-plan, because you are present and only living in the NOW. Making a new decision every moment means every 3 seconds – 1 second for the decision and 2 seconds for the decision to land in your body. Now…and now…and now…and now…

With a linear life-plan you have in addition the freedom to leave known paths at any time, have fun while learning, earn money in your leisure time, not retire ever, because you love your vocation that fulfills you, etc. One central aspect that distinguishes a nonlinear from a linear life-plan is that you figuratively try to die as often as possible and transform old conditionings and believes. Just like Werner Erhardt asked one of his nervous students, who had to give a talk: “Is today a good day to die?”

When you follow a nonlinear life-plan, you are present in the NOW, you are in the flow, trust your impulses and do only the next step. Actually you can’t know what things will be like in 5 or 10 years. You question things. That does not mean that you are no longer trustworthy and make decisions arbitrarily or cancel decisions depending on your mood. You rather ask yourself the question whether the things you are doing really fulfill while checking that you don’t just do them because you or others have done them unquestioned for centuries.

With a nonlinear life-plan everything is possible. What is also possible in a nonlinear life-plan is the so called expansive learning. In a nonlinear life-plan you are not bound to order and consequently don’t have learn at school first and probably later during your studies or your job. Your entire life means learning and development. While in a linear life-plan your mind and believe system (your box) rather have control over your life, your being can blossom when you follow a nonlinear life-plan.  Your being loves playing, being creative, being inspired and living in the now.

If you want, watch the movie „The life of Walter Mitty“. This movie is great example of what it means to break free from a linear life-plan and try something completely different. Nobody said it is going to be easy to leave known paths you have walked for years. It is neither about throwing your entire life over board. Yet, it is worth asking courageously the question what you really want from life and what conditionings you have taken over unquestioned from others. In

In the following you find again a short overview with the main differences between a linear and nonlinear life-plan.


Linear Life-Plan Nonlinear life-plan
Clocked, standardized, predictable Individual, not predictable
Life happens in structured phases Everything is possible at any time: learning, playing, earning money, having fun…
Adapted to social norms Which norms?
You are born and die at the end You try to die and be born as often as possible to free yourself from old conditionings


Seemingly secure Flowing, flexible, movable. Security is an illusion


Living and thinking in huge time spans Living and thinking here and now
Decisions are made in the long run (5 to 30 years) and are not questioned in between You can make a new decision every 3 seconds
Defensive learning Expansive learning
Your mind and your believe system determine your life Your being can blossom
You might pay attention to what others think of you and what your status is If others have a problem with your nonlinear life-plan you let them have their problem


If you really wanted to be happy, who could actually prevent you from being happy?

Best wishes,

Nicola Nagel

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