Architecting your life. Not someone else’s.

Alex Dunsdon
3 min readAug 7, 2019


Tl:dr. If you feel like you are on a hamster wheel at times I can highly recommend ‘planning your life backwards’. Beware. You could end up realising what you really want.

I am lucky enough spend many days with brilliant people – Creatives, entrepreneurs, vc investors, corporate execs etc.

Yet it constantly surprises me how few have worked out what they really want in the world.

Most admit to not knowing. They concede they’re on autopilot doing what they ‘should do’ because it’s what ‘everyone else does’. Or ‘what my parents expect’ or ‘what will make me money’.

What’s the end goal?

In business everyone is used to defining an end goal because, as Alice says, if it doesn’t matter what road you take if you don’t know where you’re going..

Yet the same ‘goal orientated’ people don’t have an end game in life. They don’t know what life they’re optimising for.

Plan your life backwards….

Do you know what you want ?

Do you really want to retire ? When ? Why?

Are you doing a job you hate. Why?

How much of your days do you want to spend with people you don’t want to be with?


When I do the below exercises with most people they tend to do one or more of these things:

  • Realise time freedom is more important than money
  • Accept they still want some form of meaningful work and don’t want to totally retire
  • Are surprised that they need way less money than they thought
  • Understand they can still be super ambitious without sacrificing so much right now.

It all starts with a picture – the picture of your life when you are living in harmony with your values. A life where you choose what you want to do every minute of every day.

Then there’s a simple tool to calculate the number that will enable the time freedom to do that.

I highly recommended it.

Good luck


Draw Your Picture

1/ Take a huge bit of paper, A3 or above. Write down words. anything. Keep writing. Come back to it and keep writing. You don’t have to do this all in one session and you don’t have to think about the words too much – ‘love’, ‘chair’, ‘achievement’, ‘nurture’, ‘wall’, ‘protect’. Just keep going.

2. Draw circles around the words that have real meaning and significance to you

3. Cluster the ones that seem similar. Either draw lines to link them, or draw a big circle around the clusters. There is no need to think about this too much. Just use feel.

4. Take a new piece of paper. Draw a picture of what your life looks like when you are living those things. Think: Who is around you? What are you doing? What can you see?

5. Keep drawing and iterating as many times as you want until you have an image that really resonates with you.

6. Now put yourself at the centre of the picture.

2. ‘The ‘What’s your Number’ tool

Work out how much you want to live off every year when you’re 50

Multiply that by 25.

This is your freedom amount. The net asset amount you will need to get an annual 4% return on. This 4 percent is your annual passive income. Any work you do on top is a bonus. Once you have done that you can work out a path over a number of years to build that net asset base.

(Ie £1m in assets will give a passive income of £40k a year. 5m in assets will give you a passive income of £200k a year at 4% interest)

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Good luck. Let me know how you get on ;)



Alex Dunsdon

VC Partner@SAATCHiNVEST. Seed investor in Citymapper, Farewill, Ometria + more. Chief of Staff@Redbrain. NED@Picassolabs. Founder