Circles of Concern & Impact – Life Design Web

Questions for Life and Livelihood Design:

  • What concerns you about the world?
  • What concerns you about your community, your family life, work or livelihood?
  • What concerns you about yourself?

Think about those concerns on which you may never have a direct or big enough impact: those are your “circles of concerns” and may include things like poverty, social injustice, racism, war, climate change, resource depletion and so on…

There is usually minimal impact or even nothing we can do to truly change those things: they are too far, to complex, too big or involve to many factors we cannot control as individuals.

Focusing on them drains our energies and takes us nowhere: we may go in circles rushing to all kind of commitments, wasting hours on social media sharing articles and memes or suffering in isolation and feeling overwhelmed…

Think about the concerns on which your attitude and actions may have from a small to a huge direct/indirect impact: those are your circles of impact: things like what you eat and how, what type of transportation you use, how much stuff you buy, how much waste you produce, how you interact with others, what you do for a living, your health, etc.

Because you have more chances to have an impact on these ones, the energy and time you put on them is never wasted. However, there is always the risk to try to do all at once, or feel responsible for all the outcomes when is never that simple: we only control a portion of these. We are all systems within systems, what others do/are depends in many ways on the systems/flows around them, same as our own attitudes, choices, actions and emotions. The difference is that using mindfulness and design, we can choose what flow to follow: fear or courage; engage or disengage; despair or active hope, and so on…

The success in not getting suck away in too many circles of impact that we end up burned out is deep observation (mindfulness) and design: the conscious choosing and starting with one little step at a time…

Life Design:

We cannot design the world, not even our communities, our families or friends, but we can “design” our lives so our circles of impact become stronger and bigger and start expanding and impacting our circles of concern.


  • If we choose a more ethical livelihood, we will be more relaxed about where our income comes from and how we invest our precious life (time and energy); this will open up time for us to participate in more community projects that may have a wider impact. Also, an ethical livelihood means that we withdraw our support to organizations that exploit people or use unethical and unsustainable materials or processes. If this example is followed by many, these organizations will eventually weaken and disappear.
  • Growing at least a percentage of the food we eat, sends a message to supermarkets, family, friends, co-workers and the community at large: it says there are more people concerned about where the food comes from, our health and that of ecosystems, animals and other peoples around the world who are involved in food production, etc.
  • Choosing to have one less car or no car at all not only creates opportunity to exercise; it also sends a message to those in charge of transportation systems and safety on the streets. Not owing a car may lead to working and engaging closer to home, producing fewer emissions.

Permaculture as a tool:

Using the Permaculture Ethics and Principles as a filter and applying strategies such as the “Design Web”, “Livelihood Design” or “Holistic Management Goal Setting” (all based on permaculture) you can create a life and a livelihood better aligned with your values and circles of concern, all to make a difference in your circles of impact.

Questions to start your life design:

  • What is the main area that concerns you about your life, family, community, etc.?
  • What specific goal can you realistically aim to achieve in the next 12 months, which would contribute to this.
  • What strengths and resources do you already have?.
  • What strengths and resources do need to develop in order to reach your goal?
  • How might you sabotage yourself?
  • How will you find a way to counter this?
  • What can you do in the next 24 hours, no matter how small that will move you towards your goal?

Thinking areas (add any others you may want to address now):

  • Work/career/livelihood/business
  • Food type, consumption, sources and waste
  • Housing: type, where, with whom, functions
  • Energy Use and Sources
  • Transportation
  • Water use, waste, pollution and sources
  • Relationships (family, friends, coworkers, community)
  • Fun and entertainment: type, sources, time invested
  • Health: emotional/spiritual as well as physical and ecological
  • Time and inner energy use
  • Personal growth

Want someone to guide you through this process?

Contact me for a free consultation at

For more on non-judgemental permaculture consultations and ideas, visit Mainstream Permaculture

For Life/Livelihood Coaching, visit Ethical Pathways

“May Your Life Be Your Message”

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