Design Your Life to Get More of What You Want

by Mark on March 1, 2010

The concept of “lifestyle design” is a topic that has exploded in popularity over the last few years ever since Tim Ferriss coined the phrase in his book The 4-Hour Workweek. Some people (like myself) are passionate about the idea, and others think it is some kind of scam or just isn’t realistic. I’ve noticed that there is a lot of confusion about what it really means.

Lifestyle design is simply the process of arranging your life so that you can spend much less time doing things you don’t like and much more time doing things that excite you.

It’s not really about spending only 4 hours a week working, although you could do that if you wanted. You might even decide to spend far more than 4 hours a week “working.” The difference is that you would spend it “working” on something that you like to do. It wouldn’t really be “work” in the traditional sense if you loved to do it.

Some people criticize Ferriss as some kind of  fraud because he is a very hard working person, but they miss the point. He has designed his life so that he can“work” at whatever he wants. Sometimes it will be a business venture. Sometimes it is a fighting competition. Sometimes it’s learning a new language. He has the freedom to do all of these things that excite him.

Ferriss has explained in interviews that the 4 hours is an arbitrary number. The real point is to radically reduce the number of hours you spend doing things you would rather not do. This idea is a revolutionary departure from what Ferriss calls the “deferred life plan” in which we look forward to retirement many years down the road so that we will finally have the time to do what we want. When you think about it, how much sense does it make to waste the years of our life when we have the greatest physical vitality?

There must be a way to create more time to explore things that really excite us while we are still young, and this is what the lifestyle design movement is all about. It is about very consciously and very deliberately creating the ability to live our lives the way we want. That’s why I started this website, and that’s what I have set out to do. There certainly are no guarantees that I will be successful, but it will be an interesting experiment nonetheless.

My Four Areas of Focus

In order to put lifestyle design into action in my own life, I have decided on four areas to focus on:

  1. Location and time independence. This means that I’m not tied down to any single location, and I can determine my own schedule. In order to do this, I will need to earn income without working for others. Initially I plan to earn income using the Internet, which is the ultimate location and time independence tool. Eventually, I hope to have enough passive income from investments where even this will be unnecessary.
  2. Health and fitness. Improving my physical conditioning will contribute significantly to living the life that I want. It is difficult to be active and happy when you are tired, ill, or weak. I’ve noticed that the way I feel physically makes all the difference in the world to how I feel mentally. And vice versa.
  3. Minimalism. I never use the vast majority of my possessions. They just take up space and collect dust. Whenever I see a minimalist home, I always find it very attractive. I like simplicity and space. Minimalism makes it easier to move, makes it easier to clean your home, requires less storage space, and saves you money (since you are buying much less stuff). It could also contribute to location independence if I decided to put everything in storage and live abroad for a while.
  4. Find a girlfriend. I want to find someone who has similar values to explore life with. I’m almost 41 years old now. I want to settle down without necessarily settling down. By this I mean I want to find a woman who doesn’t necessarily want to lock themselves into one location and live a static life (although a static “home base” is a possibility). I want to try new things and find some adventure, so I want to find someone who shares that desire. Will I find someone like that who I really connect with? Who knows?

These are the main areas I’m focusing on. I haven’t been spending nearly as much time making this a reality as I would like. Old habits die hard, and life happens. Right now it’s difficult because my day job as an accountant requires working overtime during the busy season. However, this really isn’t a good excuse. As I mentioned in my post Blogging as a Personal Development Tool, one reason that I’m blogging about this is to hold myself accountable.

Now that I have thrown this out there for the whole world to see, I have to start putting it into action more consistently.

It’s go time!

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