Survival Mode

How to Move Beyond Survival Mode

Sharon wakes up every day at 5 am to the sound of her alarm clock. She hits the snooze button twice before dragging herself to the shower.

She grabs a granola bar, her car keys, and rushes out the door to beat the morning rush.

She gets to her office, logs in to her computer, and looks at her inbox.

After two hours of responding to emails, she takes a break. She looks at her “Island Paradise” calendar and wishes to be laying on the white sands and warm turquoise waters in the photo.

A phone call interrupts her daydreaming. It’s her credit card company wanting money for two months of past due payments.

She opens her check book and looks at the balance. Making the payment is going to wipe out her account and it’s still 11 more days until payday.

Ironically, Sharon has never made more money in her entire life.

Living in Survival Mode

It’s a tragedy that a big majority of people are living in what’s been called survival mode. Let me explain what I think that means.

In my experience, I’ve seen people living in one of two areas or modes of life. The first and most common mode is the survival mode. The other mode is the abundance mode.

I’m sure that just by seeing the names you can already tell the difference.

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Create Your Own Turning Point

When I was in high school, my best friend’s dad had a heart attack.

It was crazy because he was an active guy and still relatively young. For him, and his family, it was a huge turning point.

One time while riding his mountain bike, Hollywood director Tom Shadyac got into a wreck and went into a strange kind of coma.

Coming out of it, he changed up his priorities and his lifestyle. It was a huge turning point for him.

Me? I got laid off.

I walked through my house midday with a box of stuff from my office. When my wife saw me, she panicked for about 30 seconds before reaching a turning point.

It became our “Day of Decision”.

Little did we know that at that very moment that we were stepping off of the treadmill that so many others follow and declaring our new lives.

We didn’t even know what that new life was at that moment! We just jumped. And it felt good.

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New Escapologist

How to Escape Everything

The following is a guest post from my new friend Robert of New Escapologist. He and I speak the same language – it’s the language of personal sovereignty.

He’s currently in the process of publishing his book – Escape Everything. A book which, in Robert’s words, “shows once and for all that escape is possible for those who want out”. Be sure to check it out!

Enter Robert…

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Hello. My name’s Robert. At the astonishingly impudent age of 26 I decided that the conventional world of work, mortgages and pension plans wasn’t something I was very interested in.

More interesting to me was finding a way to live without all that bluster, to travel somewhat and to move to Canada, a country to which I’ve always had an admittedly vague emotional connection. I’m now 32, a resident of Canada, travelling twice yearly and living fairly independently of the daily grind.

What do I do with my time? I rise late; read library books; go for walks; drink beer; cook; spend time with my partner; and further my personal projects, which largely consist of writing words in an increasingly competent fashion and trying to convince people to read them.

To many, this is a ridiculous way to spend a human life. How can I possibly earn enough to live on? Why would I turn my back on a tried-and-tested, perfectly safe lifestyle? Aren’t I grateful for the affluence afforded to me by my parents and education? What gets me out of bed in the morning? What does Canada have that Britain doesn’t?

These aren’t unreasonable questions, especially when they come from the indentured slaves most people have allowed themselves to become.

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Picky

Why Being Picky is a Good Thing

“Did you know my dad doesn’t like bacon? Isn’t that crazy?!”

My distaste for bacon is one of my daughter’s favorite talking points. She’s told every extended family member and every one of our friends. She’s even told random strangers. It fascinates her.

Yes, it’s true. I can’t stand bacon. It’s basically flavored fried fat. I just don’t see the point. I’d rather waste the calories on something else.

While I’m at it, here are two more foods that I can’t stand – avocado and its diarrhea cousin, guacamole. They’re both like green squishy swamp snot.

There, I said it! It’s out there for the world to know about how I feel about bacon, avocado, and guacamole.

I know at this point, most of you think I’m crazy. You might even say I’m picky. I’ve even been called prideful.

I just don’t see it that way. I prefer the term “refined”.

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Why Mid-Morning Sex is the Best (and Other Tangible Benefits of Real Lifestyle Design)

That’s right. I said it.

Midmorning sex is the best.

How do I know?

Because I’ve put my life in order such that I’m allowed to partake of such goodies. Stuff that my former cubicle dwelling self only dreamed of.

There’s some anti-lifestyle design propaganda floating around right now that’s really popular.

Basically, the authors shoot down the concept of lifestyle design touting some seemingly logical, but misguided opinions. In short, “it doesn’t work and Tim Ferriss (the godfather of lifestyle design) is a crock”.

It’s sad really.

When someone attacks the concept of lifestyle design, I see a few things happening.

First, I can’t help but think they don’t truly understand what it is.

Second, I think they probably tried it themselves, failed, and are now trying to dismiss it as “not practical”.

Third, I think they would rather accept a lifestyle that somebody else handed them rather than intentionally create one of their own.

In short, I see a chicken.

Someone too afraid to live the way they really want to live.

How do I know?

Because I was that guy! I never actively campaigned against the concept of lifestyle design but I dismissed it as something I couldn’t do myself.

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The 7 Best Books on Lifestyle Design

We live in a day in age where anything is possible. You decide what you want, figure out a way to pay for it, then go and do it!

It’s really that simple.

Nobody said you have to stay at a job doing something you don’t like.

But if you’re like me, and the idea of creating your own ideal lifestyle doesn’t come naturally, I’ve made up this little book list as a starting point.

Below are 7 of my favorite books on lifestyle design.

While they may not be directly related to “living on a tropical island”, they all relate to taking control of your own life, money, entrepreneurship, and everything else that goes into doing the thing.

You’ll also notice most of them are not all “rah-rah you-can-do-it” Tony Robbins style. Most of them give you the actual nuts and bolts you need to get started.

Now for the list…

The 4 Hour Workweek

Four Hour Workweek Tim Ferriss is the Godfather of lifestyle design. I picked this book up at Costco almost 7 years ago. It blew my mind.

It took me a few years to actually get it and apply it but I’m so glad I did. I can honestly say I’m where I’m at today because of this book.

If you’re looking to get a solid understanding of what all these “lifestyle designers” are talking about, The Four Hour Workweek is the best place to start.

 

The Millionaire Fastlane

The Millionaire FastlaneA buddy of mine handed me this book a while back and said “this is by far the best book I’ve ever read on money and business”.

MJ DeMarco self published this amazing book and I’ve since tossed any other business/money/investing books out the window. Really.

This book is amazingly underrated but those who’ve read it, get it.

This book will help you get into the right mindset regarding money and get into the right business to achieve your goals.

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What Every 30 Something Should be Deeply Concerned About, Family Rocketship

What Every 30-Something Should Be Deeply Concerned About

I took a sip of Gatorade and processed what my buddy Connor just said.

We were climbing Mt. Si outside of Seattle, Washington. 4000 vertical feet in 4 miles. It’s a good climb with a payoff of seeing the entire Puget Sound area from the summit.

A hike like that gives you time to chat about a lot of things. One of the topics was our own fitness while still in our 30’s.

Connor said something profound.

He said, “Basically, how you treat your body during your 30’s will determine how you go into the rest of your life. By working out now, you’re going to head into your midlife years nice and fit. What you do in your 30’s determines how you’ll enjoy the rest of your life.”

Connor is right.

But in more ways that one.

If You’re in Your 30’s…

This is my appeal to you, my 30-something comrades.

This is my call to arms to get you moving and create the life you want. Not just the life you think you have to have.

About a month ago, I turned 36. (gulp)

That’s it. I’m officially on the downside of my 30’s.

As always when I complete another year of life, it got me thinking. For those of us in our 30’s, we have a unique opportunity to really make it happen.

Here’s why.

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Death, Atheism, and Living the Dream

*Note – this post is a bit more philosophical than practical but hopefully there’s some value in there for you anyhow.

This week, I was saddened to hear of the loss of an old high school football buddy. He was a cool guy. He was the same age as me – 35.

Naturally, I spent some time remembering him and then thinking about my own life and situation.

It’s a sobering thought knowing that you could “go at any time”.

It’s also incredibly motivational.

The Gray Cubicle Prison

I used to sit in a cubicle. I did it for 40+ hours a week. I spent another 20+ hours a week commuting.

During my lunch breaks, I tried to avoid the typical lunch places. I couldn’t stand seeing all of the other worker bees with their khaki Dockers and work badges hanging neatly from their belts.

Instead, I went to parks and even stores. I used to walk aimlessly around Target looking at the “normal people” who somehow escaped having to be at a job.

I used to wonder what they did. How did they not have to get back to a boss? How did they make money?

What allowed them to wander freely without any buzzing in their head that they had to clock in again?

After my lunch break, I used to log back in to my computer only to see a screensaver of a tropical island staring at me.

With a little sigh, I’d start pouring through emails again waiting until after 5 when I was then allowed to go back to my family.

Bottom line, I spent the best waking hours of my life doing something I didn’t want to do with people that weren’t my family all while dreaming of something better.

I was dying. Slowly. Methodically. One time card after another.

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The New Normal Lifestyle, Family Rocketship

Why the Alternative Lifestyle Should Be the New Normal Lifestyle

(Be warned: this one is a bit free write editorial rant. If I used profanity, there would be lots of it in here. Also, I probably sound braggy. It’s not meant that way at all. And the pic above wasn’t taken on vacation. This beach is 10 minutes from our home.)

Lately I’ve been meeting a lot of people on vacation. After finding out I live here, with my family, they inevitably say, “Boy, I sure wish I could do what you’re doing.”

I usually smile and say, “Yeah. It’s cool”.

I hold my thoughts to myself. But here on this blog, I’m letting loose. It’s time.

Why? Because in addition to all of the sun burned vacationers I’ve been meeting, I recently got an email from a friend asking me about my family’s “alternative lifestyle”.

From his point of view, we have an alternative lifestyle. But what does that mean anyway?

I had to think about his life to see maybe where’s he’s coming from.

Sure, I don’t have a job. I don’t have a boss. I don’t have a mortgage. I don’t really care about what’s on CNN or ESPN. I don’t commute in traffic. I don’t get in fights with my HOA.

I guess I really don’t have a lot of the things that people living a “normal life” have.

But what else could he mean?

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Jobs Family Rocketship

Your Day of Decision

It was the middle of the day when I walked through the door.

Heidi took one look at the box of desk stuff in my hands, looked at the time, and knew instantly what happened.

“I was let go”, I said.

A look of fear mixed with sadness flashed across her face.

I simply stood there in the middle of our living room looking at her. Then something changed.

I watched as fear left her face and faith replaced it. Then resolution.

She started nodding her head as the words formed. Then she said, “You’re not getting another job. Jobs aren’t helping us get any closer to our dreams. This is it. It’s go time.”

Her words inspired me. Deep down I knew she was right. It was time to do it. To live the life we’ve always wanted to.

We had no idea how. That didn’t matter.

We just held on to that tiny flicker of faith.

Who knew that just a few years later we would own our own company and live happily on the island of Cozumel, Mexico? Read more

Why a Job

What Could You Possibly Want with a Job?

“Oh, H.I., you’re young and you got your health. What you want with a job?

Warning: If you love your job, this message isn’t for you.

BUT, if you’ve ever looked out your office window longing to be playing outside, this message is for you.

If you’ve ever imagined yourself at the tropical location of your computer screensaver, this message is for you.

If you’ve ever sat in traffic wishing you were home already, this message is for you.

If you’ve ever realized that you spend your best waking hours (and a lot of them) away from the people you care about the most, this message is most definitely for you!

We All Need Money

No doubt about that. Money buys freedom. But how we obtain that money is totally different for everyone.

The default way for most people is to get a job. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction in fact. People think, “I need money, guess I better get a job”.

Yeah, sure. This is the easy way. But an easy path almost always leads downhill.

When you get a job, you’re guaranteed a paycheck (if you show up and kind of work). So that’s great.

But what’s the cost? Read more

You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Lifestyle Design: You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Recently I saw a great post by Sean Ogle which lays out how to set up a lifestyle business.

I think it’s something everyone should definitely consider at least once during their lives.

However, in the comments there was one guy that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. He alluded to the fact that he feels the whole “lifestyle design thing” doesn’t really work.

He stressed that his business started to fall apart when he took a 3 week vacation. And he thinks that it’s really only for young single guys but not anyone else.

Well, that mentality drives me a little batsy.

Why?

Because it’s pretty much the opposite of what I’m preaching here at Family Rocketship! Lifestyle design IS for families too!

How do I know that? I’m living proof! Read more

3 Questions

The Top 3 Questions We’re Asked

When people find out that we’re literally living on a tropical island in the Caribbean, they always have a ton of questions.

Over time, we’ve noticed that there are about 3 questions that seem to float to the top.

Question #1

The first one is always something like “So what do you do?”

People might follow it up with “Are you working on the island?”

What they really want to know is how we’re making money to afford living here.

The answer is easy. Before we got here, we set up a company called Social Rocketship.

We provide real value for real clients back in the U.S.

Question #2

The next most common question is, “What about your girl’s education? Do you home-school them?”

Easy. Our 6 year old goes to a private school here on the island. Our 4 year old is getting ready to join her soon.

The implications of why they’re asking about our girl’s education is a whole ‘nuther subject. Yeah, we want our kids educated. But the traditional elementary/middle school/high school/college thing is probably not going to happen.

Yeah, I better stop myself here on this one. Read more

Confessions of an American Mexican

Confessions of an American Mexican

I woke up just after 6 am this morning to the sound of my 8 month old baby saying what sounded like “Dada”. I looked into the crib and saw her sitting up and smiling at me.

“Dada”, she repeated with a huge grin.

I took her out of her crib and laid her next to her still resting mom.

I then looked out of our bedroom window to a beautiful new day. The white puffy clouds were already moving past in the tropical breeze.

The bright blue sky seemed to accent a patch of green jungle that lies between our house and the Caribbean Sea.

I spread my arms out wide in gratitude, took a deep breath and thought, “It’s Friday”. Always a good day.

“And I freaken’ live in Cozumel with my family!” Read more

ARE YOU PROUD OF WHAT YOU DO

Are You Proud of What You Do?

I once heard Gary Vaynerchuk say this at a small book talk he was giving in Seattle a couple of years ago.

He followed it up by saying, “When you get up everyday, are you excited for what you’re about to do? Did you think as a kid this is what you’d be doing?”

Good stuff.

Here’s another way to think about it…

Think about your situation. Then think about running into an old friend. Someone you really like and admire. When they ask, “So what are you doing these days?”

How do you answer?

Imagine explaining your current situation to them. Would you be proud to explain what you’re doing?

There have been times in my life where this actually happened to me. Sometimes I’ve been borderline embarrassed to say what I was doing. Other times, like now, I’ve been excited to share what I was doing.

I currently live on the Caribbean island of Cozumel. I live walking distance to the warm, crystal clear water. I have a nice house. I have a lifestyle business that pays for all of it. Oh, and I’ve got my family right here with me!

I’m pretty proud of what I do.

This is in no way to come across as preachy. As always, I claim the “average guy” title.

In other words, if I can do it, so can you!

So, are you proud of what you do? Why or why not?

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Lifestyle Design: It's For Real After All

Lifestyle Design: It’s For Real After All

I currently live on the island of Cozumel off of mainland Mexico together with my family. We have a nice house that’s walking distance to the Caribbean Sea. I run a lifestyle business that funds all of this.

Life is pretty awesome.

But this really isn’t about me.

It’s about you.

And helping you to do exactly what you want to do. And I’ll get to that in just a moment. Let me first share some background to set the stage.

Check out this video!

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Visualization

Happy New Year and All That – Let’s Make it Real this Time

At this time of year, every one gets excited.

People make resolutions. They even set goals. A few of them may even write them out and stick them on their mirror.

But the holidays end and it’s back to real life.

And then, before you know it, another year has passed and life hasn’t changed too much. In fact, it might even be a bit worse. A few more pounds around the gut, more money on the ‘ol credit cards, another vacation not taken… you get the picture.

Real Change

We all know that making resolutions and making goals is great. The next step is visualizing, right?

Well yes.

But there’s more. You’ve got to take real, deliberate, sometimes painful daily action.

This is where we lose most people.

Oh what? You mean to have and do all the cool things I want I have to work for them? Yup.

It requires a lot of deliberate effort. Smart, effective, consistent action is what separates those who have and do what they want from those who don’t.

Decide

If you want this year, 2013 to be “the best year ever!” then decide what it is you need to do. Map it out. Make sure the plan is sound. Set achievable milestones. And all the stuff you already know. Then…

Get to work. Take action every day.

Here’s to an awesome 2013!

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A Lifestyle Design Prerequisite: Choice

A Lifestyle Design Prerequisite: Choice

Lifestyle Design sure sounds cool doesn’t it? It gets all the glory of living where you want, doing the things you want to do, and hanging out with who you want to hang out with.

In short, it’s about living your dream life.

I can say, because I’m living it, that it’s real. But in order to get there, there are some serious concepts you have to consider.

The first and foremost of these is choice.

Everything in life is a result of the choices we make – where we live, what kind of job we have, who we surround ourselves with, even our level of health.

Almost everything that we’re currently experiencing is a result of our choices.

For Example

One of the most obvious choices I’ve seen is about where you live. I’ve lived in various parts of the country and I’ve heard people say, “I hate living here”.

Good-LifeMy reply has always been (and always will be), “So why don’t you move to somewhere you do like?”

What follows is a stream of lame excuses that are all rooted in fear. Yep, I said it. People are scared. In this example, I believe that most people are too chicken to move to somewhere they do want to live because they’re afraid.

“But what about my job?”

“What about my house?”

“What about school for my kids?”

Question – do they have jobs, houses, or schools in your dream location? If not, it’s probably not the right place for you. If they do, then why the heck are you staying in a place you “hate” when your dream location is waiting for you?!

Our Happiness is a Direct Result of Our Choices

This is actually a really big topic and we’ll come back to it. Today I mainly just wanted to point out that when you’re intentional about your life (lifestyle design) that choice is and should be your best friend.

Choice is a tool that allows you to decide exactly how you’re going to live your life.

It’s something we all have. We cannot control everything (weather is a great example right Seattle people?) but we can control the choices we make in how we’re going to react.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”     -Viktor Frankl

I’m mostly just feeling preachy right now because I feel that people undervalue the freedom of choice.

How do you want to make money? Where do you want to live? Who do you want to spend your time with? What do you want to do?

All good questions to consider. And, you can choose the perfect answers to all of them.

Lifestyle Design all starts with choice.

The question is, what will you choose?

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Lifestyle Design Cheat Sheet

Lifestyle Design Cheat Sheet

If you’ve heard the term “Lifestyle Design”, chances are you’ve also heard of Tim Ferriss and the 4 Hour Work Week. In the book, Tim paints a wonderful picture of outsourcing all of your work, automating common everyday time-consuming tasks, and hitting the road for adventure which, of course, includes world travel.

I read the book when it first came out over 4 years ago. I admit, it got my blood boiling. I immediately started thinking of ways I could make more money online and outsource my life to travel the world with my wife and first daughter.

What happened?

Nothing! Absolutely nothing! I was too chicken to take any action.

The book and concept of lifestyle design became something I talked about on my lunch break with fellow employees. Living my life exactly as I wanted to was something I dreamed about as I stared out the office window.

Someday I suppose, right?

Cutting the Cord

One day I showed up to my job, and not too long after heard the words, “We’re going to have to let you go”.

Yep, my happy little office job became obsolete as I was “let go”.

It turns out it was one of the best things to ever happen to me. Because of my experience and the experience of many of my friends and family all around me, I wrote Why Getting Laid-off Can Be the Best Thing to Ever Happen to You.

It’s true…IF you have the right attitude. Fortunately, I have an awesome family (a super rad wife and two little girls that love exploring and experiencing new things) that totally support our new lifestyle.

We are living according to plan – a plan that we ourselves created. Not a degree. Not a job. Not a boss. Us.

We decide exactly what to do with the time we have. It took us a while but now we’re there.

But you don’t have to go through what we did to start living your dream life. You can start to design your perfect life right now.

So in an effort to save you the time and trouble of figuring it all out, I’ve created a cheat sheet for you.

Cheat Sheet to Expedite Your Dream Life

 1. Recognize You’re In Charge of Your Life

It’s nice to read about people sailing around the world with their families or roadtripping from Alaska to Argentina but sometimes it all seems too unrealistic. It’s easy to think, “Oh that’s good for them. But I could never do it.” That’s exactly where you have to stop and recognize that you are in charge of your life. No one else is. Only you. You can do it, if you want to. This leads to the next step.

2. Reverse Engineer Your Dream Life

What do you really want to do in this life? What’s on your bucket list? Who is already living your ideal lifestyle? How can you emulate them? Think of all of the things you need to have, be, and do in order to get where you want to go. Then get started now!

3. Rearrange Priorities

Most of the things you think are so important really aren’t. Do you really, truly, deeply care about your 60” LED TV? Probably not. At least you shouldn’t. Think about your dream life and what it entails and shift your thinking and actions. This may include decreasing your expenses. This may mean starting your own business. Maybe it means moving. Whatever it is, figure it out and then have the guts to do it.

4. Set Goals

Now this is going to sound really self-helpy but you must set goals. You must be able to track your progress. What are you tracking? Countries visited? New hobbies/skills mastered? Financial goals? Whatever! Just break down your overall dream life into small, bite-sized, trackable goals to keep you moving forward.

5. Do the Work

If you need to quit your job to live your dream life, do it! If you need to sell your house, do it! Do whatever it is to make it happen. The key is to be absolutely hungry. Work as if your life is counting on it…because it is.

6. Recognize that Lifestyle Design Does Not Happen Overnight

If you poke around online, you’ll hear cool stories about people living in exotic places, traveling with their families, and raking in the dough with semi-automated income. While it’s true that people are doing it, it’s important to note that it usually doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of ground work before you can reap the rewards. Just believe it’s your turn and keep plugging away.

Be Brave

So there are the steps listed out. Now you just have to be brave enough to actually do it. Don’t wait like I did. Don’t just think about it and or talk about it on your 15 minute break.

Take action. Do it today! It’s your life. Decide how you’re going to live it.

What are the biggest obstacles you’ve had in designing your dream life?

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Lifestyle Design for Families

How Important is Lifestyle Design to You?

What is lifestyle design and why should it be important to you? So let’s first ask the obvious question, what is lifestyle design?

Here’s an analogy that might help…

Think back to high school. Imagine the crummy cafeteria food that you stand in long lines for everyday. You get your food just in time to eat it and then head back to class.

Then one day one of your friends decides that she is fed up with old pizza and tasteless burgers and decides to drive over to the health food store just a block from the school. She comes back from lunch and seems energized by her new found freedom in choice of food.

The next day, your friend spends her morning telling people to join her and go out in search of a quality lunch. Some people say they don’t have the time – they’ll never make it back before class starts again. Others say they don’t have enough money to afford anything but cafeteria food. Still others say they shouldn’t do it because the principal will get mad.

But your friend doesn’t give up and she comes to you. She persuades you to join her. After a very satisfying meal, you realize that this is what you had been looking for the whole time but you just didn’t know it.

Then it dawns on you that your new delicious meal cost less than the day old, crusty burrito you were so used to eating and it was much more nutritious. You had plenty of time and enjoyed a meaningful discussion with your friend. You even had the opportunity to share some of your food with a person in need. You came back to school with a new sense of purpose. It’s amazing what rethinking your lunch does for you.

Ok, so maybe this illustration is a bit silly but I hope it helps you to understand that lifestyle design is to start thinking in an “unconventional way”. Lifestyle design is thinking outside the box – a phrase that is, ironically, so highly valued but so underutilized.

According to Wikipedia, lifestyle design is,

“The design of one’s ideal lifestyle, especially an unconventional one, providing good opportunities for personal growth, leisure and adventure. Detailed methods include: career planning, entrepreneurship and travel.”

It starts by answering this question:

What do you really want to trade the minutes of your life for, with whom, where, and how? Check out this quote from Shirley MacLaine:

“I think of life itself now as a wonderful play that I’ve written for myself and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part.”

If you skim this entire post, hopefully that last quote really sinks into your soul and moves you until you finally decide to do something about it.

Lifestyle design starts with personal development

By personal development I mean taking the time to think about and realize what you really want to do with your life. Then push through any obstacles that will be placed in your way. Then achieve what you feel like you were born to do.

Easier said than done I know. You could think of it as identifying your highest values and then taking action on those values.

Figuring out your highest values is sometimes difficult. Often what we think is so important to us goes out the window when faced with a life-threatening situation.

But it doesn’t require something as serious as that to get clear on your values. Just answer the age-old question, if time and money weren’t an issue, what would you spend your days doing?

For those of you embedded in the 9-5 lifestyle, you’re going to scoff at this question and dismiss it as ridiculous and unrealistic. That’s fine. This message isn’t for you. This message is for people willing to take back what’s really important. By answering the above question, you’ll discover not only what you really want to do, but what your highest values really are.

Once you start down the path of personal development, it will quickly lead to a desire to help others. In most cases, the secret to helping yourself to a better life is through helping others to their better life. So you will inevitably become a social change agent. That sounds like a grand title to what is really as simple as sharing a compliment, offering a hug, or teaching someone how to read.

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile”

Albert Einstein

The Four Pillars of Lifestyle Design

Time Freedom

Time is the first and most obvious thing we all seek. Entire books have been written about how to manage time better. The most important concept to learn in regards to time is to decide what you’re going to do with it. That’s it!

This is overwhelming for most people because so many of us already have our time mapped out for us before we even get there. After high school, we’ll plan on spending the next 4+ years in college. After college, we’ll plan on spending the next 40+ years at a job with weekends as breaks. Oh yeah, maybe there’s a few vacations thrown in there.

This is the current system. It’s kind of like trying to pay back a debt. Your money is already spoken for before you even get it! People are doing the same thing with time. They’re giving it away before they even get it. Lifestyle design addresses the issue of time by reclaiming it. You decide what you’re doing with it.

Financial Freedom

Ah, money. This is a good one! So many of us are spending our time in exchange for money. That’s not a bad thing. We all need money. We need food, shelter, clothing, and a little bit extra to do the things we want to do.

How much money is enough? Well, that’s up to you to decide. Having a lot of money is a very good thing. Don’t agree? Check your fun level when you don’t have any money. Nope. Not fun.

The big factor here is that people think having lots of money means having lots of stuff. Stuff does not bring happiness. It doesn’t! I have never owned so few things in my entire life as I do right now and I’m happier than I’ve ever been!

Just like time, what you decide to do with your money is entirely up to you. My personal experience tells me that “buying experiences” over stuff brings much more happiness. We would rather do things than have things. We’ve also found that anonymously giving our money away brings amazing blessings.

Money is good. You need it to learn, travel, share, and help others. How much you need is up to you and your situation. This is worthy of an entire series of posts. Simply put, decide on a way that enables you to make “enough” to do the things you want to do and then some and share as much as you can in meaningful ways.

In my opinion, having a job is not the ideal situation for money generation unless you’re doing exactly what you want to do and it gives you the total freedom to decide how you will live each day. Keep this in mind as it closely relates to the next pillar of lifestyle design which is…

Mobility

Mobility is the ability to be free to go where you want to go whenever you want. This could include travel if that’s one of your values. I have a personal bias towards travel because I’ve learned so much by seeing different places and meeting different people. Just like money, the topic of travel is worthy of an entire series of posts. Bottom line, travel is good. But you probably already know this.

Thanks to a high tech world and the mighty internet, it’s now possible to combine making money with being out and about. This could even include making money from a job while not at the job place. 10 years ago, working “remote” was weird. Now it’s becoming the norm. Thank goodness!

Time, money, and mobility all lead to the next and most important of the pillars of lifestyle design…

Freedom of Choice

Once you arrive at having the time and money you need and want, how will you fill your time? Will you dedicate yourself to a cause? Will you travel, learn, and explore with your family? Will you start a new school teaching what you’ve learned?

The choice is now yours because you have designed your life in alignment with your highest values.

The painful thing is that most people are sacrificing their freedom of choice now in the hopes of some potential payoff later. “If I just put in 30 years at the firm now, then I’ll have a sweet retirement…”, “If I just go to one more meeting, then I’ll be made VP and have more time”, and so on.

(Getting preachy alert)

Freedom of choice is probably the most cherished of virtues but the least acted upon. It carries a steep price – it must be acted upon now. Every minute of every day you have the complete and total choice to decide what’s most important to you and how you’re going to spend your time.

You are in charge of you. Not the government. Not your parents. Not your boss. You. You decide what your life is going to look like. You decide how you’re going to spend your time. You decide what adventures and experiences you’re going to have.

Lifestyle design is much more than a trendy topic for bloggers. It’s the method we should all be incorporating into our lives. It’s how we find meaning. It’s how we help ourselves. It’s how we help others. It’s how life is made beautiful. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not just tolerated.

Let me just finish with something I always like to say. Life can be awesome or it can be a gray cubicle bore of a life. You might as well make it awesome!

So, how important is lifestyle design to you? What will you do today to design your dream life and take action towards it?

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