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”
The Four Pillars of Lifestyle Design
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.
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 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?