Lifestyle Design

Create the Life you Want Now!

How to Find Happiness in Life

We often hear expressions like “the journey is its own reward,” yet most of us tend to live jumping from one achievement to the next. We often think that everything will be so much better when we graduate, get a job, get a raise, buy our own house, get married, pay off our car, start our own business, or retire. We talk about living for the moment, yet remain focused on the next accomplishment, purchase or life milestone.

Benny Lewis shared this great video recently that puts this in perspective.

Instead of looking for the next mountain to climb or goal to cross off your bucket list, how about just enjoying what you are doing now?

Life is Good!

Biking in Calgary, Canada

Biking in Calgary, Canada

I have been back in my home country of Canada for about four months, now I have two more weeks to go before I leave again. It has been great to be back home, but I think I enjoyed it more because I know it is not permanent. My wife and I have not made any roots and have not anchored ourselves to a lifestyle we don’t want. The greatest insight I have discovered is that life is fantastic.

Sometimes it is easy to forget just how good we have it. Several friends and relatives have recently undergone major medical surgeries. I have heard many complaints about how far they had to drive to get to the hospital, how long the waiting lists were to get a hospital bed, how many times their surgeries had been postponed, how late the doctor was, etc.

I understand people under-going life threatening operations are under huge amounts of stress and want to get out the hospital as soon as possible, however I think they may be over-looking how lucky they are to be in a rich developed country with amazing technological advances and medical knowledge. Canadians in particular should …

Is it Nature or Nurture that Determines our Talents?

I definitely don't have the Marathon Gene

I definitely don’t have the Marathon Gene

On a recent post on, I wrote about how I think talent is created, not born. I called the post, You are a Monkey so Stop Thinking You are so Special. I learned a couple of things from the comments, apparently people don’t like being called monkeys and some people place a lot of emphasis on the genetic side of the debate.

Of course genes are important in many circumstances. It is difficult to be a professional basketball player if you are short. It helps to have big hands and feet if you want to be a world class swimmer. Good eyesight is necessary to be a pilot. So yes, genes do shape our future to a degree, but how often does genetic makeup really limit what we can accomplish?

The purpose of the monkey post was to show that since humans have 99.9% of the same genes as chimpanzees, maybe we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on our genetic makeup. The worst part of an over-reliance on nature over nurture is that it causes many people to give up before they even try. “I am tone-deaf so I can’t play musical …

Why I am so Successful (Hint: It is not because of my over-sized ego)

The Secret of My Success

The Secret of My Success

In a recent email, a reader of this blog asked me how I became so successful. He read in one of my posts about how I moved to Japan on one week’s notice with no job, no work visa and only $1000 to my name and later became a jet-setting global rock star celebrity. (Okay, I added the ‘jet-setting global rock star celebrity part ‘ for added effect. :-))

Here is the Secret to my Success

The short answer is … I am not successful. Most people, myself included, tend to glamorize or even exaggerate successes and hide set backs or negative aspects of their lives. Don’t believe everything you read or hear because you are only getting the positive side of the story.

I am not rich. I am not famous. I am not particularly smart or talented either. I am just an ordinary person that is not afraid of hard work. When I arrived in Japan more than 13 years I worked a lot to save money and pay down debt. I worked two English teaching jobs and a bar job.

A couple of years later I started teaching private students in my …

What Does it Take to Make You Happy?

Corbett Barr at recently posted  a fantastic video that is closely aligned with my personal life view. The TED video is of Srikumar Rao who outlines how to be happy in life. I briefly summarized the video below, but I didn’t include the great examples that will help convey the message. Watch the video, it is worth it.

Brief Summary

Srikumar Rao

Everything we do in life in someway is a quest for happiness.

There is nothing that you have to get, do or be in order to be happy.

Happiness is your innate nature. It is wired in your DNA.

We have a mental model that says we have to get something in order to be happy.

IF this happens, THEN we will be happy.

The IF-THEN model itself is flawed. But instead of realizing that, we spend an enormous amount of time changing the ‘IFs.”

Recall a scene of spectacular beauty that took you outside of yourself into a place of great serenity like a rainbow or mountain range. The reason that happened is that you accepted the universe exactly as it was. You didn’t say that is a beautiful rainbow but it is a little off

The End of Lifestyle Design – Long Live Lifestyle Design

Lifestyle Design is Dead - Long Live Lifestyle Design!

Lifestyle Design is Dead - Long Live Lifestyle Design!

Corbett Barr of asked a brilliant question in a recent post: “Is lifestyle design dead already?” There is still a fantastic discussion brewing there that I highly recommend for anyone interested in the subject. The fact that so many people are discussing the topic indicates that the moniker ‘lifestyle design’ is growing old despite the fact that designing your own lifestyle is getting easier with more opportunities than ever.

There seems to be at couple of immediate assumptions with ‘lifestyle design.’ The first is that all work is some indentured servitude. Employees are all ’slaves’ sacrificing themselves to someone else’s benefit. The second is that self-employment is some sort of utopia where you bring in wheel-barrels of cash while having the freedom to do whatever you want.

If you don’t like your job, just quit

I have been self-employed for most of my life, but I know that I was never a slave to the short-term jobs I had in the past. My employers provided me with a wage I deemed fair in exchange for work. Both sides found value in the proposition. When I no longer received enough value …

What Marathons Have Taught Me About Lifestyle Design

Marathon Lifestyle Design

Marathon Lifestyle Design

I just completed another marathon a couple of days ago.  Slowly chugging along for several hours gave me a lot of time to think about how distance running parallels lifestyle design in many ways.

Lifestyle Design is a Marathon Not a Sprint

Okay, I apologize, but I had to throw that in that in there. But it really is. Every time I run a race like this I see hundreds of people sprint off from the finish. It is like when you start a new project, blog, exercise program, studying a language, a new job or basically anything that takes time and work. At the beginning it is always easy and interesting. Your motivation is high and you probably overestimate your stamina and perseverance. When everything is new you can quickly accomplish large milestones with minimal effort. Everything seems great. All you have to do is continue this pace until you reach your goals.

Then comes the pain. It starts getting harder to keep that original pace and enthusiasm. What was once fun and easy is now tedious and insurmountable. This is where most people start to give up. Those early sprinters all quickly start to slow …

Review of the fantastic book, Juggle: Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life

Juggle: Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life by Ian Sanders

Juggle: Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life by Ian Sanders

I have recently had the opportunity to read an inspiring book on lifestyle design and the future of work called, Juggle: Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life. Author Ian Sanders has some great ideas about the some of the biggest career and lifestyle design issues we are all facing. The book is loaded practical examples about how to live a “portfolio lifestyle” including quotes and interviews with Gary Vaynerchuk and Saatchi & Saatchi CEO, Kevin Roberts.

“You can choose to become a Juggler, to throw the rules out of the window, to create a life where you mix stuff you do for love and stuff you do for money. A life where you re-define success not by a salary package alone buy by freedom, enjoyment, flexibility and lifestyle. Where work is an extension of You, reflecting your personality, your talents and desires; where you juggle different projects to be stimulated as well as to earn a living.”

Think PassionS NOT Passion

Many of us are looking for our true calling in life. If only we could find that one thing that we are so excited about, work would be become joy. …

How to Make Any Work More Enjoyable

You think your job is bad? These guys were laying asphalt in 35 degrees Celsius!

You think your job is bad? These guys were laying asphalt in 35 degrees Celsius!

Most of us hate our jobs. We hate dealing with irate customers, inept bosses, lazy co-workers and work that is mind-numbingly tedious. Work sucks so we fantasize about magical places where we can do whatever we want and make wheel-barrel loads of money, maybe even get our picture on the cover of a magazine somewhere. That is the life the life of the entrepreneur. Digital nomads or location independent professionals have it even better. They get to travel to exotic locations around the world while earning a great income from anywhere with an Internet connection. Ah… the good life indeed!

Is the Grass Really that Green?

The problem is that starting your own business or working from another country still involve the very thing you are trying to escape: WORK. In fact, working for yourself generally has more responsibilities and requires more hours and effort than working for others.

I have been running my own businesses and living abroad for more than a decade, so I can definitely recommend both choices to anyone. However, I feel it is healthier to approach big lifestyle changes like …

We Live in Amazing Times!

The Good Old Days (image by Powerhouse Museum)

The Good Old Days (image by Powerhouse Museum)

I am turning 40 years old in a couple of months. There is no more denying the onset of the middle age. I would like to think I am a little wiser for those years, but more important than that I would like to use this post to celebrate how great life really is.

I Walked Twenty Miles to School, Barefoot in the Snow and it was Uphill Both Ways!

When I was a child, I listened to all of those stories grown ups use to tell about how bad it was for them at my age. They were right! Their childhoods were much more difficult. As a child, my grandmother never had electricity or running water. Think about what that means for a moment.

No refrigerators meant that food either had to be canned (actually put in a jar) or eaten immediately. Animals were only slaughtered in the winter when the cold could preserve them for a longer time. My grandmother lived on a farm so there were few stores to buy groceries. Virtually everything was grown or raised on her own farm. Of course, there were no computers, TV or …