What is a Great Lifestyle?

Whose Idea of the Perfect Lifestyle Design are you Following? (Image by Bobster855)

Whose Idea of the Perfect Lifestyle Design are you Following? (Image by Bobster855)

Everyone is searching or at least hoping for a great lifestyle, but what is a great life and where did we get the idea from?

The Perfect Lifestyle Design

If your idea of a perfect life is living on a private island with naked models rubbing coconut oil on your… body, while your outsourced staff handle all your work leaving you to manage those naked models, then we have the same dream. I mean, perhaps you have set your expectations a little high and you are bound for a lot of disappointment regardless of how much you accomplish in life.

The Perfect Spouse

In an advertising dominated world of impossibly beautiful celebrities, read that as Photoshopped, it is easy to set completely unrealistic expectations for what we expect from life. If you are waiting for a spouse that is always happy, never complains, loves to go for long walks, listens to all of your problems and licks you all over, you may want to consider a companion of the canine persuasion. Ruff!

The Perfect Career

The same is true of a career. If you demand a high salary for easy work with lots of vacations allowing you to work from home doing fun creative things all the time, it might be a good idea to brace for a long bout of unemployment. Allan Bacon of Avocationist offers a good related article called The Myth of the Perfect Job. In the post he compares a friend’s high expectations,  “Top 10 list of requirements for any prospective girlfriend” to that of looking for the perfect job. If you are not happy being unemployed and single, it might be beneficial to be a little more accommodating in what you demand from life.

Is a Perfect Life a Fairy Tale Story?

Carlos Miceli of OwlSparks inspired this article with the following quote from Kurt Vonnegut.

“People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories.”

Carlos’ blog post also links to a longer article by Derek Sivers that provides some more background for that quote. It is a great read but don’t go away until you have subscribed to my newsletter. 🙂

Good! You are still reading.

Sivers’ article is about a presentation by Vonnegut  in New York City. Vonnegut explains that stories are dramatic; they have have big downs, followed by big ups leaving the heroin better for the experience. Stories have to be exciting or no one would care. The problem is that real life is not a novel or Hollywood movie.

We watch movies about finding the perfect love or the lifestyles of the rich and famous and we think that is what we are entitled to. It is the American Way! When reality doesn’t turn out so glamorous we dump our spouse, job or business and try again. Real life is not quite that exciting. I don’t care what color your underwear is, you are not superman.

My Life is Exactly Like Cinderella, Only Different

Reality is more like getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home, spending time with family and then doing it again the next day. Even if you own your own business doing work you love, it is still a relatively flat existence compared to the emotional roller coaster of a good story.

Here is another Vonnegut quote from that Sivers’ article;

“But because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.”

We spend our lives jumping from one story to the next. Perhaps we wanted to be a rock star, then maybe we wanted the Snow White love story,  after that we jumped to Tim Ferriss’ idea of the Four Hour Workweek. (Corbett Barr has a great article called, The 4-Hour Workweek is Full of Hype, But That’s Not the Point. Okay, go and read the article but come back quick.)

Chasing impossibly perfect goals only sets us up for disappointment. Life is not a car chase in an expensive automobile with a beautiful model that worships you. Reality has us taking out the garbage, trimming our toe nails and going to the doctor to get that rash checked out; not exactly the script for the next Hollywood block buster.

I am a huge fan of lifestyle design. We owe it to ourselves and the world to create challenging and rewarding lives for ourselves. However, I think it is more important to focus on the journey and take satisfaction in the daily work on our life paths. Goals are great to accomplish, but that satisfaction is momentary and fleeting. Real happiness comes from the striving, not the attaining. Don’t wait until you have the perfect lifestyle design, to enjoy your life. Find meaning in the process, search for the satisfaction in everything you do and find the good in the people around you. You might actually discover that you already have the perfect lifestyle design.

What is the perfect lifestyle design to you? And better yet, is it what you really want for yourself, or are you just following someone else’s story line?

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

16 Responses to What is a Great Lifestyle?

  1. Corbett Barr says:

    Any article with multiple Vonnegut quotes is a great one to me;) I also agree that obsessing over the “perfect” everything will only make you miss out on enjoying the really great things in your life. It’s too bad that clichés are easy to ignore, because life really is a journey. Enjoying the day-to-day will add up to more overall satisfaction than sacrificing your day-to-day for months at a time to achieve periodic moments of perfectness.

  2. Paul Norwine says:

    Hi John,

    Great article with key distinctions:

    “We owe it to ourselves and the world to create challenging and rewarding lives for ourselves. However, I think it is more important to focus on the journey and take satisfaction in the daily work on our life paths.”

    Too often we neglect the “small successes” of our everyday lives and we obsess only on how good it “could” be. Thanks for the reminder of enjoying the process!


  3. John says:

    Clichés often have a lot of merit. I really feel that life is about “the journey, not the destination.” We are all chasing some ideal and amazing lifestyle, but I think it is important to “stop and smell the roses.” We live in amazing times with a quality of life better than ever. I don’t understand people who think their lives are so rough.

    Thanks for the visit. I like that phrase, “small successes.” With the explosion of yoga, meditation and living for the moment fads, I really am surprised that people do not apply those principles to their regular lives. You don’t need to go to a special retreat and burn incense to seek satisfaction in life. It can be accomplished with everything you do, including your “rat race” job.

  4. Greg Rollett says:

    Hey John,

    I admit to having “tv” or “movie” dreaming at times. The cars, the days eating lunch outside at some restaurant while tv crews follow me around, etc. The reality is that in the process of developing the ideal lifestyle for me, one that allows for more time with family and more time to do things I love like travel, surf and learn, eats up so much time. Right now I am putting in 60-80 hour weeks and the day-to-day looks the same however it is super exciting. Every new client, every person that tells me I helped them, every sale of an info product, everytime I look my wife in the face and say we’re getting closer, that is an up moment – one from the fairy tales.

    Life is your own little movie, its all about how you play your part. I like to think I’m a pretty good actor! I think you are too and that’s why your life is filled with many ups as well, you just may not notice them as often as you should.

  5. John says:

    @Greg Congrats on your ongoing success and thanks for the comments. Yes, I agree that our lives are filled with many ups and downs, but I think the point Vonnegut was trying to make is that we too often want the fairy story where we are the handsome prince rescuing the damsel in distress.

    We exaggerate our own personal ups and downs, because we expect life to be a movie. For example, people don’t get their salad dressing on the side, and they equate the calamity to an evil villain out to destroy them. 🙂

    Life is great! We don’t need fairy tales. We just need to realize how good things really are.

  6. Dan says:

    Haha, great sign.

    Maybe I should consider myself lucky I’ve found this lifestyle design stuff, out of school I never considered working for myself and the majority of others wouldn’t have either. I think the idea of making your work your passion or as close to it as you can is becoming more known although probably not enough to the young people still deciding what direction they will take down the career path. Maybe it’s not so bad to find it from that way though, surely escaping the 9 to 5 is a lot more satisfying to have done than just going straight into you dream lifestyle. I dunno.
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..Special Price for you Sir! Dual Pricing =-.

  7. Nate says:

    Great stuff! I’d list some of my favorite quotes from this post but there are just too many. SO MANY people live their life in someone else’s storyline. I’m happy to say I’ve never been like this, but so many of my friends, and even family members are doing it.

    I especially like how you talk about not just focusing on the outcome, but on the journey as well. I think you should focus on the journey more than anything!

    Awesome post once again, John.

  8. John says:

    @Dan Thanks for the comment. In my opinion, there is no perfect “dream lifestyle,” many people tell themselves they’ll be happy when…..

    When they quit their job, or move to Bali, or get 500 subscribers, or make $5000 a month. The problem is when we reach our goals, they are not that fulfilling.

    @Nate Related to my message to Dan, absolutely the journey is everything. If you can’t enjoy yourself today, you will probably have trouble finding happiness for your whole life.

  9. Cath Duncan says:

    totally with you on this
    .-= Cath Duncan´s last blog ..Agile Living Lessons From a Sand Artist =-.

  10. Great thoughts John. I am that perfectionist. I want to be and have the perfect life, but setting such high goals usually leads to a letdown. I don’t know if it is all bad or all good. I love trying to attain a life I feel is great, but achieving such means I miss out here and there.

    Great post John!!!


  11. John says:

    @Dave Striving for perfection is great. I am not against that at all. In many of my posts I talk about EXCELLENCE. Constantly trying to improve is what life should be about.

    Expecting outside influences like the perfect job or perfect spouse to bring you happiness is what I think is misguided. Some people can have everything and be unhappy, while others can have nothing and still be very satisfied. Real happiness and personal satisfaction can only come from within.

  12. @John

    I think we are on the same wavelength. Thanks for the response…


  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nate Damm. Nate Damm said: What is a great lifestyle? > http://su.pr/1w3woq > from @jetsetcitizen […]

  14. Brandon Pearce says:

    Awesome post and dead-on! Lasting happiness doesn’t come from possessions or other people – they’ll disappoint you. I believe it comes from within, and from God. This is hard for me to remember, as I am so goal-driven and forget to enjoy the process, appreciate my current life, and stop to “smell the roses”.

    I think I’m one of those you described who already has the perfect lifestyle (for me), but doesn’t always realize it. And I think I’ve had it all along. Yes, I have achieved most of what I dreamed for in a “perfect” lifestyle – I work less than 10 hours a week, travel a lot, have a fabulous (although not perfect) wife and two sweet kids. But I can attest that even with all of this I have felt both happy and unhappy at times. That’s life.

    Whenever I take time to focus on and appreciate what I have, live in the moment, and enjoy it, I’m happy. When I help others and can make someone’s life better, I’m happy. If I believe that I won’t be happy until I get my 10 hour work week down to zero hours, I’m believing a lie. Sure, I’ll get there :), but it’s not going to make me any more happy than I am now. And I probably could have said the same thing when I was working 40 hours a week.

  15. GotPassport says:

    Hi there John,

    Glad I found this. Great article and like Cath said, totally with you on this.
    .-= GotPassport´s last blog ..Our Beloved New Orleans Series Part 1 =-.

  16. […] Bardos wrote this thought-provoking post, What is a Great Lifestyle? posted at JetSetCitizen.com. I’m totally with John when he says: “Goals are great to […]

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