Most people seem to associate lifestyle design with an easy life. Perhaps the most common ideas are about quitting your job to travel the world while working only a few hours a week. That is great, I want that life for a while too, but I feel it is more of a longer vacation then a life plan. What do you do after you get bored of living out of a suitcase? Where do you find meaning in your life? What is next?
If you are working in a boring dead-end job doing something you hate, I can understand that your primary focus is to stop-working. Quitting your job to focus on your own personal freedom and entertainment can be essential to re-inventing yourself. It may be absolutely necessary for a short-time, allowing you to recharge your energy, clear your thinking and devise a way to make your mark in the world. I am personally looking forward to a break from my own business just because I have been doing it for more than 10 years now and I have lost interest. However, I won’t be able to roam around the world for too long with out going crazy. It usually takes me about a week or so on vacation until I start itching to move forward on my business or personal ideas.
The Age of Affluence
We live in amazing times; we have almost unlimited opportunities to earn income and the price of goods and services are cheaper than ever. There are real options to live inexpensively and exist on only part-time working hours. It is no longer a dream, people all over the world are proving that it is a real and relatively easily achievable goal. So is that the purpose of life, to just exist, working as little as possible? I don’t believe the quality of our lives is measured by how little work we do or how many parties we go to. There has to be something more. Something bigger than just a life of ease and entertainment.
The Decline of Consumerism
I think I am safe to assume that rampant consumerism has been taken to an extreme. We consume too much, pollute too much and work too much in jobs without meaning or real challenge. So the first step is cutting back on our purchases. Give up the new car every two years. Stop upgrading the size of your house. Don’t buy the third 50 inch TV? With the money you save, work less, take an extended sabbatical, travel the world and generally turn your mind back on again. But then what?
What do you do after you are managing to live on a 4 or 14 hour workweek? What do you do after you have traveled the world for a couple of years? What do you do when you are sick of working on passive income opportunities that fail to inspire you? What is next?
Is quality of life about 4 hour workweeks?
Do you want your doctor and dentist to be working four hour workweeks? How about teachers, nurses, care-workers, public servants? What kind of a world would we have if everyone focused on working as little as possible? I don’t want my favorite restaurants and cafes to only be open 4 hours a week. I don’t want airports and hotels open only part time. The world would come to a stand still if everyone were working as little as possible.
Bill Gates has devoted his life and his fortune to solving some of the biggest problems in the world. He could buy an island and every luxury imaginable and sit on the beach for the rest of his life, yet he strives to do good things in the world. Does the rock star Bono focus on minimizing the amount of work he does every week? How about Mother Theresa and Ghandi? Did they choose the easy way?
I believe excellent living is about finding ways to contribute as much as possible to society. It is not about taking as much as you can with as little effort as possible. How about a 60 hour work week where we are all striving to create as much value for our fellow global citizens as we can on our short time on this planet?
Lifestyle Design is Not New
There have always been people have always been living unconventional lives. For centuries, maybe longer, a small percentage of people have been choosing their own paths in life. Peasant farmers in China are designing their own lives when they give up rural life to work in factories in cities. Our ancestors did the same thing during the industrial revolution.
Devoting your life to volunteer projects around the world is also lifestyle design. There are thousands of people around the world that have given up comfortable and secure western lifestyles to aid disadvantaged people around the world.
Joining the military and being stationed overseas has to be the most extreme mode of lifestyle design. Risking your life to protect the lives of others is a conscious lifestyle design choice that millions of military personnel around the world have made.
The World Needs More People to Rise Up to the Challenge
You can focus your time on building passive income streams to survive in low wage countries, or you can work to help put disadvantaged children through school. You can spend your energy pumping out niche sites to market affiliate programs or you can work to feed the millions of starving people in the world. You can work on the next Silicon Valley start up with plans of cashing out big, or you can skip the fast cars and expensive networking events and just start working on something that has the power to change the world.
Certainly there are many people doing great things in the world now, we just need more. If lifestyle design is about minimizing work hours and pursuing a life of hedonism, than I am blogging about the wrong topic. What do you think “lifestyle design” is about?