We all have the freedom and power to design virtually any type of life we want. The idea of lifestyle design has been made popular by Tim Ferriss’s book, The Four-Hour Work Week but the basic concepts have been at our disposal for years. The key point is that all of us, in developed countries anyway, have the opportunity to create the life we want to live. We don’t have to be stuck in the life that society and marketing agencies tell us to live.
If you sit on a sofa and watch TV for three or four hours per day, that is your choice, that is your lifestyle. Others may prefer exercise, practicing a musical instrument, writing blog articles, taking night classes or working on a business start up. For many people, their preferred life is to be a couch potato. Choosing to stop learning new skills and take on new challenges, signals a choice that you no longer care about improving the quality of your life and you do not value and investment in your own personal development.
If you eat a diet dominated by junk food, fast food and processed food you are making another lifestyle choice. You are proudly saying that health, nutrition and personal energy are less important to your life than convenience and cravings. A lifestyle design choice.
People who consistently purchase more goods and services than they can afford are affirming another key lifestyle design choice. These people are trading their long term economic well being for immediate consumption. They are saying that material purchases are more important than saving for future goals and personal development. You can upgrade your car, house and personal possessions faster than your income allows or you can live modestly but save for that trip around the world you have been dreaming of.
With inexpensive airfares, international job opportunities and the freedom of time and place with internet oriented work, you have the option to live and work virtually anywhere in the world, on work you love to do. We all have the opportunity to choose the life we lead. The opportunity is there, but most choose to have corporate marketers decide for them. Companies tell us to consume, so we consume. It is our excess consumption that forces us to tough it out in jobs we don’t like and then numb our brains into boredom with television.
Life was much harder just a few decades ago. If you don’t believe that just ask your grandparents or great grandparents what it was like when they were growing up. Your ancestors didn’t have many choices. They had to work with whatever life delivered them. Maybe it was working on the family farm or in a factory. It might have been the highest paid job they could find and then were forced to stick it out with same company until retirement because opportunities to do anything else were scarce. Developed societies have achieved such affluence that the hardships our immediate ancestors endured are barely imaginable. We live in a time when anyone can create any life they envision for themselves. Unfortunately, for many that means coming home from a dead end job and watching TV while scoffing down unhealthy food.
You can be certain that people with similar backgrounds and similar circumstances as you, have moved to exotic countries, semi-retired, started businesses, followed their dreams or have just taken a sabbatical from the rat race. If you are not one of those people, striving towards their dream life: why aren’t you?
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I moved to Japan more than 12 years ago, my wife and I have a one year plan to change our careers and move to a new country once again. If you are interested in hearing more about our progress and reading interviews with real people making huge lifestyle design decisions, please subscribe to my RSS feed and follow me on Twitter.