Lifestyle Design

child laptop Lifestyle Design

Freedom from Time and Place

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.

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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.

2 Responses to Lifestyle Design

  1. Neil says:

    Mmm…I think a lot of what we do can’t even be described as lifestyle choices, but rather ‘non-choices’. Like you said, it’s easy to become numbed by the life we lead, which is often inextricably linked to the work we do. After-all, most people spend the greater part of their waking hours at their job. That numbness translates into a lack of motivation and a reluctance to make choices, for fear of making the wrong ones and thus making our lot in life even worse. Of course, the current economic crisis only exacerbates the situation.

    The problem is that few people really know how to help themselves. They certainly don’t get that help from education systems that have barely changed in any meaningful way for a hundred years or more. Even re-training programs seem geared to throwing people back into a job that they are likely to hate as much as their previous one.

    Everyone can benefit from making a few simple lifestyle choices – eating more healthily, exercising, doing something more worthwhile than watching TV. And of course, people will feel happier for doing that. But beyond that, most people need some guidance. What do they do with all that time they’ve freed-up from watching TV and shopping? Not everyone has a dream or an awareness of some latent talent, and this is often the reason why they don’t follow all the steps you proscribe…

    • John says:

      Hi Neil,

      Thanks for the comments.
      You are correct in that many people, maybe most people, do not have any real dreams or goals. I have talked to many people who are not particularly happy with their life, but they haven’t bothered to search for anything else to do. They have basically resigned themselves to their current fate.

      In all honesty, I don’t know what to say to these people. I presume they will eventually encounter some regrets about the choices they have made in life. For their own sake, I hope they start having these regrets while there is still time to do something about it. Personally, I think life is about experiences not consumption. Whenever I try new things, I always get a million new ideas and interests. My problem may be the opposite of what you describe. I have too many opportunities competing for my attention so narrowing them down to a limited few is the hard part. I hope I never have any shortage of dreams.

      I really appreciate your comments! Please disagree more.

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