What is lifestyle design?
At first glance, the term “lifestyle design” might sound like spiritual new-age mumbo-jumbo. But for me, it’s a very simple concept: The understanding that a person can take control and design their own lifestyle to achieve happiness, freedom or whatever they see as a goal for life. The hype around this term started with Tim Ferriss’ inspirational book, Four Hour Work Week that focused on location independent lifestyle. However, lifestyle design is relevant to each of us, and does not necessarily relate to nomadic living. Here are some important elements that will make the concept of lifestyle design more clear:
- The “normal” or “template” lifestyle. 9-5 job. Family, kids, spouse. Home. Although we run a nomadic blog, we do not look down on the “normal lifestyle”. Since it is so common, we also agree that for some, the peace and happiness it brings makes it the best lifestyle out there. However, for many of us, there are other lifestyles that are more suitable and can bring more happiness than the normal lifestyle.
- Alternatives to the “normal” lifestyle. The options here are numerous to choose from, as there are many “root lifestyles”, that can be defined in one word. Among the common alternatives for a lifestyle are: Religious lifestyle (whatever religion you choose), Rural (living in the nature and focusing on agriculture), Entrepreneur, Nomadic lifestyle and more. Sometimes you can combine these root lifestyles together, for example, I define myself as a nomad entrepreneur. If you are creative and courageous enough, you can also create a unique lifestyle that is customized to you only.
- The variety within the root lifestyle. Now that we have defined our root lifestyle, let’s go deeper and see what kind of layers within the lifestyle can we design? Do you volunteer, ski, are you unorthodox or orthodox, mainstream culture or counterculture and so on. As you can see, the variety is endless. You can have a lifestyle that’s normal, nomadic or religious, but within the limitations, design your lifestyle according to your preferences and unique self.
- Active/Passive mindset. As you can see by now, every one of us has a lifestyle even if we didn’t pick one. Sadly, many of us have our lives designed for us. The design was made by events that happened to us along the way. Did you play a conscious part in defining your own lifestyle, or has it been simply a result of going with the flow? Lifestyle design requires you to think and actively pursue the lifestyle of your choice.
- Constraints and attachments. These are the circumstances that allow or prohibit us from designing our own lives. Kids, family, health, money, pets, assets, careers, addictions, weaknesses. All of these things create constraints, and the freer you are from these, the more easily and flexibly you can design your life. Now, it is important to say that attachments can also be the sources of happiness. However, if your current attachments are not making you happy and hold you back from change, it might be time to see how you can get “unstuck”. It is ironic that some lifestyles choices result in “built in” attachments, reducing the degrees of freedom you have to keep on designing your life in the future. That’s why we love the nomadic lifestyle/location free lifestyle so much, since it allows us the flexibility for future change, once we decide it is time to change to something new.
So, how do we start designing our own lifestyle?
- Contemplation. Take the time to ask yourself if you’re actually happy in your current situation. Are you in the life you wanted? It goes without saying that you can’t design your life unless you know exactly what you want, yet, many of us have not taken the time to think about what really makes us happy. What do you want to be?
- Planning. Once you know what you want, it is time to plan the steps that will get you there. Some of the steps will probably require new skills, preparations and taking a risk. But between you and me, not taking the risk is probably the biggest risk you can take.
- Action. Make it happen.
In conclusion, Lifestyle design is something that would greatly benefit all of us, should we take the time to look at our lives squarely in the eye, and execute a plan towards happiness.
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What is lifestyle design?