Since first reading Timothy Ferriss' book 'The 4 Hour Workweek' and reading about his definition of the term 'Lifestyle Design' I finally felt like I had a phrase that described what I've been relentlessly working towards for years.
Although there are many people who will nit-pick about what the phrase means and about the fact that Timothy Ferriss does work more than 4 hours per week, I can tell you first hand that it is possible for you to design, create and experience the life of your dreams... If you are truly committed.
How do I know?
Well, I've gone through the process myself and am currently helping others along this path, too.
In this post, you will learn about the 4 main phases of lifestyle design and understand what steps you will need to take in order to design the life you want to live.
Phase 1 - Get clear about the life you want to live.
Just as a marksman must first zero in on their target before shooting, you must decide what you are after if you want to give yourself an honest chance to achieve it.
Now this doesn't just mean that you need to figure out how much money you want to make, although that is a part of it, but this step is more about visualizing what you want your life to be like.
Here are some questions that you can answer to help you in this process.
Where do you ultimately want to live? Would you like to rent or own your home? What would you do with your days? How often would you like to travel? What kind of vehicle(s) do you want? What leisurly activities would you take part in?
Now when I first embarked in the lifestyle design process my answers to these questions were different than they are today, so re-visiting these ideas on a regular basis and as you accomplish goals is important. But right now, you want to get a starting point.
For me, here are my answers to these questions above.
I enjoy being able to live freely and move about regularly with little tying me down, so renting furnished houses and apartments works best for now. I would like to buy a piece of land with a home and garden area at some point, but still not sure where, so saving up for a down payment while traveling to and experiencing new areas is important.
It is important for me to wake up when I wake up... No alarm clocks for this guy! No commute either.
I need to have the time freedom to get outdoors every morning and do something active, whether it is SUP Surfing, hiking, biking, etc. and usually follow that up with breakfast out with my wife. I work on personal and client projects through the middle of the day, taking time out to meditate, prepare healthy organic meals for lunch and dinner, followed with more work in the evenings and then enjoying a movie or some reading time at night.
I like visiting new places every 3-6 months and spending at least a month and a half in the new place to really 'get a feel for it'.
No vehicle needed at this point since I move so much and aim for pedestrian friendly communities, but when I get land, an older 4 wheel drive truck or Jeep makes the most sense. Something that is more mechanical in nature without all the electronics associated with newer vehicles.
Hiking, biking, stand up paddle boarding and surfing are my favorite activities. Horseback riding, zip lining, whale watching, sailing adventures are things I would like to do more of.
Ok, great... My 'dream lifestyle' is roughed out... So now the goal is to come up with an idea of how much this would cost. Really it depends on where I'm at because this lifestyle in Mexico is significantly less than this same lifestyle in Hawaii... But with $8,000 - $12,000 per month, I'm confident that I would have ample funds to live this lifestyle just about anywhere.
Take those numbers and divide them by the average 30 days in a month and I now know that my target daily income is $265 - $400/day.
Perfect... Not only do I have a clear picture of the kind of life I want to live, I have an estimate of how much it will cost and I know how much I need to earn daily to make that a reality.
On to phase 2!
Phase 2 - Negotiate a remote working agreement and/or start earning income on the side.
Once you are clear on the lifestyle you are wanting to design, the focus shifts to earning enough income in a manner that offers you the time freedom you want, in order to live the life you want.
The first place to look is with your current job. Is there a chance that you can telecommute? Can you do your job remotely, allowing you to keep your income while getting more time freedom? The 'trick' here is to be OUTSTANDING at your current job.
Make yourself an integral part of the business and then go for the remote working agreement.
For me, I was able to keep 20 hours per week of work from my last job as a contractor when I decided to move from the San Francisco are up to the base of a snowboard resort in the Lake Tahoe area in 2009. I was ready to quit if needed, but let my boss know that I was confident I could accomplish all of my day-to-day duties remotely if he wanted to keep me on the team.
Now, if your current job is something that you cannot do remotely, for example you are a chef in a restaurant or you work retail... Not to worry.
Either way, if you get a remote working agreement or not, you still need to start generating additional income on the side with a low overhead business of your own that offers location independence.
From affiliate marketing to information product marketing or consulting and providing services, the opportunities are endless how you can begin generating additional income on the side.
The 'trick' is to stay focused on a niche that you enjoy, so that you are able to transition your income from 'a job' to 'a passion'. Work really isn't work when you are doing something you love...
In addition to the remote working agreement and generating side income, you will need to start consuming personal development material on a regular basis. This will keep you motivated and keep you growing as a person, so you can continue to add value to your side business, your clients' business. Read my post about the shortcuts to rapid personal development for more ideas here.
Phase 3 - Continue growing your side business and begin enjoying life more, now.
The thought of 'Working 40 years for the same company, then retiring' is archaic and this philosophy will fail you greatly if you buy into it.
Well, the odds are that you will be replaced by either 1) a robot 2) software 3) a recent college grad who is cheaper or 4) an outsourcer from a foreign country.
So the answer is two fold...
#1 - Continue growing YOUR business at all times and at all costs. You are the only one you can count on, so invest in your continued personal development and continue applying yourself to your business so it can pay you dividneds on your efforts.
#2 - Begin taking mini retirements NOW! Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone and why would anyone want to trade their 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's for the hope of getting to travel in their 60's?
These mini retirements don't need to be lavish or expensive and if you have your side business generating income and/or a remote working agreement, you are able to turn them into 'working holidays' where you get to continue to grow your income and your business and to enjoy different areas, countries, climates, cultures, experiences, etc.
Our first working holidays were to live at the base of ski resorts in Tahoe with ski-in acommodations for a few seasons in a row. We didn't stop working, but we did take breaks on those beautiful powder-filled weekday-mornings to enjoy the best conditions of the year while most everyone else was stuck in their cubicle farms in the cities.
Recently, we got tired of the cold weather so we have decided to rent furnished beach houses south of the border and enjoy practicing surfing when the weather and conditions are perfect while still continuing to build our businesses and grow our income.
Phase 4 - Continue building your side income until you've replaced your remote working agreement income before quitting.
As you grow your own business and side income, it is important to remember that you will have good weeks and bad weeks... Good months and bad months.
You need to be ready to balance out the ups and downs to maintain your desired lifestyle, long term.
One common mistake people make is to quit their jobs way too soon. This not only collapses reliable income, it also adds a great deal of stress and anxiety that can keep you from doing your best work.
This can lead to a disheartening cycle of having to look for another job, taking up more time and life-energy, and essentially starting the process all over again.
If you have been living comfortably off of your side income for a matter of months, have paid off all your debt and have created a reserve of 6 months of income, you should be able to comfortably transition into the role of full time, self employed entrepreneur.
Could you do it sooner? Sure. There is no set rule, here and there are plenty of stories of people who get laid off and with their backs against a wall, they replace their income and reach new heights in a matter of months.
For myself, this process took years... But I've been enjoying the process, traveling the world and I still feel like I'm just beginning.
When you start to open up to the freedom associated with lifestyle design, you start to realize there are so many magical places on this Earth worth visiting (most of which have internet access, now!) and there are so many amazing experiences to be enjoyed, that it would be rude not to continue to push forward in life and business in such a manner that allows you to truly enjoy life to its fullest.
I'd love to hear about your dreams and what your perfectly designed life would entail... Leave a comment below with your goals, dreams or tips!