While all of us are different and we all have different aims in life, in most cases our goals are in service of one thing and one thing only: happiness.
Whether you dream of being a rich business tycoon, or your idea of true success is to find a family and settle down with children; either way you are ultimately aiming to make yourself happier and this is what you will be working for.
Unfortunately though, many of us will end up losing focus somewhere along the way and can often forget that this was what motivated us in the first place. We stop working to make ourselves happier and we end up working for the sake of working.
This is perhaps one of the biggest failings of 21st century living. We all seem to be working tirelessly towards something but many of us don’t really know what that ‘something is’. But with the digital age comes a new approach to the way we work: and it’s called ‘lifestyle design’.
What Is Lifestyle Design?
Lifestyle design is a concept that was perhaps made most famous by author Tim Ferriss (of Four Hour Workweek fame). In that book, Tim described how you could use modern technology in order to work less and to work with more freedom and independence. Theoretically, the web allows us to work from anywhere in the world and to earn money doing all kinds of things ranging from writing articles, to designing websites to programming apps. All of this can be done anywhere that has a power source and an internet connection.
Another example is to set up a ‘muse’. This is a very small and simple automated business model that allows you to generate side income even while you sleep. That might mean that you sell an eBook from an ecommerce store for instance, or it might mean you sell an ‘affiliate product’ and earn commission on sales.
What this then allows you to do is to start putting the life you want first and to then find the work to match. Many people will use this freedom to become ‘digital nomads’ and will travel the world while working from a computer a few hours each day.
But lifestyle design doesn’t have to mean travelling – it can just as well mean spending a little extra time with your friends and family. Perhaps you use lifestyle design to allow yourself to work from home so that you can be with your family more? Or maybe you use it so that you can build an office and work on side projects to create a business you’re truly proud of.
Remember Why You Work
Lifestyle design isn’t just about using technology in new ways and it doesn’t have to mean giving up your office job.
One big aspect of lifestyle design for instance is simply cutting back on the amount of ‘hands on’ time that your work requires. So if you currently have 3 clients and you’re offered the chance to take on a fourth, you should seriously consider whether that’s really in service of your lifestyle goals.
Sure, taking on more clients is very good for business. But if your aim is to spend more time with your family, then taking on that extra client is not such a good idea. Could you not increase your rates slightly with one of your other clients? Now you can use that additional client as a backup in case your current client leaves you when you attempt to renegotiate.
You also need to think about the ways you currently communicate with those clients. Are you spending a long time going back and forth sending emails? Could you get more time to do the things you were passionate about if you streamlined that workflow? For a complex project maybe using software like Asana could help.
Another example might be getting offered a promotion in your current job. Many of us feel compelled to accept any offer for progress that comes our way – but that’s not always the right road to take. If you’re able to live the life on your current salary, then why would you take on more work and more stress for yourself? Would it not be preferable to just continue with your current lifestyle and enjoy having a bit more free time?
You Can Do the Things You Want to Do Now
One of the reasons that we feel compelled to keep taking on more work is that we fixate on salary as being the be-all-and-end-all of the life that we want. In fact, it’s very often possible to live the ‘dream lifestyle’ that would make you happy on your current salary and without making any major changes to your routine.
Imagine that your dream is to live in a beautiful, big home and to have all the trappings of a luxurious lifestyle. This is quite a common aim and having a beautiful home really can make you a lot happier.
Now you might presume that in order to live in your perfect property, you’d need to earn a lot more money. In fact though, many of us could live in much nicer homes right now if we took some alternative routes. For instance, you can probably cut your current expenses by at least a fair amount and thereby save some more cash to put into renovations and upgrades for your home. Likewise, you may find that you’re eligible for another mortgage which you could likewise put into building an extra floor for your home, or perhaps a conservatory or a porch.
You might also be able to achieve more than you realize on a modest salary. If you want your décor to look much nicer, then consider getting rid of some of the things you don’t need. If you throw out 80% of your current decorations then not only will you have a more minimalist looking home but the average value of what is left will go up drastically. You can get some truly beautiful furniture if you buy second hand (or on finance) and often it just takes one really unique, really amazing feature to transform a room. You could even make something yourself…
Now I’m not suggesting you throw all your money into home renovations and get badly in debt. I’m just saying that if this is what you really want out of life, there are probably ways you can get there already.
Want to travel? Instead of working 10 hours a day and driving yourself mad to one day be able to retire and do some travelling in your 70s, how about using a digital nomad lifestyle to travel and work today? Even if you don’t want to work online, you can probably take sabbaticals and work that way and you can probably travel in your area much more cheaply than you think. You might even be able to negotiate working remotely with your current employer.
If you simply want to spend more time with your family and aren’t driven by material possessions, then maybe the best job for you would be to work in a school – or even to be a rubbish collector. Love being outdoors? Be a park ranger. Like exercise? Be a personal trainer.
You might find that your true passion is art in which case you don’t even need to think about the salary at your current job; rather you may find that the true satisfaction you get comes from this activity you do outside of work. You don’t need to define yourself by your job and you don’t need to get paid for something to feel like you’re doing well and making progress in that field.
Don’t Worry What Others Think
The problem many of us have with working less, is that we think it somehow makes us less worthwhile and less successful. We’ve always thought of success as looking a certain way which is largely due to the way that the school system has been designed.
But does it really matter if people think you’re successful? If you’re truly happy working in a pub and painting in your free time then what does it matter whether it’s in-line with what we’ve been led to think of as ‘successful’? Ultimately, if you’re getting to spend more time doing what you love and less time getting shouted at in a dull, grey office, then you get the last laugh!