If you’re researching ways to refine your personal goals, chances are “lifestyle design” has shown up in your results. The concept has been wildly romanticized, spawning an entire demographic of digital nomads who can work from anywhere, and evangelists who advocate doing what you love. Like us. 🙂 This is the ultimate in freedom, and it’s especially alluring to those who feel dissatisfied or confined by a typical life and career path. Making the leap, however, is fool-hardy without addressing certain considerations.
When Pete and I first considered lifestyle design, for example, we devised a plan that would allow us to achieve several long-term objectives. We balanced our personal goals against these long-term objectives with our willingness to commit time and effort toward them. Our definition of lifestyle design grew to include location independence because we value travel, simplicity and personal freedom. Plus, our plan was based upon considerations that required us to continue to regularly work on revenue-producing tasks once we had broken free of conventional employment.
Everybody has his or her own unique considerations. Some might attain personal goals similar to ours by arranging for regular sabbaticals from traditional employment or using savings to fund extended vacations. Many choose strict location independence as part of their personal goals: they sell everything and embark on continuous travel. Still others, like us, keep a downsized home base but come and go when we please, where we please.
While lifestyle design may already be characterized as a cliche or dismissed as unattainable, technology and mobility can always enable a greater degree of freedom from a conventional work-centric lifestyle. Personal goals can be met via work-shifting, job sharing, entrepreneurship, or your own personal hybrid of these concepts. The results can be as unique as you are.
In the year that we’ve been fully independent of traditional location-based work, we’ve often heard variations of “I wish I could do what you’re doing.” We’ve always answered, “You absolutely can.” Lifestyle design isn’t limited to a select few. Anyone can design the life they want. Considerations will include the needs of your family, your current lifestyle, your level of adaptability and overall motivation.
If you are beginning a lifestyle design process, the following list of considerations will help you:
1. Which of your skills can you utilize? Are you technically competent or do you need to brush up? Can you leverage graphic design, writing or other creative talent? Do you have any idea what you can do to earn a living?
2. Do you have knowledge that you can sell? Would people pay you as a consultant? Could you write a guide? Are temporary location-based gigs an acceptable option? Can you teach a class or put on a seminar?
3. Do you want to travel, or would you rather stay put? Just because you’ve achieved location independence or are working on an alternative lifestyle design doesn’t mean you have to pull up roots. If you’d rather not travel, you don’t have to.
4. If you do travel, will you maintain a home base for an extended period, or will you go completely nomad? Keeping a home base could be twice the expense of constant travel. How will you afford it? You’ll have to sell or store possessions if you choose to go nomad. Can you get along without most of your stuff? Will it irritate you to pay storage fees?
5. Are you willing to truly commit to what some perceive as a highly unconventional lifestyle and its repercussions? People may not understand what you’re trying to achieve, and they’ll have a negative reaction. Can you stay the course you’ve chosen? How will you assess the potential for regret down the road vis-a-vis the decisions you’re making today?
Since we’ve achieved location independence, we’ve never been happier. By the same token, we’re the only ones in our immediate circle who’ve taken the plunge into a less conventional lifestyle. Are we the strange ones? No doubt some think we are, but this matters little if at all. We’re living our dreams. What are yours?