Lifestyle Design: What is It? Part 2

by Clarita via MorgueFile

In part one of this little exploration of lifestyle design, I wrote that a good way to sum up lifestyle design in one sentence is that it is simply about making conscious choices to better your life.

That is a very macro view, but it is also a great place to start a discussion on lifestyle design.

What is Lifestyle Design?

Lifestyle design is a bit like launching a product. You take a hard look at what you want, run some tests, see what’s working, and tweak the product until you have what you want. Why can’t you do the same with your life? You can, except we would look at it more as a product re-launch, like New Coke (but better than that).

If we feel fat, we exercise. If we feel poor, we try to make more money. Almost every one of us practices lifestyle design. What matters is whether you have a plan.

Everybody is making almost daily decisions about their life. Are you constantly shifting with the trends? Do you want to dress like Kanye one day, then a few weeks later you are into hipster glasses and MGMT? Do you want to go to grad school one week, then become a masseuse the next?

But for those who intentionally practice lifestyle design, what makes them different? In all honesty, they probably took the time to answer the question: what do I want to do with my life? They probably experienced some hardship or just lost touch with the unrewarding world of work. One thing they are doing is focusing on a singular goal and quietly working towards it.

Lifestyle Design for Married People

There are married families with kids living amazing and unconventional lives. They travel the world, live in exotic places, and expose their children to the wonders of civilization. Yes, many are financially well-off, maybe even retired, but many of them work location-independent jobs or blog about their lives to earn income. Some find jobs in their new locales, and pick up when new opportunities or boredom appear.

I touched on this in Part One, and I want to explore it a bit further because most lifestyle design information is geared at people with no strings attached. It is easy to convince someone to break the only bind they have if they are single and working a $25,000/year job.

I want to show married people that there is a path to living life by your own rules.

  • First challenge the rules that say you have to work for 45 years and save a pile of money
  • Second, pay of your consumer debts and student loans
  • Third, save up a year’s worth of living expenses
  • Fourth, make arrangements for everything (your house? schooling? insurance?)
  • Fifth, go!

All of this, of course, comes after you are on the same page with your spouse about finances.

The steps above are just one possibility. The beauty of lifestyle design is that you can tweak it to your own liking. This doesn’t have to be a 6-month process. It’ll probably take you years if you are just starting to pay off your debt.

And if you are on the road for 6 months and you hate it, there will always be another cubicle to fill.

By practicing intentional lifestyle design, you will be well on your way towards tearing down the barriers to freedom and fun placed there by people who want you to be a lifelong employee and consumer.

Life is short and you can’t take it with you. Might as well enjoy it.


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27 thoughts on “Lifestyle Design: What is It? Part 2

  1. I like how you put importance on focusing on a singular goal and quietly working towards it. That statement is so true.

    I like the idea of a five year plan, written down. It’s something my husband and I need to sit down and do so we can catch all those ‘wouldn’t it be great if’ statements, and slowly start working towards them.
    Lindy Mint recently posted..Well, Hello There…My Profile

  2. I went through a lifestyle design about 5 years ago. It was a scary and awakening process. I had to answer some really tough questions and I couldn’t answer them overnight. It took time to search them out. Because I made this effort though I am living a life I actually want to live. Each day I am working towards things I want. It is very rewarding.

  3. Wow–this is very timely for me. My husband do not have children, but we think we probably will want to one day, and do not want to be tied into the same concept of parenting as everyone else. You know–both parents working 9-5, hardly ever traveling, losing touch with one another and with their passions, etc. Ofcourse I am sure children become a new passion! But you get the idea. So, I like your angle on lifestyle design for couples WITH children.

    Also, your five steps are ones that we are planning all ready! We would love to spend a year in Japan where we both met in 2003. I’ve busted out the excel sheet all ready and figured out how much it would cost, and how much we would need to save in order to pay our mortgage, still make full contributions to our retirements, etc. Pretty exciting! Who knows if we will make the leap…but it is promising. We are not conventional people to begin with:).
    Amanda L Grossman recently posted..Filing Your Taxes for Free and Finding Free Tax Return HelpMy Profile

  4. I don’t think lifestyle design has to be about traveling all the time (even though I love travel). Like you said, lifestyle design means that you are living intentionally, according to your goals and priorities. If what makes you happiest is to become the VP of your department, work in the a mid-sized city with a good quality of life, and do one big trip a year, then that’s what you should go for (and I don’t think people who want this type of life is any less “actualized” than folks who jet around the world). I actually wrote a post on my frustrations with the “lifestyle design” movement several months ago:

    The danger is to define “lifestyle design” so narrowly (not saying you do it, but I’ve certainly gotten that vibe from lifestyle design bloggers) and look down upon folks who don’t want that type of lifestyle.
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted..10 Ways to Deal with Your Wanderlust When You’re Short on Time and/or MoneyMy Profile

    • Great points. I go through a lot of effort to make sure I don’t judge anyone who is doing what they want to do. If that means 80 hour weeks at the firm, I support anything that makes people happy.

      That’s also why I defined lifestyle design as: simply making conscious choices to better your life. That way the 9-9 corporate lifestyle can be included as well.

      I know what you are saying about the “travel” thing. That is mainly a device to sell a dream and a how-to course. But everyone loves it, even you (I looked at your homepage and half of your recent articles were about travel)

      So my lifestyle writing will always have a travel focus because that is my Number One hobby and my Number One goal.

      If you saw two of my previous posts about Talking to People About Money and the Other One Percent, you’ll see I’m disdainful of people who talk disrespectfully to others, and I reject the mindset that as a personal finance blogger I have to tell people what to do with their money.

      Same way I’d never tell someone what to do with their life or suggest that their chosen path is wrong.

      If you ever see me doing that, slap me.

      (Great post on your site, by the way. I don’t think I fit in with the crowd you were going after, but if you feel otherwise please let me know)
      John recently posted..Best Personal Finance Writing – Week 4My Profile

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