What are you living for? Have you ever met someone who asked you, “What do you want in life?” I have never really liked that question. Before, I hated it because I always thought it needed one carry-it-all answer but later on it came to bother me because I realized it rides on the assumption that you haven’t yet found that one thing you want in life. Would you ask someone who already has a Ferrari if he wants a Ferrari? I’d rather you ask me. Have you found everything you want in your life? Are you satisfied? Then if I say no, you can then try and figure out what else it is I want. Some people keep stumbling into wants instead of discovering them. Wouldn’t you want to reach out for what you want regardless of what other people say you should or should not want. Its what we have been trained to do. We have been trained to ask ourselves how to stay focused on what people expect us to stay focused on.
You have to want a good grade because you were made to believe its what you should want. You want to be someone’s employee because its what you were made to believe makes a normal member of society. But is it what you really want. If you step back, step to the side and step forth, you will find an amazing different side of you beckoning with things you really want – freedom, connecting with people, new experiences, following new passions, sharing etc.
Personally, I have always wanted to help the needy (in sustainable ways) and people with talent (not to sound like a Dalai Lama of sorts). Many a times its the thought that there is something else I ‘need more’ that gets in the way of me seeking these wants – the Scarcity Syndrome. But what if I chose to structure my life so that other competing values become less important? The result is what I call lifestyle design or LD. And there are several brands of lifestyle design you can pick from.
The serial entrepreneur
This is one of the most common LD brands I know of. A serial entrepreneur simply invests in projects he likes. He is not limited to one type of project. As soon as nay business project is up and running well on its own, the mission’s accomplished and we are on to the next one. It’s a lifestyle that has been there from time immemorial. Before it had seemed like a preserve of the rich and wealthy. When old school serial entrepreneurship is discussed names like Warren Buffet and George Soros come to mind. These guys have milked cash through a variety of ventures since the days of yesteryear.
Nowadays, serial entrepreneurs are everywhere and most are also bloggers and writers who keep documenting what their entrepreneurial lifestyles are like each day. Some of my favorite serial entrepreneurs are Mike Michalowicz of the Toilet Entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss (advisor and investor in over 20 start ups including Stumble upon and About.me) and Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. These guys are all digital serial entrepreneurs which means that they leverage a huge part of their businesses through the internet. Nowadays, the online enterprise culture is being extensively evangelized everywhere on the web and it could just be your next big ship to successful LD.
Serial entrepreneurs simply start off by buying off a business or creating one from the ground up and trying to make it successful in the best way possible. Warren has invested in hundreds of companies to date and its a day to day kind of thing where he tries to elicit particular values out of these companies. The money is like a mark of his effect on the companies but that’s not where the real motivation lies. The real motivation is in the growth. Maybe that’s the kind of person you are; the gardener – someone who likes to nurture stuff and create a remarkable entity or a creative of sorts. Your serial enterprise doesn’t have to be a bank or anything like that. It could even be an open air magazine stand.
A digital nomad is someone who spends their entire life on the move; a full time traveler in short. These guys basically believe that experiencing the world and becoming global citizens is the epitome of the human experience. Then the question always springs up. How do they afford it? And a digital nomad would ask you. How do you afford your rent and transport costs? You work for it. To be able to make ends meet everyday we toil at our offices all day to make enough to pay those monthly bills. The digital nomad works just as hard to make money for travel. The interesting thing is that its actually quite affordable. The only thing one needs to understand is what routes to take and what services to look for. A digital nomad is consistently budgeting his trips so that he knows how much he needs to make for this time and for the next time he wants to travels. It’s pretty adventurous – kind of life you normally see in the movies.
With the nomadic life you gain all the freedom you need to go to the places you like and to meet new people. Your time is yours. That way, as soon as the needed money for travel is acquired work can end and play can begin. You instantly switch from office bug to Indiana Jones here.
So, most digital nomads do online jobs that pay on project basis or by the hour or they’ll run location independent businesses (mostly online) like one Cody McKibben. The latter has proved to be the best option for funding the digital nomad lifestyle since it frees up as much time as possible. To find out how exactly this works, you can check out Tim Ferriss’s site, buy his book The Four Hour Work Week or check the video below. Some digital nomads of note are Colin Wright, Ev Bogue, Chris Gullibeau, Gustav Andersson and Kate McCulley.
I came across minimalism at the start of this year after reading a certain blog post. The idea of minimalism is living with less so as to make what is left truly meaningful to you. If you look around you, where you live and where you work, it’s very evident that there is a lot of stuff you really could do without. If you complain about clutter, then it’s probably because you have so much to arrange yet little value for it. The answer is simple. DUMP IT. Yeah, dump everything you neither use nor need. Dumping could mean donating or lending as well. Trust me you’ll be glad you did it. When I first started on minimalism I was overjoyed at the results. I took it rather critically. For me, it was either you are going to be missed or not. So I got to dump a lot of stuff I knew I wasn’t going to miss.
The cycle became continuous so as to create as much space for productivity as possible. After this, you need to watch out for the accumulation of the unnecessary like junk food, gadgets, clothes and so on. Minimizing on consumption is what got the best of me. It was so hard to pass up stuff I had gotten used to doing like surfing the internet for hours. It’s a hard sacrifice at first but once you do it, it becomes a major eye opener on what’s important and valuable in your life. Your days become crystal clear with purpose. Joshua Millburn Fields and Ryan Nicodemus are like the fathers of minimalism to me over at the minimalists. We also have remarkable solo minimalists like Joshua Becker and Leo Babauta. Many minimalists tend to be digital nomads as well since if you’re going to travel all the time you going to want to travel light.
There are thousands of other lifestyle design models you can take up.
If you’re a person of faith you could become a digital missionary and preach to guys on the web. Online ministry is actually growing steadily and with affiliate programs from other missionaries. It probably would be hard to maintain this sort of lifestyle.
You could also be a digital consumer where you are paid to review stuff you have consumed. That way it becomes a self supporting cycle. Most online marketers may fit that description.
How about a serial worker? If you are really passionate about different types of professions then you could go ahead and make freelance careers doing these kinds of jobs while learning the ropes. It’s a challenging lifestyle but if what you value is becoming good at stuff and not necessarily getting really well paid why not try and add some value to the world?
Digital socialites connect with people and use these connections to find opportunities to make money so that they can maintain themselves and also keep the socialite lifestyle going. The main goal for such a lifestyle is to meet people and build all sorts of valuable relationships. A good example of this would be becoming a media blogger or editor. That way you get to interview and meet guys while making an income.
The first step to lifestyle design is accepting a set of values that are most important to your life. After this, principles built on those values should follow. Principles are like policy. You need to check whether a certain decision or action conforms to your principles – if not, its not going to happen and if it does conform, you back it up one hundred percent. Also, its important is to realize that with lifestyle design what matters is the values you are seeking not the money to be made while seeking them. In fact, if you only intend to make enough to help you achieve what you want to achieve, then you are certainly on the right path. Lifestyle design is about getting out there and playing life by your own rules. It’s not enough to just sit back at an office desk all year round and play minesweepers in between the coffee breaks.
How location independent businesses are engineered