Two posts back, I talked about lifestyle design in a very descriptive manner. I described a number of different models and summarily stated that values are what matter in the ultimate design. Indeed they do but before you go ahead and chose to be a socialite, traveler, missionary or anything of that sort you should ask yourself whether you are meeting a balance with your day to day array of experiences. Without balance, you might be end up a digital nomad with no friends; a lone wanderer or a socialite with no spirituality; a dead soul leeching off the energy of the people you surround yourself with or you could be claiming minimalism to excuse your lack of authority in matters financial. I think with regards to shaping one’s lifestyle there are a number of steps that one should consider going through before saying “..this is the life for me”.
One is identifying aspects of your life that mater e.g. finances, social life, passions and spiritual. Its true, some people have found conviction that some aspects of their lives are not important at all. There are people who don’t really value material riches and prefer a life of health to a life of wealth. There are people who belief happiness can be found in a passion and thus may neglect the need to watch over their health believing that their passion has more importance. A good case in point would be Marie Curie who discovered polonium and radium, two highly radioactive elements which seriously compromised her health. She was so attached to her passion of scientific advancement that it got in the way of the natural need to preserve her health. Some things are vital. Health, financial security being a few. Nontheless, some aspects are to be left to personal discretion. I have always said that absolutes are relative to personal perspectives. Nevertheless, if you ignore something that’s important in your own personal perspective just to avoid having to work hard to get it then you might be setting your self up for a breakdown. In this equation, one thing always has to change. You can either change who you are e.g. become an atheist as opposed to searching for a befitting religion or change whats missing – accepting you have a spiritual side that needs fulfillment. As long as you belief in the goodness of either one option then the final option is right.
After the aspects that matter are clear, its time to identify personal principles for which to lay the foundations for these aspects. e.g what kind of a social life suits you or what is friendship to you (how far does it go, how many friends). This is where you put values to the aspects. At this point one must be careful not to confuse what is socially proper with what you want as an individual. This is where so many people go wrong, be it in relationship choices, career paths, religious denomination, financial obligations and the like. It calls for raw objectivity to be able to sieve out the irrelevant and stick with what’s best for you. Just because everyone else has a 9 – 5 job does not mean it should be the same for you. The idea with any path chosen is that it should conform with some principles that you have decided to believe in. For instance, minimalists don’t believe financial obligations should consist of anything that has no deep meaning to your life. And this might go to the extremes of expenses such as rent and fuel. Because of this your personal possessions as a minimalist may exclude so many items including a TV. At the same time, if one of your principles is that marriage is not an ideal institution then you might choose to have uncommitted relationships with people. Of course this is if the said people also believe in these kinds of relationships. They can teach you a thing or two about how to stay focused on what you value in such a lifestyle.
Defining a long term lifestyle set up e.g. being a blogger (for passions) or being a better father (social) This is where actual targets are brought in. These targets define the ideal of what abiding to your principles should be like. That’s where the tough choices come in. You may decide that your passion for instance is photography. Your principle is that the world is beautiful and it needs to be shared. Your objective is to share the world with the world and not necessarily to appear to be the greatest photographer that ever lived. So you may make a plan where you will visit x number of countries each year so as to capture as much of the world as possible and share it at the same time. This is long term. You could also make a mid term plan just to start you off and pick Argentina, India and Italy to photo,. pick some photographers to meet and contact them …etc etc.
The daily stream
And finally there is setting up daily streams of activity that contribute to each aspect of your life. The final stage is where you build the castle and at the same time live in it. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the beginning stages of lifestyle design – the baby steps are just as much a part of the lifestyle as is the final tipping point when everything proceeds on autopilot. If you can’t enjoy the process of learning how to do something then you are missing like an entire half of the fun that comes with your chosen design. Whenever you lose your daily stream you end up pondering about how to stay focused.The real answer to this lies in everyday activities that build your daily stream of activities.
People get engrossed so much in the future and what candy lies therein that they forget to pick up the small crumbs of excitement that comes with initial growth. Its easy to dream and to want some things in your life to change but without actual action to produce it then you are simply taunting yourself with delusional bait. Being rich is a daily lifestyle made of small activities that relate to wealth. If you waste your money everyday on something that is not an asset then you will never be rich because that is simply not the way rich people roll. Rich people first buy the assets then spill the money from the assets on small luxuries. There’s a style to it. You can’t become the giving philanthropist you aspire to be if you cant give a cent to a beggar all week long. You cant become a virtuoso piano player without touching some keys each day. And there’s more to it than just a routine cycle of the same activities. Innovation is key. You need to embody the LD in every angle. You could be taking photos today in a museum, tomorrow its a whole bunch of models who were interested in your work. What you are going to do today will set up the pace for your lifestyle? Do it everyday, and you are a certified (insert lifestyle design tag)-ist.