Imagine that you could do anything you wanted within realistic financial means (you can stretch it a bit, but not too much…yet). What would your perfect day be like?
I ask myself these questions all the time; they help guide me in designing my life. I highly recommend you begin to ask yourself the same questions daily.
These days, we hear and read a lot about Lifestyle Design. Lifestyle Design has received a lot of attention lately, ever since Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour work Week broke into the mainstream in 2007. How does Ferriss define Lifestyle Design?
The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility. This is an art and a science we will refer to as Lifestyle Design (LD).
He goes on to explain how most people simply accept the status quo and never even question if there could be an alternative to working hard your whole life to retire at age 65:
Life doesn’t have to be so damn hard. It really doesn’t. Most people, my past self included, have spent too much time convincing themselves that life has to be hard, a resignation to 9-to-5 drudgery in exchange for (sometimes) relaxing weekends and the occasional keep-it-short-or-get-fired vacation.
People don’t want to be millionaires — they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy. Ski chalets, butlers, and exotic travel often enter the picture. Perhaps rubbing cocoa butter on your belly in a hammock while you listen to waves rhythmically lapping against the deck of your thatched-roof bungalow? Sounds nice.
$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows. The question is then, How can one achieve the millionaire lifestyle of complete freedom without first having $1,000,000?
Lifestyle Design is not easy. First you have to ditch your fear and imagine that it can come true. Then comes the task of changing (or tweaking) your life so that you begin to craft it the way you like.
Hey, maybe you are “there” already — congrats! I will say, I’m getting close. But I submit that many of us, while generally happy, have a life not of our own conscious design — more like a life that has been crafted by several outside forces beginning when we were kids.
So how have I gone about creating my own design?
I started by imagining what my perfect day would be like.
Now, I have a few variations on what a perfect day is for me; that’s okay, you can have different designs that you play with.
Here’s the process:
1. Write down your passions. What if you could make a living at the thing you love doing the most? If you can make a career out of doing something you love, your day will be perfect. Imagine this could happen, and write it down.
2. Design your day. Write out your perfect day in great detail, beginning from what time you get up and what you eat all the way through what you do for each hour of the day and who you talk to. The more detail you can add to the plan, the better. Include time spent working at your passions (above). Map out every hour and variations on the day if necessary. Include what time you would wake and go to sleep.
3. Can you get there?. What changes would you need to make in your life to make that perfect day a reality? Any regular reader of this blog knows that I had to pay off tons of debt and pare down expenses to even begin to think about it. Be willing to consider drastic changes if necessary. Come up with a plan to get there. It could be a 3 month plan or a 3 year plan. Either way, it’s possible to start the journey. Do it!
4. Start making some changes immediately. Some of the changes can be done right away, especially if the changes are under your direct control. The time you wake up and go to bed are examples of this. Your morning and evening routines are another example of things you can probably change immediately. Spending time doing something related to your passion is a possibility, right? Be aware of things you normally do that aren’t a part of your “perfect day” — consider eliminating or minimizing the time you spend on the non-important things to make room for the important things.
5. Start making long-term changes now. Changing jobs into a passion is obviously longer term. Moving to your dream city is also long-term. Even though these types of changes take longer, they can still be done. Make a plan, and just start.
If you take this exercise seriously, you may begin making more conscious decisions about how you spend your time and what you focus on. Even if you don’t make a lot of changes, you’ll learn a lot about yourself based on the information you acquire.
There are a number of variations on this exercise, but one I’ve checked out can be downloaded here for free.
Print out your perfect day, and keep it somewhere visible as you begin to make changes. This is the life you designed, rather than the one you’ve fallen into. It has worked for me thus far. I am nowhere near the “perfect day”, but I am working on it!
What is your “Perfect Day”?