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Lifestyle Design

Lifestyle DesignLifestyle design is the brainchild of Timothy Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek. He’s a superuser of the Pareto principle and Parkinson’s Law. He uses geoarbitrage to allow multiple mini-retirements throughout life, instead of the 9:00 to 5:00 until you nearly croak then play shuffle board life model. He’s big into location independent living. And ballroom dance.

So, is lifestyle design for you? Yes! Even if you don’t want to be a competitive tango dancer and go to Mexico to become a lab rat? Yes!

Even if you don’t fit the model he describes, your life can be enhanced by living intentionally, by planning and crafting the life you want. The key is you. Your ideal life won’t be the same as Ferris’s. But the principles still apply.

I don’t want to be “location independent.” Believe it or not, I don’t love traveling. It’s fine on occasion, but it’s not a high priority for me. We designed our own home and love being here. I want my kids to have a sense of permanence, familiarity, community, and roots. I like having a home — in fact, in the past few years of moving around, I’ve been rather anxious to settle down, to create a permanent home for my children.

I do love ballroom dance. Currently two of our children are on competitive ballroom dance teams. Just last night I watched Jessica perform in a fabulous floor show. I don’t want to compete at Blackpool (what, in the middle-aged division?), but — having danced in high school and college — I’d love to take adult ballroom dance classes to relearn the steps I have forgotten. I’d love to master a really hard latin routine — preferably samba or cha cha. That would be so much more fun than a night at the movies!

I intentionally used the over-wrought living-on-an-island photo to identify this post. It’s come to signify the perfect lifestyle and easy living. And maybe swinging in a hammock on the beach really is your idea of living the dream. And that’s fine. But it’s not mine. As much as I love to visit Hawaii, I don’t want to live there.

Lifestyle design is about creating the life you want, living your dreams.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some key practices to help you design an amazing life. In the meantime, start thinking on these important questions:

  1. What do you want to have?
  2. What do you want to be?
  3. What do you want to do?
{ 10 comments… add one }
  • brenna March 18, 2011, 6:21 pm

    Lots of these things are foreign to me. Parkinson’s law, Pereto, geoarbitrage. What are those?

    Is this like time management?

  • jeP March 18, 2011, 11:38 pm

    You get to a point where you just know that going with the flow isn’t working anymore. I think I need a plan. What do you suggest as a first move?

  • Parishable March 20, 2011, 1:25 am

    What do you want to have?
    Right now, mostly a stable job and a comfortable place to live. I totally understand what you say about having a stable home for your kids.

    What do you want to be?
    Free to do what is important to me.
    More patient.
    More relaxed.

    What do you want to do?
    Sleep in!
    Have time to play with my kids and read to them and enjoy them before they grow up.

    Great post. 🙂 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith March 20, 2011, 1:30 am

    brenna, I will write a post tomorrow explaining those three thing you ask about in more detail. They are all very valuable ideas, worthy of detailed discussion. Check back on Monday and they should be there for you. 🙂

    Ferris is kind of an anti-time management guy. I’ll touch on that in the post, too, to make more sense of it. If you find these concept interesting, do check out his book. I read it when if first came out and rereading it this week, has reminded me of so many valuable insights I had forgotten.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Blog Post Promotion- The Ultimate GuideMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith March 20, 2011, 1:36 am

    jeP, what a great insight. I honestly think most people in the world spend their entire lives “going with the flow.” But you’re right, most big dreams aren’t accomplished by following the path of least resistance.

    If you’re looking to make a move toward designing your life, you need to find a system that works for you. I wrote a post about goal setting in 2010. That has a number of ideas. A simpler approach is Ferris’s “dreamscaping.” Start by answering those questions listed above. If you’d like to share them here, we can discuss them further. Or shoot me an email from the contact form. 🙂
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Blog Post Promotion- The Ultimate GuideMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith March 20, 2011, 1:38 am

    Parishable, thanks for posting your responses. It seems those things you want in your life are close to your heart. That can be very positive because it’s motivating! You have a great start on designing your ideal life.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Blog Post Promotion- The Ultimate GuideMy Profile

  • Timo Kiander March 21, 2011, 1:42 pm


    Great intro to lifestyle design and I’m looking forward to see other parts of this series too.

    Here are my answers:

    What do you want to have?
    My own online business – do the things I love to do full-time and earning income that way

    What do you want to be?
    More freedom. Fulfilling my purpose (ok, maybe I’m still trying to find what it is 🙂

    What do do you want to do?
    – Be with my family
    – Be a full-time athlete
    – Travel


  • Alison Moore Smith March 21, 2011, 2:06 pm

    Timo, some great answers! I’m with you on finding a life purpose or mission. For me it’s really been about raising my six kids. 🙂 But as they get older I am looking for more service/humanitarian avenues to work toward.

    My dad is 81. He just moved in with us and is bored out of his mind. It’s not so much that there aren’t valuable things he could do, it’s that he’s just not really passionate about anything. He was an academic for years and loved teaching and research (he was a math professor), but now there isn’t much that gets him excited. Honestly, I’m really determined to wear myself out until the day I drop dead by having things that excite and motivate me.

    What type of online business are you thinking of? I had my first online business in 1994 (a homeschool resource supplier called Bright Spark Press). I sold that company in 1997 but have been online since. I’m writing a post covering resources for getting an online muse right now. Hopefully it will have good info for you and others with such desires. 🙂

  • Mariam March 23, 2011, 9:29 am

    I have asked these questions to myself before and asking myself these motivates me to take actions to achieve the things I need and want to have.
    Mariam recently posted…Importance of Social MediaMy Profile

  • Natalie November 27, 2011, 3:59 pm

    I just thought I’d say “hi” 🙂 I’ve been reading through your site and really enjoying a lot of the posts. So glad you stopped by mine and, in doing so, reminded me of a few lovely things about lifestyle design.
    Natalie recently posted…Avoiding Overwhelm, One Step At A TimeMy Profile

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