male surfer watching as wave comes in

Designing an extraordinary life

The first time I saw the term lifestyle design was while reading Timothy Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Workweek. Essentially, lifestyle design is about looking at life and work differently. It could include organizing your life to enable you to take mini retirements or sabbaticals. It could include creating a home-based or online-based business to create freedom and flexibility, with the goal of creating more personal time and/or location independence.

There are now many people who provide coaching services aimed at helping people with lifestyle design. There is also an annual conference in Portland, Oregon called World Domination Summit that is targeted to people who embrace the concept of lifestyle design. For example, the theme of the conference is “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”

I have been designing my life well before I knew of the term lifestyle design, and before I knew there were a lot of other people who created intentional lives of their own design. For most of my adult life, I have wanted to create an extra-ordinary life vs. a conventional one.

My memory is vague on when I realized I wanted to create an extraordinary life, but I have some ideas of things that may have influenced me:

1) My parents, particularly my mom, told me and reinforced for me that I could be anybody and I could do anything that I set my mind to and work hard for.  My mom grew up in a time where the career options for women were still primarily teacher, secretary, or nurse. My mom, like many other women of her generation, saw the new opportunities for her daughters and encouraged my sister and I. This sense that I could choose whatever line of work I wanted has helped shaped my life. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have chosen careers where I feel like I’m making a difference in the world through my work.

2) My first environmental science course taken my second year of college (1994) fundamentally shook up my world view and my place in the world. Thus, this course dramatically influenced my path in life.

3) I was very impressed at a fairly young age by hearing the first of many stories of retired people who worked hard for 30+ years only to die within a year or two of retirement. After hearing this first story, I made a promise to myself that this would not happen to me.

These three things, and likely more, helped shape my thinking on what kind of life I wanted to lead.

Here are some examples of some of the life choices I have made:

  1. I chose to travel to Europe twice in my 20’s instead of buying a car.
  2. I chose to live in a school bus for three years
  3. I chose to work less than full time for most of my career.
  4. Now, I am location independent travelling internationally with my husband

I love the the perspective and idea of living an unconventional life. As Chris Guillebeau says, “You don’t have to live your life the way others expect.”

In what ways have you bucked conformity and designed your own life? If you could redesign your life, what would it look like? Enter your thoughts in the comments below.