What are you planning to do when you retire? Do you hope to travel, spend time with friends and family, take up new hobbies or volunteer to support a cause?
How long will it take you to retire? For average people, it takes about 45 years, if you live that long. Maybe you’re hoping to retire sooner, in 30, or 20 or even 10 years by working hard.
Why does it have to be that way? Why do most of us go to college, find a good job and spend 30-40 years of our lives climbing the corporate ladder only to retire when we’re past our prime?
Why not live the life you want to, right now?
Can it be done? Can you live the good life now without being independently wealthy or retired?
Yes, you can live an unconventional life that unlocks the lifestyle of the rich and retired now, while you’re still in your “working years.” At least, that’s exactly the philosophy behind Lifestyle Design.
Lifestyle Design has received a lot of attention lately, ever since Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich broke into the public consciousness in 2007.
Ferriss didn’t invent the concept (people have been talking about and practicing various forms of lifestyle design ever since the American Dream became the de facto lifestyle in the West), but he did label it aptly and put forth a number of techniques for designing your optimum lifestyle. Since then, hundreds of other books, blogs, websites and other resources about lifestyle design have been launched.
Just how does Tim Ferriss define lifestyle design? In the introduction of his book, he introduces both lifestyle design and the group of people doing it (the New Rich):
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 60:
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?
Is Lifestyle Design for Everyone?
Perhaps. Everyone can take advantage of certain elements of lifestyle design. At its most basic level, lifestyle design is about questioning the predominant work ethic that teaches us to become corporate drones, working 40-60 hours or more every week while living for the weekends and a few weeks of vacation every year.
Lifestyle design certainly doesn’t have to be as radical as (Ferriss advocates) outsourcing your life, playing currency arbitrage while traveling the world or creating automated cash-flow businesses, unless you want it to be.
The point is that it’s about examining your life and your goals and thinking unconventionally about how to make things possible now instead of later. It’s about designing your life instead of letting society design it for you.
You’ll have to decide how that applies to you, and what it means. The definition is different for everyone.
photo by kennymatic