I’m often asked, “how can I become a lifestyle designer?” I’m not going to focus on what that means. If you are here and have a heartbeat you probably want tons of personal freedom, unforgettable experiences, and boatloads of cash. Let’s talk about how to get that done.
Two Things You Need to Have
- Clarity of vision. How detailed are you willing to be about your ideal lifestyle, your business, and how you’d like others to treat you. If you prefer to be vague, let things up to others, or if you are too scared to say exactly what you want in your wallet, you won’t be a lifestyle designer. Get clear or get out.
- A Willingness to work. Will you challenge yourself everyday to create and build things that are valuable to yourself and others? This is different from a willingness to be employed. A rule of thumb here is the 5 hour rule. If you are willing to work on a project or craft 5+ hours a day, everyday, you are in great shape. Don’t worry if you aren’t right now, some exercises below can help.
Too much vision mixed with no willingness to work can result in shoulda-coulda-woulda atttitude. When it this mode its easy to find yourself criticizing the contribution of others (something folks who work very hard rarely dare to do!), complaining, or experiencing frustration. Often you’ll feel stuck in a job or a procrastination loop. I felt this acutely when I thought I wanted to be a songwriter– I would think about how nice it would be the kind of guy who wrote songs, but it wasn’t enough to convince me to actually do it. I was procrastinating– for years!
A willingness to work mixed with no clarity of vision makes for the economic losers. Venkatesh describes it well: “those who have, for various reasons, made (or been forced to make) a bad economic bargain: they’ve given up some potential for long-term economic liberty (as capitalists) for short-term economic stability. Traded freedom for a paycheck in short.” This can also be a situation many freelancers find themselves in because its so easy to have your client’s vision for your time usurp your own.
I’m not saying jobs or freelancing are outright bad, not at all. It depends on the situation and your particular journey (and journey is the right word, this stuff takes time!) You can win big time in currencies that are not money, including opportunity, time, flexibility, excitement, learning, self-growth– these are all very real. The right job can be a great springboard into more personal freedom. Ask yourself about your superiors in the organization. Do you want to be where they are? Can you learn specific information and habits that are of real and lasting value. Will developing a trusting relationship with them allow you to meet your goals in the long run? If yes, you might have a good deal on your hands.
How to Improve Your Vision and Willingness to Work
I believe if you focus on improving your clarity of vision and your willingness to work you can pretty much create about any lifestyle you can imagine.
First, articulate and visualize a minutely detailed account of what your ideal day looks like. Don’t bother with conditions or restrictions. Name exactly what you want. “For dinner I eat high quality food, like organic lamb and a fresh garden salad, that makes me feel great, then I generally read for an hour and meet up with friends to talk about our businesses and the different blogs we are reading…” Where are you? How much do you sleep? What clothes do you wear? How much time do you spend writing emails? Write it down if you can. Be happy about it. Be meticulous. Lifestyle designers are not lazy thinkers. These thoughts should be exciting. Get comfortable in your new world.
Find Your 5 Hours
Picturing your ideal day isn’t enough to cut it. You also need to find a way to work in at least 5 hours of high quality creative work. This number is significant to me because I believe everyone– even those of you with jobs and kids– can create 5 hours of extra time every single day. Without a huge amount of working capital (and oftentimes even with working capital) your fantasy life cannot exist without some kind consistent creative output. (Art, deal-making, software development, design, writing, selling, business-building, marketing, strategic relationship-building).
If you find it difficult to identify 5 hours of creative work that you are excited about, try taking an inventory of all the things you wouldn’t mind doing everyday for 5 hours. Your “work” might be something you don’t think is valuable, or you think others would laugh at (blogging, weight lifting, riding a bike, podcasting, interviewing people, writing, life coaching).
Chose your favorite one and start doing it. Build it and manage it 5 hours a day. Market it. Interact with those in your space. Learn everything you can about it. Focus on specialized and leading edge knowledge. Something will come of it that will lead you to the next level. If you like to paint, start painting, training, networking with painters 5 hours of day. Get others excited about what you are doing. Hire an assistant, offer an internship, find a business partner.
Here’s the critical part: think of it as a business. To think of something as a business means you want to ensure that the audiences you cultivate and build are demonstrated buyers (hint: sell something early) and that you are focusing on the parts of your work that are valuable to others.
Find your 5 and you’ll find your ability to manifest change in your life will be supercharged.
Lifestyle Designers are Hyper Realistic
I don’t mean realistic like your mother says it: “don’t get your hopes up!” Sorry mom, you must get your hopes up. Entrepreneurs and creative types thrive on hope. What’s missing for a lot of would-be lifestyle designers, and ultimately what clarity of vision and willingness to work represent, is how in touch with reality you are. Some people say “that guy/gal is really plugged in.”
Being the next Bill Gates is a realistic desire. After all, Bill Gates does exist and doing what he does is possible in theory for another human to duplicate. Here’s the rub– strategically identifying the path you need to take in order to duplicate Bill Gate’s success is where clarity of vision and willingness to work come in. Everyone wants to be “rich,” or “travel the world” and most will even state it as a “goal,” but letting that thought sit in your head without fleshing out the exact path, work, and conditions that need to be in place in order to get there isn’t just lazy thinking, its lazy living.
The Entrepreneurial Imperative
If you identified 5 hours a day of “building and growing passionately run businesses” you are in really good shape. There are tons of creative ways to get to started as a lifestyle designer, but almost all of the most impressive lifestyle designers I’ve met have one thing in common (no, its not blogging!)– they are entrepreneurial. These people love a challenge. The love the hustle. They prefer to identify opportunities over liabilities. They love the deal. They love the process of doing business and making sales. They might want to invest in your company. They’ll share all their latest ideas. They are your best employee. They can’t wait to meet more like minded individuals. They aren’t waiting for anyone to tell them what to do, or for any organization to validate their existence. They know what they want, and generally, its way more fun, positivity, and profits.
If you aren’t sure about entrepreneurship, or have never thought about it as a career, the best thing you can do is work with a successful entrepreneur in a small to medium company setting. Focus on results and work your tail off. Learn everything. Figure out if you have that 5 hours. Get moving. It’s a big fun world loaded with opportunity and adventure, and you can have it all.
Further reading that is way better than what you just read, and related:
- Beyond Passion: The Science of Loving What You Do by Cal Newport
- The Gervais Principle: Or the Office According to the Office by Venkatesh Rao
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