When I first read Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, I was pretty sucked in. Who wouldn’t want to work for only 4 hours a week?
As it turns out, I wouldn’t.
I derive a lot of meaning and pleasure from working hard. For me, creating something and sharing it with others makes me feel good. It is what I like to do.
But that’s just me. And that’s the point.
Designing your life means designing your life. Comments, questions and criticisms from others, while helpful, are largely irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how you want your life to go.
First, Step Inside Your Own Faraday Cage
In 1836, an English scientist, Michael Faraday, designed a unique device able to shield its contents from electromagnetic radiation. The device was aptly named, a Faraday Cage. Objects inside the cage were effectively cut-off from outside energetic interference, which proved very helpful in certain experiments.
If designing your life is an important priority for you, then the first step is to make sure that your goals, priorities and ideals for that life are in fact yours.
I started out life playing defense. That means I spent most of my time living up to other’s expectations of me.
Living like that doesn’t leave a lot of room for “lifestyle design” because frankly, you outsource that function to someone else… to everyone else actually.
Given my history, one of my (many) weaknesses is that I sometimes fall back into “dealing with what life dishes me” instead of actively creating my future.
This is irresponsible.
I know that sounds weak, but it’s the truth. I reveal things like this in public forums because it provides instant accountability for me. By telling a few hundred thousand people, I’m inspired to become a better version of myself.
Weird, but it works for me.
If you’re going to go to the trouble of designing your life the way you want it, then make sure you are clear about what you actually want.
This means cutting yourself off from the influence of what others might think about your decisions.
You have squash your need to “keep up with the Joneses” or anyone else, for that matter.
Well, the biggest reason is that there’s a good chance…
The Joneses Are Idiots
The average person just isn’t interested in living life at the level of excellence you probably are. So to look to them for anything (except for a good reminder of what not to do) is not helpful.
And so we go in search of people who do exhibit various levels of mastery in their lives. And that’s when things can get even worse.
It’s easy to look around at the lives of others and just accept that what they want for their life has anything to do with what you should want for yours.
It’s easy to be enamored by someone’s dedication to an ideal and think that you should exhibit that kind of dedication.
It’s easy to be impressed by the material wealth of someone and think you should have that too.
This is living life from the outside in, if you ask me. And I think that is a mistake.
How to Stand as a Giant Among Men
I’m of the firm belief that the only really responsible way to live life is to have the guts to live it exactly as you want.
Don’t want to make a million dollars? That’s your choice.
Don’t want to work 80 hours a week to be “successful?” Again, it’s up to you.
Want to wake up and spend 6 hours a day playing with your children while they’re young enough to still want to be seen with you? Go ahead.
To the average person, living your life with such blatant “disregard” for others might be interpreted as an extreme example of selfishness.
But to the average person, talking about the weather and what they had for dinner last night is interesting.
To me, having the guts and the clarity to live life as you see fit makes you a giant among men… or among women as the case may be.
The point is that your unique value as a human being deserves a unique expression in the world. And to do that, you need to live with a blatant disregard for the thoughts and opinions of others if you’re going to be a good steward of your gifts.
Are There Limits to This Lifestyle Design Thing?
As I sit here writing this, my five children (with a sixth expected any day) are milling around my house. One just woke up, another is pushing a stroller, and still another is outside watching the guy pulling weeds on our property.
This is how I want to live my life. I sit here and think, write and sell things. As the years go by, my vision for exactly how that’s supposed to look for me improves. My clarity improves. My focus improves too.
On certain days, the fact that some people think I’m nuts gets to me. But on my best days, I simply don’t care.
The hardest thing about “lifestyle design” isn’t actually the doing of it. It’s the pre-work that comes before the doing that can be challenging.
To get the right design for you, you have to be honest with yourself and respect yourself. What you want is valid. Period.
Understand that your decisions are your decisions.
Understand that your path is your path.
And know that your purpose is to spend your days walking that path as you see fit, no matter where it takes you.
That, to me, is a life well lived.
[Ed. Note: Jason Leister is an internet entrepreneur, direct response copywriter and editor of “The Client Letter,“ the daily e-letter from ClientsSuck.net, where he helps independent professionals create success. You can contact him via his website at JasonLeister.com.]