Lifestyle Design’s Appeal
Ever since I heard about lifestyle design, I’ve been wishing I coined the term. It’s proving ridiculously popular, so much so that good, old-fashioned personal development or self-help seems to have been elbowed aside by its cooler little sister, lifestyle design.
It’s easy to see why.
Lifestyle design sounds far sexier than self improvement, personal development or self help, doesn’t it?
First of all there’s the lifestyle part which seems to indicate that not only do you already have a life, but it’s a stylish life too. Then the term ‘design’ reinforces these hip associations. Together those two words,’lifestyle design’, conjure up an image of a Versace clad entrepreneur supping Crystal champagne while planning their next trip.
Self Improvement Falls Flat
Meanwhile self improvement, self development or personal development lacks the exotic ring of lifestyle design. Here the inference seems to be a personality that’s lacking, somehow in trouble or in need of guidance with daily living.
Today qualified personal growth experts like Dr. Phil with his balding pate, dodgy facial hair, stuffy suit, old-fashioned values and sensible advice, are being usurped by galavanting young risk-takers who jet around the world with hardly a care in the world. Apart from that the ebb and flow of the passive income trickling into their bank accounts of course.
The Pressure of Lifestyle Designing
When I started this blog I’d never heard of lifestyle design and sometimes I’ve wonder if I should have designed my blog to appeal to lifestyle designers rather than for people seeking self development.
As far as I can tell there are three main points to lifestyle design:
- Being self-employed and, preferably, living off a passive income.
- Living where you please.
- Having plenty of freetime to pursue travel and leisure activities a regular job might not leave you time for.
As such, lifestyle design is certainly something I know a lot about and have been engaging in actively and successfully my whole adult life. It’s just that I never labelled it as such.
Over the past 20 years I’ve lived in the UK, France, the US, Thailand, Laos, Zimbabwe and Costa Rica and travelled in many other countries. To date I’ve been self-employed for 14 years. It looks as if I was ahead of my time.
A lot of people think I’m lucky to have traveled so much but they could have done it to. It’s just about setting your priorities, having guts and choosing to do what pleases you. I wouldn’t have it any other way but lifestyle design isn’t for everyone.
Take another look at those three points above. It’s a big ask. Maybe too big.
How Lifestyle Design May Be Making People Miserable
People who aren’t ready to lead this type of lifestyle or just don’t want to may see themselves as failures because of it.
Some people who are striving to achieve this type of lifestyle may be setting themselves up for failure and buying into a concept which for most people is actually unrealistic or even unattainable.
There’s a presssure to fit into the lifestyle design movement and those who don’t fit in might be making themselves miserable by trying to conform to it and feeling that in order to succeed at life and fit in with the cool crowd of lifestyle designers they have to be self-employed and jet around the world non-stop.
The lifestyle Design Revolutionaries
Even though I love the concept of lifestyle design sometimes I wonder if it’s a bit of a flash in the pan. I’m also aware that type of lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Some people crave stability which is understandable.
The funniest thing is that some of the new lifestyle design writers are barely out of diapers yet they style themselves as experts on living well and are eager to tell others how they can do the same thing.
Most of the lifestyle designers whose writing I’ve come across are single, childfree young men, without the responsibilites that come when you have kids and all the expense that entails. How their experiments in lifestyle design will pan out and end up ten or twenty years down the track is anyone’s guess.
Of course, I’m not saying that you can’t travel or live an interesting life when you have kids. You most certainly can and I’ve done so myself, most recently on a jaunt round Central America for 18 months with a 2, 5 and 8 year old.
Before I had kids I was gallavanting round the world with only my backpack and my self to care about. Once the kids came along the travel slowed down as I had to take into consideration four other people including my husband, plan a trip that would also keep them happy and often pack and carry their bags too.
When you travel with kids the logistics of it are harder, the emotional and actual costs far higher than when you were childless. Lifestyle design becomes a real challenge when you’ve got a family.
In fact most aspects of life get harder once you’re a parent. I’d like to see anyone put their mind to writing about lifestyle design while five kids run round their house having a light-sabre battle which is what I’m trying to do right now.
Is Self-employment Essential For a Good Lifestyle?
But my main problem with lifestyle design is that you don’t have to be self-employed to design a life that suits you. You can still be the hip and cool designer of your own lifestyle even if you’re a nurse working shifts, an office worker, a teacher or a bank teller.
Self-employment is good. It works for some of us, like my husband who has taken a vow never to wear a suit, tie or even socks ever again.
But self-employment isn’t for everyone and there are many jobs where you will be employed that are still valid ways of living and earning a living. We need people who are passionate about nursing, policing, teaching and accounting and I hate to think that they feel under-valued in what they do because the world doesn’t value that type of job any more.
Life isn’t all about being a business person, setting up an empire or having a passive income and since that seems to be an integral part of lifestyle design I reckon it applies to some people but not to everyone.
Meanwhile self improvement is something most of us could benefit from with the possible exceptions of people like the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. Most of us have flaws and while many of those are what make us interesting let’s face it there’s always room for improvement.
Why Self Improvement’s Been Popular Since 2500 B.C.
Self improvement is about so much more than lifestyle design. Self improvement is about:
The Secret of Leading a Happy Life
Some people who are learning about lifestyle design might be making themselves feel unsatisfied with their own lives right now. Reading about how we are supposed to aspire to endless travel, a first class lifestyle with a passsive income might be making some people feel downright miserable because they don’t have that and they never will.
But it’s okay because that type of lifestyle isn’t everyone’s dream life.
The secret of leading a happy life and living your dream isn’t about struggling to design a first class lifestyle, a passive income and leading a rootless existence.
The secret of leading a happy life is self acceptance and being content with what you’ve got now.
What’s Your Take?
Is lifestyle design set to go out of style while self improvement remains a timeless classic?
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