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Lifestyle Design and Being OK with Being Conventional

bluff by the oceanMy love-hate relationship with lifestyle design

Like most people, I want to become a better person and a happier person (ah the great American ideal of self-improvement is alive and well!). So my Google Reader is full of personal development blogs. In the past few years, lifestyle design have become a huge niche in that sphere. A few nights ago Krystal of Give Me Back My Five Bucks and Clare at Never Niche and I got into a conversation over Twitter – about work, passion, and the rise of the lifestyle design blogs. And that conversation clarified some of the mixed feelings I have on those blogs.

On the one hand, I love the idea of lifestyle design – I want to design a life that matches my priorities and values, I want to live with intention. Many of the lifestyle design blogs I’ve read are inspiring and interesting, and many of them have good tips and tools. Besides, I truly admire people who are going after their dreams.

On the other hand,  some of these blogs are full of egregious self-promotion and barely disguised disdain for any other kind of lifestyles. The theme seems to be: if you are not (1) starting your own business in social media, web design, or personal coaching, (2) working in Thailand, Bali or another developing country with a low cost of living,  and (3) spending money on lifestyle design e-books and e-courses, then you must be too scared, stupid, and naive to grasp your One True Passion. Oh, and your soul will wither and die.

I also hate the fact that the default definition of lifestyle design – which sounds like a concise and elegant way to describe “living with intention” – is “I am going to be on permanent travel selling e-books and information products (with limited time offers and modules and super value-add bonuses!).”

Being OK with being conventional

Conventional has a negative connotation in the language of lifestyle design – it is a catch all for “average,” for “complacent,” for “ordinary.”  Conventional people are unsuccessful mice who are too afraid to change their lives, or even worse, they are deluded saps who doesn’t even know what they are missing. Who wants to be ordinary when you can “hack” or “test” your way to extraordinary, epic, radical, and awesome FREEDOM!?

I say that in jest, sort of. The truth is, I am envious of people who have figured out exactly what they want their life to be and have pursued that with passion (either that, or they are doing a great job faking it). I just wish they cut out the smugness for the rest of us.

Being OK with not wanting what these lifestyle design bloggers want doesn’t mean that I am lying to myself. If I am truly honest with myself, I know: I am wary of taking on very big financial risks. I don’t want to live in Thailand and work on a beach all day. I write a blog because I enjoy it, and my hourly income is somewhere in the neighborhood of fast food and retail. (Monetizing a blog is hard work – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). I want to go to business school. I want a career that is interesting and financially rewarding, but it will still be work. I want to live near my parents when they reach their 70s. I want a nice house. I want a few rental properties to supplement my cash flow. I want to travel, but I plan to have a home base. I want a dog. I want to marry the man I met in high school.

Conventional doesn’t mean we are dead inside

As you can see, my aspirations are quite middle-of-the-road. The fact that I have a corporate job, I have an apartment, and I have more than 3 pairs of shoes certainly doesn’t mean that I look into the mirror and see “dark, hollowed eyes match the dark, hollowed soul that once was a vibrant, enthusiastic one, looking forward to all of life’s gifts.” This isn’t an attack on Nina. She has written some thought-provoking stuff, and she seems like a pretty cool person. But the sentiment that “if you are not doing what I’m doing then you are a dead shell of a person” is a prevalent one among lifestyle design bloggers, and that frankly irritates the heck out of me.

I can’t make $97,000 traveling through Latin America. I certainly don’t make this money charging a $20/month VIP subscription to read about how I make money. Again, this isn’t an attack on Ash. I respect anyone who can make six figures selling and hustling in Chile and has the time to drink wine during afternoons. I respect people who have found work that makes them happy and fulfilled. I respect people who work hard for what they have and I believe that lifestyle bloggers who make a living at this work very hard. We all work hard.

But am I a dunce because I have a long commute, I have long travels and I take client calls at 5am on Saturday mornings? (Wait, do I really want to hear the answer to this? 😉 ). I think I can learn from lifestyle design bloggers, which is why I still read their blogs. Call me crazy, but I am getting just the tiniest inkling that the respect’s not mutual. Hence the hate part of my love-hate relationship.

Share your stories, don’t be a jerk

The bottom line is that like most of the population, I do not have goals that consist of getting rid of 95% of my stuff, living in a developing country and selling e-courses on teaching people how to do the same. If that’s what someone wants to do, he/she should absolutely go for it. Regale us with stories, tell us about your struggles, teach us what you’ve learned. But please, please, don’t be a jerk about it.

For more on posts that capture my love-hate relationship with lifestyle design blogs, see ones by Studenomics, Michael Corayer, and Early Retirement Extreme.

photo by DanBrady via Flickr

  • Marie - Thank you for writing this. I have a special disdain for the word "hack" – it makes me feel an intense pressure to optimize my life down to the last second/penny, as so many bloggers seem to have done (although… when I stop to think about it, I am actually very happy with my life already).

    Three cheers for being so-called "conventional" – we know what we like, and what we want. :-) ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Ahhhh "optimize" that's another word I've seen before! 😉 But agreed, can we just hack "hack" out of our blog language. ReplyCancel

  • Marie - I love this post. I have the same feelings. Part of me thinks it would be awesome to travel the world or wake up whenever I want or never answer to a boss, but part of me doesn't mind coming into the office and challenging myself to be better at my job and see just how much I can accomplish at my corporate job. After reading some lifestyle design blogs and books, I better understand how these lifestyle design "experts" live these type of lifestyles, but I don't want to be someone who sells crap on the internet just so I can work for myself. If I sell my own product or start my own business, I want it to respectable; I would want to buy my own product or services. So until I find that product that I'm proud of selling, I'm perfectly fine with my current lifestyle even if it make the lifestyle design experts cringe. ReplyCancel

  • Vee - I totally see where you're coming from. I will most likely always have a conventional job that I commute to and from every day (or at least most days), and it may be interesting, and it may be in the field I went to school for, but as you say, it will still be work. That's fine with me. I have other challenges and opportunities outside my work life.They don't make money. but I'm ok with that too. To me, the things that make my life rich don't necessarily have to also be the things that make my life money. In fact, I kind of like the business – pleasure split.

    Not everyone can live the kinds of lives you described up there. For the people who do it, that's awesome, and sometimes I am envious. But the rest of us still have to hold down the fort at home, whether that be through holding a corporate job, being a stay-at-home-mom, etc. One of the biggest problems in our world is people who think their answer is everyone's answer. Or, better, people who think that someone else's answer has to be theirs too. You have to find your own answers, build your own life, and let everyone else live theirs as they wish. Unfortunately, mine won't be in Bali, but I'll find a way to be happy anyway 😉 ReplyCancel

  • frugalforties - Can I just give a big "amen!" and leave it at that? Oh probably not, because I have a big mouth and have to say something … but I really LOVE what you've written.

    This part especially is something I want to comment on – and may even write a blog post about myself: The truth is, I am envious of people who have figured out exactly what they want their life to be and have pursued that with passion (either that, or they are doing a great job faking it). I just wish they cut out the smugness for the rest of us.

    I think what a lot of these smug people who have figured it out don't get is that … LIFE CHANGES. What you have figured out today, might not be the same tomorrow. I have a lot more respect for people who are still figuring it out, who admit that they're figuring it out, and who are doing so with the full realization that they never will have it all figured out at the same time. Or, as my mom so succinctly used to put it: If you think you've arrived, you're probably in the wrong place!

    Great post! ReplyCancel

  • @LoveNotDebt - This is one of the most well-articulated posts that describes EXACTLY the way I feel about those types of blogs as well. Your post shows that you are know yourself well and are confident of who you are. Maybe those traits are better than the egregious, overcompensating rhetoric of the "lifestyle design" (scare quotes used liberally) people. ReplyCancel

  • oilandgarlic - I've been meaning to write a similar post but you captured it all perfectly! The main problem I have is with the smug attitude. Otherwise I also do enjoy many of their blogs. I also think that they do work hard, just differently, and while I would enjoy the flexibility they have, I don't envy the fact that most also sell their products in order to finance their lifestyle. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - I don't mind the selling, I just don't like the idea of them selling to me by saying how horrible my life is unless I follow their prescriptions. ReplyCancel

  • Two Degrees - “… some of these blogs are full of egregious self-promotion and barely disguised disdain for any other kind of lifestyles.”

    Maybe they’re friends with Amy Chua … ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - I had actually never heard of lifestyle design until I read your post. And this post makes me never want to read a lifestyle design blog because of the smug attitudes you are talking about. One thing I have learned is that sometimes I can suffer from "grass is greener" syndrome, and over the years have learned that there is no perfect formula that fits everyone's life, you have to live YOUR life in the way that YOU want to, and don't apologize for it. Does wanting to own a house make you a bad person? No!

    It all comes down to what makes you happy and if working that 9-5 allows for you to live the life you want and you don't hate your job (been there, don't recommend it), then there is no problem with that, since it works for you. I do envy the people who can just pick up and move anywhere, but to me it's more of a personality trait, I thrive in structure and don't love chaos. So I have built my life around that and have come to love and accept that about myself.

    I totally got off topic on this one, but my point is to not let ANYone make you feel bad about how you live your life. ReplyCancel

  • Clare - Resounding amen. I couldn't agree more and you manage to say it all gracefully.
    I was looking forward to this post all morning! ReplyCancel

  • Evan - YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD! I wrote about something similar and ERE.

    Why is it bad to want to be normal (well above normal).

    •I want a nice, and I think to a certain extent I need a nice car
    •I’d love a nice house one day, and when I say nice I mean larger than average
    •The Wife and my Cell phone and internet bills (when combined) about 20% of Jacob’s total yearly budget
    •I love going out to eat
    •I have been known to have a few beers…scotches…vodkas…etc

    • Well Heeled Blog - I really love reading ERE just because it's such a different perspective, but I agree, it's not the lifestyle for me at all. ReplyCancel

  • krantcents - Conventional does not mean boring! I took my wants of financial independence and succeeded 25 years ago. I returned to work after seven years, but with a renewed gusto, because I did not have to work. It is all about choices in life, conventional or otherwise. I love working toward goals and accomplishing them. I am embarking on my 8th career when I started my blog.

    I noticed you referred to a series of wants, have you developed a plan to make them happen? If you don't they will just remain wants, dreams, wishes or fantasies. ReplyCancel

  • Lindy Mint - I wasn't happy in my adulthood until I was able let go of the notion that my life had to be nontraditional and extravagant in order for me to enjoy it.

    I spent many years chasing the "adventurous lifestyle," when really it wasn't even the life itself that I wanted, just the idea of it that I held onto. Now, I like my normal boring life. ReplyCancel

  • abby - Oh my goodness, thank you for this post! I've been reading a lot of lifestyle design blogs (never heard them addressed that way though) and as a result have often felt pretty unsettled about my current life. Although in reality I'm on a great path, it can be so easy to get sucked into those blogs and think you are not as good as A, B, or C and that following their life path will bring REAL success and happiness. Of course, I do find many of their posts interesting and helpful, but I think it's important to remember that is their life, not mine. And after all, I should know best what make's ME happy. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Exactly. Everyone has different priorities and values and goals. Don't let anyone else make you feel bad about yours. I'm not saying that lifestyle design blogs don't offer any value – they obviously do or else I wouldn't be reading them, but I think they would be much more effective they just, well, don't seem so arrogant. ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn C - Could not agree more. I generally try to ignore people who are into lifestyle design because I think they are going to yell at me each time I see them if I haven't implemented something in my life since the last time we spoke. It's like they're tracking my "life progress" and it's exceedingly annoying. I'm a do-er I have no problems getting things done, lifehackers just think you have to do it their way or the highway. I think people who yell at me like that are pretty ignorant because persuasion 101 tells you that you need to get people to feel like you're on "their team" if you want them to do something (ie change their life) ; you don't yell at them and make them feel stupid. This is why I think most people who are in to that stuff aren't that savy because they're mostly focused on promoting their life and how well they've executed "their plan" rather than genuinely and effectively persuading/helping you to get your life on track. WOW I had no idea I was that pissed about it till I'm writing this…..I need to go take a walk now. ReplyCancel

  • alottalettuce - Just the term 'lifestyle design' makes me want to throw up in my mouth. ReplyCancel

  • eemusings - Yep. I would hate to live in a developing country. Sorry.

    I think by the time I heard about the whole lifestyle design movement, a bit of a backlash was already starting. And it was starting to become a bit of a cliche. Like you, i think it's great they've found their life's direction. But it has never appealed to me.

    What bugs me most I think is the hate on the 9-5. I work in a field where 9-5 is very, very rare. I would LOVE to have a 9-5 schedule! A regular schedule is underrated.

    (Also, really? Your hourly rate is in the fastfood range – so, like, $12?) ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - I meant my blog income. If you took all the hours I spend on this blog and the ad income I make, my hourly wage is seriously $6 or $8. That's why I call it a labor of love. 😉 ReplyCancel

  • TeacHer - There's something about the whole "lifestyle design" thing that reminds me of the old Shakespearean refrain "me thinks she doth protest too much."

    I think that a lot of people who are overly enthusiastic about "designing their lifestyles" are deeply uncomfortable with their own choices, and their protestations against "conventionalism" (which, IMHO just DRIP of pretention) are a sort of veiled attempt to validate the very "lifestyle designs" they opted for.

    Basically, I think people who rail against all forms of conventionalism are equally as bullsh*t as those who blindly accept conventional standards of living their lives- they've just chosen a different avenue for their bullsh*t personalities to shine.

    (If you delete this comment because because of the expletives, I completely understand, but sometimes bullsh*t is the only term that fits :)

    Just one INCREDIBLY conventional girl's opinion. ReplyCancel

  • SS4BC - Psss… what are you talking about. There is only ONE right way to do things. 😉 ReplyCancel

  • thisisbeth - Everyone is different. We will all find our joys in different things. The point needs to be finding our own joy in life. If your joy is working a 9-5 job, and then taking a three-week vacation every year, there's no need to change that. If your joy is working two jobs, but having the latest tech gadgets, then there's no reason to scale back in either place (if your jobs are enough to pay for the toys).

    What's right for someone else is not what's right for you. Only you know that. They can only tell you what brings them joy, just to inspire someone who would be like-minded. ReplyCancel

  • Country Girl - Yes!! I feel exactly the same way!! I love going to work in the morning, coming home at night and being utterly conventional in my outlook and goals. Thank you for standing up for all us normals ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Conventional or not, I think people should think about their choices and understand why they are making those choices. But after that? Don't apologize for your lifestyle and don't make other people feel bad because theirs is different than yours. ReplyCancel

  • Pat Chiappa - My favorite thing about your post is that you want to live near your parents when they are 70.
    That is so sweet, and honest, and loving and real. My guess is that you will get everything you want and need in this life. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Thanks. I hope your guess comes true. :) I have seen my parents live several thousand miles and a few timezones away from THEIR parents, and how difficult it has been on both sides. ReplyCancel

  • @financialsamura - I think there's one point we are missing, the lifestyle design movement exploded when the economy exploded. The large majority of lifestyle designers couldn't find a job they enjoyed, got pushed out, or left unceremoniously. It's understandable for their smugness, b/c society rejected them. They now reject society.

    I want to help them, b/c I know it's tough not being valued in the workplace or in society.

    Best, Sam ReplyCancel

  • michaelcorayer - Thanks for the link to my site and for this excellent post. Glad to see that not everyone is dazzled by the flair of "lifestyle designers". Perhaps an elegant "hack" for some of them would be to spend less time telling us how awesome their choices are and spend more time doing something productive. ReplyCancel

  • Savvy Young Money - Well written post. Just as thought provoking as any lifestyle design blogs. I agree that these blogs can be inspiring to us average working folks. It's tempting for me to look at those bloggers and wish that I can do the same. But everyone's priorities are different. So are our definitions of success.

    @financialsamurai My experiences seem to differ from yours. A lot of lifestyle designers I know come from solid upper middle class families and can afford to do what they do because they have something to fall back on. Not that I don't respect their courage of taking that step to do the unconventional, but I'm simply pointing out that the reason some of us lead more ordinary lives is because we don't have the luxury to not do so. ReplyCancel

  • SP - You obviously hit a nerve!

    I kind of DO mind the selling, because… I really doubt most of them have skills/secrets that I personally would pay to hear about. I recognize that this might just be me being closed minded, but just because something worked for them doesn't mean it is universal.

    I don't mean that I can't LEARN from them or listen to their stories, but I also think that I can get what they are saying for free elsewhere if they put up a price screen. Since I believe their e-book has little to no value, I feel like they are trying to scam me by selling it. (Though the info is valuable to some I'm sure!)

    To which they probably would say, 'fine, you aren't my target customer', or something, which is true. I'm not.

    I did buy a sort of inspiration calendar this year from a blogger I support – because i thought that hanging on my wall would be valuable to me! (Yes and Yes! blog)

    Personally, i would hate a life of selling e-books and e-courses, though I'd kind of like a life in thialand. :) ReplyCancel

  • anonymous - Hey I totally agree. In fact I've quit reading several of these popular blogs because of the smugness of the bloggers. If someone is really happy with their life then why do they constantly need to talk about it? Yes you should be happy of your accomplishments.

    I hate false modesty but I also hate smugness. Why can't some of these bloggers find a middle of the road? When I was a little girl my family lived in Russia and in Costa Rica, you know what I never want to live there again or in any other developed country. Its not for me.

    I love living in the U.S. I loved becoming a U.S. citizen and I love the high quality of life. I don't have dual citizenship, just American citizenship. The class distinctions in Costa Rica and Russia were much more obvious too. I love to travel but I prefer to have a home in the U.S.

    I'm also not interested in visiting every country in the world, only countries that are safe to travel. Some countries are anti-female where women don't have many rights, I don't want to travel to those types of countries. Plenty of tourists have gotten stuck in such countries so no thanks.

    My family is multicultural which is why we lived in two different countries before we came to the U.S. and I don't care what others say, the U.S. really does have one of the highest qualities of life, even poor people are better off in the U.S. compared to poor people in other countries.

    At least here poor people have a chance for an education and can get government help until they have better paying jobs and finish a trade or get a college degree. Anyway, minimalism doesn't interest me either. I'm not a hoarder but I'm not a minimalist either. I like having a healthy amount of stuff. I like stuff. There I said it.

    I like going to Starbucks and having a cappuccino and I like going to the mall and shopping with money I saved up with. I don't hate lifestyle design, I think it can be great because everyone's idea of a happy life is different. But I think you need to have certain skills for that before you go off and quit your job.

    Some of those people worked at corporate jobs, so they probably did save up and could take time off and had a nice savings cushion to live off while they set up their websites and freelance businesses. Thank goodness for corporate jobs where would I be without one?

    Businesses are one of the reasons why the U.S. has the highest quality of life. Its the truth. I've also noticed that at a lot of these independent lifestyles the prices for their books were around $20-50 dollars on one of them the guy charges $100 for his e-book.Its just too much and IMO its a scam. ReplyCancel

  • First Gen American - Great Post.

    Also, a good number of lifestyle designers have working spouses with good benefits as a buffer to the harsh reality of going it on your own.

    I think the blog world is a bit skewed because some of the most prolific bloggers are doing it as a full time job. Most people don't have the time or inclination to add blogging to their to do list on top of full time work. So as a result, the blogosphere is a very skewed population of people who don't really represent the whole. Just like mommy blogs are filled with SAHM's trying to convince others to jump on the SAHM bandwagon. Staying home is okay, but please don't tell me that I don't care about my kids because I went back to work. Most working moms don't blog so again it's skewed. ReplyCancel

  • Bits & Pieces 3/15/11 - […] and I have similar thoughts on lifestyle design. I used to read mostly lifestyle design blogs but now I prefer personal finance. I actually hate […]ReplyCancel

  • CityFlips - Conventional is not a dirty word! Thanks for that post. Sometimes I get discouraged because I inadvertently compare myself to people in the blogosphere who are pushing their way of life as the best way of life. Or maybe I just perceive that they are being pushing their way of life. Doesn't matter. Bottom line, I'm happy being me and I'm glad you're happy being you! ReplyCancel

  • anon - I read a couple articles on The Middle Finger Project…I appreciate her brassiness for all of about two posts, and then I think she's just naive. That empowered, lively, open and friendly attitude will land you in some awful s*** in most developing countries.

    In three months abroad in Latin America, all of the following happened:

    – A friend-of-friend's iPhone was stolen out of her hand at 3pm in broad daylight in one of the 'safer' cities while texting us to say 'running 10 min late, c u soon'
    – I was robbed of my purse and passport at 9 in the evening (well before the local dinner hour) in one of the 'safest' cities while walking in the pedestrian street. Attacked from behind, knocked around in the struggle. On a busy street, but received no help and had no where to run. 5 other travelers were in the same situation, within the same hour, within 2 blocks of the police station. Local police have perhaps a 6th-grade education, which meant that their Spanish was on par with mine.
    – A European family I'd met in my main city had to give $1000 over to a police officer for something that came up during a week-long journey to one of the main natural sights.
    – The local 'customs' for meeting people in the bustling nightlife generally equated to things that I'd consider to be 'assault' by US standards.
    – All the brown-skinned travelers (various ethnicities) in my group found themselves pushed and shoved on the sidewalks, for no apparent reason.
    – A third of my clothes have holes in them, or had significant color loss due to the rough local laundry soap.
    – Visiting Patagonia with another female, we saw a couple cute guys on the day-tour bus and smiled. We saw them again at our hotel that evening. I found out later, they weren't staying the same place…they asked around about our whereabouts and that info was readily given. Creepy.

    Result? I'm out about $600 for the stolen goods, a couple hundred more for all the things that were damaged at the local laundry, I've got to swap my emergency passport for a new one, I'm very concerned about my risk for identity theft by whomever buys my stolen passport, and my openness to other cultures has been seriously damaged.

    The trip wasn't all bad – I saw some mind-blowing natural wonders and discovered great music and finally started learning Spanish, but I can say that I feel my American pride now more deeply than ever. There's something to be said for living in a place where you don't have to count your change and examine every single bill to determine if it's counterfeit or not, and when it's more clear whether a strange guy is trying to sleep with you or rob you. I also love that our food is generally clean and restaurants are generally sanitary. ReplyCancel

  • AffordAnything.org - I love, love, love this post! I DID once sell off my possessions and spend 2 years traveling the world, and you know what? At the end of those 2 years, all I wanted was a "return to normalcy" … a secure place to live, a coffeemaker, a CostCo membership, and a cat.

    I don't regret anything — I loved traveling while I did it — but it certainly taught me to appreciate the beauty of an "ordinary" lifestyle. Now that I'm back, I have so many friends who dream of a "travel-hacking" lifestyle, and I just smile, knowingly. ReplyCancel

  • kmd - I love this post!

    I just finished my last final today and am graduating from college this weekend. I'm so relieved to finally be out of this hell-hole that it really makes me wonder how I managed to survive this long. I equate this feeling to something along the lines of being a cancer patient and being told that my terminal, stage 5 pancreatic cancer has been cured, if that's ANY indication of how much I have HATED college. The smug attitude you discuss the bloggers having is the same attitude I've had to deal with the last three years, except they came from my advisers and professors…the very people who were supposed to be helping me. I've been told that I'm stupid (to my face and in front of other people, INCLUDING my parents), that I'm never going to do what I want, that I'm not smart, that I can't do anything, etc. etc. Professors and advisers would chastise me because I've tried to do everything by the book (aka the conventional way, the common sense way) so that I can get out of here and graduate, but if I deviate from that and take their suggestions (being as they are ADVISERS) they jump on my case for not doing things by the book. I'm an extremely hardworking person and I have good grades, but all throughout college I have never felt so worthless. It's like no matter what I do, it's not good enough or doesn't live up to someone else's impractical standards.

    I know this is a little off topic, but I totally get where you're coming from with people having smug attitudes and thinking they're better than you just because they think they have everything figured out (or they're in a position that allows them to project the idea that they have everything figured out simply because they have the title of "adviser" or "professor"). It's frustrating and I can completely attest to the feelings of misery and depression that take over your life when you have to constantly be around people that demean you and just plain treat you like shit.

    Thanks for writing this post. From a new grad to you, it's appreciated more than you know. ReplyCancel

  • Friday Linky Love | Small Hands, Big Ideas - […] Well Heeled Blog: Lifestyle Design and Being OK with Being Conventional […]ReplyCancel

  • Link Love 3/19/11 | Cordelia Calls It Quits - […] Lifestyle Design and Being OK with Being Conventional “The bottom line is that like most of the population, I do not have goals that consist of getting rid of 95% of my stuff, living in a developing country and selling e-courses on teaching people how to do the same. If that’s what someone wants to do, he/she should absolutely go for it. Regale us with stories, tell us about your struggles, teach us what you’ve learned. But please, please don’t be a jerk about it.” ~Well Heeled Blog […]ReplyCancel

  • “Radical” Advice From A Life Style Design Blog | Oilandgarlic's Blog - […] Well-Heeled recently wrote a good post about life style design blogs. If you don’t know, these are blogs that advocate a non-9 to 5 lifestyle. Tim Ferris of 4 Hour Work Week fame is probably one of the early gurus of this “movement”. Most of these bloggers seem to disdain the conventional lifestyle choices and do design/writing/consulting work while traveling the globe. A great flexible choice if you can swing it and don’t have to worry about a spouse, kids, pets or if your spouse, kids and pets are on board with your choices. […]ReplyCancel

  • studenomics - Hey thanks for the link. I wish that you had left a comment on my site for that piece.

    My take on lifestyle design is that if you can make money while traveling when you're young, then why not do it? I don't see it as a long-term strategy for success. If you want to take career risks and see the world in your 20s, then lifestyle design will suit you.

    It's still a novel concept to make money while you're not at a desk or in a single location. I just don't get the idea of living in a third world country or donating my clothes to charity (I love to dress well).

    I can't be gone for more than 3 weeks from home. Who will take my teenage brother to the gym? Who will serve as a wing man for my college-aged brother? I find lifestyle design to be a really cool way of making money while you get to travel. ReplyCancel

  • John Briner - Wow! This is a pretty well thought and well written post. I have to agree that lifestyle blogs are very helpful and that sometimes being conventional is actually okay. However, if you can really get away from the mold with your ideas and creative conceptions, then why not share them right? I guess it's for everyone else to see. I am really thankful that I stumbled across your post. I am looking forward to read more of your musings. ReplyCancel

  • Necklace - I know the feelings. Building a fulfilling life always seems to be a 'work in progress'. Once you achieve one milestone the values change and you find more than needs to be done. Perhaps we need to enjoy the journey and make sure that the journey itself is meaningful (i.e. we are not travelling on a road od trivial pursuits, so to speak) ReplyCancel

  • Tony G. Rocco - I am new to so-called lifestyle design and I find it very exciting, although over-hyped and harder to achieve than advertised. 9 – 5 life is soul-killing to me and I have long sought an alternative. But if conventional living works for some people, that is fine with me. To each his/her own.

    There are alternatives to the usual BS about traveling the world and selling e-books online. One author usually overlooked by lifestyle design practitioners is Steve Catlin whose book, Work Less & Play More, provides a very realistic way to achieve independence from 9 – 5 life. It does involve divesting oneself of material possessions, but it offers a common sense plan for achieving a life that isn't centered around a 9 – 5 job.

    Most lifestyle design has to do with making a killing in some online business a la Timothy Ferriss. Catlin's plan has more to do with cutting back spending on useless material objects and spending money instead on the activities one enjoys most – travel, entertainment, sporting activities, general idleness, etc.

    My road to freedom will fall somewhere between Catlin's unglamorous yet practical ideas and the more far-fetched plans of the Ferriss'es and Guillebeau's of the world. It will be a journey, but I intend to make my own path to a better life.

    Best wishes,

    Tony ReplyCancel

  • Tony G. Rocco - I am new to so-called lifestyle design and I find it very exciting, although over-hyped and harder to achieve than advertised. I have always found 9 – 5 life soul-killing and long sought an alternative to the usual routine. But if conventional living works for some people, that is fine with me. The idea behind lifestyle design is to have the freedom and wherewithal to fashion the life YOU want to live, not one regimented by the requirements of the work-a-day world to serve the interests of business and corporations. Lifestyle design is not a one-size-fits-all dogma that requires people to live in one particular way – traveling the world and selling ebooks online, for example. It is about empowering you to take control of your life and living it so that you can spend your time doing what you love most, whatever that may be. That is a wholly positive thing, in my view.

    Best wishes,

    Tony ReplyCancel

  • Bojan - I love your article and connect with it in many ways. I also find it funny that a lot of bloggers will teach you how to be an entrepreneur while their only experience of being an entrepreneur was starting a successful blog and making revenue through advertising and affiliate marketing. I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting a career. It's the best atmosphere to learn new skills and to get a chance to collaborate with great people. At the same time there is a place for these lifestyle design blogs because work shouldn't consume your life which a lot of people struggle with. Anyway thanks again! ReplyCancel

  • annie andre - I really enjoyed this post despite the fact that i no longer enjoy living conventionally. Part of lifestyle design is that you design the life you want to live. If it makes you happy to live conventionally than DO it. I lived that way for over a decade. Now i don't . Lifestyle design doesn't mean you have to jet around the world travelling. But if you want to do it and you can than do it. Anyways. Up until 8 months ago, i had no idea what lifestyle design was. 6 months ago, i had no idea who tim ferris was.

    I do live abroad, i do have a family and 3 kids and i am not rich. It's just a personal choice i make after having worked in the corporate world and never saw my children. we're all free to make our own choices and i mine make me happy. It's not for everyone.
    Just my two cents. ReplyCancel

  • John@MarriedWithDebt - Great post. Anyone who blindly attacks someone's way of life is wrong, period. On my site, you will never find me doing that. If you want to work 80 hrs a week and that makes you happy, I fully support you.

    By the same token, if you want to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in consumer debt and it makes you happy, I won't judge you there either. I'll ride around with you in your fancy car and chill on your expensive boat, as a friend.

    But, lifestyle design writers are writing for their audience. It is OK to have an opinion that the corporate lifestyle is undesirable to the author. It's just an opinion, after all. Neither party or side is right or wrong.

    But, it's wrong to say that someone is evil or deluded if that's what they want to do.


  • Jennifer Hunt - Love this. We are a lifestyle design family and have been on our second mini-retirement for the past two years. However, our two young children need a bit more stability and we are ready for a change, so my husband just accepted a conventional job and I will be a typical stay-at-home mom to a preschooler and toddler. By design.

    We are really excited for this stage in our lives and aren't neglecting our happiness. We *want* to do this. Travel and self-employment is great if you love it, but they do not equal happy. Happy equals happy. ReplyCancel

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