10 Oct Lifestyle Design: The Beginnings
“The New-Rich 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 science we will refer to as Lifestyle Design.” – Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Work Week
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau in Walden
The calendar read January 25th, 2015. I came home from work at my corporate job tired, frustrated, and complacent. My lovely wife had prepared dinner before I got home, so I came through the front door at 8 pm, dropped my work bag, and found a seat at our kitchen table while still in my professional shirt and slacks. January through April is busy season for accountants: a vacation-free zone, where 50-60 hour work weeks were the expectation. This was my third time through busy season and I had physical evidence of my service: a balding head and twenty extra pounds around the waist. From the beginning I knew it was not a long-term career, but it paid the bills, was a great company to work for (all things considered), and established a strong business-knowledge base. Thus, I endured the tiring hours in front of a computer and learned much in the process. I knew all along that it would be a brief season, although I did not know how my time would end or for what purpose. Sometime during my second year, already in the full swing of second-guessing and complacency, a coworker lent me The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. I took this book home and read it in two sittings. It had addressed so many internal dialogues I had with myself over the previous two years, including intentional pursuits of passions, creating alternative income streams, the purpose of work, and how to free up significant blocks of time for extended “min-retirements.” It encouraged, challenged, and blew my mind. It opened a door to a new reality of living–one which I believed must be true, yet could not trust as so few people I knew pursued this type of lifestyle. Thus, another year passed me by until reality came knocking. I had strongly considered going back to school for an MBA, but the timing and finances didn’t seem right, and I had no idea of what direction I wanted to go in my career, however, something in this book sparked joy and hope, reminding me of something deep within that I always longed for: A reality where time and mobility were the most valuable of currencies. Long-term travel had been a lifelong dream of mine, yet one I did not previously feel empowered to pursue.
At that kitchen table on January 25, my wife sat beside me and said, “Babe, I talked to my mom today and have a great idea. What if you returned to Alaska and commercial fished this summer while I live with and work for my sister? We would be able to save enough money to travel the world together in the fall.” After about two seconds of thinking, I was on board. This was such an obvious solution to so many of my internal issues and desires that within seconds I knew it was decided. The pursuit of a lifestyle design that truly fit me was underway.
Fast forward 10 months and here we are–a corporate job, round-the-world trip planning, and another fishing season behind us. Jaimie and I have been living in Thailand for the past three weeks, and have loved nearly every minute! Since January, we have paid off debts, sold the majority of our possessions, put careers on hold, caught 1.8 million pounds of salmon, received numerous vaccines, read more travel blogs than we care to admit, and will be traveling through Southeast Asia and Europe over the next 10 months. Throughout this season of excitement, we’ve also experienced the weariness of constant travel, the bore of logistics, the frustrations of online banking, “Bangkok Belly,” and the simultaneous joys that lifestyle design and semi-retirement bring. Through it all, it has been a challenging and rewarding experience curating and shaping the life we’ve always imagined for ourselves by traveling over the next year or two.
Two years of saving and two months of fishing has given us a budget of about $100 per day over the next 300 days, much less than most people might expect a year of world travel to cost. During this time, we will be living in Southeast Asia and Europe in between hostels, hotels, guesthouses, and the occasional 5-Star beach resort (We have already stayed at an incredible resort on a Thai Island for $60/night and lived like royalty), all the while practicing our newly developed (and constantly adapting) techniques of lifestyle design. For each person the means and perhaps end will look different. Going forward, I hope this section will contain both practical applications and theoretical analysis of lifestyle design, work for work’s sake, American culture and the illusions it uses to resist lifestyle design, hacks to better productivity and mindfulness, and ways to intentionally structure life towards dreams and passions in a tangible way. It is a journey of discovery for all of us, but one I am passionate about and already spend much of my mind space contemplating. If this resonates with you, welcome! It will be a wild ride.