The 3 Lies of Lifestyle Design (& Why Tim Ferriss Is Making You Hate Your Life)

by Alexander Heyne · 82 comments

Lifestyle design and tim ferriss

Where I worked remotely last week – Catalina island.

If you love Tim Ferriss, and are following his “lifestyle design” advice, you’re setting yourself up to be miserable.

I’ve lived the lifestyle design dream for the past few years… and I’ve realized there’s one huge problem

At first, discovering this was a godsend. Although I was making great money at my first job out of college, by the end of the first year working fulltime I could feel myself slowly dying. I wanted more excitement from life, I wanted more life in my years, and I wanted more than two days a year that I actually remembered.

Around that time is when I moved to China – I actually didn’t discover this whole Tim Ferriss character until a long time after I returned and had already written the manifesto here.

When I did, I was like “Wow this guy is just like me, he’s figured this shit all out and wants to live an exciting, worthwhile life rather than just work because he’s bored.”

So the next few years I found a way to live it.

I got a remote job on the computer – it paid $15 an hour which was way more than enough if I was working remotely (or even paying American rent somewhere outside of a major city).

I spent 9 months or so in one place back home, and about 3 months of the year traveling.  Most days I did what I wanted, when I wanted, with whoever I wanted.

I was hoping deep down it would fix that “listless” feeling – the nagging feeling that I was still supposed to be doing something important in life… I just couldn’t figure out what.   It was almost the weird feeling that I had to discover my destiny or something.

So I went deeper into the movement. I took mini retirements, I learned skills, languages, traveled, and did pretty much all the bucket list stuff that most people want to do when they email me and say they’re “stuck.”

It was fun.

It was exciting.

I lived a “conversation-worthy” life.

I became one of the interesting people in the room.

But I can definitively say I fucked up big time thinking this was “the way.”  Actually, since that time I’ve found that the lifestyle design dream doesn’t provide any answers… it just looks like an attractive lifestyle to most people trapped in the system.

In other words, it’s another distraction. One that looks particularly juicy because it’s probably the exact opposite of what you’re currently living.

You’re lying to yourself about what you want

Lifestyle design and tim ferriss

Part of the reason why lifestyle design isn’t going to solve your deep issues about life is that, well, it’s a distraction and not a solution. It’s a coping mechanism.

There are two major flaws here.

Also, there are three truths about human nature that will keep making you miserable no matter how much of a “lifestyle designer” you may become.

Two truths that will make you re-consider lifestyle design:

FirstPeople that live in one place suffer from the same maladies as people that travel or are location independent. In other words, we’re all fighting human nature. Travel is another overly-glorified distraction. Is it worthwhile? Hell yes. Should you do it? Hell yes. But the idea that it will suddenly make like meaningful, worthwhile, and the magical perfect life you’re dreaming of simply  is a lie. (I wrote about this before when I talked about why not to quit your job and travel the world).

The vast majority of long-term travelers like travel bloggers, vagabonds, and other folks often complain of being lonely. Whereas the dream originated with some kind of 4 hour work week muse, once you’re sitting on the beach alone, with having almost no work to do, you realize it’s not all that it’s chalked up to be.

You realize that, wow, you really miss having close friends around you to talk to.

And you realize that, hmm, you actually like work – but working on stuff that you actually like. You don’t want to work 4 hours a week – you want to work however many hours a week you want, working on whatever you want.

You realize that beaches are really fucking boring after a month, and even when you’re bored out of your skull, your friends still envy you – but only because they’re sitting at their desks.

You have money, and you have freedom, and you’re doing fun stuff to cross off your bucket list – but you still feel listless. You still don’t feel quite right.

Unfortunately, money and freedom are just a very tiny part of the picture. The much bigger part involves people and meaning.

Second“Lifestyle design” is just another way to distract yourself.

And it’s most often appealing to people who are working full-time that don’t have resources to travel or enjoy their life (remember rule #1 about human nature? We want what we don’t have, and we over-estimate how much this will boost our happiness).

I’ve often talked about distraction a lot – it’s one of the main coping mechanisms that people have when they hate the shit out of their daily existence. Video games, drugs, excessive passive consumption of media, partying and drinking, materialism, workaholism – they’re all ways we try to distract ourselves.  Why? It’s scary and hard to man up and face the truth. Sometimes it’s easier to drink yourself stupid than fess up to yourself that your relationship isn’t working.

They’re all coping mechanisms to deal with unhappiness.

More: Have you ever had a dropout friend? Someone who is just a real bum that doesn’t do shit like go to school or work? Let me ask you this – how do they spend their days? Reading books, working out, and walking their dog? Hell no.

Most of the time they are absorbed in drugs, alcohol, TV and video games. And there’s a reason for that. It’s because they dull the senses, let you temporarily forget about life, and just pass the hours in the least painful way – by turning off the mind.

Whatever deeply rooted human issues you already have will not go away by becoming the next Tim Ferriss.

Also, there is going to come a time when you need to stop distracting yourself – where you’re going to have to face your issues or self-medicate forever.

Whether that’s as simple as loneliness, living in a shitty location, having a boring spouse or a terrible job, remember – these are human issues. People everywhere have them.

The second thing is that the lifestyle design idea fails to take into account three truths about human nature. These three truths account for a huge amount of our unhappiness.

The Three Truths About Human Nature That Will Instantly Make You Happier [or Miserable] (No Matter Where You Are Or What You Do)

Lifestyle design and tim ferriss

There are three other reasons why lifestyle design probably looks so good to you. And these all take advantage of human nature and the way we think:

Human nature  -

  1. We think about what we don’t have
  2. We play up what we don’t have
  3. We over-estimate how much “what we don’t have” will make us happier if we get it

Take some of these 2012 studies for example: they repeatedly show that we overestimate how happy getting certain things makes us (a vacation, or a new material thing), and that our happiness often peaks right before we go on the vacation or buy the watch, but afterwards goes back to normal.

Another oft-cited study mentioned that people who win the lottery, a year later, just go back to being as happy as they were before.

In a negative sense, sedentary people stuck in one spot often crave travel, and people that hate their jobs crave jobs they like (or to quit their job).

In a positive sense, even people with great spouses that they’re dating or married to sometimes fantasize about being single.  People that even have great jobs or fantastic life situations sometimes fuck it all up trying to get to the next level.

I don’t know if contentment comes naturally to our modern species.

You often obsess over escaping from work and a 4 hour work week lifestyle not because it’ll make you happier, but just because it’s the exact opposite of the life you’re probably living now.

Think about that.

Chances are it’s not the life you want to move towards to — you just want to move away from the life you are probably living now.

The secret – from people who are really designing their lifestyles – and are actually happy

Lifestyle design and tim ferriss

Very few travel bloggers will really be vulnerable enough to tell you the cons of their lifestyle.

As one friend said, people are often too busy convincing themselves of the false truths of travel – and the same is true of the location independent crowd.

It doesn’t solve the deeply rooted issues that most people have.

So what am I trying to get at here?

The irony is that when Tim was interviewed regarding his “day in the life”, he said the following:

Morning meditation, meet with people he advises, exercise, a bunch of hours of work in the afternoon, long, multiple-hour dinner with a couple glasses of wine and tons of friends.

He didn’t say fly to Thailand, bungee jump, swim with sharks, and then bang a tranny.

***

For many years I wondered how small-town folks could be so content with not seeing the outside world.

A couple months back I went to rural Maine and started talking with some local locals. Super local.

And I realized that they’ve got it all right- they have it all figured out.  They have close, meaningful relationships with people they can see regularly.

They have work that fills their time, even if it isn’t inherently meaningful, they accept it and take it in as part of life. If they can, they do meaningful work.

They have leisure hobbies that are relaxing and invigorating. They hunt, fish, take life easy, and make sure to enjoy themselves and not take life too seriously.

In other words, they’re getting all they want here, so they don’t need to go there.

I think lifestyle design is just yet another desire – another want – another distraction – that is preventing you from enjoying your life.

All I’m saying is that you need to go for what you really want.

For some people (like myself) that doesn’t involve beaches at all. It also doesn’t involve 4 hours of work a week. I actually like working – when it’s on something I like.

I actually get bored traveling alone – and would rather take fewer vacations, but with people I like, than just go off and see 30 countries a year by myself.

My all-time favorite simple pleasure is sitting down to a bottle of wine with good friends and talking about life.

So, for you, I say stop getting caught up in “lifestyle design.”

Design your life, definitely. But forget lifestyle design.

Forget what you want your life to look like 3 months of the year.

What do you want it to look like every day?

–  Alex

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{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerad July 6, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Wow, this was exactly what I needed to read. I am in the process of changing my lifestyle and long-term travel was one of the basic goals. However, I often thought “How am I going to connect with people like me while travelling?” After all, it’s often hard to find close friends where you “permanently” live.

What’s the medium ground? As you mentioned, most people return to their previous level of happiness regardless of the steps they take in life (I think it’s called something like “happiness equilibrium.”) So maybe the objective should be to increase your happiness equilibrium gradually, as opposed to in grand steps.

I’ll have to think about it more.

Thanks for the great resource!

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Alexander Heyne July 8, 2013 at 11:52 am

Hey Jerad,

I don’t necessarily think there’s a middle ground. I think you just need to find what lifestyle you really like by experimentation. But the problem is that we often don’t know what we like until we try it. For example, long-term remote-work travel sounded fantastic to me. But when I started doing it I felt lonely, bored, and honestly wanted work that was actually fun (with people around me). I stopped appreciating travel because I did it all the time.

Worst comes to worst – why not spend a summer traveling for three months and see how you like it? Or better yet, try to get a remote work job and work while traveling for a few months – that’ll be a mini test to see if you truly like it.

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Tony Khuon July 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Alex, thanks for another thoughtful.

I think what you’re touching on is that many (maybe most?) people aren’t going to find meaning in long-term travel. There are a few Rolf Potts types that will, but the majority of us are looking for fulfillment at home, in our lives and our careers.

The biggest takeaway from 4-Hour Workweek for me is that you *can* design your lifestyle however way you want, and that it’s more achievable than anybody thinks. Ferriss uses the example of travel because many people state that it’s something they’d like to do, but like you pointed out, in his example schedule, he’s more into his work as an adviser/angel investor than traveling constantly.

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Alexander Heyne July 8, 2013 at 11:50 am

Hey Tony,

Bingo. And I only recently figured this out myself. It’s so seductive because it looks great from the outside – traveling is fun, so how about traveling all the time? Well, pizza is great too but not when you eat it for all three meals.

“The biggest takeaway from 4-Hour Workweek for me is that you *can* design your lifestyle however way you want, and that it’s more achievable than anybody thinks. ”

100% with you here. Exactly what I was thinking myself.

Cheers for reading my brain! I wish more people realized this.

– Alex

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Patrick July 7, 2013 at 9:15 am

This is epic.

I achieved the 7 hour work week myself, and thus I have been on a similar journey. I think the answer for me is in “the gratitude project.”

The stoics have some answer for this stuff too. It’s all about hedonic adaptation. You have to realize that you will never be happy if you just always want for more.

Great stuff. I am going to be grateful today!

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Alexander Heyne July 8, 2013 at 11:56 am

Hey Patrick,

Totally with you there. For me, the less I worked, the less happy I became. I think it all just comes back to knowing yourself.

Love reading some of the Stoic stuff. I like lots of Lifestyle design people do, too … which might point to the fact that they aren’t finding fulfillment in whatever they’re doing. I’m more into the Taoist stuff though – check it out if you get a chance!

And I think it’s a 21st century phenomenon – we’re surrounded by a culture full of desires, telling us to keep having desires, wanting more, buying more, never being satisfied – and that contributes to it a lot, too.

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Tyler Gillespie July 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I agree to a point on what you said for sure. It is human nature to always want what you don’t have and think the grass is always greener. When in reality having or doing those things are temporary satisfactions. I will say that I don’t think “lifestyle design” is bogus or Tim Ferriss is full of crap. Like it or not he really put the term lifestyle design on the map. With that “Lifestyle Design” inherently was branded with the definition of Traveling, doing crazy things, etc. Lifestyle Design in my opinion is unique to each and every person. How do you ideally want your life to look? More time with the kids, friends, maybe traveling. Nor is it completely focused on working less but molding your business around a life you want to life. Anyways I like your opinion and take because to many people get caught up in a trendy term and honestly dont’ actually make it unique to them and try to be something and have something they thing they want just because Tim Ferriss did it doesn’t mean it’s right for you

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Alexander Heyne July 8, 2013 at 11:59 am

Hey Tyler,

I also don’t think Tim Ferriss is full of crap – he helped thousands (millions?) of people acknowledge that they can really have a life that they actually like.

And I think you’re one of the few people who realized this – that it’s really about designing your own life around the lifestyle you want. Totally agree. Some people just got caught up in taking it literally I think, and tried to emulate every little detail of his life and story.

Unfortunately, since then I’ve met many many people who are traveling full time and working remotely, who aren’t much happier than before. They look happier to their friends because of the pictures they post, but deep down they are still very lost and confused.

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Tim Frie July 8, 2013 at 8:59 am

Alex, this is by far my favorite post from you.

I think the initial misconception with lifestyle design comes from a skewed concept of people’s definition of success, happiness and fulfillment.

Ex/ On the surface, one might think success = money, which will make me happy. And with money, I will be able to travel, bungee jump, zip-line, dive with sharks, live in a hut on a beach and drink fresh coconut milk. And when I have that, I’ll be happy.

You’ve talked about this before.

But it’s that “When [insert thing that happens here], then I will be [insert thing here] thinking that throws people off.

Because it’s not traveling, beaches, palm trees, or a loaded bank account most people are after. It’s not what that stuff brings either. It’s how we want to FEEL when we get those things.

And without true, authentic connection, awareness, and the ability to recognize what you’re lacking and what you ACTUALLY need more of, you can visit every country in the world. You’re still going to feel like shit. You have to allow experience to be transformative for you and help you grow.

It’s not some supernatural occurrence or divine force that swoops in to give you what you need because you’ve done “the lifestyle design thing”.

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Alexander Heyne July 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Hey Tim,

“I think the initial misconception with lifestyle design comes from a skewed concept of people’s definition of success, happiness and fulfillment.”

100% agree. There was a nice pretty little mold that said “travel, work remotely, work as little as possible” etc. People took it literally instead of interpreting it in terms of their own lifestyle.

Why do I feel like this is a biblical discussion… haha.

“Because it’s not traveling, beaches, palm trees, or a loaded bank account most people are after. It’s not what that stuff brings either. It’s how we want to FEEL when we get those things.”

Totally with you there man.

I think it really does come down to the skewed definition of success. Unfortunately the “travel and work as little as possible” thing was highly seductive to people who travel very little and work a hell of a lot :P haha.

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Mike Martel July 8, 2013 at 11:10 am

Great post. Isn’t really the old story of the grass being greener on the other side. Why not start enjoying what you have right now and then build on top of it, instead of chucking everything and moving to Greece, China, Spain, fill in the blank?

Once you have a good foundation where you are right now, the sky is the limit.

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Alexander Heyne July 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Hey Mike,

Yep, absolutely. Unfortunately I think for many of us, in our heads, it seems easier to just push the reset button. I’ve fallen prey to this more than once. I think that 20 somethings also fall prey to this more than others, because we literally have the freedom to do so. With a wife and kids it wouldn’t be as easy for me to just get up and go. So it really is a mark of someone’s character if they have no reason to stay – but find every reason to.

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Nicolas July 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Mike, I stumbled upon this post almost randomly (seems I added you on Facebook) and its totally awesome… I’m right in the middle of big changes and soon about to start a business on my own hoping to be someday able to work less than 8 hours a week, and from anywhere…
I have been wondering a lot about if travelling was something I’d really like for so much time – maybe visiting my friends around Europe (i have Friends in 4 or 5 different countries) whenever I want would be much more fullfilling… but I’m not even sure.
At least I have the objective to get more free time to raise my kids once I have some.
But you are definitely right – it might get you to feel lonely or lonelier than before, and thats definitely something I don’t want to suffer…
Great article, thats the second time I land on one article of yours and I remember last time it also blew my mind… Awesome!
Nicolas.

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Laura July 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Love this post! I think about this in regards to travel all the time. 2 years ago I left a 10-year career that should have been my dream job. I had great hours, made good money, made a difference in the world, and was able to take vacations whenever I wanted. The travel became so much less about doing and so much more about escaping. I hated my life! Every time I returned from travel, the depression got so much worse than before I left, that I coped by always having a new trip planned. It didn’t work so well. I always had to come home to face my life. (BTW- happy marriage, happy friendships, but HATED my work.) I considered a career change into travel but it wasn’t realistic for me, and I didn’t want that to become work. I may love yoga, and travel, and cooking, but what I love so much about all those things is that I get to do them for fun. They are not my jobs, and I don’t want to change the relationship I have with those activities.

I cut my hours to 4 days, then 3 days, then 2 days a week, and it was still too much! I finally was able to switch careers into something that better suits my personality, and I am so much happier. I consider myself to be in a transition phase (meaning the options of what I can do are endless,) but the best part about it all now is that I don’t really have a plan. This is the fun spin I can put on having a “lifestyle design.” I have an idea of how I want my life to look, and I continuously try to move my values into that direction, but the possibility that it may not look how I expect it to is much more fun and exciting– and I feel less pressure to “get it right.”

I agree that it is so much more about how this life makes us feel, and we have to dig deep to figure out what we want and what will fill us up. Anyway, now I get to travel to live and not to escape, and everyday in between I get to appreciate the comforts of home.

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Alexander Heyne July 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Laura,

That’s awesome! What a cool story, it’s good to see people that have actually escaped and created something more meaningful.

Your story is getting more and more common I think too – people work jobs until they are intuitively becoming so sick from doing work they hate, that they literally are becoming ill. Crazy how the intuition works. Awesome to see that you made it out the other side!

What advice would you give other people in your situation?

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Sarah July 8, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Well said, Alex! I definitely realized this as I was traveling last year. Of course, it worked out for me because a high level of spontaneity and flexibility are super-important in order for me to be happy. I like working, but it has to be meaningful and not mind-numbing. I need people in my life, and want a more consistent community, but I’m open to the many forms that can take. There are also things I love about Tim, like his ability to live so many different “lives” over the course of his life… but that’s not exactly where the four hour workweek will get you unless you stop to analyze what you actually need.

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Alexander Heyne July 9, 2013 at 11:59 am

Hey Sarah !

Totally with you there. I think I really need a close knit crew of friends, work I actually enjoy, and just variety.. to me, those things make life worthwhile and fun. I think the alternate lifestyle should exist as a smaller part of life, the month or two of traveling or exploration a year.

I definitely love all Tim has done too, no doubt. But I think mini retirements, tango, and learning spanish just become ego-distractions and time wasters if that’s not what you really want.

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lena July 9, 2013 at 7:21 am

such an eye opening article you had here. Thank you for another thoughtful idea, such a blunt honest one. got me into thinking and re-evaluating my goal to travel.

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Alexander Heyne July 9, 2013 at 11:42 am

Hey Lena – No prob!

I mean traveling is always worthwhile – if you ask me. Hands down, end of story. But whether or not you should vagabond around long-term is a different question.

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D July 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I also stumbled on this site and post at random. I’m at the crossroads right now of just recently leaving the corporate world and starting my own company (which I started over two years ago, but haven’t made any money yet).

I have done some consulting which included working away from home, and I can see how that would get old. Remote working would be better.

I concur with a lot of what you wrote about. I’m here just trying to choose the exact direction of my new business. It’s a great opportunity.

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Alexander Heyne July 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Hey D,

Sounds like an awesome adventure, keep us posted with how it goes!

Cheers
Alex

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Selina August 20, 2013 at 7:52 am

YOU are fabulous. I did that too – took off, created an amazing free location independent lifestyle that made my friends back at home seethe with envy. I have never felt more lost and alone. I’m back in the city I swore I could never live in, looking at getting a mortgage to buy my first home and I LOVE my days filled with work. I do what I love, but I no longer create a life that LOOKS good, I create one that FEELS good. Subtle difference in theory. Huge difference in reality. I don’t regret for a second my years of creating a wild and adventurous lifestyle for myself – it was awesome but I learnt a big lesson that sounds very similar to yours. Off to spread this post around. thanks.

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Alexander Heyne August 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Selina, I LOVE what you wrote: “I no longer create a life that LOOKS good, I create one that FEELs good.”

Genius. And I’m totally with you there.

It’s really hard to live the life we want… because often we’re trying to live the life we’re told we should want.

And It’s true – many digital nomads I’ve met have this horrible persistent loneliness, and even the nagging feeling that they’re still lost and missing out on life. Pretty ironic.

Thanks for sharing!

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Amy Scott August 20, 2013 at 10:07 am

Just found this post via a share on Facebook. Great food for thought for just starting out. One of my businesses could be categorized as “lifestyle design,” but I focus a lot on helping people figure out what kind of life they really want. As you discovered, the realities of the 4-Hour Work Week lifestyle aren’t all that appealing for a lot of people, so it’s a question of finding what really works for you.

And YES, I agree wholeheartedly that not all of your problems will go away if you make major changes in your life. When I took my round-the-world trip, and later moved abroad, many people asked what I was running from. For me, I wasn’t trying to escape anything; I was running TO something, all of the experiences that the world has to offer. But it’s essential to know the difference.

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Alexander Heyne August 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Hey Amy,

Yeah I absolutely agree. And that’s pretty funny that people asked what you were running away from. It’s true though – the majority of people I met abroad were running from something. Relationships. Work. A lifestyle.

Like you said, the million dollar question is “are you running away from something you don’t like… or towards something meaningful?”

- Alex

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Srinivas August 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Thanks for posting such an honest and transparent post. All I can say is “it’s about time.” I’ve always said that we present these manicured, edited and filtered versions of our lives and people judge the package by the wrapping paper.

I did a 6 month stint in Costa Rica. This year I went back for vacation and it was so much nicer to be there on vacation than it was to live there. As far as the beach goes, I’m an avid surfer. But if I didn’t surf I would completely agree with you. On the days where there no waves I was bored out of my skull. And I definitely went through the loneliness thing. You realize that everybody is a transient when you stay somewhere for a long time because most of them are tourists. Anyways, thanks for writing this.

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Alexander Heyne August 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Hey Srinivas,

I’m with you there man – I think you pointed out a huge flaw in human thinking when you said “this year I went back for vacation and it was so much nicer…” I’ve done this myself and noticed the same thing.

I’ve found the whole lifestyle pretty lonely and alienating… and I don’t think lots of travel bloggers are honest about this. People in cubicles love the picture of traveling the world limitlessly and sailing off into the sunset. I think it’s human nature to just want the exact opposite of what we have, even if we know it won’t make us happy. We just crave change.

But just like someone on vacation says “i wish I could live here forever,” once they do, they realize it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. It’s like Yin and Yang, work/the cubicle is what makes you enjoy vacation/travel. Without one, the other is less fulfilling. Back and forth life goes between the two. Too much stability, and you crave freedom and adventure. Too much adventure, and you crave stability.

“Everybody is a transient when you stay somewhere for a long time…” couldn’t agree with you more.

Cheers
Alex

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Debra August 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Thank you! This is one of the key pieces around the way I want: Life is about the every day living – not the romantic weekends, the wedding, a trip to Paris…fall in love with that part of life: breakfast, work, grocery shopping, cooking, dinner, time with those you love. That’s the juice of life!

I’ve done the living out of a suitcase – 200+ days a year on the road. It isn’t glamorous. And, though I’m fortunate that I still travel a fair amount, I only travel with my partner when he needs to go somewhere for work or if we are going on a vacation. To travel to “escape” is, as you very aptly put, another form of numbing.

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Alexander Heyne August 21, 2013 at 9:22 am

Debra,

I’m totally with you. I still travel a lot too, because I enjoy it, but usually for a deliberate vacation or explicit “purpose” – the irony is that it ends up being way more enjoyable and fulfilling than just going off for 6 months or a year. It’s funny – you can go to the same place for vacation and love it – and then go as a digital nomad for 6 months and hate it. The psychology behind the two is totally different.

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Ivan August 21, 2013 at 12:16 am

Hello Alex, great post. Glad I stumbled onto your site, added you to my feed reader.

In this post you pretty much summed up my feelings towards how life style design is promoted to most people.

Unfortunately in the society we find ourselves, people question very little. I see that your interested in psychology and the work of Dr. Csikszentmihalyi.

The crux of the situation is that people largely function from a level of psychological sleep. We live in a state akin to self-hypnosis, one where we are completely identified with the contents of our mind. In this state we are slaves, and being part of a consumer society all our want’s that where conditioned and given to us by society are manipulated and used to exploit our lack of self-knowledge.

But as you know nothing comes from without, and all fulfillment comes from within. In essence we are all after freedom, but most people pursue that purely in the external world. This is how I like to define freedom:

first aspect of freedom, is freedom “from”: This is physical freedom, traveling, making a living doing something you love.

second aspect is freedom “for”: This is psychological freedom, having a meditative mind, living in the moment through restful awareness.

Unless you deeply understand freedom “for”, you will always end up taking freedom “from” for granted.

Freedom from + Freedom for = Ultimate Freedom

Seems like we have a very similar take on things, if you are interested I think you may like this post as it relates to the work you are doing. Keep it up. Peace and love.

http://ivancampuzano.com/how-to-define-your-lifes-purpose-based-on-your-type/

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Alexander Heyne August 21, 2013 at 9:25 am

Ivan,

That’s a pretty interesting formula. And I absolutely agree that mind training is crucial to life enjoyment. It’s just really hard to teach people over a blog post, but just like anything in life – there is a lot more psychology behind what we do than people are ready to admit.

Thanks for stopping by !

- Alex

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Pernille Norregaard August 21, 2013 at 7:51 am

I completely agree with you that there is no cookie cutter fits all lifestyle to pursue. It’s all about figuring out what’s important to you and what you want out of your life. I have no plan to limit my work to 4 hours a week (I would be bored out of my mind!), but I do love new projects, so I tend to ‘automate’ (as Tim Ferriss outs it) my past projects (I’m writer) as much as possible, so I can focus on new projects.

Travelling has always been a major part of my life and next year I’m planning a trip around the world with only a few countries on the agenda. I enjoy travelling alone and thrive in the solitude and occational loneliness. It helps me connect with my spirit and my purpose. I always emerge from these trips with greater focus and peace of mind. But then I am an introvert, so my need to socialize is not that big.

In any life I think the key is to know yourself and dare to follow your heart wherever it may take you. I do think that a lot of ‘the grass is always greener …’ mentality stems from our focus on outer approval and stimuli rather than our internal desires and dreams. And a lot of the disappointment comes from this as well, because we are not getting what we really crave, but only what we think we want or what we think we should want.

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Alexander Heyne August 21, 2013 at 9:40 am

Hey Pernille,

I think the “4 hour work week” was just for marketing. It strikes people emotionally, which is a great tactic. “4 hours a week!? This guy is full of shit!” … which is exactly how he sold millions of books.

It was more about his lifestyle – the ultra free nomad lifestyle that he kinda popularized – that I wanted to argue some counterpoints.

“In any life I think the key is to know yourself and dare to follow your heart wherever it may take you” totally agree ! That’s the tough part. A. Knowing what you want, and then B. Going for it.

I think the grass is greener also stems from a flaw in human thinking – that just over there there’s an easy fix for my problems. Sometimes I really do think people need to push reset, move and start over, but I think sometimes we trick ourselves and move just because we think it’ll be a quick fix – which it never is.

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Laura G. Jones August 21, 2013 at 11:59 am

Awesome post! I most definitely could not have said it better. I’ve recently come to the realization that the biggest thing holding us back from enjoying our life is our expectations that life should be “different” – like in the movies, like in our wildest dreams… and “different” somehow because of external factors: traveling, not working, etc. The truth is, we severely underestimate how much freedom is something we create in our lives by virtue of our attitudes rather than something that comes along with changes in external circumstances. In the end, living out of love for yourself, others, and the world – and focusing on enjoying the things you have, rather than tirelessly searching for what you want outside of yourself – seems to be the key to bliss.

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Alexander Heyne August 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Laura,

“our expectations that life should be “different” – like in the movies, like in our wildest dreams… and “different” somehow because of external factors: traveling, not working, etc.” 100% agree with you. But I would also add that changing the external is valuable and even important – but it’s important to decide for yourself what the external should look like. Neither Tim Ferriss nor some other romantic movie should do that.

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Gary Arndt August 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

You speak a lot of truth.

I’ve been traveling since March 2007, before the 4-Hour Work Week was released. I began the process back in 2005. I’ve also never read the book, so I sort of know the gist of what it is about, but I don’t know any of the specifics.

Traveling isn’t an easy life, but I find it very rewarding. It has a whole different set of problems, and it isn’t for everyone. In fact, I’d say 99% of the population would give up on this lifestyle after a year or two, assuming they even got that far.

I have never tried to convince anyone to do what I do. I know most people wouldn’t like it. I do encourage people to travel, but I don’t think full time travel is cut out for most people. I think everyone at some point in their life should travel for at least 3-months straight, but that has nothing to do with lifestyle design.

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Alexander Heyne August 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hey Gary,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s pretty interesting to hear what you think (especially having not read the book). I’m really glad that you’re honest and straightforward about travel. I think lots of travellers and travel bloggers try to play up the romantic idea of long-term travel to cover up their own loneliness or even the idea that maybe they didn’t solve the problem they set out to fix. So thanks for being honest.

“I have never tried to convince anyone to do what I do. I know most people wouldn’t like it. I do encourage people to travel, but I don’t think full time travel is cut out for most people. I think everyone at some point in their life should travel for at least 3-months straight, but that has nothing to do with lifestyle design.”

100% agree with you.

So if you don’t mind me asking, what’s been keeping you traveling as long as you have? What inspires you to still go? And do you ever crave stillness and the desire to be in one place?

Cheers
Alex

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Jade August 21, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Just stumbled on your website and I LOVE this post!

I moved to Seville, Spain a few years ago (just about to move back actually :)) and if it wasn’t for work I wouldn’t have met nearly as many people and wouldn’t have met any locals.

I think you touched on it saying that the person in the cubicle craves ‘freedom’ and thinks that doing the opposite will get them there. That’s kind of like how we rebel against our parents, and aren’t necessarily doing what we want because we’re so busy sticking it to The Man. When we create one situation in reaction to another, we often forget to think about what really suits us.

The ideal is the point that transcends the two opposites (if you imagine a triangle, with the base being cubicle vs beach, and the top point being the one that suits YOU).

I think there’s also an element of travel, (or working the least hours, or another lifestyle design check box) being the new promotion.

My friends with ‘normal’ jobs are obsessed about getting promoted, or pleasing their boss, or hitting their sales targets. And everyone I see in entrepreneurial is *obsessed* with having a six figure business, pleasing their audience, and hitting their sales/opt-in targets.

I guess part of the problem is that we change the situation, but we don’t change the “I need X to be happy” mechanism. So rather than chasing a promotion, we’re chasing the next trip.

Really interesting and reflecting topic, thanks for saying what I was feeling, but didn’t know I was feeling!

Jade

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Alexander Heyne August 21, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Hey Jade,

Interesting – I never thought about people chasing the next trip as if they were chasing another promotion in the cubicle.

As an entrepreneur myself I definitely see that “six figure syndrome” you’ve mentioned, and agree it’s pretty common in other entreps.

It’s not always easy though – because even though I KNOW this flaw in human thinking, I can’t stop it from arising. Let’s say I have a really horrible week and everything from my social life to my work is in disarray. I entertain the notion of moving to San Francisco, or trying out Paris for a year. Why? I usually have no idea. Even though I KNOW that’s not what I want, the escape fantasy seems to be built in.

So sometimes I think it’s a matter of understanding human nature and our own innate weaknesses.

Thanks for stopping by!

- Alex

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Benjamin August 22, 2013 at 10:34 am

Loved the post and honesty, Alexander.

Gave me some clarity on some of my own critiques of LD as well, that had been hard to really nail down.

Couple things though…

I feel like a nomadic dude. I like moving and being alone is often very pleasurable. One thing that the ‘location independent dream’ does is validate, that for some people this is the lifestyle they really want.

Create something for a small loyal audience, travel alone or with some close friends, have relationships around the world you connect with, and live in places all over the world.

Also, for me, location independence was an ‘initiation’ or rite of passage. I learned a lot and when I became aware it was only a dream (and I got super jaded for awhile)… it was also became clear what I needed to do next.

Felt like I needed that phase… a dream-like phase, at least in transition. I wonder if part of that strong ‘longing’ we feel at first to have this sort of lifestyle, is a longing to be initiated. To have a rite of passage and to experience something greater than ourselves that will put us in our place and reveal our limits.

And while I still probably would have done it had I known the harsher reality, the fact that Tim made it sound so easy, probably got me moving a little quicker.

So… let’s figure out what ‘we’ or you, really want, like you said.

Location independence isn’t everything and to only present all the good times, just feels crappy, let alone misleads people…

But let’s learn from what it has offered us as well.

The courage it took, the solitude, even the loneliness… And jam all that mad wisdom in our even more Authentic Projects, whether we start living in small town Maine or becoming a beach bum shaman guy. :)

Thanks dude!
-Benjamin

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Alexander Heyne August 26, 2013 at 10:39 am

Hey Benjamin,

Haha someone else has mentioned this “transition-like chaos” being their inspiration. They told me that they thrived in the chaos of not knowing… and then suddenly when life became predictable, they lost their muse.

I think the problem is that we often present a ME and a YOU – as in two different ideas that seek to explain one thing (e.g. life fulfillment). IN reality, it’s NOT “cubicle slave” or “location independence” – there are a million other lives and lifestyles inbetween that people are living. We just have to figure out what’s ideal.

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Carmen August 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Hello there! I randomly landed on this site and would like to add to the discussion. As far as our human nature goes, we all desire and lust a lifestyle that feels good and not only that, “looks good to others”. I think Pop culture is to blame, the internet, social media, etc., etc. These mainstreams make us all fall into the trap of wanting those things that others have because it “looks good” so therefore it must feel good.

I totally agree with Debra! Life is about the everyday living! :)

I was born in the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico and moved with my family to NY when I was 10. For me it was a culture shock. I missed learning in my native language, I missed eating my favorite puertorican candies and dishes. I missed looking at the beautiful sceneries and beaches with palm trees, but most of all I missed being in a place that was warm all year round. I never stopped fantasizing and dreaming about going back to live to my little tropical paradise. So when I was a teenager I packed my suitcase and brokenhearted left my mom and siblings behind. Took off with my then “hottie” Puerto Rican boyfriend to live the life I always dreamed of in my beautiful Puerto Rico. Yes, carelessly and free spirited, without thinking about the consequences. Ah! don’t you love those careless teenage years?

Everything looks beautiful from a distance. But it’s not the same when you actually get to live and experience a day to day life in a way that’s totally different than what you originally had in mind. Don’t get me wrong, I lived a layback life in the country side where many outdoor activities took place like: hiking to get to the rivers, make love underwater or a small running cascade… wait, what? Bittersweet memories, I tell ya haha! But when reality check kicks in, that’s when you realize that life is not how you had envisioned. I felt stuck, so two years later I decided to move back with my family in the states for a better future and with a one year old child in arms, yikes!

I have gone back and forth to visit, and I agree with one of the readers, you DO get to taste life better when you do it as a vacation.

Again, as humans we want more, we crave excitement, adventures, travels, an awesome lifestyle (at least I do) the healthy kind though, ok.

I don’t believe in drugs, alcoholism, workaholism, sedentarism, partying and drinking, materialism…

But at the end of the day, whether you do or don’t do, there’s still a void. That so called void can only be filled with God alone. Everything else is secondary. He is the only one that can really satisfy your soul to the fullest. I’m not trying to be preachy about it and I’m not here to change anybody from their ways. I’m just putting out my views out there in case someone wants to taste and see that the Lord is good… Psalm 38:4.
Literally, you won’t find contentment and satisfaction living a life outside of God. He is the only one that can bring satisfaction to your life, but best of all bring true fulfillment and meaning into your existence. It’s funny how I realized that the bible never talks about happiness, but it does talk about contentment. Here are a few verses on what the bible talks about contentment:

http://www.openbible.info/topics/contentment

Sorry about the book. Blessings to all and a life full of grace and contentment! ;)

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Kiwi August 26, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I think this would be due to a wrong lifestyle design.

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Prime August 27, 2013 at 1:33 am

Hi I found a link to this story in Justine Musk’s blog and I’m glad that I read. Finally found someone who debunked the myth of a location independent lifestyle

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Kelly September 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Hi, I really, really loved this post. Spot on. I do just want to say that the word “tranny” really threw me. You may not know that it’s actually a really offensive term. I didn’t until my sister transitioned to becoming a woman. Now I realize how dehumanizing a term it is. I just thought it might be a quick edit that you could make, which would make your really thoughtful post more inclusive!

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Sarah April 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Thanks for this comment, Kelly. I’m glad it wasn’t just me! It was a very jarring, moment in an otherwise useful, well-written post.

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Gareth September 10, 2013 at 2:08 am

“Part of the reason why lifestyle design isn’t going to solve your deep issues about life is that, well, it’s a distraction and not a solution. It’s a coping mechanism.”

I agree with your idea that we need to uncover and deal with the deep issues in our lives. These are often things like loneliness, frustration, stress and confusion. What is life all about? What should I be doing? Many people know that they are deluding themselves, accepting and trying to justify a way of living that they really are not content with. If your current way of life is unsatisfying (and for so many of us it is), it is natural to dream about ‘escaping’. I think this is particularly appealing to those people who feel deep down that they haven’t ever really ‘lived’ – that they have perhaps wasted time on a mundane and unexciting existence, which they still find themselves trapped in. The thought of being able to ‘free’ oneself and travel the world is amazing. So many things to do! And yes, I believe that for some time one could seriously have a lot of fun, take part in new and engaging experiences and achieve some personal growth and development. But as you say – can this go on forever? It’s like that saying (I am paraphrasing I think)…’You can’t run away from yourself’. And you may not necessarily find yourself overseas either.

Bearing all that in mind, I am at a point in my life where I am beginning the journey of trying to transform my life into one of increased wealth, freedom etc. It’s appealing because yes, it is the opposite of how I am living at the moment. My head is filled with big ideas, dreams – which certainly include traveling the world and doing heaps of crazy stuff. Yet, I am aware that perhaps if and when I actually achieve that lifestyle it may not be all its cracked up to be…but I believe that many people cannot be talked out of trying things which seem to be the ‘answer’, even with advice from others against it. Often these are the opposite things that we doing at the current time as you mention. These can be very short term, for example: I’m bored lonely and sober…so I go out on Friday night to be around people, take drugs to get high feel confident and ‘forget’, etc. The next day you come down from the clouds and things are much the same. Rinse and repeat. Millions do this…

This whole concept of ‘lifestyle design’ is really a very solitary, self centred way of thinking. Now perhaps it is right to focus on the self fully, but it does seem to leave out potentially important concepts like being a ‘local’ and having deep and meaningful relationships with others. There is so much to say on topics like this, but I think I’ll leave it at that for now! Great post and I really enjoyed reading it Alex – all the best.

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Alexander Heyne September 11, 2013 at 9:53 am

Hey Gareth -

You’re right, you can have lots of fun “lifestyle designing” and live plenty of adventures, travel, etc. I lived that life for a while.

Having said that, there’s nothing with taking a trip to clear your mind or push restart… I just wouldn’t vagabond too long. It really depends on the person – some people can do it and stay happy. Most can’t. A smaller percentage will lie that they’re happy to try to make others jealous. Agree – being a local and having meaningful connections are important.

I think what he was trying to get at was that YOU need to design the life that YOU want.

- Alex

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Travis September 10, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Another reason not to travel alone: you might get into a fight with a pimp:

http://voices.yahoo.com/fighting-pimps-taiwan-12070332.html?cat=44

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Byron September 30, 2013 at 4:30 am

Thanks for sharing this article. You’re spot on.

I must admit I read the 4 hour work week and it really inspired me to change my life and I’ve made many changes since. I love the beach and I love to travel but I don’t want to do it all the time!

My issues has been that I’m in a well paid job that I really don’t enjoy. I have plenty of money to travel but I don’t have the time to do so. As the years have gone by and my salary has increased but I’ve found that my life experiences haven’t increased to the same extent.

I’m working daily at changing my life and following passions that I should have followed years ago. It’s not to say they might not change in the future but right now, today, its the right path the follow. I don’t want to work four hours a day and I find that I’m typically so excited that I work far more than 4 hours each day.

I do want a life that I’m in control of however that so that I can travel and work at the same time. I’d like to see the world but also be able to take my work on the road. Having the freedom to travel more each year regardless of whether I still have to work when I do is something I’d like to have. I don’t have a desire to see every country but I want to see many more than I have today.

Great article, very thought provoking.

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Alexander Heyne October 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Byron,

You’re actually in a great position though – there are many people with jobs they hate that also barely pay them. At least you have the buffer and safety net, and can work on either moving towards something new, or negotiating some kind of remote agreement/increased flexibility.

Don’t forget – it takes time, but keep investing yourself and it always pays off – end of story. You can’t put a deadline or timeline on it – you can’t say 1, 2, 3, 5, years. It might take 10. it might only take 2. Keep hustling and make it happen. Fight the good fight.

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Ana October 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I love getting up at 5 am, going to one job, going to another job, and getting home at 10 pm or later, to a third job.

I love my friends, but I love love love travelling alone – wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am not being sarcastic :D .

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Leon Valencia October 16, 2013 at 2:57 am

I’ve listened to 4-Hour Work Week audio book several times already. I always revisit it. And I’ll continue revisiting it. Anyway, I think you might have missed two very crucial points from the book or from the lifestyle design (LD) principle.
The first one is that it’s stressed in the book that the first step in LD is “definition”. That means you should first look within and honestly figure out what you want to do with the freedom of time and place that you will get. It doesn’t instantly mean traveling. Heck, if you want you can spend all those time doing medical missions or writing a book if those are the things that what will fulfill you. You can even jump from one fulfilling endeavor to another if you easily get bored with one thing (traveling for fun is considered as just one thing among the many things you can do).
The second important thing you missed is that towards the end of the book, he clearly stressed that it is important to properly fill the void that will be left by doing less work. He actually said that it is important to find something truly meaningful for you to spend your freedom of time and location. If the endeavor that will give meaning to your life is revolutionizing some aspect within your community, then by all means, do so. In fact, Tim Ferriss said that one should NOT go into evaluating if another person’s endeavor is more or less meaningful than yours. If your life will be more meaningful by doing it (whatever you choose), then you should do it.
Bottom line is that LD does not dictate what you will do once you have freedom of time and location, it merely helps you find what you should do once you get the freedom through “D-Definition” of the DEAL manifesto. And also, it helps you achieve that freedom on the first place.

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Alexander Heyne October 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Leon,

You’re totally right – I got it wrong like many others, and accepted that LD dream at face value rather than using it to figure out what I (myself) wanted. But sometimes you have to get what you want to realize you don’t want it. That was one of my lessons, anyways.

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Leon Valencia October 16, 2013 at 3:11 am

As an additional comment:
You CAN use LD to free up your time and location (i.e. no longer need to live in the metro simply because your job is there) so that you can move to a rural community and start building relationships there and become an active contributing member to the community. And since you no longer need to worry about income, it’s a lot easier to select how you would want to be a part of the community.

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Andrew Henderson November 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I somewhat agree with you, although I think the bigger issue is THINKING about lifestyle design. If you LIVE the life, it’s a lot better than if you CONVINCE yourself you live the life. Some people go around dropping the words “lifestyle design” like acid at Woodstock.

I live a perpetual travel lifestyle, but I don’t think about it. I focus on LIVING, not “designing” anything. I’m not going down zip lines every afternoon; in fact, I spend the occasional afternoon at McDonald’s. I’m living my life – just in a different place and with complete freedom. I think there’s a difference, but I understand where you’re coming form.

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Alexander Heyne December 2, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Hi Andrew,

My point is that I “lived” the life and found it to be pretty unfulfilling. I wasn’t thinking about it. Just my experience.

Complete freedom also obviously doesn’t require us to be a nomad of course.

- Alex

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SB January 3, 2014 at 3:29 pm

It sounds to me like you missed the point of 4HWW.

“The vast majority of long-term travelers like travel bloggers, vagabonds, and other folks often complain of being lonely.” Anything in life can be lonely! This isn’t something particular to travellers-students, housewives, bankers, anyone is capable of being lonely.

Also “beaches are really fucking boring after a month”, this point is obvious and the whole point of the four hour work week and lifestyle design, is to free up your time to do what stimulates you. Sitting on a beach for one month doesn’t stimulate anyone. Funnily enough, you make both of the above quoted assumptions and later counteract them, so I’m a bit confused as to the point of the article.

It sounds to me like perhaps you were chasing someone elses dream and it didn’t live up to your expectations and now you’re tarnishing the whole concept of ‘lifestyle design’, whilst paradoxically encouraging people to design their life. Lifestyle design doesn’t mean that you have to travel abroad to Thailand, learn how to tango in Argentina or anything else, it just means that you’re free to live life on your own terms and fill your days with meaningful activity. Confusingly, this is the point made in 4HWW and the ultimate conclusion you come to in your article, after initially tearing the concept down. If people get caught up chasing material objects and other shiny adventures because they think it would make them happy, then that’s not the flaw of Lifestyle Design…it’s a flaw in them….

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Alexander Heyne January 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Great points SB!

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SB January 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm

OK re-read my comment, sorry if it came off harsher than intended.

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Garrett January 8, 2014 at 4:41 pm

I’m going to agree with various aspects of your post, as well as some aspects of what SB says. Tim seems to cover a lot of the ‘What do you do when work is removed? How do you fill the existential void that WILL come up?” in the last portion of the book, since travel isn’t for everyone.

Income autopilot + freed up time = you getting to choose what you want to do, and do it. Without inhibition or any sort of worry about where ‘the money will come from’. It truly lets you do what you’re passionate about. That ‘meaningful work’. To be able to work if you want to… but not because you have to. ;)

Also, when there’s an extra couple thousand dollars coming in every month, and you have extra time… it allows you to make some very positive changes in the world :) Example – channelling some time, energy, and finances into say… Raincatcher, or charity: water. Or, for me, do work with floatation tanks (as well as water-based projects). There’s a host of things that one can do, once time and money are no longer a concern. Most people aren’t at the point of being able to choose to do other ‘meaningful’ things… and that’s where 4HWW comes in, to help make options a reality.

Good post, though. Had a lot of solid points :) It also is making me look deeper at where I am, and what I want to create. As well as more appreciation for what’s happening right Now, and Here.

Thanks!

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Karine Frigon February 10, 2014 at 12:03 am

Lifestyle design says it all: you design your life the way you want it to be. But do you know what exactly do you want and WHY? Lifestyle design is not necessary everything about traveling but about experiment. It’s just my 2 cents ;)

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RebeccaLynn March 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm

What I took from Tims book was not to create a jobless world. I hear “if I had the money I would start a company doing xyz” a lot. To me – this was the purpose. Tim offers a way to free up time to focus on a world where you are happy. Between Danielle LaPorte and Tim I found what makes me tick. I also found a way to turn that into profit. The goal was never to quit work – it was to provide you with the cash flow to make your dream job a reality. Which is where you come in. As discussed previously I want to create that balance for myself. I love work to much to quit because I have the means too.

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Masood April 6, 2014 at 12:25 am

Awesome post, just what was needed to balance my attitude towards the 4-hour workweek.

Thanks!

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Damian King April 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I read this post with a big smile on my face. In life its easy to want what you don’t have at any given time. I am not rich in the financial sense, however I have been very successful in my career and I’m extremely rich in life experiences. I had the career, car, property and money but I wasn’t happy. I decided to sell up and travel around the world for a year. Upon my return I started a new business and once again started the life I left behind. Since the day I arrived back in the UK I longed to travel again. Fast forward 7 years and I did the same again, I sold up and packed my backpack. After several months I started thinking about starting a new business again. Sitting on my arse drinking on the beach’s of Asia was great but does get boring after a while. Did I have a good time…Absolutely and would I do it yet again, YES!. What did I learn, or more to the point what have I learnt over the years? I grow bored doing the same thing for a long period of time and I like change. The secret to enjoying a fulfilling life in my opinion is being able to make change happen. Wanting to do something and actually doing it is a gift that not everyone has. Step outside of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid of taking a different route in life. The search for a perfect life is a journey without an end goal

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Sana June 2, 2014 at 12:59 am

Wow, I just got Ferriss’s book and right before starting it I stumbled upon your well-written piece. Man. This changes my whole perspective going into the book. I really don’t know what life-style design is about yet, but I was hoping that the book could provide me with some answers. Just finished my Freshman year in college, but I’m miserable thinking about what major I should choose. Which salary I should aim for. What do I do when I don’t know what my passion is. How will I pay off my debt. I found this book out of the blue and thought, Maybe something here will give me some advice on how to become financially secure, young. I’ve grown up in hard times and never really enjoyed “materialism” or “the world”, but boy would it be nice to be able to afford nice things and be able to go on vacations. I know it sounds like a sob-story, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in perceived pleasures when money’s got you down.

The one thing that sticks out to me is the bit about being honest with yourself. I remember seeing a quote on an architect’s blog which was along the lines of “if you’re honest about what you want in life, life will give you what you want”. I’m not jealous of millionaires who can afford every luxury in life or people who’ve seem every famous mountain peak in the world. I’m jealous of the introspective human being who has dug deep enough to find what they ACTUALLY want. Something that puts the hypothetical possibilities in their mind to rest and gives them something to be grateful for. Many times abstract sensations fulfill this void. Faith. Spirituality. Kinship. Love. Or the feeling of doing good. Why is it that giving a homeless person some money or food fills the average person with this burst of joy and fulfillment? The little things man, we take them for granted.

So in the end happiness is a simple emotion that can be attained through the simplest of means, but aspirations of money, fame and world wide travel still get to me when I’m trying to sleep at 1 am on a Sunday night.

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Alexander Heyne June 2, 2014 at 9:56 am

Sana,

At the end of the day money is important to everyone. Traveling (to me) is very important. Fame is important only to some people. But look – you can have ALL OF THOSE, if that’s what you want.

The point is that you have to dig deep to understand what it is YOU want, because until you get clarity, you can’t have focus. And until you focus, you can’t take action and succeed.

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Adal Bermann June 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Hey Sana,

Being in college is the perfect time to start thinking about what you want to achieve in life, and more importantly, what you wish your day-to-day experience to be like.

Alex, you have written the best review of Tim Ferriss’s book that I read so far. You neither glorify it’s stupid details nor do you draw general conclusions against his ideas. Rather you were able to extract the real point of his book: We have the power to design our lives so that we can live them as we chose.

It seems that in today’s world most “smart career paths” are one-way tickets to a life spent sitting at a desk, staring at a screen for over 8 hours per day. Then we go home and stare at a larger screen that is flashing commercials for hotels in the Caribbean, expensive cars and a greener lawn. It’s not surprising that in this context many of us feel that getting off our asses and jumping in a plane to the most possibly remote destination is the all-in-one solution we need to get our “real life” started.

Like all of my friends, I went to college and got a job. Unlike most however, I got kicked out of college and laid off from my first and only real job. The truth is that I never really wanted to succeed at either, and although I know I had the potential to, my heart was in full rebellion. After 6 years of building up my business from scratch I’ve finally come to a place where I only work 20 hours per week and have the freedom to do as much hiking, rock-climbing and other outdoor activities that I want.

What I am realizing now is that I have spent the last 10 years of my life doing what I THOUGHT I should be doing, rather than honestly considering the option of being a professional outdoors guide because my understanding of that profession was that it was not a serious career path.

So the conclusion is this: stop watching commercials and listening to your peers. Instead be honest with yourself and pursue the dreams you really have, however crazy, unreasonable and un-achievable they might sound!

Live on,
Adal

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Harvey Rogers June 2, 2014 at 11:42 pm

The perpetual lack of satisfaction so many feel is because they forget and do not recognize that we were DESIGNED to Seek our Creator for fulfillment.

You can’t fill that God-Shaped hole in your heart with other stuff. I didn’t make up the rules of the universe, I’m just acknowledging that they exist.

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Courtney Johnston June 19, 2014 at 9:22 am

Alex, darling – I just found this absolute gem of an article of yours (hello #1 spot on Google?! What, what?!)

I can’t emphasize it enough: this is an absolute GEM of an article. You really hit that son of a bitch of a nail on the head.

Lifestyle design and location independence are lovely in and of themselves, but we tend to just replace one rat race with another and then feel sad and guilty when we’re not happier than we were before.

I had this same realization about a month after I moved to Paris in 2009. I thought all of my problems would go away when I got there, but it turns out that stuff is internal, not external.

*Standing Ovation*

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Alexander Heyne June 20, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Haha cheers Courtney, how you been!?

Yea it’s tough. At the end of the day, you have to conquer the mind (and “wanting” so much), but you still have to get clarity on what you really want. What YOU really want, you know?

Being a nomad made me realize, hey, I really like traveling, but I hate traveling all the time. Hey, I really like working – on stuff I enjoy. So with a more entrepreneurial lifestyle I can still work as much or as little as I want, take my 6-8 weeks vaca a year, and still have stability, etc.

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Daniel June 21, 2014 at 5:28 am

yet another Tim Ferriss bashing… he never said long term travel or location independence are mandatory for lifestyle design; he said it’s up to you to define your ideal lifestyle; so stop bashing him for your meaningless life; and psychological issues may be treated with the help of a shrink; Tom Ferriss’ advice is perfectly legit, given you read it right and stop projecting your issues on him

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Adal Bermann June 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Daniel,

It doesn’t sound like you read the entire article nor any of the comment replies. Your comment belongs on this page (that did indeed miss the point): http://www.petershallard.com/why-lifestyle-design-will-make-you-miserable/

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Erika July 12, 2014 at 1:06 am

Yes!! These are issues I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’m location independent and have done some traveling. Yet I don’t feel the drive to travel all the time or really do much outside of home at all. There’s a shift here .. I’m looking for the right words … it’s the shift from escapism to facing all our issues and having nothing to escape from …

That said, I still love the freedom … thanks for the post, you got me thinking … maybe I’ll write something … :)

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Alexander Heyne July 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Totally Erika! Couldn’t agree more.

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Zach July 17, 2014 at 3:20 am

“I actually like working – when it’s on something I like.”

Nailed it. I’m in Thailand right now, working as a “digital nomad” struggling with meaning. 99% of people, as I see it, are unhappy, and just glorified freelancers (if they’re even making money and not just traveling and trying to build a business, spending their savings).

The challenge is finding work that’s meaningful AND gives you money and freedom to do what you want.

Alex, I’m curious what insights you’ve found in finding a meaningful work?

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Alexander Heyne July 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Totally Zach.

Insights? None in particular – other than the fact that you CAN crush it (make as much money as you want), doing what you enjoy. Usually you just need to learn how to market and sell your service.

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Cameron August 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Interesting insight. I’m revisiting the idea as I presently work in a job that has me in a really screwy schedule BUT if I go to day shift, I have to give up another hour of my day just to commute. Then there are a couple medium term travel interests I have (3-4 weeks at a time) and work won’t give me that sort of time off. So now I’m seeking alternatives.

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