This is a guest post by UK lifestyle designer Richard Adams. Richard has been building online businesses since 2000 and recently launched his own lifestyle blog which can be found at Lifestyle Design Unleashed!
One of the saddest yet most common stories I hear from people is that they studied hard in school to get good grades. Maybe they went to college to get a degree. Built up some work experience. Started doing a job with great pay and great benefits. Worked their way up the ranks to more money and responsibility. Worked themselves into the ground to get there. Only to find that they don’t like where they ended up.
An astonishing number of people spend years working towards a certain goal only to find that once they’ve got there, they don’t like what they find. Maybe it’s the office politics. Maybe it’s the lack of free time. maybe it’s the pressure, or seeing those even more senior than yourself giving up their personal lives to become a corporate drone.
This process doesn’t just have to apply to a career of course. It happens in relationships, in where you live, in personal goals you’d like to achieve.
Working hard towards a goal only to find out you’ve made a mistake is, to me, one of the most depressing things ever. If you’ve just fallen into your job and don’t like it, well it should be easy to fall into another. But if you’ve spent years swimming against the tide only to find you don’t like your destination, that’s a lot of effort and time that has been wasted.
Lifestyle design itself can also involve a lot of hard work. From setting up your own business, to shifting your career to something more fulfilling and rewarding. From moving home, to spending more time with friends and family.
If you’re going to enjoy the process of lifestyle design – and really create the type of lifestyle you will love – then I think the concept of “testing” is very important.
Once you have a plan written down of the changes you want to make, it’s possible to test many of these quickly and cheaply just to see whether what you *think* you will love is *really* what you will love.
So what can you do to test out your lifestyle design plan – to see how it will really suit you and your loved ones? Here are just a few ideas…
It is possible to do all sorts of voluntary work whether that is working for a charity you’re interested in or even for a profit-driven company. Is there a job you would like to have? Do you want to find out what it’s *really* like to run your own business? Is there an industry that you long to enter? If so, offering some of your time to get a better understanding of what it’s really like on the inside may be a perfect way to do this.
There are many official volunteering opportunities but even more unofficial ones if you’re willing to put a little effort in. In terms of official volunteering you can check out the websites of the specific organizations you would like to get involved with, look at popular volunteering websites (just Google “volunteering
opportunities”) or even look on job websites where many volunteer vacancies are advertised.
In terms of unofficial volunteering vacancies try contacting the HR department of the organization you are interested in to explain you are seeking unpaid work experience.
Volunteering can be surprisingly competitive so take as much care when looking for volunteering opportunities as you would with applying for a paid job. Write a credible covering letter explaining what you are seeking and why. Spruce up your resume to illustrate what you can offer the organization and why you are worth considering.
Mini retirements are really an opportunity to live the life you want for a very finite period of time. Is there somewhere you’d really like to live? Are there hobbies you’d like to take up? How many hours each week would you work? How much money will you have to live on?
Once you have an idea of what your ideal lifestyle will involve you can then set about modelling it for a week or two. Book some time off your job and go to live your ideal lifestyle for a short while.
In this way you can see how you really find your goals. If you long to sleep in and only work a few hours each day, does this feel like freedom or after a few weeks do you feel bored?
If you want to go to the gym each day, is this still fun by the end or more of a chore?
Do you really manage to switch off? Is the town you’d like to live in really as nice as you thought?
All these things are far easier to test when you actually live the life for a week or two to see how you and your family really find it.
One final way to test out your lifestyle design plan is to network with other people who are living the life you want. They don’t have to living every aspect of it; they may just be living one small area.
Perhaps, for example, they travel the world but do it on a far smaller (or larger) budget than you would like. Maybe they run their own business but work more hours than you’d like to. Maybe they’re doing
the job you’d love but live somewhere that doesn’t appeal to you.
By finding ways to meet these people – from attending networking meetings to just emailing them out of the blue and offering to buy them a coffee – you can sample other people’s lives without actually
having to commit yourself to anything.
Find out the inside view of what they do – the things they love about whatever it is that they do, and also the things that bug them.
Of course doing voluntary work as mentioned before is also a great way to meet people like this and get the “insiders story” on your various goals.
In closing, it’s worth taking some to consider yourself lifestyle design goals and then figure out how you can test these out in the real world to see what you really think of them.
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