OK, OK, I Give. Lifestyle Design is not for Everybody

  • August 11, 2009 by Corbett Barr
  • 58 Comments

stand-out-in-a-crowd

OK, OK, I Give. Lifestyle Design is not for Everybody

I’ve said before that I thought at least some of the principles of Lifestyle Design could be used by anybody. Questioning the predominant work ethic that teaches us to become corporate drones, working 40-60 hours or more every week for someone else while living for the weekends and a few weeks of vacation every year seemed like something everyone could do.

Boy, was I wrong about that.


As an optimist at heart, I suppose I try to be inclusive too often. By saying anyone could take advantage of lifestyle design, I legitimately hoped that everyone could get at least something from it.

It turns out that most people don’t want to be helped. They’re perfectly happy living the lives that corporations, big media and society want them to. They are fine with being part of the well-oiled machine that makes a shrinking group of people rich and powerful while leaving the masses empty and unfulfilled, but cleverly satiated and supportive of the power structure. These people are defined by consumerism.

How did I come to this conclusion? Through a steady stream of conversations with people that end up with them angry at me because I suggest there might be a different and better way to live. People I know have told me they boycott this blog because the things I write about aren’t possible for them.

There are countless excuses, and I hear more every day. From having kids, to having the wrong career, to having to support ill family members, I’ve heard all kinds of reasons why people “can’t” live the life they really want to. The funny thing is, for each excuse I’ve heard, I have also met someone who has overcome the exact same circumstance to live a unique and remarkable life.

Anger might be a natural emotion to feel when confronted with radical change. Some of the people who are so angry about lifestyle design may be capable of overcoming that anger and actually doing something interesting with their lives.

But sadly, most people will not. Even worse, those who don’t break out of the competitive consumerist status quo that America has become will continue to be human fuel for the soulless corporations that run this country.

So fine, I give in. Lifestyle design is not for everybody.

Not everyone can live anyway they choose to.

Not everyone can ditch the standard deferred life plan in favor of a rich and fulfilling life of travel, learning, solid health, great friends and interesting work.

Not everyone can recover from their addiction to corporate handouts and create their own unlimited career.

Not everyone can choose to seek something more than money, a bigger house and a better car in life.

Who can do any of these things?

Remarkable, smart, driven, passionate and capable people can. People who question rules and authority can. People who want to support their neighbors instead of big faceless companies can. People who want to make something of their lives can.

Will you join me?

photo by Pickersgill Reef

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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John Bardos - JetSetCitizen August 11, 2009 at 10:37 am

Great point Corbett.

As you correctly point out, lifestyle design is available to anyone who wants it, but you have to want it. It is easy to be healthy and fit, if you want it bad enough. Learning a musical instrument or foreign language is not impossible, it just takes a commitment of time and energy. Everything we want in life is available if we are willing to make the sacrifices.

Sadly, our grandparents understood lifestyle design much better than most people do now. They drastically changed their lives because they had no choice. Now we have unlimited choices and we are afraid to choose.

Corbett Barr August 11, 2009 at 5:38 pm

You’re right, John. Desire is the key. To say something isn’t possible is admitting that you don’t want it (unless it really truly is physically impossible).

Robert August 11, 2009 at 10:43 am

Heck yes!

“The really great make you believe that you too can become great.”
– Mark Twain

Keep having those conversations Corbett, even the drones can come around eventually.

Bruno M (@brunocm) August 11, 2009 at 10:43 am

Great post, I couldn’t agree more. Many don’t want to be helped b/c they can’t even help themselves.

Stephen July 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Many don’t want to be helped and, really, that’s up to them.

Rasheed Hooda August 11, 2009 at 10:43 am

Great post, Corbett!

You are right. Not everyone wants to take responsibility for their lives, therefore they fool themselves by telling others and themselves that they can’t, instead of saying, I don’t want to put forth the effort needed to have what I want. It’s easier to blame others, people or circumstances.

Let’s just keep moving forward with those who are courageous enough to take matters in their own hands. Besides, if everyone started to follow the lifestyle design route, who would do the dull meaningless work that must be done? I mean who would clean toilets and wash dishes everyone were to ambitious? We need them doing what they do, so we can do what we want to do and outsource to them what we don’t want to do ourselves.

Rasheed

Sean August 11, 2009 at 10:54 am

No matter how hard you try, there will always be people that just don’t want to change. For those people I think the act of making excuses or just dreaming about the things they really “want” to do with their life is enough. Chris Guillebeau mentioned something to me the other night. He said “There are so many people that talk about wanting to create a new lifestyle for themselves, but the fact remains, very few will actually do it.”

If you can help even a couple people realize it is possible, then its all worth it. And what is most important, YOU have already done it, its everyone else’s loss if they choose not to pursue something more meaningful!

Jeremy August 11, 2009 at 11:45 am

Corbett,

While I see your point, I somewhat disagree. Aren’t those people in fact designing their lifestyles? They have CHOSEN to live in the “traditional” model of 8-5 lifestyle. Stephen Covey makes that exact point in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. You choose what you do. Even if you claim you don’t… you still are choosing. So to me they have chosen to design that lifestyle for themselves.

I am sure that many will disagree but I think that Covey was right and we always have the choice. Whether we admit it or not is a different issue entirely.

Jeremy @ RefocusingTechnology.com

Corbett Barr August 11, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Hi Jeremy. I think that many of these people are just accepting the typical American lifestyle instead of questioning why it is what it is, and then deciding if it’s really for them. You’re right that in some sense they are choosing that lifestyle by default. Herd mentality is a powerful force. We do indeed always have some choice, but sometimes we don’t want to believe that all the choices are available.

Nate August 11, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Corbett I am so with you on this! I get the angry reaction from people all the time when I try to convince them that there is a better way. I’ve even had this experience with family members. There is a way around every excuse, but people feel very secure with their excuses. Great post!

Corbett Barr August 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm

The funny thing is that I’ve gotten the angry reaction from people without trying to convince them of anything.

Baker August 11, 2009 at 12:25 pm

@ Jeremey – I agree as long as they are CONSCIOUSLY making the choice. Some do… most seem not to. It’s a matter of consciousness.

One thing to add, “having kids” is NOT an excuse. It’s been an awesome experience watching my young daughter (15-months) grow on the road. People can have it if they want it!

Great post, man.

Corbett Barr August 11, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Thanks for making the point about “having kids,” Baker. Lots of bloggers write about lifestyles from the single/childless perspective, but the fact is that many people I’ve met traveling actually have kids. It’s all about priorities and what you think is possible. It’s been great reading about your adventures overseas as a young family. Keep it up!

NomadicNeil August 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Was your advise solicited?

Just because something is right (better / cooler / easier / more fun) for you doesn’t mean it is for other people.

NomadicNeil August 11, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Just to give an example of my earlier point.

I’ve heard of people that have left their 9-5 job and actually miss the day to day banter with their colleagues, seeing the same people everyday and getting to know them.

I can not imagine feeling that way at all, but everyone is different and I respect that.

Therefore I can imagine that there are people that actually enjoy wearing a suit to work, buying a fancy car, going on business trips.

Who are you to judge them?

Corbett Barr August 11, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Different strokes for different folks, as they say Neil. I am merely reflecting on specific conversations I’ve had with people. It usually starts with someone asking me what I’ve been up to lately, and ends with them angry at the idea that some people aren’t living the typical suburban/corporate lifestyle.

This isn’t advice I’m giving anyone, it’s just conversation about what I’m doing with my life. So many of them have said, “well, that’s [lifestyle design] not for everyone, right,” that I have finally decided to agree.

Matt August 11, 2009 at 12:59 pm

It is incredible how much suffering we will endure just to obviate the need for change. I’m pretty sure you were conscious of but subtle enough not to equate these people you’ve encountered who react angrily to the idea of challenging the status quo of our consumer-centric/overworked society with those who we see reacting so angrily to the thought of changing how we currently deal with health care in our rich country.
On the other hand I have seen how people can find comfort in their entrenched, subservient lifestyles because it is all they know and it does provide *just* enough comfort to get by and provide for yourself and your family. I’ll admit that even I talk about pursuing the dream you outline in your blog way more than I actually work toward achieving it.
Lifestyle design is not easy, not comfortable at first and definitely (sadly) may not be for everybody – but I am sure going to keep trying for it!

Corbett Barr August 11, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Great point, Matt. I’m sure there are many parallels with the behavior I’ve observed in regards to lifestyles and other aspects of society like politics.

And yes, not everyone wants the same thing. Some people are perfectly fine with spending the majority of their day working for someone else. There are good aspects of corporate jobs, like benefits, friendships, good salaries, stability (sometimes) and the ability to leave work behind when you leave the office. I get it, and I’ve been there.

On the whole though, it just isn’t for me for the reasons I describe so often on this blog. I suspect that’s why people read and comment too.

James NomadRip August 11, 2009 at 6:39 pm

“You’re just a crazy person talking crazy talk. Get a real job and don’t be a lazy sod who just wants to lie around on a beach all day doing nothing for society. You can’t raise kids like that. You don’t even have a house? It’s my biggest asset. People would look at me funny. My family would think I was off my rocker. You’re just some kind of drifter hippy.” -them.

Fear is a heck of a motivator (or demotivator). Someone wants to live the way they want and people shun them. Silliness. Enjoy your one life, people. Some people want the (illusion of) security that the “normal” lifestyle involves.

I remember when I chased all those shiny things in the commercials and did all the things I was supposed to do.. Fast boats and cars were fun for a while. But it sure was a lot of hard work hanging onto them, and it didn’t ever give me what those marketers promised.

It’s not up to me to tell a person how they want to live their life. If they want a way, I can show them, but I am not carrying anyone who can walk on their own.

I must be lazy :-)

Elizabeth August 11, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Seth Godin wrote the other day: “In most interactions, we take a defensive posture. We try to defend the brand, or our turf or our job. The problem with defense is that it’s static.” http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/08/the-scientific-method.html

People are challenged by different opinions, whether directed at them or not.
The status quo by its nature is resistant to change. Kudos to you and to others for challenging it; that’s a key part of the lifestyle design business, and keeps a tribe thriving. If there’s nothing to resist, that tribe goes under.

I’ve always ignored the status quo. It’s perhaps been easier for me: once you start writing “Artist” under your job description, no one expects you to live normally [your wife probably knows a lot about that - I'm particularly a fan of her sculptures btw]. In fact, there’s often a none-too-subtle hint of condescension from people when they find out I’m an artist, though the patronizing tone changes when they realize I actually make a living at it.

Tresna August 11, 2009 at 10:10 pm

This is a great discussion. I’ve only just really started on the lifestyle design path, having sold my house and finished up work, and one of the most difficult things I have found when speaking to people about what I’m trying to achieve is their reactions (or what I *think* their reaction is) to what I’m saying. I don’t want to sound preachy, brag, or put down their chosen lifestyle and finding the right words is something I have been working on in the last few weeks.

Jeremy has a good point in that people make a choice not to design their lifestyle in the same way as most of the readers here. Using this reasoning, I’ve been trying to make a point when explaining my situation that the lifestyle I had (long hours, mortgage, not a lot of social or community interaction) wasn’t making me happy so I am attempting to pursue a new lifestyle that allows me to balance my passion and responsibilities to achieve a quality of life that is right for ME. So far I haven’t had anyone argue with me, but noting the comments above I can only presume that someday soon I will!

Herbert August 12, 2009 at 10:00 am

Corbett: I’m in. There a lot of people out there satisfied with what they’ve got already, and although I (we) would love to see change, maybe they’re just complacent with what they’ve got. So be it.

We’ll change, evolve, and hopefully thrive, and who knows — maybe they’ll come around.

Technomadia August 12, 2009 at 10:42 am

I would be curious to know what the Myers-Briggs Personality types are of most folks who identify as Lifestyle Designers – perhaps that needs to be in the next survey? It would be my guess that most are NFs and NTs – meaning, we’re Idealists and Rationalists. And, we also make up a small portion of society as a whole – like 30%. NTs and NFs are the intuitive thinkers, the dreamers, the questioners. It’s our role in society to question the norm, to think outside of boxes and to actively drive change.

If my intuition is correct, then it would also make sense that most people are not driven by what seems only natural to us. Their role in society is carry out the status quo, to build the support structures and defend what they see as ‘the way’.

By and large, it’s a good balance. Do you really want everyone out there shaking things up all the time? If that were the case, we’d have a much tougher time as change surfers to challenge the waves.

I personally appreciate all the people who have chosen (or fallen into) more traditional career paths. Without them, I wouldn’t have cool tech to aid my technomadism (it takes massive manpower to produce such things), an awesome trailer that took years of dedication and design, food that I can easily buy as a result of someone’s dedication to growing/distribution, cellular towers and service that took a corporate mentality to construct.. and on and on it goes.

But for those of us actively seeking to design our lives from the ground up.. we sure do appreciate you and the various tribes of like minded folks finding each other. And as cogs in the system wake up and want change for themselves, we’re all here as beacons to inspire them.

– Cherie

Scott Sheperd August 12, 2009 at 11:46 am

I just heard Bill Cosby say that Harriet Tubman, when she was rescuing slaves, actually had to whack a few with her gun and remind them that they were slaves. They were into, “It’s not too bad.”

nicole August 12, 2009 at 12:14 pm

@ nomadicneil

People don’t get angry when happy with their choices, regardless of how the conversation comes up.

cath duncan August 12, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Lifestyle Design is AVAILABLE to everyone, but not everyone will CHOOSE it. Perhaps, as Cherie says, this might be linked to different personality sets that value different things.

We all have a tendency to get a little hot under the collar when we come across other people living in direct contrast to our values (even if they’re not trying to convert us to their lifestyle). I’m learning to use this annoyance to guide me to becoming increasingly clear on what’s important to me, so I can then tweak my life to live more of what’s important to me, rather than feeling grumpy towards other people who value different things to what I do.

It is extra fun when you meet and hang out with people who value what you value, and I love that the internet has made this so easy for us all to find each other… all over the world!

Cath

Gwen McCauley August 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm

As a Life Transition Coach, I proactively screen all potential clients for their bias towards becoming proactive in life. Took me a while to discover that there are many people out there who truly don’t want a different life. But what took me even longer was to discover that there are those who are quite happy to pay good money to someone else to play the game of “here are all the good reasons my life must continue to suck”. I concluded that no amount of money was worth playing that game!

One of the rules I live my life by is “I’m only looking for the people who are looking for me.” As a coach that means that I’m completely unwilling to talk someone into needing coaching when they don’t think they do. And even if they think they need coaching, I’m completely unwilling to push them into changing a life they only want to talk about changing!

So I encourage you to simply let those in a deep cultural coma fade away, unfollow you, or otherwise go back to sleep. You only want to play with players anyhow. The question then becomes, how big a game are you each up for?

Thanks for this great article.

Gwen McCauley

Tiara August 12, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I’ve told you this on Twitter, but I’ll make it public: I find this post condescending and dismissive of people who choose not to go into “lifestyle design” (which now has become its own brand of conventional – ever see any self-proclaimed “lifestyle designers” who aren’t travelling and aren’t doing some web-based business?) or who genuinely _can’t_.

Being able to design your lifestyle is a massive privilege. It’s one often only accorded to people in the right class, in the dominant demographic, without any institutional barriers. Not being able to consider it, let alone implement it, is not a personal failure.

Many people prioritise other things besides “personal passion” – or rather, finding passion through their job. Some prefer to work in seemingly menial things because their passion lies with their family, or their home life, or something not work-related. Some people are working up Maslow’s pyramid, where self-actualisation is at the very top – there’s still basic needs and acceptance and family needs to look after.

For some “lifestyle design” is not a big deal – and they may resent constant attempts to push them towards it, especially when it’s implied – or practically shouted, as this post does – that people who essentially don’t agree with you are unremarkable, stupid, ignorant, and not worthy of concern.

I’m big on lifestyle design. I’m also originally from a developing country and am living as a migrant in a foreign country. I recognise the privilege that allows me to migrate internationally – it is a very expensive affair just on visas alone! And yet not all options are open to me. I don’t get as much financial support due to residency – nothing from Government, at the very least. Public service work is out of bounds for me. There are some circles where I’ll have a hard time breaking in because I’m _brown_. At least my wealth class (upper end of middle class in my original country, not quite as high here) allows me some ability to mitigate that – but I’m rare. I’ve personally noticed that people who blog about lifestyle design don’t tend to recognize what a big deal _money_ is – they’re all “well just save up or just start a business!” and don’t recognise what a struggle that is for some people, often for factors they can’t control.

People are remarkable, smart, intelligent, good whether or not they choose to design their lifestyle. Many of us have less options for lifestyle design than white male upper-middle-class Western bloggers who don’t have to worry about being one paycheck away from homelessness or having to prove to others that they’re capable of doing the world despite having an ethnic name or a foreign passport.

Andrew MacPherson August 13, 2009 at 1:58 am

Tiara, I agree with much of what you said if we were to agree on a few assumptions that I didn’t share when/after reading the post.

My point of departure is that I read Corbett’s post according to his premise that, “the principles of Lifestyle Design could be used by anybody.” That is a pretty benign place from which to start. Applying the principles will look very different depending on the variables you mentioned, but that doesn’t mean the principles can’t be considered and applied to differing degrees. It doesn’t imply that everyone will have the same result. It also doesn’t imply that everyone should have the same result. It isn’t at all the same thing as saying something like… anyone can have the life they want in a few weeks if they’d just quit being stupid and lazy and take lifestyle design seriously.

As you point out, it would be condescending and discount a number of factors if we were to assume the result for everyone would/should magically be the same. However, I didn’t get that vibe when reading the post. So while I agree with what you’re saying based on the way you interpreted the post, I think you’re arguing against a point that wasn’t made to begin with.

Tony July 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

Tiara, I agree with the essentials of what you say – it’s not fair to condemn people as “stupid” for not making a lifestyle change – if they are genuinely not able to (for whatever reason).

But, I think there are a couple of points worth raising here. I think Corbett’s comments are perhaps justified for those who *could* make very positive changes to their lives, that would benefit themselves, their families and society at large, but who refuse to do so from sheer pig-headedness, ignorance, or just the refusal to give up their socially -conditioned viewpoint. I have come across a fair few of these and I don’t consider myself to be advocating anything particularly radical.

The second point I’d like to make is that I have heard your argument many times before from people in emerging economies during my travels in South East Asia. I think people in these new economies need to listen very carefully to people in the West who are saying, essentially, “warning, back up, nothing to see here”. They are worth listening to *for the very reason* their viewpoint is coming from a “privileged” position. I mean if these guys are holding up a red flag, that should be given consideration. There’s no doubt that something has gone very badly wrong in the West, and peoples in the emerging economies need to be wary of that.

I personally know lots of people from Thailand, Malaysia, and Philippines, who have come to the UK to follow the consumerist dream, and a few years down the line they can’t figure out where it all went wrong. They are in-debt, miserable and miss home. But they have gadgets, lots of gadgets. While many made the move for the best of reasons (usually to support family back home), they end up becoming victims of the system, and are not able to support themselves, let alone family. Many decide the problem is “the UK”, and pack up and head for Dubai, or the USA – rinse, repeat.

Interestingly enough, I know *many* people in the West (through another site I operate) who have gone to live in “Third world countries”, who are living *very* simple, but extremely happy lives, often on very modest salaries, such as that of a local English teacher, and wild horses could not drag them back to their “privileged” former lives of material glory in the West. They’ve seen that trap for what it is and want no further part of it. They don’t see themselves are Lifestyle Design radicals, but they have successfully eschewed materialism for a better quality of life, and are much happier for it.

Surely there is a worthwhile lesson to be had in there, call if lifestyle design or not? And that’s why I continue to follow these blogs with interest.

Zora August 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Ah, I know how this feels. My parents say I can “do anything,” but when I said I wanted to be an actor as a kid they said I wouldn’t make it, when I said I wanted to be with the police they said I’d get shot/killed/injured on a job with very little pay, when I said I wanted to travel they said I needed a degree in IT so I could get a job in San Francisco…

When they said “Do anything,” I think what they really meant was, “become a lawyer and/or tech person.”

I ignore them when they try to groom me for something. But it saddens me that sometimes they get angry about it.

David Wilcox August 12, 2009 at 2:05 pm

The last paragraph had more impact for me than the rest of the post (which was excellent, and I like the style).

Supporting your community and your neighbors requires people to think beyond themselves and the family containment unit they’ve boxed themselves in. When you’ve freed yourself of the constraints of time clocks and commutes, your mind is open to the real possibility of having a positive impact in the world.

You don’t even need to be a full-blown digital nomad – lifestyle design can simply mean ceasing to accept the status quo of punching a clock, churning out work that is meaningless to you personally, and existing until you die.

Start by questioning the fundamentals of your life, and the rest will follow.

Tim L. August 12, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I do think some people truly like being sheep and they would go crazy having to make their own decisions all the time and be responsible for creating their own income. But we probably need some people like that in the world to keep the cogs turning. Let ‘em march on in peace.

This made me laugh though:
“Being able to design your lifestyle is a massive privilege. It’s one often only accorded to people in the right class, in the dominant demographic, without any institutional barriers.”

Tell that to the American construction workers, oil grunts, nannies, and fishing boat captains I’ve met while traveling and living abroad. None with a college degree, of all colors/religions/races. You have to come from a free country, but if you’ve got that part covered it’s wide open. Sure, it’s easier if you’re educated and white (or Hispanic for Latin America), but that just means you have more choices, not that other people can’t create the life they want.

Sarah Robinson August 12, 2009 at 3:09 pm

As frustrating as it is, most people will choose comfort over the unknown. And some will even get angry at the very idea that they have a choice in the matter.

In the meantime, we’ve got living and thriving to do – I am SO in!!!

Sarah

Tumblemoose August 12, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Rock on. Get on wi yo bad self.

Some folks will always have an excuse. Me? I know I am working towards my goal and one day I’ll get there. Got pictures of the sailboat and everything.

So there.

George

Elizabeth August 12, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Whether you call it geoarbitrage, location independence, or lifestyle design, it’s true that most of those writing about the subject – in English – are white US/UK/Oz citizens. Most of us have passports, anglo-european names, and birthplaces that make it easy for us to travel internationally. It’s good to be reminded of the inherent ease this brings us.

Many of us spend our hard-earned cash in 2nd or 3rd world countries, where our currency goes further (my current art studio is in a boutique guesthouse in Southwestern China that’s filled with Tibetan antiques, and I’m paying under US $250/month). This is nothing new, but it does get tiring to hear long-term expats complain about high taxes that inflate prices in their home countries, while said expats avoid paying any taxes and often reap the benefits of their first world origins, particularly government handouts to Europeans.

Yes, being caucasian in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere can make it easier to travel through customs. The darker one’s skin color, the more conflict in one’s home country, the more problems one can experience. This is not something often written about, as many travel-writers and a significant proportion of international travellers are currently caucasian (BUT – this is changing! and we will see a huge shift within the next decade or two, with growing wealth in South and East Asia). I have sometimes received better treatment in hotels and on the street than my local friends – the flip side of course is I’m then charged at least double the local price.

Even in a developed country, local opportunities can be lacking, which limits possibilities long-term unless one really breaks out (as my man did from his dreary hometown of Blackpool, UK – we later met in S. Korea). A decade ago, when I was an intern in Liverpool for their first art Biennale, I was sleeping on the floor of the gallery director’s studio apartment – actually at the foot of his bed, not far from his smelly socks. With no salary, I couldn’t afford an apartment. “You must be rich to travel,” said my local friends, many of whom were on the dole, had free housing, and did odd jobs on the side to fund nights out at the pub. No, I said, I just worked at menial jobs, saved everything I could, to get a broader perspective. For my friends, taking the train down to London was too expensive, so all they saw was local council estates (public housing). There was no incentive for them to do more than live on the dole. It’s a particular kind of misery.

I suppose that’s why I just get on with creating my life, am happy with what I have, and work for what I can. But I am well aware that much of my confidence in my abilities is because of many factors which are not available to 98%+ of the world’s citizens: a university degree is a requirement to gain residency in many developed countries worldwide.

Andrew MacPherson August 13, 2009 at 1:20 am

This is weird for me too. It seems like everyone should be into it. In fact, at times, it feels like everyone I talk to IS into it.

I think your original assumption is correct despite negative reactions. Everyone can take advantage of lifestyle design. Everyone can also take advantage of lifestyle design and maintain a version of their life that is customized to what they currently have. Saying that putting active thought into designing the perfect life for yourself is a good thing doesn’t imply a judgment… not even a little. An angry reaction inferring such would instantly thrust “methinks thou dost protest too much” into my head.

On the solicited advice front, people constantly ask the “what do you do?” question. My condensed response is often met with… “Oh really!? that sounds so cool…” Then the conversation often quickly devolves into the reasons why they can’t. While I can’t say I’ve been able to generate anger (though you’ve inspired me to try), I can definitely sense skepticism and frustration. Ultimately, I really think it’s such a huge paradigm shift for most people that they can’t help but dismiss it out of habit. I guess I can remember wondering how it was possible and feeling a bit of that myself at some point in my distant past.

On the unsolicited advice front… I think there are lots of people pretend to love their lives, but aren’t as happy as they let on. There’s probably some sort of ego/self-preservation thing going on there. The truth certainly isn’t always what motivates people to say what they say. So I guess I’m trying to say this… Keep preachin’ the good word. Some people may be repulsed, but for some of those same people it may just click at some point in the future. Nothing seeds a future “ah ha” moment like a bit of strong emotion today. :)

Blake August 13, 2009 at 8:03 am

Unfortunately for us corporations rule the world. Don’t we need smart, driven, independent thinkers in our corporations who can turn the status quo around and create ethical, sustainable companies?

It seems to me like people who work for others automatically get made fun of as “drones” by lifestyle design crowd. However, there are people who are there completely, 100% on their own terms. That’s the route they want to take to make their personal impact.

The lifestyle design so often perpetuated online is not for everybody, I agree, but for a different reason; it’s not possible. Society would cease to function if everyone quit their jobs in droves to live a life of blogging (who would make their computers?), run marathons (who would make their shoes?), and travelling the world as a vagabond (what plane would they fly on?)

Christine Gilbert August 13, 2009 at 1:04 pm

I think you have to be careful with this kind of thinking.

I gave up my corporate, Fortune 500 job (actually it was a top 10 company) in order to travel full-time, pursue my other interests, become a writer and basically redefine what my life would look like.

It was and continues to be the most amazingly positive step I could taken. I’ve never looked back.

BUT! A huge but! I don’t consider myself more “remarkable, smart, driven, passionate or capable” than people who don’t. It’s those who say, “I would love to do what you’re doing” but never take action, those are the ones I question. But just by working in corporate or living in the suburbs or having kids/mortgage/dog instead of traveling the world, certainly doesn’t mean that they are making anything less than the best choices for themselves.

And I’ll agree with previous posters, especially Tiara, who took exception, (although I believe you didn’t intend it) because the truth is, it is a matter of privilege, and we should be very thankful everyday for this. This means being aware that when people in different situations than us, decide not to make major changes (even people living in the US or UK) there may be very good reasons for it.

Anyway, I know that’s not really what you meant, so I give a nod to your intention.

Corbett Barr August 13, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Thanks for the perspective, Christine. The people I really take issue with are those who put down the lifestyle I’m pursuing, as if I’m not doing my civic duty because I don’t work for a big company or something. It’s that type of thinking that perpetuates the status quo and has stagnated the standard of living in developed nations.

Even if you can, will you? August 14, 2009 at 2:28 am

It starts with the race. But to hell with discrimination. I maybe an Asian but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the same brain the blonde ones have.

In the position to be a champion if passion is your direction.

Jim Ireland August 14, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I worked with Corbett several years ago at Wafertech. He was a mild-mannered, quiet guy. Boy what a difference a few years can make! Way to go Corbett!

All you folks out there. Take it from someone almost 64 years old who has been programming software since 1985, there is more to life.

Kaizan September 7, 2009 at 9:42 am

Great post!

But seriously, I don’t mind if they don’t want to do it.
What I do mind, is when they try and convince me I shouldn’t be doing it!

Meandering Bohemian September 8, 2009 at 7:09 am

While I admire your vision, and agree with many of your concepts, I think you are being too hard on the general population. First of all understand that you are trying to get people to overcome a lifetime, and an entire culture, not to mention endless ideals that have been instilled in them since birth. Getting agree, or cynical with them will do no better at converting them to a more open view of personal and professional life. I believe you should consider a more “middle way” concept commonly emphasized by Buddhist.

Consider that hardly anyone will be able to completely restructure there lives instantly. You should provide baby steps for people to instill. It’s not just about work, and capitalism and living for yourself. It really has to do with understanding culture, concepts like materialism, and being centered with one’s self. It’s not that people are angry or jealous of the lifestyle that you propose, its rather that they can’t see it. They don’t understand it, its too big of a concept. You should help them, by seeing the little changes they can make that will lead to the bigger picture.

I love the blog, love your concepts, and enjoy reading. Try to be patient with people. Revolutions take time, but a revolution of the mind can take an eternity.

Ben Lumley December 22, 2009 at 4:03 am

I have the same problems with many friends of mine who work in corporations that they don’t enjoy working in or live lives they’re unhappy with. Any time I try to offer an alternative I just get instantly dismissed.

I see it nearly everyday in my job as an educational trainer, working with young people in schools teaching them about success, enterprise and study methods. Their mentality is it’s too hard to change, too challenging for them to go against the grain, and too socially unacceptable to be seen to enjoy what they do. My approach has always been, share the ideas I have, let those who wants to hear it take it onboard, and move on to the next group. If I can get 1 person in that room to walk out after the seminar is over and think that they want to make a change then I know I can go home happy.

Life design isn’t forever right now. It may well be somewhere down the track but perhaps not now. People who think like that will always be the ones who come to you for help and advice when they see there is another way.

Sonicsuns February 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm

If only more people would realize their potential for shaping their own lives.

Philipp Knoll December 27, 2012 at 5:41 am

Corbett, I usually don’t get angry reactions. People either tend to be inspired by paths I try to show them or they simply don’t believe a word I say. Disbelieve is the by far most common reaction.

However, for myself the main issue is that I know it can be different (and I’ve constantly been working on change) but the longer you had been part of the system it gets harder and harder to remember and go back to what you actually desire. What is the life I want? I guess that is a point most struggle with. It gets blurry…

David Wilcox August 12, 2009 at 1:56 pm

In my mind, accepting the default without conscious thought is not a choice, but giving up your choice. Most people don’t put enough thought into how or why they live a certain lifestyle to say they have actually chosen it.
Part of that herd mentality is the assumption that if the majority has made a decision, it must be the best or only option, and no questioning of that decision is required. Just like big rocks, trains and corporations, cultures have inertia, too, and that must be overcome through slow, persistent change.

Mama Bird August 13, 2009 at 4:40 pm

The “having kids” thing is a hard one for me. I have two boys, 1 and 4. At this age, I think I could do it easily. However, in two years my oldest will be starting kindergarten. I would love to travel, but also don’t want him (or me) to miss out on the fun of kindergarten (and other grades) at a school in our tight-knit community (that does all sorts of cool stuff). I remember grade school very vividly and want that fun for my kids. I also know how enriching more travel would be too though, so it’s a hard one for me….not so cut and dry. We do make travel to Australia to visit family a priority, which maybe for us right now, is enough.

Blake August 13, 2009 at 6:40 pm

“The people I really take issue with are those who put down the lifestyle I’m pursuing, as if I’m not doing my civic duty because I don’t work for a big company or something. It’s that type of thinking that perpetuates the status quo and has stagnated the standard of living in developed nations.”

Completely understanable; and I hope I didn’t come across like a jerk in my reply up above. I just felt compelled to offer up a defense to those who don’t desire the nomadic, self-employed route, but are far from ‘corporate drones’. Working in the corporate system can be an effective way to consciously live a meaningful life and do great things, but I feel those who do automatically get a bad rap among bloggers.

Christine Gilbert August 14, 2009 at 11:45 am

Blake- Exactly what I was trying to say.

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