Tomorrow Jessalyn and I are headed back to San Francisco. It’s been a fantastic season in Mexico, filled with friends, surfing, romantic walks on the beach (really), introspection and a decent amount of work.
Leaving is bittersweet. We’re sad to leave the sun, simplicity and relaxation of Mexico, but happy to be returning home to our favorite city. Transitions are funny like that, especially when you’re moving on to something familiar but loved.
We’re fortunate to have been living in the best of both worlds for the past two years. The beaches of Mexico in the winter, and the intellect, culture, art and natural beauty of the Bay Area for the rest of the year.
I Wish I Could Do That
The most common response I hear when we explain our lifestyle to someone new is, “I wish I could do that.” Friends of ours who also live location independent lifestyles often hear the same comment.
Sometimes I respond by asking “why don’t you?” Or, “what’s holding you back?” Responses I hear back usually involve a bunch of excuses and reasons why the person is stuck in his or her current city/job/lifestyle. My new acquaintance convinces himself in a matter of minutes that I am privileged and lucky, and he will never be able to break free from his current circumstances.
The truth is, yes, I am privileged and lucky in some ways, but becoming self-employed and location independent were both decisions, not some magic thing that just happened. We aren’t rich or retired, we just made a very conscious choice to pursue this lifestyle.
It’s not all roses and champagne, either. We chose to live part-time in Mexico in large part because it’s far less expensive than living at home in San Francisco (especially because we sublet our apartment when we’re gone). Because it’s much cheaper, we are buying ourselves time. Time to earn enough income to support ourselves on an ongoing basis.
We aren’t quite there yet, and so we’ve gotten comfortable with ruthlessly cutting expenses and supplementing the rest with savings. It was a little uncomfortable to think about the sacrifices required at first, but now we hardly notice the things we’ve been living without.
Determination and hard work are more important in living unconventionally than privilege and luck. I still contend that most people can radically change their lifestyles if they want to.
In general, people I meet who don’t think lifestyle design is possible for them come from a background similar enough to mine that our relative levels of privilege are about the same. Whether you live how you really want to comes down to the choices you make and what you believe to be true about the world around you.
If you want to become location independent, work for yourself or travel the world, you have to work for it. More than that, you have to commit to enjoying the process it will take to get there. Wanting the result isn’t enough. There’s a long road ahead, so choose a beautiful one.
Investing in the Process, Not the Results
Fortuitously, my friend Kyle sent me a video on this very topic just a couple of weeks ago. Srikumar Rao is a professor at top business schools around the country, where he teaches a course on creativity and personal mastery. He says we spend most of our lives learning to be unhappy, even as we strive for happiness.
The “I would be happy if…” mental model most of us grow up learning is actually responsible for our unhappiness.
We should be steadfast in our pursuit of goals, but not fixated or consumed by them. It’s the journey that we can derive true happiness from. Results are out of our control and fixating on them will only lead to disappointment, fear, insecurity, anxiety and jealousy.
I have long thought balance might be the key to avoiding becoming obsessed with results (to the detriment of actually accomplishing what we want), but the model presented in this video has gotten my attention.
This video (from the TED library) is well worth the 17 minutes to watch. I was intrigued enough that I started also reading professor Rao’s book, Are You Ready to Succeed? Unconventional Strategies to Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life.
Do you focus on the results or the journey? Can anyone live a location independent lifestyle if they really want to? Let’s discuss in the comments.