Lifestyle Design for the Rest of Us

The great playwright and Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw once said, “Take care to get what you like, or you will be forced to like what you get.” Wise words indeed.

The concept of lifestyle design was popularized by Tim Ferriss in his book The 4-Hour Workweek. The idea was to create a system that would generate enough money to meet your living expenses, while requiring only 4 hours a week to maintain it. And then by not having a full time job, you’d have the freedom to do whatever you wanted with your life.

As great as this sounds, the reality is that very few people will be able to make a decent income in only 4 hours a week. Most people will be lucky to work only 40 hours a week in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean that you just have to take what you get. On the contrary, with a busy schedule, it’s even more critical that you make the effort to design your own lifestyle.

Make no mistake, your lifestyle will be designed. The only question is whether it will be designed by thought or by chance. Here are some tips for making sure you get what you like, instead of having to like what you get.

Pick the Right Career

Far too many people pick their career based on money. Money is important, but it’s not everything. If you’re going to spend several decades doing something, don’t you want it to be something you actually like?

I’ve known people who said they would change jobs if they found one that paid an extra $2,000 a year. That’s putting far too much value on money. $2,000 a year is only $166.67 a month. After taxes, it’s maybe $100 a month. Such a small amount of money is insignificant compared to how much you enjoy the job.

It might be hard to pursue a career path that pays far less than your current field, but if you know you’d be happier, you owe it to yourself to consider it.

Give Priority to Your Relationships

A huge chunk of your life satisfaction will come from your relationships, so be sure to give them the attention they deserve. Don’t just leave your relationships to chance and hope it all works out.

First, you want to bring the right people into your life. Don’t date someone you don’t like just to have someone in your life. I know that sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many people do it. Be honest with yourself about what you want, and don’t stay in a relationship that you know isn’t right.

The same goes for friends. If the people you spend your time with just aren’t a good fit for you, go find people who are. Or if you just need more friends because you don’t know anyone who shares particular interests with you, then bring some more friends on board.

Second, when people are a part of your life, you need to remember that relationships are a two-way street, and you need to keep up your end of things. If you neglect people, or become a burden, they’ll leave you. And since your relationships are a huge part of your lifestyle, that’s probably not a price you’re willing to pay.

Find Fulfilling Hobbies

Everyone needs hobbies. Some are good for blowing off steam, some are good for keeping your mind sharp, and some just make you feel alive.

Up through college, people have enough free time that finding engaging hobbies isn’t very hard. With a job and maybe a family, it’s harder to make time for hobbies. And since your interests might change as you get older, you might find that you no longer enjoy the same hobbies you once did.

To find the right hobbies, think about what you want to get from them. Maybe you want to challenge your mind, maybe you want to spend time outdoors, maybe you want an adrenaline rush. Think about some obvious ways to meet those needs, but also get creative and think about other possibilities that aren’t so obvious.

Many people will take up a new hobby relatively late in life, and find that it’s one of the most important things in the world to them. Maybe it’s writing, or sculpture, or horseback riding, or auto racing, or any number of things you haven’t thought of yet. But find some activities that are hard to tear yourself away from, and you’ll never be bored.

Final thoughts

Lifestyle design isn’t only for people who make their living with passive income. It’s for everyone who wants to have some say in their future. We all need to do what we can to make our life what we want it to be. Be sure to get the life you like, or you’ll be forced to like the life you get.

Hunter Nuttall wants you to stop sucking and live a life of abundance. Visit his site to learn how to improve your life and your income.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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