Posted on November 17th, 2009 by Colin and is posted in Lifestyle Design
Lifestyle design is about answering one of life’s big questions, what is the good life and how can I live it now? This is not a new question, it’s been asked by many generations of lifestyle designers that have gone before us. The title “lifestyle design” may be relatively new (thanks to Tim Ferris of 4 Hour Work Week fame) but the concept isn’t really anything new or groundbreaking. Over the centuries many thoughtful people have wondered and written about the good life. Among the most famous is Aristotle’s discussions of the good life found in Nichomachean Ethics. This classic piece of work was written around 330 BC. Since Aristotle’s time (and maybe before) there has been a subculture of people who have been on a quest to follow their path and live unconventional lives, a small population of people who are questing for their truth
No two visions of the good life will be the same but the three principles that underpin lifestyle design are – Inside out, Wholeness, and Cradle to Grave. Let’s explore each one of these principles in more detail:
Principle #1 – Inside Out
The biggest challenge we face (as did our predecessors) when designing our individual vision of the good life is conformity. Most of the conditioning from our earliest days was designed to make us conform, to be good and not question the status quo. This is very much an “outside in” approach to life. If we are not chasing our own definition of success we are likely to be chasing societies. Society (mostly through the power of media) is constantly telling us what success is or isn’t and how to get it. Following the “outside in” path is often why some many people lose sight of their inner truth leaving them with a feeling there is no life in their lives. Living outside our integrity has clear consequences: it creates inner conflicts that manifest in stress, dis-ease, addictions, dysfunctional behaviours and relationship breakdowns.
In order for each of us to achieve our own authentic expression of the good life we must
first go inward (not outward) and follow the three C’s – contemplate, choose and commit.. Real success can only come from understanding who we are and what we are here for. This is what real integrity is about; being true to ourselves without fear or compromise in every situation. Living the good life is an inside out job! It requires personal accountability. No one else can define your vision of the good life for you. This comes as both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is all the answers are inside you waiting to come out. The curse is that there is no one stopping you but yourself!
Principle #2 – Wholeness
Lifestyle design at its best is about wholeness. It was Gandhi who famously said “One cannot do right in one department of life whist he is occupied in doing wrong in other department. Life is one indivisible whole.” Wise words!
Many models out there split the whole into parts. There is plenty of personal development material out there that focus on important aspects of a successful life – there’s relationship success, career success, love success, social success, health success, financial success, time management success…the list is endless. But as Gandhi reminds us we can’t work on one aspect of lives independently of other aspects. Life can’t be compartmentalised and it’s dangerous to do so. How many stories do we read of someone who has focused on one or two aspects of life at the expense of others? Like the executive who, in the pursuit of career success and financial freedom, neglects his health. Now his only claim to fame is to be the richest man in hospital!
A more holistic process followed by a few is, whole – parts – whole. We start with the macro (whole person) then examine the micro (life aspect) then reintegrate back to the macro (whole person). Rather than seeing life as a number of individual compartments we take the “whole person” first, then look at four critical success factors necessary for a successful and happy integrated life – personal, relationships, work and lifestyle. And, to complete the circle, integrate back into the whole. Balance in each of these four important elements is what creates a meaningful and sustainable life.
Principle #3 – Cradle To Grave
A big mistake I’ve seen people making is to put all the emphasis getting to a destination and not paying attention to the process. Lifestyle design is not essentially about reaching a destination, but rather about learning the journey. Lifestyle design shouldn’t be something that you do once (or twice) in your life in reaction to a life crisis or a feeling of “stuckness”. It’s a lifelong proactive process of continually redefining your authentic vision of the good life. It’s an ongoing process of contemplating, choosing and committing to the inevitable twists and turns life throws up. As each of us navigates the ages and stages of our lives we must continually question if the choices that have sustained us so far are continuing to do so – or if they’re blocking our path to the next stage of our life.
Lifestyle design is a life mastery process that requires a near questioning of everything we are and everything we have, it’s the kind of questioning we can’t live without – not if we want a life that’s exquisitely meaningful to us. It’s the very act of questioning that gives us the confidence to redefine our priorities and thus our vision of the good life. Engaging in the discipline of contemplating and choosing, lifestyle designers are able to confidently make their way forward to the next chapter of their life with a new sense of being alive.
So there we are…the three principles underpinning lifestyle design, INSIDE OUT, WHOLENESS and CRADLE TO GRAVE.
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