The Three Principles Underpinning Lifestyle Design

Posted on November 17th, 2009 by Colin and is posted in Lifestyle Design

                                                                  The Three Principles Underpinning 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.

If you have enjoyed this post please give it some Facebook love and let me know what you think by leaving a comment in the box below. Thanks!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 at 8:57 pm and is filed under Lifestyle Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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    Take a look at some of the responses we have had to this article.

    1. jenny
      Nov 22nd

      Hi Colin,
      This is great i love the content – one bit of feedback is i cant really see it as the text is so small, even as i type this i cant see wht i am writing. yes i know i am getting old but i am your target audience – get the font bigger if you can
      ~LOl jen

    2. Colin
      Nov 24th

      Thanks Jenny. I’ve increased to size of the font on this post and I’ll do the same from now on. Thanks for dropping by and giving some feedback.

    3. ruth
      Nov 26th

      Like it very much – you talk my language. Made me smile as when I opened this, only the day before, had I been saying to someone Colin Hiles has “done” lifestyle change for himself!

      I especially liked and have chewed over the 3 C’s, Contemplate, choose, committ – I’ve had the privelge of being with and hearing many contemplate the changes they want, “we” are very good at ths part, lots of discussion, thinking, exploration – choosing, once options are paved out ahead – we generally know what we want and don’t want (huge generalisation!) – the sticky, tricky bit is committ. Busy lives, lack of head space, responsiiblities, feeling like its all a long way off can make it diffult to keep at it , in the belief it can and will happen…that small steps will lead to big change

      Thank you, when I look back at a certain stage of life I spent ages contemplating, less time choosing and a long, long time before I committed. Mmmh, when coaching now I will think about how I can support others to spend appropriate time and actions on each of these thre 3 “C “areas, in an individual way that’s right for them…

      Anyone have a top tip/thoughts for the committment stage? what has really got you into action and committment quickly and sustainably? …………love to hear

    4. Colin
      Nov 26th

      Thanks for your comment Ruth.

      A top tip I use when I’m coaching someone to ask them to give the action a number on a scale of one to ten. One being hardly any commitment and ten being highly committed. This quickly reveals the truth about their level of commitment. It’s a BIG awareness raiser!

      A sample conversation might go something like:
      “You say you would like to simplify your life. How committed are you to that?”
      “Oh, very committed”
      “On a scale of one to ten?”
      “About eight”
      “Great! Now what steps do you need to take to simplify things?”
      “Get crystal clear on the 4 or 5 things that are most important to me.”
      “Good. What steps will you take to do that?”
      “I will set aside some time to think and put pen to paper”
      “When will you have this first step completed?”
      “Oh, sometime!”
      “Honestly, on a scale of one to ten, how committed are you to completing this first step?”
      “Umm, about four!”

      Using 1-10 scaling quickly reveals that, while the person claims that they really want to simplify their life, they are not committed to taking the steps necessary to achieve that goal. Half commitment never works and only leads to an erroneous belief about our ability to follow through.

      I hope that helps.

    5. ruth
      Nov 29th

      Thanks Colin, I really agree with you I use this technique and its a winner every time, it lets people “hear and feel themselves” and their committment levels – Really like the way you follow it up though with the question – What steps do you need to simplify things?

      Good question.

      I’ll be using that this week…


    6. adi mechen
      Jan 23rd

      Hi Colin, I picked up your link, this morning via a comment Julian Childs wrote on a careerforum group set up by John Lees !
      I have really enjoyed reading the 3 principles underpinning lifestyle design and it’s introduction.
      I think it is so very useful. I like the referene to Aristole and it’s a great reminder that understanding one’s self is an ancient art and that creating a meaningful life is a blessing and a curse. I
      I work as a career coach and I find that an wholistic view is important. I’m working with a lot of people grappling with life/ work balance, the appeal of flexible working and also that either/or thinking of I could do something I really love or I could pay the mortgage/ meet my commitments. I usually talk to people about what they want and what they can offer. By want I’m meaning needs & wants, however I think it may be distinguishing needs/ wants , is a great idea.
      The three principles I will apply to myself and others.

      I really appreciate the way you responded to Ruth’s question with the coaching converstaion example. I like they way you make things very easy to understand and illustrate your points. I’m really impressed with your website and I’ll be using it pesonally and also shaing with my clients.

      Finally I love the quote by carl jung about what worked i the morning, may not work in the afternoon….


    7. Colin
      Jan 25th

      Hi Adi,

      Thanks for dropping by and your kind feedback for my blog. You are right to say the area of work life balance and finding more meaning and purpose is very topical with many midlifers I talk to.

      Do you have a blog/website?

      Keep up the good work.


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