Lifestyle design isn’t just for overly-optimistic millennials.
It’s for you and anyone else who’s willing to make the right sacrifices.
Once I stepped off the beaten path and into the world of online lifestyle entrepreneurship, I was able to start crafting my ideal life.
It hasn’t been all beaches and margaritas, but it has been eye opening.
In this article, I cover the good, the bad, and the awesome of what it means to design your perfect lifestyle.
What do I mean by “perfect?”
Let me start by saying that “perfect” doesn’t mean easy.
My version of “perfect” is getting to choose what I work hard on and how I spend my time in the trenches. Life is still a grind, but it’s a fun and meaningful one.
While we’re at it, I have some more BREAKING NEWS for you…
You’ll spend more time working than you will doing anything else in life. Yikes!
Under normal circumstances, this can be a heart-stopping statement.
With lifestyle design, it becomes an exciting realization.
By the end of this article, you should have the inspiration you need to do what you love in a way that brings meaning into your life.
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Note: This in-depth guide on lifestyle design is several thousand words long, so you can check the table of contents below to jump to the section you'd like to dive in to more.
What Is Lifestyle Design?
Lifestyle design is about making decisions that align with your most important goals.
Your perfect life won’t just happen overnight, but each day you can take steps towards a life you love.
Every decision you make either brings you closer to or farther away from your ideal life.
The biggest component of lifestyle design is your business. When I decided to learn how to make money online, I was taking a step in the right direction, one that would forever change my life.
When you take your income into your own hands, the world opens up.
Once you get to decide what you do for work, how you work, and when you work, you get to spend more time filling your days with the stuff that makes you happy.
Time is precious, but just having more of it doesn’t solve riddle -- you need to tweak your schedule until you only work when it’s most efficient and play when it’s most enjoyable.
That, my friends, is lifestyle design.
My Lifestyle Design Definition
What does “lifestyle design” mean to me?
For me, ultimate success is having a business that’s designed around my lifestyle, and not the other way around (I call that a lifestyle business).
It means not having to ask my boss to go skydiving in Cabo San Lucas or to swim with whale sharks in the Philippines. I personally choose to live the digital nomad lifestyle, but you choose for yourself what you'd like to do of course once you build a successful freedom business.
It means working on something that interests me and being done in time to have dinner with my girlfriend.
That’s what lifestyle design means to me, but it might mean something different to you.
Your ideal life may not even involve traveling.
Maybe it means working in the same town where you grew up and holding regular hours.
Or it could mean hustling as hard as Gary Vaynerchuk, building a 9-figure business, and dominating an industry.
The point is that you get to make that decision and not some higher-up in an armchair on the ninth floor.
At the end of the day, you have to decide what ultimate happiness looks like and pursue it. Once you figure that out, integrate the things that make you smile and ditch the dead weight.
Whatever you do is totally fine as long as it aligns with you.
Benefits Of Lifestyle Design
You can’t be the best version of yourself and do your best work with a chaotic schedule and a job that drains you.
Lifestyle design means filling your days with…
Lifestyle design means filling your days with…
Lifestyle design puts you in the best state possible for accomplishing what you want in life. Here are the top nine benefits of lifestyle design:
1. Your Health
You’ve probably already heard this before, but without your health, you’re nothing.
One of the biggest sacrifices that the average person makes for their career is their health.
What’s ironic is that skipping the gym and eating poorly is bad for the brain and ultimately bad for productivity.
Are you ready for some more knowledge bombs?
And the granddaddy of them all:
We’ve all pushed our health to the breaking point.
I know I have. The grind will do that.
One of my top resolutions for 2019 is to get my health in check, and guess what?
Because I’ve designed my own life, I know without a doubt that I can make my health goals happen.
They’re all within reach.
I’m pumped to take my business and my life to the next level by optimizing my health. Lifestyle design lets me do that.
Once I took my lifestyle into my own hands by hosting virtual events, I had the freedom to put my health first. It became obvious that skipping the gym had a direct effective on my bottom line. As my own boss, I get to fix that...fast.
You can’t do your best work if you’re running on an empty tank of gas.
It’s absolutely true.
2. Reduced Stress + Improved Focus = Mindset Shift
There’s a trickle-down effect that comes with a healthier lifestyle and greater control over your schedule:
By reducing stress and improving my focus I have a clearer vision of my goals and how to achieve them.
Some might call this a mindset shift.
Without the right mindset, it’s hard to be sure about your long term success.
Your mindset doesn’t have to be perfect all the time, but it does have to point in the right direction, that way when you stumble your momentum carries you forward.
Being able to adapt your mindset is necessary skill for crushing your goals.
The gym calls for a different mindset than executing business decisions.
Adaptability is key, and if lifestyle design gives you anything, it’s the ability to adapt.
Your health will thank you. So will your business.
3. Learning from Failure (and maybe even enjoying it)
Everyone falls of the proverbial horse sometimes.
If you’re really grinding, you’ll fall a lot.
It can be hard to gather yourself and try again when you don’t have full control over your daily routine. Successful people design their life so that they can bounce back quickly.
When you aren’t in full control of your life, a major failure can feel like an insurmountable defeat.
With lifestyle design, you might even find yourself enjoying failure at times.
Excuse me!? Enjoy failure?
Yes! The most valuable feedback you’ll ever get is hidden in your failures.
When you have the time and emotional resources to sift through the wreckage, you’ll find gems that can transform you path to success.
There’s a lot of reasons why a summit can flop, and with the right mindset Mitch was able to figure out why.
Six summits later, his events have generated six-figures in revenue and grown his email list to over 35k subscribers.
4. Simplifying Your Life
Ever since I learned how to start a blog and embarked on my lifestyle design journey, I’ve learned that simplicity wins.
Having a simple daily routine sets me up for success.
I set simple goals for each day so that I can crush them consistently.
But the magic of simplicity really shines through in my business tactics.
Lifestyle design gives me the opportunity to play with all sorts of different marketing strategies.
I’ve tried all kinds of complicated and expensive sales funnels to boost my sales.
What I’ve found is that simplicity beats complexity almost every time.
5. More Amazing Experiences
“Nah, I’ll pass on amazing experiences,” said no one ever.
In a nutshell, lifestyle design is you taking your best shot at an amazing life, whatever that looks like for you.
You call the shots!
Most people are stuck in one of two cycles:
- They’re either struggling to make ends meet, or…
- They’re using their wealth to fill their lives with extra stuff.
In my opinion, a life full of amazing experiences is better than a life of stuff.
And it’s definitely better than a life of just scraping by.
I value travel and cool adventures.
If you value fast cars and a big house, that’s your prerogative.
It’s your life and your plan.
Make it amazing. Make it memorable.
6. Greater Consistency
A great man once said that “consistency is the key to success.”
Okay, maybe that was me...but I’m sure that other great men have said the same thing.
You’ve heard it plenty of times before. Hell, you’ve probably even experienced it in your own life.
When you show up and put in 20% effort every single day, you get better results than if you show up every once-in-awhile and give it your all.
If you’re your own boss, you’ll always be able to make it to the gym, and that’s over half the battle.
Give yourself the gift of consistency.
7. Becoming Self-Reliant
Self-reliance used to mean being able to survive in “the wild.” Today, it means roughly the same thing, but the wilderness has morphed into a landscape of technology and relationships.
Working an hourly job can cause your real survival skills to atrophy.
Too many workplaces reward you for putting in facetime rather than offering real value.
Designing your life forces you to come to terms with what it really takes to survive in the modern age.
Many of the ancient truths still hold true:
Lifestyle design just takes these skills online. Keep in mind that it isn’t mandatory to primarily work online in order to design your ideal life, but hey, it’s 2019, and chances are you’re going to have to learn how to make money online if you want to survive.
8. Following Your Own Path
When you’re working a “traditional” job side-by-side with coworkers, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others. After all, you’re all on the same path, and many of you are competing for the same opportunities from the same limited pool.
Lifestyle design doesn’t just encourage you to find your own path, it demands it.
Starting your own online business takes you out the small pond of an office and plops you in the infinite ocean of the internet. All of a sudden, the only competition is you against yourself in a struggle to find your voice.
How will you offer value in a way that speaks directly to your audience?
The times that I’ve followed my own path have always panned out better than when I’ve used the cookie-cutter approach.
9. Financial Freedom
Life should be meaningful, not miserable.
More importantly, it should make you financial secure.
Most people settle on the idea that work sucks and financial progress is slow.
Neither of these statements need to be true.
Over the last five years, I’ve had no choice but to abandon this type of thinking. Time and time again, I’ve met people who live an incredible life doing what they love on their own terms.
And they crush their financial goals.
You can join the club!
So many of my Virtual Summit Mastery students had no experience online or with entrepreneurship before hosting their first virtual summit.
Before his first virtual summit, Jared Decamp was working in the corporate world as a real estate appraiser. He was trying to find a way to leave his office and do an online business, and had already tried and failed at blogging and writing an ebook.
After his summit, his email list grew from zero to over 4k subscribers. Jared sold 200 all-access passes to the event and brought in about $20k in revenue.
Who Is Lifestyle Design For?
Are you “lifestyle design material?”
Transitioning to a life of independence and autonomy doesn’t always happen smoothly. For some, it may never feel like the right time.
But honestly, for most people who end up designing their own life, it never felt like the right time.
Lifestyle design is scary business, and chances are it’ll never feel like the right time to pull the trigger.
Sometimes you just have to go for it.
Ask yourself if you want to:
Chances are you answered “yes” to all these questions.
But then you have to consider the more difficult questions, like:
The truth is, the total package of lifestyle design isn’t going to be what makes everyone happy.
For me, the choice was obvious, and I haven’t looked back.
Who Is Lifestyle Design Not For?
The “traditional path” of college followed by a stable job often gets a bad rap, but for a lot of people, lifestyle design may be a good match.
Nowadays, most people change careers multiple times throughout their lives anyway, so it’s not like you’re going to be “stuck” in the same job forever.
It all comes down to the fact that you spend more time working than doing anything else..
If that idea sits comfortably with you when you think about your current path, then you have your answer: lifestyle design isn’t for you.
If it makes you feel like vomiting, then it sounds like you’ve got some brainstorming to do for exciting entrepreneurial path that lies ahead.
Using “The Perfect Day” Exercise To Help You Decide If Lifestyle Design Is Right For You
Give yourself at least 60 minutes to bust this out.
I know that seems like a long time to visualize your perfect day, but you’ll need to take time to detach from the flow of your day and fully immerse yourself in this exercise.
Visualization exercises are powerful tools that can transform your mindset.
Mike Vestil, an entrepreneur who you’ll learn about later, credits the 10-minute visualization exercise he did at a Tony Robbins event with laying the foundation for his success.
For this exercise, you’re going to visualize and outline in extreme detail your ideal day.
We experience life in days. A bad morning can easily lead to a bad afternoon and an awful evening, but every morning is a fresh start.
By the time you finish this exercise, you should have a clearer picture of whether or not lifestyle design fits into your ideal life.
Let’s get to it…
Start With The Big Picture
First, let’s warm up your brain by capturing the big picture of what your perfect day looks like.
This will give you an overall idea so that when you tackle the nitty gritty details you’ll be ready.
Answer the following questions:
Who do I want to spend my day with?
Where do I want to spend my day?
How many hours do I want to work?
What do I want to work on?
How much exercise do I want to get?
How much free time do I want to myself?
Now, take all you answers and use them to describe your perfect day in a few sentences. Add anything else that these questions didn’t cover.
Once you finish, you’ll be ready to write a complete itinerary of your perfect day.
Your Perfect Day, Down To The Minute
Here is where you commit to your ideal life by crafting the perfect day.
Break your day down by the minute as if it was the itinerary for a Navy Seals boot camp.
You wake up and roll out of bed at “blank” time.
Which side of bed do you wake up one? Which side do you roll off of?
I want you to taste each bite of breakfast in your mouth as you watch the sunrise off your balcony. Or maybe you sleep in ‘till 9:30 and don’t eat until after your workout.
It’s up to you. It’s your lifestyle design.
Is a traditional job part of your perfect day?
You’ll find out soon enough.
How I’ve Designed My Online Business
Around My Lifestyle
I definitely fall into the first category of people -- the kind who was meant to embrace lifestyle design.
The traditional path just wasn’t for me.
I went law school in Sweden, but I honestly only went because it’s what my parents expected of me.
In 2013, I dropped out of school. My parents weren’t happy, but it was just something I had to do. Being an attorney wasn’t my passion.
I wasn’t sure what my passion was yet, but I was confident that it wasn’t law, and at the time that was good enough for me.
I craved freedom and didn’t want to be chained to a desk all day.
I Struggled At First
I started building a personal brand website without any real objective. My only goal was to share my experiences as I pursued a non-traditional life.
I worked hard. At one point, I wrote 40,000 words in one month.
Then in 2014, I relaunched my site. I researched how to make money podcasting, and in April of that year I started my podcast: The Lifestyle Architect.
I was able to interview a lot of amazing online entrepreneurs, like Cal Newport, Chris Brogan, Laura Roeder, and Robert Greene.
It was a great relationship builder, but didn’t do much for my email list or ROI.
After a year-and-a-half of grinding at my blog slash podcast, I was hungry for faster progress.
That’s when I discovered virtual summits.
I Hit My Stride With Virtual Summits
Things were going pretty well, but I needed to increase my cash flow and grow my email list a lot faster.
I started doing some research and came across virtual summits.
I knew from my audience that they’d be willing to pay for my podcast content, so hosting a virtual conference seemed like a perfect fit.
For my first summit, The Branding Summit, I made it free so that I could collect as many emails as possible. I also gave people the option to pay extra for an all-access pass with bonus features and made over 200 sales.
I quit my part-time banking job in mid-November of 2014, on the same day that I had my biggest payday: $5,400!
I made $20K in profit from my first virtual summit, just from selling the all-access pass.
The month after my first summit, I made around $40K, most of it from affiliate sales of promoting Ramit Sethi's Zero to Launch course off the backend. I sold my stuff and moved to Cabo San Lucas and Cancun (where I also met my girlfriend).
How I Earn Money Online Today
This year I revamped my website and have been working hard to add a ton of free value in the form of blog posts and ultimate guides.
My website is the hub for my community of loyal fans that I’ve built over the last few years.
It’s where I sell access to my info products, including the newest edition of Virtual Summit Mastery: Virtual Summit Mastery 3.0. This year I also launched the VSM Elite+ Coaching program, which is a more premium version of my regular online coaching program.
Using only a simple “application funnel,” I’m generating roughly 5-figures in organic monthly sales from Google, referrals, and my email list.
I also make an annual 6-figure income as an affiliate for various pieces of software and other online services.
Life is good!
And I couldn’t be happier with my decision to commit to my ideal lifestyle design.
Real-World Examples Of How Lifestyle Designers Earn A Full-Time Living And Build
A Successful Online Business
The world is full of successful lifestyle design entrepreneurs who have taken that plunge and come out on top. With that said, the world has seen even more people fail.
What’s the main difference between the ones that drop out and the ones who rock on?
Tolerance for failure + lack of risk aversion.
Sure, there are plenty of other components like work ethic, intelligence, social skills, and so forth and so on. But the real secret sauce if you can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.
The people who I highlight in this section definitely saw their fair share of hardships along the way to designing their ideal life. What they share is that they were all were able to tolerate a heck of a lot of risk and learn as much as they could from their mistakes.
Here are five kick-ass lifestyle designers:
1. Mike Vestil: dropshipping, blogging, YouTube, personal brand
Mike Vestil has the classic entrepreneurial story of abandoning the traditional path and taking a shot at a more compatible lifestyle.
He grew up poor and scrapped his way into dental school, earning impossible-to-get scholarships to fund the way.
Then Mike discovered that most dentists don’t start profiting from their clinics until they’re in the 30’s or 40’s.
He decided to toss it all aside to move abroad to try his hand at dropshipping. After several failures, he hit it big with some winning products and went from zero to $1.5 million in 12 months.
Mike decided to start a blog and YouTube channel to share his success with others while building a personal brand.
That was less than two years ago.
Today, Mike has multiple income streams. He uses his YouTube channel and blog as part of a sales funnel to sell info products on how to make money online.
2. Lisa Edwards: virtual summits, blogging, online course
Lisa Edwards went from struggling blogger to 6,000 new email subscribers and $30k in revenue with the help of virtual summits.
Her blog helps portrait and wedding photographers get more clients and make more money, but it wasn’t always going so well.
Before hosting her first virtual summit, she was slowly gaining email subscribers, but she wasn’t getting to where she wanted to be fast enough.
Lisa was creating blog posts and doing email outreach, but it wasn’t moving the needle.
Then she joined Virtual Summit Mastery and her lifestyle business got put on the fast track.
She now has a thriving photography blog and a popular online photography course.
3. JV Ortiz: ebook, blogging, paid forum
JV Ortiz was a 26-year-old college dropout waiting tables and flipping sneakers when he wrote his ebook: The Hypemaster Playbook. That was in late 2017.
His ebook and paid forum now bring in $6k a month.
It took him four months to write the 70,000-word bible on how to resell sneakers. He quickly threw up his blog, Six Figure Sneakerhead, to act as a sales funnel.
After getting interviewed on a few podcasts, including Side Hustle Nation, his first customers started trickling in. Times got tough when sales dipped due to website issues, but he pulled through.
His blog posts now see substantial organic traffic.
JV uses Instagram to help drive sales and has over a hundred members enrolled in his forum at $40/month.
4. Steph Gaudreau: virtual summits, blogging, coaching / courses
Steph Gaudreau went from a struggling blogger to gaining 19,560 email subscribers and selling over 600 all-access passes to her first virtual summit.
Not only that, but she did it in the very crowded market of health and fitness.
She started posting paleo recipes on her “just-for-fun” mountain biking blog from time-to-time, and her recipes got so much engagement that she decided to start a separate blog called Stupid Easy Paleo.
In June of 2013, Steph quit the teaching job she had held for over 12 years.
At that point, her blog didn't make much at all.
After a year-and-half of struggling to get traction, she heard about virtual summits on a Facebook group and decided to give Virtual Summit Mastery a try. Her email list exploded thanks to her first summit, and her blog has been thriving ever since.
5. Chandler Bolt: virtual summits, book publishing online course, blogging
Chandler Bolt didn’t even have a blog when hosted his first summit. Virtual Summit Mastery helped him bring in $370k in revenue and grow his email list by nearly 30,000 subscribers from hist first summit.
Today, Chandler runs the Self Publishing School, an online company that helps people write and publish their first book.
At the time of his first summit, he had written a few books on self-publishing, but the business hadn’t really taken off, and his email list was only 10,000-strong.
His first summit generated $100k and more than tripled his email list.
By the time the affiliate sales he made off the backend were totaled up, Chandler had made roughly $330K. At the same time, the summit positioned him and his company as the leading authority on self-publishing.
Best Lifestyle Design Books
Lifestyle design has become a popular idea over the last several years, and that means there’s plenty of content on the topic.
Here are some of the best books about lifestyle design that will help you create a business and live you love:
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
The book that started a revolution.
The concept of lifestyle design has been in the works for a few decades, but it wasn’t until Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Work Week that the idea broke into the public consciousness.
The 4-Hour Work Week is, in a lot of ways, the lifestyle design book that started it all.
Some might call it the bible of lifestyle designers.
It definitely made a big impact on my decision to leave the lawyer path and get to where I am today.
Since its publication, hundreds of books have been written on the topic of breaking free from the 9-5 hamster wheel.
Although most of the book’s recommendations for sites and online tools are now outdated, the core concepts still hold true -- the internet is a weapon in your fight to freedom.
Tim also coined the term “the New Rich” to describe lifestyle designers who choose to abandon the pursuit of luxuries in exchange for the goals of time and mobility.
According to Tim, “people don’t want to be millionaires -- they want to experience what they believe millions can buy.”
Today, with affordable international travel and location-independent work, it’s an experience that’s well within reach.
Work Less, Make More by James Schramko
In 2006, James Schramko was on the traditional path -- working a job he wasn’t excited about with a hard ceiling on this earning potential. That year, he wrote in his notebook that it was his goal to create passive income that would make him independently wealthy so that he could enjoy the hell out of life.
Three years later, he achieved his goal.
James was able to bring in more money with less work.
He started coaching other people to do the same, and it soon turned into the book Work Less, Make More.
Even the name itself is pure poetry.
In his book, James talks about the benefits of:
If you feel like you’re losing precious time at an unfulfilling job, this book is for you.
If you want to become more productive on your current path, this book is for you.
Just read the book for Christ’s sake! You won’t regret it.
The Millionaire Fastlane by M.J. DeMarco
The Millionaire Fastlane is your ticket out of...you guessed it...The Slowlane.
The basic premise of this book is that millionaires are millionaires because they think differently than people who are stuck in The Slowlane.
Millionaires have unhitched themselves from the classic narrative of working hard and earning money slowly.
Things can happen fast, and they can happen now, you just have to find your “explosive wealth accelerator” and hit the gas pedal.
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
The $100 Startup stacks up with The 4-Hour Work Week in terms of the legendary contributions to lifestyle design.
If Tim Ferriss is king, Chris is the prince.
Chris shares his thoughts on how to quickly break away from the standard grind.
By creating “micro-businesses” that require little investment but generate sufficient income, you can start living your dreams sooner rather than later.
The secret is tapping into your passions and leveraging your strengths to create a fulfilling lifestyle that’s made just for you.
Side Hustle: Build a Side Business and Make Extra Money - Without Quitting Your Day Job by Chris Guillebeau
Chris is back with another wake up call -- you don’t have to quit your job to start breaking free.
In Side Hustle, Chris addresses how to work around the paralyzing fear that most people have when they consider rolling the dice and leaving their job.
This book is a step-by-step guide on how you can go from idea to income with a side hustle in just 27 days.
Looks like it’s possible to build your get-away boat while holding on to your life raft.
Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk
While the notorious Gary Vaynerchuk may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he certainly has some great points to make. If you’re ever feeling defeated and need and emotional pick-me-up, his video content will whip you into shape.
Gary’s personality pours off the pages as he shares his insights on the secrets of success with anything you do, be it social media ads or building a personal brand.
This book has a lot to offer to freshman entrepreneurs and seasoned vets alike.
Expert Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Creating a Mass Movement of People Who Will Pay for Your Advice by Russell Brunson
Not long ago, Russell Brunson was just a young man from Idaho teaching people how to make a killer homemade potato gun online.
Now he’s famous for being the co-founder of ClickFunnels and making thousands of online entrepreneurs rich in the relative blink of an eye.
In his book, Expert Secrets, Russell teaches you how to get your message to the people who need it the most.
He shows you how to…
Learn how to be an influencer from the master influencer himself.
How can you make your time on this Earth as enjoyable as possible?
That’s the only question that really matters and it’s the one that lifestyle design can help you answer.
Whether you admit it or not, you are in control of your life.
When you give yourself the opportunity, you can experiment, tweak, and shape the ideal life for yourself.
It might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but that’s okay.
Eventually, you reach a tipping point where it turns into the most fun you’ve ever had...trust me.
Just remember that…
“The Godfather,” Tim Ferriss. said it best:
“Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.”
Are you ready to take action and live a life free of regrets?
If you had to set one lifestyle design goal that would be guaranteed to transform your life, what would it be and why? Leave your answer in the comments below.
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