revisiting lifestyle design

Posted on March 27, 2022

4 min read views

At the end of 2014, I left my job and began an adventure based on a loose notion of what I wanted my future to be.

With my life possessions in a tiny carry-on backpack, a one-way ticket to Bangkok, a subscription to Nomadlist, and a battered copy of Rolf Potts' Vagabonding I boarded the plane ready to tread this new path.

This new path was meerly an idea I had constructed in my mind from reading the Four Hour Work Week, listening to podcasts like the TropicalMBA, and following bloggers who were candidly writing about their romantic lives living abroad.

I caught the nomad mind virus.

At the time, I thought what I was doing was fairly fringe but I'd later find out that there were many, many, many, many misfits just like me who shared starting similar journeys around the same time.

As the years passed by, filled with exciting adventures, a whisper of the idea to settle down began to make a regular appearance in my life.

Perhaps the idea of settling down began to appeal because maintaining relationships on the road, both romantic and platonic, proved challenging due to visa restrictions. Coupled with the demands of a growing business, it often led to less than ideal decisions. In hindsight, I wonder if I chose a business model incompatible with the nomadic lifestyle I initially envisioned.

A growing group of friends shared this sentiment too in that they wanted a tiny bit more permanence. Over time, one by one, we stumbled and fell into new more permanent lives abroad.

For me, I found myself in Japan.

Having a homebase in Asia was perfect. I could easily travel to see friends around the world in under half a day and day to day life felt like an adventure.

Then the pandemic hit.

And I didn't really have much of a "lifestyle design playbook" for how to manage it. Afterall, Tim Ferris never had a chapter on "how to deal with an international pandemic".

Like most of my friends we all just worked, doubling the amount of hours we were investing into our businesses. We told ourselves "we'd travel again and life would go back to how it once was" but that was only true for a portion of us.

For the rest of us, we were rejoinining the rat race.

Over the past 18 months, I never "designed" my life like I used to before. I wasn't deliberate.

Frankly, I never thought about it once.

This thinking, or lack therof, lead to being stuck in a limbo.

Had I gone through this long journey of self discovery to become just another salaryman (an office worker in Japan)? Unfortunately, after reflecting a little recently, I think maybe so.

Work has become all consuming. When I wake up, I open my phone, and allow it to dictate my day. This was the the life before all of this and it seems I returned right back to it. Lame!

I do have to challenge myself a bit here and wonder if maybe this is normal when your business is growing. Maybe that's normal when you're focused on work.

Perhaps this obsession on work and structure has been needed to get momentum.

But I didn't believe that in the beginning, so why now? I also know that there are many others with businesses similar to mine — far more successful — whereby they have made deliberate decisions during the pandemic that has lead to them with more time for themselves, their family, and adventures.

I have just been lazy letting work and world events take ahold of me.

In the last 7 years, success in my businesses was rarely tied to the amount of hours I put it in.

It was always tied to connections I made, inspiration I gathered from the real world, and indulging in day dreaming more. All three of which have been extremely limited during COVID.

I have been making a very clear trade, brute forcing my success with sweat.

If I stay on this path, it's a recipe for an uninspired and depressing life.

To find your way back to the right path it's worth re-exploring what put you on that path to begin with.

Reading old books, watching old movies, creating one of those corny lifestyle design spreadsheets again. All of it is important as it takes time to get back into the right mindset.

After talking to a lot of friends I think we have all found ourselves on this old path; the path we'd been avoiding and we all secretely knew it. So, I think it's time to take back control, do a little lifestyle design, takes those old inspired goggles off the shelf, and find our way back to the better path.

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