Up until a year ago I had never heard the term “lifestyle design.” I had also never heard the terms “solopreneur”, “location independence”, or “digital nomad.” These things were just not part of my universe. But then all of a sudden there they were. I met a few people who used them regularly. Then I knew a lot of people from that world. Pretty quickly, it felt like I was surrounded by them.
I was simultaneously intrigued and baffled. How were these amazing people making a living without working in an office? What were they doing that allowed them to work from the remote corners of the world… and how could they even afford going to the remote corners of the world in the first place?
I started doing research. I read blogs. I followed people on Twitter. I tried to get my arms around this concept of “lifestyle design” and how I could have the kind of independence it seemed so many other people had. I didn’t know how I was going to do this, but that had never stopped me from doing anything else before.
The more I read into it all, the more frustrated I got. It seemed like everybody I followed was an expert, everybody had the answer, and everybody was telling me my perspective was completely off. I started to get a bad taste in my mouth, the way one might if they went to a Tupperware party and realized when they got there: It was actually a cult.
So time moved along and I swayed back and forth from trying to figure things out for myself and following these individuals while chastising myself for doing so.
Eventually I hit a point where I realized, while I wanted elements of the freedom and lifestyle these individuals were enjoying, I didn’t want exactly what they had. I didn’t want their lives. I wanted my own life, shaped and sculpted the way I wanted it, packed with all of the things I enjoyed, and minus the things I didn’t.
It can be extremely challenging in our lives to figure out what we want without completely deifying some lifestyles and demonizing others. Saying something is completely good or completely bad is easy, but requires little to no thought. What is more important is being able to understand what elements of something make it good for you, what elements don’t sit right with you, and what you might change altogether.
Fortunately the universe helped me start to sort through these things. I realized that while I didn’t want a 9 to 5, I also didn’t want to be a slave to my computer in my own apartment. And while I wanted to travel I didn’t want to spend my year living out of a suitcase.
So after months of thought, what seemed like years of frustration, and one amazing lightning strike of clarity, I decided to leave my corporate gig and start my own business. I didn’t give myself a fancy title, I didn’t start calling myself a nomad. I just got tired of being somebody whose future became the end result of other people’s decisions rather than his own.
I took my life into my own hands. My own, now shaking with fear and constant trepidation, hands.
I haven’t made my first million yet but I have made my first sale. I’ve proven that I can create something of worth that was the result of my own ideas and hard work. I don’t need or want a specific term to apply to what I’m doing. I’ll leave that to others to do.
I’m not sure that I believe lifestyle design should be a counter culture or a mass movement or even a title. I believe it should just be a kind of paradigm, something we take as a gift of living the lives we do. It is an option that some of us are fortunate enough to have. It doesn’t have to mean you go against the grain. It can just mean that you make choices you actually want to make, that you have options which make you happy, that you are striving to create a life for yourself that lets you sleep well at night.
And if in 10 years it looks to outsiders like my life was perfectly designed, I’ll be happy to correct them. I didn’t design it, but I did create it.
Richard Boehmcke the founder of VibrantMotion.co which produces videos for brands that tell their unique story. As a prize winning video creator, he has created videos for the travel, digital, book publishing industries and many others. He lives in New York City with one stuffed pug and one cardboard pug.
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