I first heard of lifestyle design in the book The 4-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss. In essence, lifestyle design is the concept of structuring your life to meet your needs and desires, rather than accepting the norm of working 9-to-5 for 40 years, then retiring and living the life you want. In Ferriss’s words:
“Life doesn’t have to be so damn hard. It really doesn’t. Most people, my past self included, have spent too much time convincing themselves that life has to be hard, a resignation to 9-to-5 drudgery in exchange for (sometimes) relaxing weekends and the occasional keep-it-short-or-get-fired vacation.”
The 9-to-5 job seems to work for some people, I’ve met people who value the routine and predictability of a stable job. Other people, including me, chafe under this imposed structure. After struggling for more than a decade to cram my round peg into the square hole of corporate America, I’m starting to consider other options, guided in part by The 4-Hour Work Week.
I started thinking about other options after yet another promising job interview didn’t materialize into a job offer. My long-term contract at a large Fortune 500 is ending in October (2018), and I’ve been looking for new jobs for awhile. Even though some jobs have sounded kind of interesting and seemed like a good fit for my background, I came away from most interviews with a feeling a dread about getting locked into a work environment that would demand long hours and continue the slow crushing of my soul. Although I tried to act excited about the jobs, I’m pretty sure my lack of enthusiasm came across in the interviews.
I’ve reached the conclusion that my brain is wired for diversity, I need diversity in my day. My current job is interesting… for a couple hours. After that I start craving a change in both topic and surroundings. One day it hit me, what if I could work part-time each day, then pursue my numerous other interests? Well, I wouldn’t be able to afford that living in the San Francisco Bay Area, so another thought hit me, what if I moved to Mexico, where the cost of living is much cheaper? I had visited Playa Del Carmen, Mexico in the previous year, and that area really resonated with me. What if I moved there?
At first, this seemed like a crazy pipe dream. I didn’t do anything about it for awhile, and went back to attempting to force myself to focus on my job all day long. But while this thought was simmering in my head, I stumbled across The 4-Hour Work Week, and suddenly this idea seemed less crazy. The book spells out steps for how to make a crazy pipe dream like that become a reality. I was a little skeptical of The 4-Hour Work Week at first, it starts off sounding like it’s going to be about get-rich-quick schemes, but the broader principles it describes helped me to start thinking about my life differently. Principles like questioning all assumptions, everything is negotiable, there are very few unbreakable rules.
At the time of this writing, it’s April, 2018; my contract is up October, 2018. I’ve already contacted one previous employer about working part-time starting in October, and the response was positive. I’m currently finding out if I could also keep my current job part-time, very part-time, like 10 hours per week. If I had these two sources on income, I could live very well in Playa, and continue to save money and travel. My lease isn’t up until January, 2019, so my current plan is to move to Playa for the month of November, return to California for December, and then decide if I want to make the plunge and move to Playa indefinitely in January.
I will provide updates on this experiment in the future.
Thoughts, ideas, questions? Please share in the comments below.
Post script: After visiting Playa Del Carmen, it didn’t seem like the ideal place for me, too much city, not enough nature. So I changed the destination to Costa Rica: Read more here: My Experiment: Introduction.