A few weeks ago John and I sat down to dinner at ten o’clock. We were exhausted, it’d been dark out for hours, and we’d been up working since six that same morning. I looked over at John and could see the stress written across his face – where I liked to see his smile lines, worried creases were etched there instead.
“I think we need to fix this.” I quipped. “Definitely,” was his response.
What we needed was a little lifestyle redesign – something that John and I like to keep in mind as we go about our day to day. It’s basically just identifying any form of friction or inconvenience in your life and working towards improving or eliminating it. Being in this mindset of constant improvement is important, as the implementation of small, incremental changes leads to achieving exponential results. Eating dinner at 10:00 PM was not ok, and we needed to figure out a way to fix that asap!
In order to really redesign your life, you need to evaluate what you’ve got going on, and think of creative solutions for how to improve or fix issues you identify. Being in a state of improvement like this, tweaking things slowly over time, will ultimately make your life better in the long run, each time you make a positive change. The hard part is actually sitting down to evaluate – after all, you’re looking for personal faults or shortcomings. No one ever wants to talk about faults or shortcomings… but in reality – you should!
Let’s take a moment to evaluate here together. Humor me, and think about it right now by asking yourself some simple questions. Be honest with yourself as you answer each one:
- How are you liking your job?
- Do you need all the belongings that you own or are they creating clutter in your apartment?
- How much do you really need to make to live a fulfilling life, can you work half as many hours and still make enough to survive?
- What ways can you cut expenses?
- Are you happy with your current routine?
- When was the last time you worked out or exercised?
- How much “me time” did you designate to yourself last week?
Just asking myself these same questions, I’m able to think back to so many improvements that John and I have made in just the last year or so.
- How are you liking your job? We hated our jobs at Citi so we quit and found new ones.
- Do you need all the belongings that you own or are they creating clutter in your apartment? Since selling most of our belongings to travel cross-country, we now realize how little we actually need and have purchased minimally since our arrival in CA. We discovered that we could make what we had work for us – and we filled in the gaps with some quality Craigslist purchases. Ridiculously enough, John and I have even donated over half a dozen bags of belongings to Salvation Army since our arrival and I have a whole slew of items that I need to post on Ebay. Once you start realizing how little you need, it’s pretty mindblowingly ridiculous how. little. you. need!
- How much do you really need to make to live a fulfilling life, can you work half as many hours and still make enough to survive? John and I have calculated this, and know exactly how much we need to live on when traveling. All we have to do now is create passive income flows to achieve that monthly cash flow – so far so good!
- What ways can you cut expenses? Oh man, I could write a whole blog post on this one question alone (and I probably will at some point), but to hold you over until then: Reduce your nights out on the town by going out just one night on the weekend instead of two. Bring your lunches to work instead of eating out – poor John has eaten at least three meals of peanut butter and jelly per week for the last year, but hey, each time we review our savings goals, he’s pumped! I can’t stress this one enough, but drink the office coffee! I know it’s no Starbucks, but even $3 on coffee per day is $15 per week and over $750 per year – and I know there’s very few drinks at good old ‘Bucks that are priced at a meager $3!! Ditch luxuries like Cable, HBO, and Showtime. Eat out less and start cooking at home, look for a roommate, or even have a garage sale or sell some of your crap on Ebay. There areALWAYS ways you can cut expenses – you just have to dig deep and look hard enough.
- Are you happy with your current routine? Yes, yes I am, and when I’m not, we evaluate, redesign, and review.
- When was the last time you worked out or exercised? Just this morning at 6:00AM! John and I made that change earlier this year when we were struggling on making it after work. We’ve redesigned this already so we can hit the gym five times a week!
- How much “me time” did you designate to yourself last week? Quite a bit actually – John and I have worked extensively to redesign our lives so that I currently have a bunch of relaxing “me time” to enjoy as I work on my health and the GI issues I’ve been having.
In just reading the above answers to my own questions, it’s easy to see that lifestyle redesign is something John and I practice on the reg, but it’s not always simple. It’s easy to create the life you want to live in theory, but it requires you to step outside your comfort zone and make changes. Being habitual people, it is always hard to switch up a routine or practice, and it’s even harder to take a step back and realize that some of those habits are problematic! Believe me, I know how hard it is, but take comfort that with each successful improvement, moving from your comfort zone becomes all the more rewarding! Once you’ve done the hard part – identifying where the friction lies, the rest is easy – it’s all about experimenting with new and improved methods until you get it right!
Something neat to think about is how technology can affect lifestyle redesign. There are more than likely hundreds, if not thousands of people, currently living the lifestyle that you want! Similarly, I’m sure there’s multitudes that are currently working towards that same lifestyle, just like you. Using the tools that are so readily available to us on a daily basis, you can easily find, connect, and learn from those individuals. Social media platforms, blogs, google searches and even hashtags can be utilized these days – we have access to so much information and so many different people, just at our fingertips! John and I have been able to connect with some people ourselves, and it’s always inspiring to hear about their journey and how far they’ve come while trying to achieve their dreams!
Another great resource for having and practicing this type of mindset is Tim Ferris’ book, Four Hour Workweek. From outsourcing your life, to the 80/20 principle, Tim Ferris covers a series of super-awesome methods to improving your personal lifestyle design. He uses personal experience as the basis for many of his examples, and it’s not only informative, but eye opening in terms of providing guidance for living your life to achieve personal freedom! John and I both read the book more than once, and John refers to it as his “Lifestyle Bible”.
So, back to our problem of eating dinner at 10:00 PM – we had evaluated the situation and now knew it needed a solution. We started out by firstly assessing our current daily routines. Our days consisted of waking up at six for the gym, getting home from our workouts, showering, eating breakfast, and leaving for work, arriving there by 8:30. Working a normal day job, we were there until five or five thirty, until we left to go home. Upon arriving home from work, we’d do any of the following: food shopping, cleaning, chores, working on the blog or investments, doing tasks for one of our goals, etc. The list goes on and on. THEN, after all was said and done, we’d start cooking dinner – the end result being sitting down to eat at nine or ten o’clock, exhausted and very unhappy.
When we began to evaluate our daily routine, we realized that the length of our work days were sixteen hours long with little to no break! We knew we needed to switch something up from our grueling schedule to a more balanced, healthy lifestyle pace! We made an agreement to give a new routine a try – we didn’t set things in stone on purpose, which allowed us the opportunity to assess how we liked our adjustment after a certain amount of time.
Our new and improved routine focused directly on fixing our post-work nighttime schedule. We agreed that as soon as I got home (which was usually a few minutes prior to John’s arrival), I’d start on dinner. John would help me out when he arrived home, so we’d have dual-efforts on dinner prep, which was super efficient. As soon as dinner was done, we’d eat! Yum, that food tasted good eaten between the hours of six and seven-thirty! After dinner, we’d take a walk around the block – it could be a short walk if we had a lot of work on our plates, or lengthy if we had ample time.
The walk was vital to give ourselves the opportunity to take a break. We were removing ourselves from our work environment to ensure that we didn’t get distracted – and the end result was totally worth it! We’d arrive home after the walk refreshed and ready to go! We’d spend the next two to three hours working, however, it didn’t feel as much like work as it originally had when we’d be sitting down to eat at ten o’clock! It’s amazing to think that with minimal rearranging, our night was so greatly improved!
A few weeks after making the switch, we sat down to chat about the changes and what we liked and didn’t like about them. Since then, we continue to tweak our daily routine anytime we feel as though something could be better. If we think an alternative routine might provide a more balanced, healthy time-line, we give it a trial run to see if we like it better.
So, what do you think? When evaluating your own habits and life, are there any areas you can think of that would be easy to rearrange or eliminate? Have you made any changes in your life recently that have positively affected your day to day? Figure out what works for you with trial and error and let us know how you do in the comments below!