When I talk to people about lifestyle design to be able to do more meaningful work, they obviously have lots of questions.
The most common question they ask about lifestyle design is, “So how long does it take?”
If you tend to look for quick fixes in life, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but redesigning something as complicated as your life takes time.
The length of time is different for everyone, but from my research and experience, it takes between 1 and 2 years or longer. Everyone is different. It took me 5 years and I’m still a work in progress!
The sweet spot for most is around 18 months. At this point their work is funding the most basic needs for their ideal lifestyle.
They also starting to feel the effect of aligning their habits with the purpose of their lifestyle. They begin to feel “in flow” and have greater satisfaction in their work.
Why Lifestyle Design Takes So Long
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve been designing your lifestyle all along. It’s true!
Each and every decision you’ve made has incrementally shaped your path in life. Those small, daily and sometimes seemingly insignificant decisions led you to where you are today.
You may not like where you’ve ended up, but this is the life you’ve currently designed for yourself.
We got stuck in this place because many of those decisions weren’t intentional. We didn’t think much about them. We just went along with them.
Meaningful lifestyle design is about living intentionally in alignment with our values and our purpose.
Your lifestyle is the sum of your habits and your decisions.
It involves making intentional choices about almost everything you do in your life. There are no excuses. You commit to taking responsibility for every decision you make.
Lifestyle design takes as long as it does for 6 key reasons:
1) You need to reframe your mindset.
If you want to redesign your lifestyle you have to reframe your mindset to be open to new possibilities and embrace the change that comes with that.
You also have to let go of the old stories and limiting beliefs about yourself, your views on life, obligations and relationships that are holding you back from creating a new identity.
Transformation won’t happen overnight. It’s a process.
2) You will be creating new habits.
Your current habits have created your current lifestyle. The lifestyle you desire requires a different set of habits.
You have to first assess a lifetime of habits. Some you’ll keep and strengthen, others you’ll eliminate or adjust.
Developing new habits is hard, but once they are created they make living your new lifestyle easier.
3) You need to really learn about yourself.
Most of us have never taken the time to deeply assess ourselves to understand our true potential.
The most enjoyable path in life is the acceptance of ourselves. That in of itself takes time.
You need to get clear on your values, your purpose, your motivations, your work needs and your natural abilities, so you can discover work that is truly in alignment with who you are as a unique individual.
4) You need to deal with your demons.
We are our own worst enemy. Our fears, expectations, desires and cravings hold us back from what we want to become.
If you want to live and work on your terms, you have to take on your demons. It won’t be easy, but it’s better than being in their grip for the rest of your life.
5) You need to commit to your plan.
You can have the life you’ve always wanted, but you need to have a plan and to commit to that plan.
No one else is going to do this for you.
Inevitably there will be setbacks, but if you take the time to learn about yourself, align your habits with your your goals and commit to your plan, there will be no stopping you!
6) You need to fund your transition.
Once you’ve discovered more meaningful work, you might discover you’ll have to take a short-term pay cut to make the transition.
To prepare for that loss of income, you’ll need time to put extra money aside to help you fund your transition.
Lifestyle Design Requires Tons of Energy
By the way, all of those changes about take a ton of energy!
Think about the sleep babies and teenagers require because they are growing so fast and absorbing so much new information every day! (Think also about how tired the parents of those babies and teens get too!)
Redesigning your life around the work you’ve always wanted to do is basically creating a new life for yourself. Personal growth and transformation on that level takes more energy than almost anything else you’ve taken on in life.
However, once you get through it, you will be using your personal energy more efficiently to make you more productive than every before.
The Easier Way
Is there an easier way? Sure, but it comes with consequences.
Everyone has the opportunity to design their own lifestyle, yet few people take on this challenge because it takes a lot of work. It’s hard.
Trust me, I’ve been through this process.
You can continue to drift along and do what you think you are “suppose to do”. You can work for your weekends, look forward to your 2-week vacation each year and count on vegging out in front of the TV for a couple of hours each night.
You don’t have to waste much energy to do that, but on the other hand, living that way might be draining you because you are living out of alignment with your purpose.
Maybe you are wasting your energy trying to please others. You can let external forces decide how your limited time on earth gets used.
You might end up with a lifetime of regrets and feel chronically frustrated because you feel little control over your life.
We live in a culture of immediate gratification. Even I struggle with it.
A year or two might sound like a long time to get what you want, but it’s just a year or two of your entire life. Actually, the process of lifestyle design is the beginning of the rest of your life. It will keep getting better as you learn more and more about yourself.
Sue, you can do nothing at all if it seems too hard. If you want to make a change, you can put it off too.
But why delay giving yourself a shot at living the lifestyle you’ve always wanted and doing the work you’ve always wanted to do?
Either you are going to be stressed out for the rest of your life because you are not living and working in alignment with who you are or you can be stressed out for a couple of years building the life you’ve always wanted.
My advice? Stress out on your own terms.