When we think of lifestyle design, our minds tend to jump to 4-hour workweeks, location independence somewhere in the Caribbean, and those clichéd shots of someone’s laptop on their legs as they sit on a beach as the rest of us wilt away in cube-land.
And I’m not saying that doesn’t sound hella lovely.
But it’s a bit misleading.
Because whether your goal is to jetset off to St. Lucia one day and never come back, or simply to stay put in your current location and love the heck out of every minute of your day, this image of lifestyle design is awfully limiting. It leaves a lot of people behind, and it leaves out a lot of what “lifestyle design” really, at root, means.
As the Year of Intentional Living decrees, lifestyle design is about creating a life that makes you happy. And that encompasses a lot more than just where you’d like to live or what job you’d rather be doing. A life is made up of days and moments. And if you’re not “designing” those days and moments just like you’re designing all the big-picture stuff, you’re not really creating your happiest life.
Lifestyle Design on the Micro Level
As I’ve been working on this month’s Quit, I’ve come to realize that the environment I live in — the environment that influences how nice or yucky my days are — consists of a lot more than just my physical surroundings.
How I feel throughout the day is, in part, affected by how neat and orderly the physical world around me is. Dish-piled sinks and dusty surfaces make my day feel off. But you know what else has the potential to my day feel off? The mental and emotional environments I set up for myself.
If my ultimate goal is to design a day that gives me the optimal chance of being happy, useful, and creative, I can either:
|Sleep in till 9:00 because I despise the alarm more than I despise the dishes||
|Get up on time so I don’t feel rushed and harried and overbooked all day long|
|Stay in my PJs ad nauseam because no one but the husband will see me all day||
|Shower and at least put on yoga pants and sweats so a) I feel more like a human, and b) I won’t have to hide my hideous self from spontaneous Skype calls|
|Wolf down… something… at my computer mid-afternoon to get a precious 20 mins. extra of work time||
|Take a break to watch a show with the husband and enjoy something made of veggies and whole grains that will make the rest of the afternoon more energetic|
|Schedule every minute of my day silly in the hopes of being mega-productive||
|Leave myself plenty of breathing space to either a) handle the inevitable interruptions that will come up, or b) once in a while enjoy a little something called “life.”|
And so on.
Each of these choices sets up the rest of my day to be one of two things: stressed, icky, and poo-feeling or productive, peaceful, and enjoyable.
Each choice, in and of itself, could be made in a void. Technically, sleeping in feels freakin’ amazing at the time I decide to choose to ignore my alarm. (In fact, it feels like literally the only thing my body is capable of doing at that time why is the world so cruel aaaaaaah!) In that moment, with no other factors considered, sleeping in until my little body decides it’s had enough is the hands-down choice. But it has a lasting, nasty affect on how the rest of my day will go. Pretending every day is the weekend means I’ll have less time to work on my must-dos, no time to work on my like-to-dos, and I’ll spend the day feeling rushed and behind.
The “lifestyle designer” in me says, “Hell yeah no one tells you when to wake up!” The smart Cordelia in me says, “Actually, you tell you when to wake up, and you know full well how many hours you need to have a successful day.”
See how this works?
Just like I owe it to myself to create a physical environment that sets me up for happiness, I owe it to myself to create a day that sets me up for happiness. And that means making smart choices that, sometimes, feel a little intrusive to my immediate small-child happiness but will make long-term me-in-reality happier.
It’s Up to You
Just like no moment is a throwaway, no decision is a throwaway. You know what you need to create a day in which you’ll be happy, relaxed, awesome-feeling and productive. And you know what you can do to create a day I which you’ll be the opposite of those.
The choice is yours, my friends.
How do YOU want to feel today?
Image: Alexandra Bellink
Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.