Have you come across the term “lifestyle design”? It’s the idea of taking your way of living into your own hands and creating a life you really want to live. Sounds like a good thing, right? Except that it doesn’t have this meaning for many people. Many people don’t try to create THEIR ideal lifestyle, they try to create THE ideal lifestyle.
THE ideal lifestyle is the way of living that’s supposed to be the best for everyone. People talk about THE ideal lifestyle when they’re talking like this:
- “You need to travel while you’re young.”
- “We all should grow our own food at home”
- “Living minimalistically is the true way to find happiness.”
- “Having a family will give your life it’s real purpose.”
- “Everybody should be vegan.”
- “Everybody should go to college.”
Notice something? It’s full of “shoulds” and “needs”. Believing in THE ideal lifestyle means that you believe everybody is supposed to live the exact same way. That’s pretty dogmatic, of course.
The consequence? Instead of finding out what their own ideal lifestyle would look like, many people start follow those who dictate them THE ideal lifestyle. Then they measure their success by measuring how much their life matches the ideal lifestyle.
There are two problems with that.
1) THE ideal lifestyle you’re following might not be YOUR ideal lifestyle.
Usually that means that you’re not gonna be very motivated to follow it. You will keep sabotaging yourself and feel bad because you’re not making any progress. Subconsciously you always know what you want and it’s very difficult to put in a lot of effort for something that you do not want.
But even if you can trick yourself into following this path, there’s a problem: After putting in all this effort and time, you might end up living a lifestyle that you do not really enjoy or that is not fitting to what you want to do in your life.
For example, if I went on a three year long round-the-world-trip now (because I believed that this is the ideal lifestyle and everybody should do it), I wouldn’t be able to form a rock band and play gigs (which is what I really want to do). Or maybe you do really want to travel but THE ideal lifestyle tells you that you grow your own food at home. From what I know, it’s pretty hard to take a garden with you. So if you followed THE ideal lifestyle you would stay at home and be probably not very happy about that.
2) Comparing yourself to others always makes you look like a loser.
There’s always someone who has perfected THE ideal lifestyle more than you have. Someone who seems to have a more perfect life from the outside. It’s very hard to be satisfied with your life if you’re always competing against some ideal (which is not even ideal because nothing is) that is out there. Measuring your life from the outside is a stupid idea anyway. The outside can never tell you what’s going on on the inside.
Maybe you don’t think that you’re following THE ideal lifestyle. You still might be doing it. It’s easy to confuse your desires with other people’s desires. Many people mix those up every day. They think they’re following their dreams while they’re actually following something that was defined to them as “THE ideal lifestyle” at some point.
Depending on how you grow up, where you live, who your friends are, how old you are and many other factors, THE ideal lifestyle may look different for you than for other people. Look at those examples for THE ideal lifestyle:
- Retiring early and lying at the beach for the rest of your life.
- Creating a family, building or buying a house, working at your 9-5 job.
- Sex, drugs & rock’n roll.
- Working on your internet business while travelling the world.
- Creating and living in a small sustainable and self-sufficient community.
- Wearing gold rings and watches, driving a Ferrari, owning a huge mansion with a pool.
- Living with only 100 items or less.
- Working 16 hours a day and being as productive as you can be (living for your work).
- Meditating 12 hours a day (living for your spirituality).
You see, there are many different lifestyles that are supposed to be the best lifestyles depending on who you ask – however, only because there are many of them, it doesn’t make them individual.
You are your own person. You are, in fact, different from anybody who has ever lived and will ever live. Of course you share the same basic needs with everyone but the need to express yourself will always be different from everybody else. You have your own desires, your own dreams – YOUR own ideal lifestyle. It might look similar to one of the examples above, it might look totally different. It’s not better or worse than anyone’s ideal lifestyle. Just as other people’s ideal lifestyle is not better than yours.
A lifestyle always consists out of many factors: How do you want to work? What kind of friends do you want to have? Where do you want to live? Do you want to have a family? What kind of family? What’s your ideal living arrangement? What skills do you want to master? How do you want to spend your free time? If you’re not sure about what you want, there’s always the trap of adapting to what other people want or to what other people want you to want. Instead of asking yourself “What would be the best choice?”, ask yourself “What would make me really happy?” or “What do I really want?”. Start listening to your heart, stop observing the outside world so much – they don’t know any better than you do!
Your ideal lifestyle will change
Don’t get too attached to your idea of your ideal lifestyle. It’s probably gonna change a few times during your lifetime – and that’s a good thing: Your changing desires will make sure that you keep growing and have new experiences. As long as you’re sure that you’re creating something you really want to create, you’re moving into a good direction: the direction of YOUR ideal lifestyle.
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