How to be Anything You Want to Be
Too many of us are trapped in the work we do because we think it’s the only way to get what we want out of life. No matter what your job, the assumption is normally that you can work harder and work longer and that way earn enough money to stop worrying about finances, possibly to move abroad, maybe to buy your ideal home.
This is how you can make life the way you want it and thus you can no option but to work harder and work longer – especially as the costs of living start going up and you find yourself with more and more responsibility.
But the irony is that you’re doing all this work to succeed at something you probably never really had much interest in. You probably never intended to get into logistics, or administration and so why are you bending over backwards to make it work?
What about that dream to be a painter? A writer? Or a singer?
The irony is that you can still do all those things. And moreover, there’s no need for you to be working such long painful hours…
How to be What You Want to Be
Our problem is that we put far too much stock in our careers. We define ourselves by our jobs and we often ask people when we meet them at parties: what do you do for a living?
In fact though, neither your success nor your income is necessarily tied to your day job and there are many ways to be successful that don’t involve working harder.
Want to become a singer? The easiest way to do that is to create a YouTube channel where people can see you singing and then to promote that. If you’re good at what you do, you’ll get the subscribers and you can earn a side income from it!
Likewise, if you want to be an artist then you can start creating art in your spare time and use that to earn extra income by selling online or through local restaurants etc.
In other words, you don’t need to be successful in your job to be what you want to be – in fact the two are often diametrically opposed. The objective should instead be to gain more free time by working less and then to use that free time to pursue the hobbies and activities that you’re passionate about.
Now you have the stability that comes from employment but also the chance to fulfill your dreams and to be successful doing what it is you love.
And guess what? As soon as you put pen to paper, you are a writer. As soon as you make a sculpture you are a sculptor. It’s that easy to be what you want to be: it’s only being successful that’s hard! But if you already have an income and you love what you do, does that even matter?
Most of us already have the means to live the life we want but we get too caught up in the rat race to realize it!
How to Use Lifestyle Design Without Upending Your Life
When you hear the words ‘lifestyle design’, you will probably find yourself thinking of digital nomads. These are people who take their laptop under one arm and go travelling around the world to spend time in other countries. They work on the go and this gives them the freedom and flexibility to see amazing sights, meet new people and generally live a completely untethered life.
But there are downsides to this kind of lifestyle. Apart from anything else, it means that you don’t have a home and you don’t have the option to go back and enjoy a nice hot drink and your favorite TV show. If you have a family, then working online really isn’t an option.
So what do you do instead? Here’s how you can use lifestyle design in other ways to increase your freedom without sacrificing security or comfort.
The Halfway House
If you work online, then you can work from anywhere and you can work when you want to. This means you don’t have to be tied to anyone place but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to travel the world!
Think instead about all the places near you that you might like to visit. I personally live in London. Most days I just work in the coffee shops local to me and I love hearing people chat around me and go about their business while I drink in a warm and creamy Americano.
But then some days I’ll go and visit the rest of London. Sometimes I work at the amazing Madison’s roof bar where I have an amazing view of St Pauls. Sometimes I work on Southbank and watch all the commotion along the Thames. Other times I work in the British Library which has amazing facilities and a very studious feel.
And if I’m tired? Then I just work from home and enjoy the ability to work in my pyjamas.
Flexibilty and Freedom
From time to time though, I do make better use of the freedom my work affords me. Sometimes for example, I go and visit Europe using my pilot friend’s staff travel and I can stay there for a long weekend while working. If my wife is away, why not?
Other times I’ll travel to other parts of town where friends work and meet them for lunch or a beer.
I work out every morning from 9-10am because I don’t have a commute and can finish at 6pm. I have zero problem getting haircuts or visiting the bank either because I can book appointments in work hours. I can eat big meals at home, or just pop into a shop to grab lunch to enjoy with a view.
In short, you don’t need to be travelling the world to live a freer lifestyle. In fact, most of us would probably choose to stay where we are. But simply not having to commute to a busy office 5 days a week is more than enough reason to give lifestyle design a try.
A Review of Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Workweek
The Four Hour Workweek is a book by Tim Ferriss and is arguably the title that initially brought so much attention to the concept of lifestyle design. But just how realistic is the concept of working 4 hours a week? Is there any useful advice here? Or is it all just hype? Let’s take an in-depth look and find out.
Despite the title referring to four hours, the reality is that this book is more generally aimed at helping you to work less however much that may be.
Moreover, it’s about selling the concept of lifestyle design and making you think twice about your current approach to your work-life balance. It’s in this regard that the book is an undoubted success.
Today thousands of people are digital nomads or just place more emphasis on jobs that help them design their lifestyle and this could largely be seen as the doing of Tim Ferriss!
The Tips and Practice
So what are the practical tips that Tim shares in the book? There are many but very often they come down to simple productivity tips: ideas like outsourcing your work to virtual assistants or using apps that can help you organize your emails.
He talks about ways to reduce the ‘communication overhead’ that comes from countless meetings and he recommends cutting clients that cause more grief than help.
None of these tips are going to help you reduce your work to four hours a week though – perhaps they’ll just help you be a little less stressed and possibly come home 30 minutes earlier.
Tim also describes a ‘muse’ business model that can generate passive income by using PPC to promote a sales page that sells an affiliate product. This isn’t exactly ground-breaking and is a limited way of making money at best.
If you want a book on making money online, there are definitely better reads out there. For those who are employed he discusses how to get more flexible hours – but it’s likely that a lot of employers would simply turn your request down flat.
But there are a lot of good ideas here too, they just tend not to focus on the practical side.
Tim is at his best when he’s addressing higher-level concepts and the psychology and philosophy around his chosen lifestyle.
His advice of asking for ‘forgiveness not permission’ for instance can overturn the way you think about time off or travelling.
Best of all is his ‘fear setting’ which is a tool that helps you to identify what’s holding you back from the lifestyle you want – and to destroy it.
In conclusion then, this is definitely a book worth reading and it’s a book we should all be glad was written. It is deserving (on the whole) of all the praise it has received and it’s definitely packed with a lot of useful information.
But don’t think of this as a blueprint and don’t think it’s going to show you how. This is more about the ‘why’ and about lighting the fire under you to motivate some change.
What is the Most Passive Form of Income?
Passive income is income that you earn while you sleep and while you travel. Essentially, it means that you are no longer trading ‘time for money’. In conventional employment, you need to work a set number of hours in order to earn a set amount of money.
This means that you can’t earn money unless you’re putting in the hours. But passive income means that you do the work upfront and then the money trickles in steadily. This then means that you’re able to decide when and how you work – and if you’re really good at it, it may mean you don’t have to work at all…
How is this possible? Read on and you’ll see some examples. Moreover though, we’re going to look at what the most passive form of income is and why some options aren’t quite as passive as they may at first seem.
Earning Money From a Blog
One of the most popular options when it comes to earning money passively is to earn from a blog. Most blogs are monetized either through advertising or selling digital products.
This means that you earn money either when someone clicks on your ads, or when someone buys the product you made/recommended. Once you have built your blog up to enough prominence, you should have a steady influx of traffic without having to do much to keep it that way.
The only problem is that you also need to keep adding new content, to keep promoting your site and to keep managing the comments/responding to fans. So you’ll have a lot of flexibility here but there are some ways in which it isn’t quite as passive as it might at first appear.
Perhaps a better option is something called dropshipping. This means that you’re selling physical products through an ecommerce store but the twist is that these aren’t products you actually have around your warehouse.
Instead, you’re selling products that another company manufactured and stored but they’re letting you put your name on them. They even send the products out but your customers never know that it’s not you who’s doing it.
In many ways this is an ideal business model but it does still require some management on your part to keep the website updated, to promote your store and to handle complaints and queries.
Selling a Digital Product
We’ve seen that selling a digital product can be a good way to monetize a blog for somewhat passive income. But if you can find a big distribution platform, then you can actually sell even more products without having to put the work in yourself.
For example, put an ebook on the Kindle store and it will sell copies even while you’re sleeping once you’ve done the initial marketing. An app can also be an overnight sensation and keep a steady influx of cash coming in for years.
The only problem here? You of course need to think of that great idea in the first place to crack the market!
The Most Flexible ‘Offline’ Jobs
Lifestyle design often seems to go hand-in-hand with working online. The general consensus is that working online is the best way to gain more freedom in the way you work and will allow you to travel more, to spend more time with friends and family and to reduce stress levels.
This is true but it’s not for everyone. The problem with working online is that means you’re going to be on the computer for the majority of your day (of course) and that you won’t get much interaction with colleagues or customers.
For some people this can be enough to cause a bit of cabin fever, making it a less than ideal option. It’s also not going to be ideal for anyone who would describe themselves as a technophobe and doesn’t feel confident working with computers.
But there are other options – there are plenty of jobs you can do offline that offer similar levels of flexibility and freedom, or that have other perks that make them very tempting. Read on and we’ll take a look at some of those jobs and what makes them so great for lifestyle design.
As a driving instructor, you will have the freedom to book appointments and lessons whenever you want to and this will allow you to arrange your work around other commitments. Some driving instructors are essentially self-employed, giving them complete freedom to work as much or as little as they choose.
Okay, so this might not be particularly flexible or particularly glamorous. But just to show how good things can sometimes come in surprising packages: being a garbage collector means you’ll only be working early in the morning and will then have the rest of the day free to do what you want.
You’ll never be asked to stay late at work and you’ll never bring the stress of work home with you… Better than it at first sounds then!
Similar to a driving instructor, a hair dresser can basically choose the hours they want to work and can spend their time relaxed or doing other things in-between appointments!
This same thing can actually be said of any job that gives you the freedom to make appointments – whether you’re a window cleaner, a gardener or anything else.
This work isn’t particularly flexible but it shows how you can actually get happiness and freedom from your job itself. As a park ranger you’ll get to spend more time outdoors, you’ll rarely be stressed and if you’re the right personality type you’ll get a huge kick out of what you do!
Any office job with flexi-time is going to be at least somewhat more flexible than working regular hours. While the precise flexibility you gain varies, generally this will mean that you can come in a little later and leave a little later or vice versa.
Just this small amount of freedom makes all kinds of things easier from booking appointments at the bank to staying out later for drinks in the evening.
Can You Use Nootropics to Get More Done in Less Time?
If you work a typical 9-5 then you are going to be fixed to working for those specific hours. This means there’s no benefit to working faster and then sitting around with nothing to do for hours.
But if you have managed to set up your own business, or if you have discussed flexi-hours with your employers, then working faster means freeing up more time to get home and spend with your kids or doing the things you love!
In these scenarios then, productivity tools help you to earn back your time. And this is one reason that more and more people are now looking into ‘nootropics’ or ‘smart drugs’ to give them the edge. Should you?
What Nootropics Are and How They Work
So let’s start by looking at exactly what a nootropic is and how it works. What’s important to recognize right away is that nothing can make you ‘smarter’ as such because that is a very vague term that is almost impossible to define.
Rather then, nootropics can give you a slight cognitive boost in particular areas like focus, memory or even creativity.
And there are two separate ways that nootropics can work to do this. In the majority of cases, nootropics work by increasing the production of one or more neurotransmitters.
These are the chemicals in the brain that help neurons to communicate with one another and that can trigger changes to our physiology and our mental state.
For example, if you have more dopamine in your brain then you will become more focussed and more driven. This is likely to also increase norepinephrine which triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response.
GABA helps us to relax by suppressing synaptic transmissions and this can also make us more creative – though it is sedative too. Serotonin puts us in a good mood but eventually converts to melatonin and makes us sleepy.
Cortisol is the stress hormone and makes us hungry. Orexin is another sleep-regulating neurotransmitter. Glutamate and acetylcholine are both excitatory neurotransmitters that increase brain activity.
Generally, these nootropics that work by increasing neurotransmitters will focus on excitatory neurotransmitters and thus help to make you more alert, less tired and more focused. These include modafinil, Piracetam, Ritalin and even caffeine.
But there are many problems with these kinds of drugs as they can cause adaptations in the brain leading to potential addiction and making us groggy when not using them.
Likewise, it’s not possible to raise one neurotransmitter without altering levels of many more. Ultimately, the brain is too delicate and too complex for us to tinker with it in this way.
The Other Type of Nootropic
But the other types of nootropics work differently – by providing the brain with more energy (vinpocetine, creatine, CoQ10) or by providing it with the raw nutrients needed for healthy operation (omega 3 fatty acid, vitamin B6, zinc).
These types of nootropic really do trigger widespread cognitive improvement in a safe and measurable way. However, the results are relatively mild and take a while to appear – so it’s not going to turn you into a productivity king over night!
Downsides of Being a Digital Nomad
Being a digital nomad means that you’re taking your laptop and travelling the world. It means that you’ve created some kind of online business model, which in turn means that you earn money as long as you have a computer and an internet connection.
This then frees you up to work where you want and how you want and many people use this to fulfill their ambition of seeing the world and of living a lifestyle that is completely unrestricted. This is one of the truest examples of being free and it’s something that many people who work online aspire to.
But let’s not pretend that being a digital nomad is all rainbows and sunshine. As with any lifestyle, there are downsides to this style of living too and it’s very important to make sure that you know what those are and you’re prepared to cope with them. Let’s take a look…
You Lose Your Creature Comforts
One of the most obvious ways in which being a digital nomad could be considered a bad thing is in the way it robs you of your ‘creature comforts’. That is to say that you’ll probably be living in hostels and eating cheaply when you can.
If you’re someone who loves to kick back on the sofa with a cup of tea and a blanket, then you might find this a bit tough going.
You Will Miss People
Assuming you’re a regular person, you’ll probably find you start missing friends and family after a short while and this can be hard as you’re constantly travelling. It’s especially hard when you see them start to get married, attend important events or generally continue with normal life that you’re no longer a part of.
It’s Hard to Return
When you’ve lived a life where there’s adventure around every corner, it can be very hard to return back to normal. You’ll find it hard fitting into a more regular routine and many people find they have to keep travelling as a result.
You Have to Work
Even with a very passive income model, there will be times when you have to work to make ends meet. This is painful when you have a hundred and one exciting things you want to do but all you can do is to sit in a dingy coffee shop somewhere.
Working is Tricky
Let’s be real: working on the move on a laptop is challenging and there are many ways in which you’ll be forced to compromise. Sometimes the internet will be down, sometimes you’ll struggle to find a power point.
Sometimes there will be a lot of sun glaring on your screen and bees buzzing past your keyboard. This makes travelling and working that much harder!
Your Business Will Suffer
There are some things you simply can’t do while travelling – meeting people in person for example. I was recently given the opportunity to star on a YouTube channel and the company invested in me by buying me filming equipment and lighting equipment.
This was all very exciting – but it wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have a home to store all those things in!
This isn’t to put you off – being a digital nomad is still a fantastic experience. Just know that it isn’t perfect either!
How to Become a Travel Vlogger/Blogger
Becoming a digital nomad means working online and using this to be able to work from anywhere in the world and travel from country to country. A digital nomad is someone who works out of cafes, bars and pubs – anywhere that has an internet connection.
They work while soaking up the atmosphere of foreign countries during the evenings and then during the day, they go and explore these new territories.
But there are many different types of work that a digital nomad can do online. Some will be writers or web designers and generally provide services. Others will run a blog and make money from that. But why not tie your work into the travelling? Why not get paid to explore?
The Business Models
There are two basic ways to do this. One is to create your own channel such as a website or a YouTube channel and then to build an audience for that medium. You can then populate the page with ads – either ‘pay per click’ ads or sponsored banner ads, and then make money as your audience grows.
You can also monetize a site like this by selling your own digital products (perhaps a book on how to live this lifestyle) or selling ‘affiliate products’.
The other option is to work for someone. In this case, you simply have to find a popular travel blog or YouTube channel and explain that you’re going to be travelling and would love to sell your work.
You might need more than one site to get enough business but either way, it will help to have some kind of channel of your own ready-made which you can use almost like a kind of ‘CV’.
Now you can travel and work at the same time by turning your travel into your work.
If you’re vlogging, you’re going to need a good camera. This should be HD or 4K, should be good for selfies (ideally with a rotating screen) and it should have a good built-in microphone or at least a jack where you can plug in an external mic.
Now try to film whenever you see something impressive or worth talking about. When you get back to the hotel or hostel, you can edit this all into one long video and that’s how a vlog is made!
If you’re writing blog posts on the other hand, then you simply need to make mental notes of all the interesting things that happen as you go about your travels. Try to look for interesting angles and stories – don’t simply report on what you’ve seen.
Talk about the actual experience of travelling and of living in these foreign countries. Try to find angles that haven’t been covered a thousand times before.
Another tip is to try and be active on social media, as you can use this to build your brand. Particularly good for this kind of thing is Instagram, which will let you tell the story of your travels so others can live vicariously through your experiences. Give live video streaming a try too though!
How to Create a Business Selling Physical Products
If you’re looking to improve your lifestyle by working online and achieving the kind of freedom that that can bring, then there are plenty of options available to you in terms of the types of businesses you can start.
Pretty much any service that doesn’t require you to be physically present can be delivered online and then there’s the option of running a blog or a YouTube channel.
But what about selling physical products? Actually, that’s surprisingly easy too and you may be surprised at just how viable this option is…
The Easiest Way to Start Selling – Reselling
The most obvious way to start selling products online is to buy them and then sell them at an inflated price. This is a simple method but it does mean you need to be able to find the products for that reduced rate – and the easiest way to do that is by buying them in bulk.
Buy a pack of wholesale clothes or blank CDs for example and then you can sell them online individually for a little more money.
The problem that most people see with this, is that they have to make that initial investment by buying the wholesale goods. They then worry that they may be unable to shift their products and that this will leave them with unwanted inventory and at a loss.
Fortunately though, there’s no need to go this route. In fact, you can start out by buying just a few items – either buying just one product to start with in small quantities or by buying multiple products but only in small quantities.
This is a great strategy in fact because it allows you to test the market and then buy more of whatever’s selling/making the most money.
You then simply reinvest the profits you make into buying more and more stock – meaning you can never lose more than you’ve earned.
Crafts and Homemade Products
Another option is to create your own products. If you are skilled in any type of craft, whether that be painting, sculpting or making jewelry; then you can use this skill in order to create items that you can sell. Start out on eBay or Etsy and have a website of your own to build your brand over time.
This is an awesome option if you have a hobby like that because it means that you can make money from doing what you love!
The big problem with all these models is that they all tie you. In each case you need inventory and that means you need storage – not ideal if you want to travel.
Instead then, consider dropshipping. This effectively means you’re selling someone else’s product but they’re remaining behind the scenes. So they will manufacture the items and even be the ones to handle fulfilment but you keep a large slice of the profits.
Better yet, dropshipping is ‘whitelabel’ meaning you can brand what you’re selling with your own logo!
The Best Gadgets and Tools for Digital Nomads
The most extreme example of lifestyle design is undoubtedly becoming a digital nomad. A digital nomad is someone who works on the move while travelling the world.
Digital because they earn a living using nothing but a laptop and a WiFi connection, nomad because they travel from country to country and never stay long enough to call anywhere home.
There are countless benefits to this kind of lifestyle. Not only do you get to see the world and have incredible experiences, you also get to enjoy complete freedom with nothing tying you down to any one place.
But of course working constantly on the move can be a challenge sometimes. Things like batteries running out, translation problems and lack of space in a backpack can all be an issue. Read on then and we’ll look at some of the best things to pack that will make life that little bit easier…
A microfiber towel is a full-sized towel made of a unique material. This thin material can be folded into a small ball that’s compact enough to fit in a pocket and it dries in minutes. That means you can stuff it into a backpack with your other items and not have to worry about it getting things wet or taking up space. Otherwise though, it works just like any other towel!
Microsoft Folding Keyboard
There are many good keyboards out there but the Microsoft Folding Keyboard has a ton of advantages for anyone who travels a lot. This keyboard folds in half and is slim enough to fit in a pocket. It has a battery that lasts for ages, can sync to two separate devices and is even water resistant against splashes. All this makes it perfect for bringing on a trip and then using with your smartphone when your laptop battery runs out.
Portable Charging Block
One crucial item for anyone travelling while working is a portable charging block. This is a small device that you can charge up and then use to restore power to a range of other devices. That way you can stop your phone or even a small tablet computer from dying while you’re on the move!
Not the Surface Pro 3, but just the plain old Surface 3. This is an ideal choice of laptop/tablet that is incredibly thin and light and has great battery life. At the same time though, it is also able to run legacy Windows software, so you get all your usual Microsoft Office apps and even things like Photoshop will run.
Notepad and Pen
The notepad and pen is sorely overlooked when it comes to lists like this. But it can save your neck in more than one situation!
Not only does a notepad and pen give you a ‘second screen’ essentially for taking notes etc. while working but it also gives you something you can play games with, draw with and even communicate with.
Struggling to order chicken in a restaurant? Get out your pen and paper and draw a chicken!
Here’s a program to help you with your own Lifestyle Design: