Why lifestyle design will make you miserable

by Peter Shallard

Lifestyle Design will make you miserable - like this pig

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking in the blogosphere or the book store – Lifestyle advice is all around you. Build a business to support your dreams! Yay!

Lifestyle is the new black. Minimalism rules and pundits are trying to find the new definition of “enough”. It seems that any self respecting entrepreneur is supposed to build a micro-internet business to support their ambitions. Those ambitions usually revolve around tropical retirements and/or working from your PJs while homeschooling your kids.

Sounds great right?

Yet the psychology of these “lifestyle” entrepreneurs indicates they’re more unfulfilled, fatigued and miserable than ever before. 

In New Zealand, land of sparkly waterfalls and lush rainforest, there is a thing known as a “Lifestyle Block”. This is essentially a hobby farm, a couple of acres stocked with all the barnyard animals and organic vegetables that a single nuclear family can ably take care of.

Moving to a Lifestyle Block is the solution to the urban existential crisis – when yet another day in the office seems like it’ll kill you. People swap expensive metropolitan rents, move to the sticks to bask in rural serenity as they nourish their body and spirt on self-sufficient produce.

At least, that’s what is supposed to happen.

The reality is much different. They also talk about the “Death-style Block” phenomenon in New Zealand That’s when moving to a lifestyle farm results in, practically speaking, the end of your life.

City slickers who want to grow tomatoes, keep bees and have a few pigs running around… don’t have a clue. They don’t realize the kind of work that is required. They naively believe they’ll be sitting out on their porch, snacking on roast pork, night after blissful night.

In reality, lifestyle farmers are up to their elbows in pig shit. Not once, but often – because any farmyard task that needs doing now will also need doing again. Soon.

The truth is, running a Lifestyle Block is damn hard work. It’s a never ending cycle of repetitive dirty work, with only the shifts in season providing any kind of variation… and even the seasons get repetitive after a while.

When people get seduced by the lifestyle farming dream, what they’re really looking for is what you get after you successfully farm. They’re pursuing a fantasy of end-of-season apples, fresh laid eggs and dripping honeycomb. No bee-stings, thank you.

The parallels should be immediately obvious. Entrepreneurs who dream the “lifestyle” dream are the same. In fact, all entrepreneurs can get sucked into this.

Wannabe writers want to “have written” not actually write.

Start-up dreamers want to “get funded” but not actually build a business.

Most of all, the home-business folk who want to sell info products, an e-course and some kind of consulting service… they don’t know what they want!

Trying to build a business to fuel your lifestyle design is attempting to do something part time that entrepreneurs with serious street-cred almost kill themselves over.

You’re lusting after the milk and honey, without thinking about the bee stings. You’ve probably never even seen (or smelt) a cowshed.

Think about it. Imagine overnight success, then multiply it by a decade. Imagine your online dog trainer coaching school (or whatever) being booked solid… year after year, after year.

Three years in, would you still be enjoying the “lifestyle” this business creates for you?

Imagine doing whatever you’re doing now (or want to be doing)… then imagine what it would feel like to do that, round the clock, for years.

Still sound like fun?

The idea of building a business so that you can do something else is a dangerous one. Most businesses fail. The ones that succeed require the kind of work that few people apply to their full time office jobs.

The only successful (and happy) lifestyle farmers are those who wake up pumped. Pumped to muck out the pigs, shovel fertilizer and do other uncomfortable and squishy things.

If you naively allow yourself to be seduced by the lifestyle dream, you’ll expose yourself to all kinds of mental self sabotage. Your unconscious mind knows you don’t really want to spend your time training dogs or whatever – especially if you’re only doing that to pay for your exotic vacations. Your unconscious self, in it’s infinite wisdom, will work hard to make sure you spend as little time possible on your business.

Eventually it will “save” you from having to run your lifestyle-business all together! Other people will call this “failure”.

Your business is your lifestyle. If it isn’t, you’re not really an entrepreneur. You’re just someone looking for a better job to do, to pay for your playtime.

The only successful (and happy) entrepreneurs are those who enjoy every step of their entrepreneurial journey, from day one to year twenty. And every day in between.

{ 103 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny Blake October 4, 2011 at 8:22 am

SLOW STANDING CLAP!! This is brilliant, Peter – brilliant! Love this line: “Eventually it will “save” you from having to run your lifestyle-business all together! Other people will call this “failure”.” Hah! No truer words…

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Peter Shallard October 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Hey Jenny! Fancy seeing YOU here :)

*takes a bow* thank you!

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Lisa October 4, 2011 at 9:11 am

Brilliant! I love this! Thank you for writing what I’ve witnessed the past few years.

I’ve been saying that being a creative is a lifestyle and my business needs have a never ending ebb and flow -much like your hobby farm analogy. Funny thing is, I grew up in that hobby farm (sans pigs) and didn’t like it but it did teach me never to be afraid of long hard work and to appreciate each step.

PS. We had 5 seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, & Mud. Ack!

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Peter Shallard October 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Hey Lisa,

I love how you got the reverse lesson of my metaphor here… but for real! Can’t knock an entrepreneur who knows how to get their hands dirty :)

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Phyllis October 4, 2011 at 10:07 am

I’ve always been one who likes to say it like it is…and it seems you are too!

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James Chartrand - Men with Pens October 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

Well said. The analogy of those farms is perfect for giving a clear visual image into what happens, and as I was reading, I was nodding.

When I built my writing course, Damn Fine Words, it was important to me to build something that I felt very strongly about. I knew it would be a lot of work to build. I knew it would be a lot of work to maintain.

And *that*s why I knew this had to be something that I WANTED to get dirty with. I made no false illusions about its potential success and I didn’t dream about the after. All I knew was that there was need and demand and that I had the skills – and the INTEREST – in the muck that came with it.

Very damned important, because I would’ve given up long ago. It took me a year to build.

I also keep in mind that DFW is what I want to do *now*. I don’t know what I’ll want to do in five years, and I didn’t make DFW to be a venue to that unknown. I made DFW for right here, right now.

I’m glad to report it worked. Nicely, too :)

PS: In Canada, we have two seasons. Winter and the construction holidays.

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Peter Shallard October 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I can tell you’ve been working on your writing course, because you started this comment off sounding like an english professor! LOL

You actually bring up another good point though:

There’s a way to kinda moderate the “business is a hard, long road” phenomena – by building your career around projects that have you focusing hard, getting in the mud etc… for just six or twelve months. Then you refresh yourself by moving on to the next thing. The next thing will be muddy as well, but it’s a different type of mud…

…. and variety of mud is a sure-fire cure for entrepreneurial burn out. You can quote me on that.

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Cara Robertson February 13, 2014 at 11:44 am

James,

I love what you said about not knowing what you want in five years, but knowing that you needed to do this business now. But now it has been nearly 4 years. Do you still love it?

PS. Accurate on the Canadian season front.

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Will October 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I’ve read a lot of the lifestyle design books, and admit that I’ve been beguiled.

Then I noticed that all of these books are being written by single guys in their 20s with little responsibility beyond keeping themselves interested and happy.

I’m entirely in favor of finding the balance that works, and I agree that a lot of us work too hard. On the other hand, my personal concept of “enough” might be different from my wife’s, and she has an equal vote. Plus, the kids need braces and they both want to learn how to ski and to be a cheerleader next year.

At my stage in life, my insistence on living a bare minimum life in order to be able to spend four months a year in Bali, or to work my deadlift up to 500 pounds, may be denying my family the things they care about. And that is a huge transgression against my purpose on this earth.

In sum, there is no lack of honor in busting one’s ass, achieving highly, and creating a comfortable and safe existence for the people who depend on you. If Tim Ferriss ever gets married, he may run into some conflicting opinions.

Good on him for selling his ideas so effectively along the way though.

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Peter Shallard October 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I couldn’t have said it better Will!

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JGtow July 4, 2013 at 1:26 am

“Then I noticed that all of these books are being written by single guys in their 20’s with little resposibility beyond keeping themselves interested and happy.”
Okay. So what is your point? Is it to say that these men or women who pursue a life similar to Tim Ferris are not fulfilled or are not living an “ideal” life because thay dont have a “regular” day to day job where they become “humbled” in getting married and raising a family in a house surrounded by picket fences? Although some of these people do tend to talk a lot and deviate from a “normal” way of “grown up” living, I dont see them harming anybody. If they do it from the heart instead of for the sake of impressing other people, then more power to them. You also said that if Tim Ferris ever gets married, he will have conflicting issues. Well, then he shouldnt get married then. I certainly wouldnt! It’s not the 1950’s anymore! Now it is time for future generations to redefine themselves. Juuust Sayin. Just sayin.

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Andrew July 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I think Will was just sayin, too.

He was setting perspective for himself that honored his real needs, rather than blindly buying into the notion that he needed to live in Bali and running himself ragged to get there.

Reaching such a grounded perspective can often take some substantial verbal pushing back of Tim Ferris et al.

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Heidi February 16, 2014 at 9:55 pm

That’s a great point about Tim Ferris not having the perspective of thinking about a family. As a “lifestyle design Mom” I say you can have it all. My husband loves scuba diving, I wanted to live someplace tropical, my daughters love dance and soccer so we moved to the beautiful carribbean island of Cozumel, Mexico. We started a real business that would let us make our own choices on how and where to spend our time. The challenge with this article is that it didn’t really define what lifestyle design is so I’m not sure exactly what will “make you miserable”. Working on a farm would probably make me miserable. Living on a tropical island with my family is the opposite of miserable. Yes I agree that most preaching “lifestyle design” are single guys living off a $1000 or less a month in Asia somewhere. I also know there are families (like us and others I have met in person) who are living life on their terms. To me that’s what “lifestyle design” is “living life on your terms”. It’s not living abroad and working in a job or business you don’t like. We have friends that own a t-shirt company, live in a nice house in California, kids that go to a normal public school, and they only works a couple hours a week. That’s life style design. Living life on your own terms no matter where you are.

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Javier March 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm

I agree with Heidi… Working on a farm could probably turn in to a lot of work raising pics etc and I also agree that many of the books are writing by single man in their 20’s. I did thought about this too that Tim Ferris might have a challenge if he was marry and have children but its not impossible. I DO NOT believe that working towards your lifestyle design can turn you miserable. My wife and I have 4 children we just turned 29. We moved from USA to the beaches of Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Following our dream of a more relax life style. I work from home online for the past 4 years and yes we had challenges but it can be done. Everyone told us we were crazy but I now they wish they could do the same thing. Currently we are doing homeschooling because we realized we did not wanted our kids to be educated by others. Doing homeschooling and the ability to work online has free us and we have the freedom to travel anywhere and live in other places we desired a few months a year. We don’t limit to small budget we have an excellent life style and a very happy one. Walks on the beach, we have a cooker at home, someone that does cleaning 6 days a week, we don’t live with full luxuries stuff, just the basic commodities we enjoy and need. I agree with Heidi, Living on your own terms no matter where you are. Life style design is not for everyone is for those who truly have a burning desire and been single or having a family could make a difference but not impossible.

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Jim November 3, 2014 at 7:33 am

*We have friends that own a t-shirt company, live in a nice house in California, kids that go to a normal public school, and they only works a couple hours a week*

I have to assume there was a rampup time to get to the couple hours a week. Nobody puts up a TShirt website, then quits their job, and works a couple of hours while the dollar dollar bills pour it. I’m going to guess there were years put into building that T Shirt shop, just like EVERY other business.

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Paris Vega October 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I love the idea of lifestyle design, and I’ve seen friends pursue the Ferris ideal varying degrees of success… and failure. I agree with you that starting a business without any interest in the business itself is foolish, but I also see the advantages of leveraging automation and efficiency.

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Peter Shallard October 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Efficiency is always advantageous isn’t it?

I’m not critical of doing things efficiently, but I am critical of working on something for the express intention of NOT WORKING. Simply put, it doesn’t work like that. Pun and double meaning intended.

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Davis Reede October 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

OK, I understand and agree. But now what? I have ambitions that require funding, how do I have a career that I love (or at least don’t loathe) and fulfill on MY purpose concurrently?
@ Will – I’m not where you are -yet- but applaud your clear vision and honor your commitment to your family. Should I hold my purpose in the same regard?
BTW, I know Tim and his current girlfriend… You may be right about future conflicts, she a real firecracker!

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Will October 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm

@Davis – I should be clear that I make no assertion either way on an entrepreneurial career objective versus a corporate one. Both have benefits, and there surely is more upside associated with the former.

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Peter Shallard October 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Hey Davis,

Good question man. Without getting into the specifics (it helps to know what those professions are), the answer is simple: Find a way to make money doing what you love… or at least being in such a close proximity to what you love that it’s more or less the same.

I’ve a friend who started a high-end ski instructing, heli-tours company. He loves skiing. He knew building that business, clocking long hours on the slopes with clients, was exactly the kind of “getting dirty in the entrepreneurial mud” he actually COULD do …. season after season.

If you’re not THAT committed to your passions, there’s always the civilian option right? Take a vacation….

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Tim October 4, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Great one Peter!

As a writer and someone constantly working with clients in this arena it is always refreshing to read your posts. Something that hasn’t been said a thousands times on the web already….

Keep it up!

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Peter Shallard October 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Thanks Tim! I work hard to keep it fresh, so I appreciate your feedback :)

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Pamela Slim October 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm

My definition of success is “enjoy my life while I am living it.”

I am far too impatient to wait for the fruits of my labors. The labors themselves had better be a damned fun time. And muddy, very, very muddy (aren’t we required to use that metaphor in the comments?).

I will say as a coach though that “it depends.”

Some clients are like me and really want to build a biz around a craft they love. Others are able to be more detached from the content of the work, and can have quite an enjoyable life and biz knowing that they are reaching their lifestyle goals by making good money with something that is not terribly engaging.

To each his/her own.

Frankly, I wouldn’t know what to do laying on a beach all day. :)

-P

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 9:36 am

Heya Pam,

One of the things I’ve noticed with the type of clients you’re talking about (I have them too) is that, over time (and certainly if they’re very successful) they start to appreciate “the game” itself. They get fired up not necessarily about the detail of whatever widget their business is about…. but about the challenges of leadership, operations, sales, whatever. They love the (mud) hustle for the hustle itself.

I’ve got a handful of clients who are founding partners of law firms, hedge funds and all that sort of very button downed stuff. Not exactly “passion business” material. Nevertheless, the folks killing it are usually lit up about … well, killing it!

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Melinda October 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Is it ironic that I’m reading this while drinking my morning coffee and watching my backyard chickens scratching around in the grass near the vegie garden? And we homeschool our daughter… LOL

“Imagine doing whatever you’re doing now (or want to be doing)… then imagine what it would feel like to do that, round the clock, for years.” That there is the reason I sold SuperWAHM. I couldn’t keep doing it. And as you also said, the subconscious will do everything to keep you from it. It did. I got to the point where I didn’t like where my business was going, nor how most of my clients were working.

Again ironically, it was the lifestyle dream that was annoying me. Mums wanting to work from home for a few hours a week and make a good full time income. And usually, by selling someone else’s products, and competing in crowded marketplaces. Because all these books/video’s/websites were telling them how easy it was. Being the bad news person, that it was hard work, full time work, didn’t make me popular.

Now, I’m on a 12-18 month break from business. Working out what DOES make me pumped in the morning that I can do for the next 10 – 20 years in order to pay for the lifestyle that I want. There’s no such thing as Work-Life balance. There is simply life, and work (be that as an employee or an entrepreneur or whatever) is a part of life.

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 9:41 am

Hey Mel,

I actually WAS thinking a bit about you when writing this post. I think you’ve made a good point about work-life balance. Talking about “work life balance” presupposes you’re not living while you’re working.

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Melinda October 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I thought I recognised myself, but the pigs put me off….. LOL!

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Karri Flatla October 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Melinda, you are a woman after my own heart! Yowza, that was like reading my own essay. We should talk :)

I pulled back from my online career a number of months ago because frankly, I was spending too much time feeling incensed by the lunacy of it all. People wanting something for nothing. People trying to sell (what amounts to) nothing for something.

And most of it mattering not a schwack to the world beyond our computer screens.

The false belief is that you can somehow “trade work for life” and vice versa and come out the other side whole. I suppose some can sustain this for a while but that’s one helluva way to spend 40+ hours a week. Ultimately we pay the price with our physical and emotional health.

The toughest (and most evolutionary) thing to do is step away from our egos long enough to get in touch with our own principles. Then live up to them.

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Lisa October 12, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Okay, Kerri! Yowza your bad self!

” People wanting something for nothing. People trying to sell (what amounts to) nothing for something.”

You’ve been in my head for the past 3 years, haven’t you? The hype is what turns me off and and the utter lunacy of it all is exhausting to watch. It’s nice to read that people are still living a reality-based lifestyle.

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Karri Flatla October 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Yes, we can all be *reality stars* can’t we? ;)

I’ll take more reality over more BS any day of the week. Much more filling.

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Jonathan Mead October 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm

This is the peril of anything that gets romanticized. We are trying to reap the *end* without thinking about the journey. Standing on the summit of Everest may be nice, but it requires going through hell to get there.

Great article Peter. Keeps things in perspective.

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 9:41 am

Well put Jonathan. Thanks for stopping by to comment :)

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Don McAllister October 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I believe many build a business just to create a platform to do something else. It’s ironic though – if you don’t love your business (and all the negative aspects that are involved with it), it won’t love you back. If you approach business as simply a tool, then I don’t think you’ll be as successful as you could be. Excellent post!

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Cory October 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm

“If you naively allow yourself to be seduced by the lifestyle dream, you’ll expose yourself to all kinds of mental self sabotage. Your unconscious mind knows you don’t really want to spend your time training dogs or whatever – especially if you’re only doing that to pay for your exotic vacations.”

I love this post! Thank you for nailing so well why “lifestyle” business plans bother me. They always smack of a “wanting something for nothing” mentality. Before sharing, I had to think a while about whether I’m just addicted to my Protestant work ethic. Am I held hostage by some inherited “morality” that work must be hard and serious to be worthwhile, or to be considered “work” at all?

Nah…I think, for me, “work” needs to engage and awaken the best parts of me or I am wasting my “juice”. That waste dishonors me, my “creator”, my ancestors, and the ones I would serve. Not that creating lifestyle businesses are inherently bad. I would never accuse Tim Ferris of lack of engagement. but it seems his work, his lifestyle design is a means to engage an over-arching, near divine curiosity. That appears to be his blessing and curse. Those who try to copy him, thinking they can get rich enough to do what they want by putting more consumer crap in a glutted marketplace, miss the point entirely.

I’m guessing Ferris started out asking a question and it burned a hole in him to find an answer, which generated the next question and so on. Totally different energy from “get an idea, design some crap that can be brought to market cheap, automate it, sit on ass, the end. or fly around the world, the end. boring. Ferris has turned his curiosity into his fuel, his hero’s journey. THAT is what seems worth emulating.

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 9:50 am

Wow Cory, thanks for this comment! Really really good points.

It’s almost like those who follow instructions (from many sources) to build a “lifestyle business” are taking the shell, but leaving the nut.

Hero’s journey is right. It’s occurred to me that those trying to build lifestyle businesses are (unconsciously) aiming to create a venture that ISN’T at all a part of that journey – no challenges, no dragons… just smooth steep growth curves.

Trying to avoid your quest never seems to work out… funny that.. .

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Jimmy Zhang October 5, 2011 at 3:20 am

If you want a million dollars you have to put in a million dollars worth of work. Good post.

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 9:51 am

Or at least create a million dollars worth of value… which requires a million dollar idea AND the execution to make it real.

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Mandy Lehto October 5, 2011 at 6:29 am

Morning Peter. Your post nails it. I used to be an investment banker, working nutty hours in a stressful environment. When I made the leap to being self-employed, the shift came as a huge relief, because I (foolishly) thought things would let up. In hindsight, I sometimes missed the ‘easier’ hours of banking….Self-employed is another term for busting-your-chops. The good news? When you love what you do, you whistle while you work, whatever your version of shovelling SH*T might be! Great post – thanks!

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 9:54 am

Hey Mandy!

The good news is, as an entrepreneur, you’re probably not doing anything edgy enough if you don’t occasionally wish you could give it all up for your old office job. :P

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Brad Farris October 5, 2011 at 7:00 am

It’s easy to see how a farm is a lot of work, most of us have some idea of what a farmer does (work every day, all day). But I think the beguiling thing is that being an entrepreneur is a pretty foreign concept to a lot of people. I mean practically, what do entrepreneurs do every day? Because it’s abstract it’s hard to evaluate.

Also farmers end up doing lots of different things, fixing engines, birthing cows, shoveling /stuff/… Entrepreneurs need the same mix of being good at EVERYTHING; which results in making you feel pretty damn stupid most of the time.

Great perspective.

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 9:56 am

Thanks Brad! The metaphor is a good one. It totally applies to leadership too… the farmer who makes the jump to hiring help immediately finds him/herself burdened with a whole new set of challenges… and they’re a whole new kind of muddy.

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Lindsey Donner October 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Boy, I can think of a dozen people offhand who should read this.

You write, “Most businesses fail. The ones that succeed require the kind of work that few people apply to their full time office jobs.”

I was just speaking with a source for a story I prepared for a client. The source said (and I paraphrase), “I make referrals [to an exclusive CEO organization] only of people who love the game of business, the people who really get it.”

The people who get in the mud. They’re the upper echelon. Not the people waiting for the honey.

An outcome can be inspiring, provided it’s worth the work required to get there. But there’s still work to be done. I have watched more than one client fail on this premise. When they ask me what I’m doing right, all I can say is, “Working. Really, really hard. Right now. On and in my business–every day.”

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Hey Lindsey, so glad you *get* this. I love your sound byte too – although I imagine those looking for a magic-bullet tip don’t appreciate hearing the truth so much ;)

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Alexis Grant October 5, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Peter — Great post. A friend forwarded it to me, and now you’ve got a new subscriber! Might even write a related post on my blog tonight and link to it… If I can take time away from my business to get to it :) Lots of food for thought here, so thanks for sharing.

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Hiya Alexis, glad to have you along for the ride! :)

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Alexis Neely October 5, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Damn good post Peter. The part I love the best “Your business is your lifestyle. If it isn’t, you’re not really an entrepreneur. You’re just someone looking for a better job to do, to pay for your playtime.”

It’s why I so strongly recommend that people build their business around their Great Work – the work their soul came here to do. That way when they are spending all day everyday on it, it’s purposeful and meaningful.

I’m not so sure about this part because there is a lot of stuff that we have to do as entrepreneurs that I (and a lot of people) find just plain sucky. But, maybe the practice is to find the fun even in those things. Or to hire people to do those things and to make sure to have a business model that supports hiring people to do those things.

“The only successful (and happy) entrepreneurs are those who enjoy every step of their entrepreneurial journey, from day one to year twenty. And every day in between.”

I love your work.

Thank you,

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Peter Shallard October 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Hey Alexis,

Good point on that second sentence. And I know what you mean… who enjoys filing their taxes? However, I guess the enjoyment is there for those entrepreneurs who appreciate “the game”.

It’s like how playing Monopoly is fun (for some!) … landing on someone else’s hotel always stings a bit… but you’re having a good time nonetheless!

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Jonathan Olaso October 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Hi Peter,

You present a good point of view. Many wanna be entrepreneurs get seduced by the lifestyle without realizing the work that needs to go with it.

However, your statement “The idea of building a business so that you can do something else is a dangerous one” and “Your business is your lifestyle. If it isn’t, you’re not really an entrepreneur. You’re just someone looking for a better job to do, to pay for your playtime” is something I disagree with completely.

I have the same thinking as Michael Gerber (author of the book E-Myth) where he said “Your business us not your life.”

Excerpt from his book:

[Your business and your life are two totally separate things.

At its best, your business is something apart from you, rather than a part of you, with its own rules and its own purposes…Once you recognize that the purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life, you can then go to work ON your business, rather than in it, with full understanding of why it is absolutely necessary for you to do so.]

I believe all entrepreneurs begin with a dream or the end in mind. The successful ones are those that figure out what the next steps are and follow through.

I invest in real estate not because I love buying buildings, doing renovations, dealing with contractors, tenants and bankers, far from it. I do it because of the income it provides me. It allows me to be free and to do the things I love (playing golf for one).

I think the important point you that you make here is that if you’re going to build a “lifestyle business” don’t ignore the work that comes with it. And if you’re okay with the work that comes with it then by all means go for it.

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Prime October 7, 2011 at 4:54 am

Hi Peter, I got this from a friend’s link post and after reading it, I was v impressed with what you just imparted. Finally someone wrote a post that gives the real score and calls the BS vs all those scummy lifestyle design business (yup I’m no fan of Tim Ferris here).

But I esp loved your reply to one of the commenters: “I’m not critical of doing things efficiently, but I am critical of working on something for the express intention of NOT WORKING. Simply put, it doesn’t work like that. Pun and double meaning intended.” Hah! and double Hah!

Hah! I’m soo adding you to my RSS feeder.

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Mark October 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Wow! Thanks for the eye opener. It’s like you were watching me. Boy, have I been on the wrong thinking path. Sucks to find this out, but at the same time, better to know now then when i reach failure point in a few short months, lol.

Thanks for this very insightful post.

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Ian Kath October 10, 2011 at 8:24 pm

For God’s sake Peter, Shut-up.

Can’t you hear all the Internet Marketing gurus yelling, “Don’t mention that the Emperor has no clothes”.

This is the information that no one wants to hear. It takes years and decades of constant work to be the overnight and continuing success.

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Anna Roe October 14, 2011 at 4:36 am

Wow Peter – great article.

It made me look away from the screen and think!

Why is it that when someone states the bleeding obvious, it’s a revelation to the rest of us?
That’s invention.

Thanks,
Anna

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The VMCA October 14, 2011 at 7:50 am

Such a *real* post. Great reminder for me, that the fact that I love what I DO, is more important than the fact that I’m able to do it from home, with a view of the garden, and be here for my kids. Being able to sit down at my desk with a happy heart to *get going with work* is all the reward I need :)

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Trish Goodfield October 15, 2011 at 9:22 am

A friend forwarded this post to me, she thought it mirrored my thoughts on the subject. In future whenever somebody asks me about going from hobby to business instead of giving them my “business plan vs lifestyle plan” speel I will point them here.

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Adam October 24, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Hey,
This expresses my beliefs on “lifestyle design” almost perfectly! Especially fond of this line: “The idea of building a business so that you can do something else is a dangerous one.”

Brilliant!

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Allyson October 25, 2011 at 6:05 am

Ha! you are awesome. Its so true how we get so easily whisked away by rose colored glasses. Reminds me of how so many of us get all nostalgic about times gone by as if it was easier and simpler………I’m sure our “ancestors” are rolling in their graves.

Can’t wait to read more!

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Axel Metayer October 28, 2011 at 10:43 am

A good founder is someone who is pumped and love to solve problems. Eg: find a more efficient / creative way to muck out the pigs.

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Sam June 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Lovely! my point exactly. I think the biggest problem in business is not laziness, its lack of innovation.

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Rachel October 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Excellent article, thank you! I had no idea how much work it was to start my own business when I started my own business :) Thankfully I love what I do and see it as an expression of who I am, not as the work that I do. I can say that I definitely saw myself at harvest time with my feet up without actually picturing the hard work that led up to that. I am only know, six months into it, beginning to grasp what it takes to run my own business on my own. I may have even thought twice if I had read this article before I got stuck in ;)

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Sarah November 4, 2011 at 10:25 am

Great post Peter – well said and worth repeating.

Now that you’ve identified the issue, I believe that more exploration under the hood of the problem is the next step (or maybe you’ve already done that).

Why are people abandoning their day jobs?

Why are they moving to New Zealand and chasing pigs?

What is that drive for fulfillment?

Why are so many people becoming lifestyle coaches?

There is nothing new under the sun. I believe people have seen others do it, and instead of drawing on their own unique combination of gifts and talents and expressing from that place, they resort to copying. I know that I have fallen prey to that. You think, “They’ve done so well why not just do that? They seem so happy, I want to be too.”

I think instead, people need to sit quietly with themselves and look at their own unique collecting of education, gifts, passions and talents and coming from that place, serve the world. It may or may not pay any money, but at least you are doing your meaningful work. Once you are coming from that place, things start to seem clearer, I believe, because you aren’t all tangled up in trying to live somebody else’s dream.

Thank you again for saying what needs to be said. You realized something and noticed that it wasn’t yet written and wrote it. Bravo.

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Rebecca Tracey November 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Hrmmm…

So at first glance, I was like – this guy is a jerk!

Then I kept reading. and I thought – yup, cynical jerk.

Then, I sat back and really had a think about it.

And I realized I was taking it personally.

I have just started my coaching practice, and yes, I have designed it to fit with the lifestyle that I love, so I suppose you could call it a lifestyle business.

I love spending time outdoors, and grabbing my climbing bag and going to explore new crags. I love road trips and spontaneous adventures to warm sunny places. And I like random Wednesdays off.

But I never expected it to be easy. Since I launched my website just 2 weeks ago, I have been working my ass off, and LOVING IT. I don’t foresee any immediate end to the hard work, and I wouldn’t want there to be.

I practice what I preach, and there’s no way that I could run a business that I didn’t feel 100% passionate about. And I see where you’re coming from in saying that there are people out there who expect it to be a walk in the park.

I guess the difference is that it *feels* like a walk in the park because i LOVE what I am doing. The work is rewarding now, and getting paid for it? Man – It’s amazing. I guess I just didn’t realize that so many people would think it was a breeze?? My experience is that everyone seems to think running a business is “too hard”, rather than too easy…

So I guess if I don’t take this personally and just assume you’re talking to the other 99% out there, then jerk status revoked. You have a well written blog post here my friend!

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Marc Beneteau January 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Yes indeed, a good warning to anyone venturing into this black hole.

I have been quite successful in so-called “lifestyle design” (http://wpacademy.tv and http://lifestyledesignschool.com) however its been 7 years of “blood sweat and tears”.

Certainly the outcome has been worth the effort (income both active and passive, time freedom, location independence etc) but to go into this thinking its going to be an easy street — as Timothy Ferriss implies (despite his own example to the contrary) is foolish

And regardless it’s an all-consuming passion in which you are going to need to do a lot of things both pleasant and not-so-pleasant (the “jack of all trades” problem), some of which you are going to be terrible at but you need to do anyway because you can’t hire someone

So good warning to all

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Marco Lee February 11, 2012 at 9:17 am

I think It had been around four years since I’ve read the 4hww. Truth is it wasn’t the catalyst that made me want to do lifestyle design.

I’m now 22 and I want to do LD even when I was a kid. Because I don’t want to work. Right now, I am “achieving” the lifestyle that I want. My action course is somehow simple. Work in one month and then take a vacation for the rest of the year. It is possible. (Or work when I want to to further increase the funding for the next years)

Though it took me around 2 years to get all this info about business, and internet marketing, and other stuff into my system, I am seeing the fruits of it. Now I can do what I want without restrictions. (I still work though. I coach from time to time, when I want to. It also gives me extra income.)

Lifestyle Design, it won’t really make you miserable. As long as you know what you are doing and it is getting the results that you want. Make it simple, make it calculable, it won’t make you miserable.

What’s your ultimate goal?
What are the exact and actionable steps that I need to do in order to achieve it?
What are the results that I would like to have?

That’s just it.
Ciao

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Sam June 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm

These comments are sad. What happened to believing in the power of the mind. There is a great misconception here on what lifestyle design is all about. Of course nobody goes into any business or financial engagement without some interest in it. You state that start up dreamers want to be funded but wont start an actual business but that isn’t really true. If they knew how best to start it they would. Writers want to have written and they also want to write if the right idea and technique are in their hands.
The idea everyone here is missing is that with lifestyle design there is a need to scale your income source. Make one product available to many and that way it will pay you great sums all at the same time. When you point out that some work will be done over and over again it appears like we are all dreaming of running one man shows where its DIY or die! That’s what automation and outsourcing is for.Take a book for instance. With the right amount of quality and market strategy, you can have thousands of copies sold in weeks. If you cant market for shit, get a pro to do it for you. If you think you’re writing is a little off, hire an editor, proof reader or even a ghost writer to rewrite it. If you really want to write great stuff then its a win win situation for you because this time it will be an effort of passion. By all means, if you don’t like pig shit, why can’t you hire people who do? :)

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Peter Shallard July 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Hey Sam,

Your comment here implies an over-arching generalization, the simplicity of which betrays you.

Plenty of people do the things you claim they don’t. I know (and work with) a number of very successful authors who would disagree with your comments about the publishing of books.

I think we’ve missed some dots somewhere. Everyone I know who’s built a successful business has done so because they get a reward from “doing the work”.

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Kelci November 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Woah.

I REALLY needed to read this, especially with that quote “Your business is your lifestyle.” As an artist trying to get my freelancing off the ground, I really needed to hear that so I’m not distracted by notions of grandeur (like getting up at 2 in the afternoon for poops and giggles).

At the same time, though, there’s something to be said about being thoughtfully fun and responsibly relaxed, and I think that’s what this post is really trying to say. So thank you.

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Marc Beneteau December 17, 2012 at 9:18 am

Beautiful post, there is deep wisdom in “The idea of building a business so that you can do something else is a dangerous one”, and is the fundamental fallacy of the Tim Ferriss model (which was really more of a strategy for selling books than for creating a succcessful business in the first place). I actually have a whole website on this topic http://lifestyledesignschool.com
cheers,
marc

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Angela February 16, 2013 at 1:44 am

I don’t know which lifestyle designers you’re referring to, but the ones I know ALL say that you have to love what you’re doing and that you have to work damn hard at turning it into a business. Typically working longer hours than you would a a 9-5 job. The Lifestyle Designers I follow are all about doing something that you’re passionate about so that you never want to do anything else. I agree they seem to be single men that want to travel the world and want very little belongings. I’m a Mother, I want to create a business doing what I love, I don’t want to travel, I want a nice, comfortable home, I want nice things, and I want to raise my daughter. I don’t see why I can’t enjoy my life and my business?

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Jane Young April 1, 2013 at 6:16 am

I live a designed lifestyle, in which my freedom is non-negotiable. Yes, it is a hard slog but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sometimes it feels much harder than having a job, then I get a consulting gig and have to be in a client’s office at 9am for a couple of days and I remember it really isn’t. I might work until midnight this way, but at least I can watch a movie before I start work, if that’s what I feel like doing.

Tim Ferriss is an incredible marketer, hence he makes it sound easy to give his readers the ‘can do’ impetus they need to make a change. I think what also comes through in his stories is extreme self-discipline.

Discipline and tenacity are really the traits for success, whether you’re an entrepreneur or athlete. Working yourself into a position where you sit on your ass while your bank balance notches up requires intense planning, preparation, groundwork, analysis and discipline. Without this, lifestyle design disappoints and doesn’t work (no surprise really, as otherwise everyone would do it!).

Done right, lifestyle design offers a methodology for prioritising tasks more effectively, wasting less time on low value activities, becoming more mindful of the things you hate doing vs the things you love and the art of delegating the former so you can focus on the latter.

There really isn’t much difference between lifestyle designers and entrepreneurs. They are both practising the art of defining a vision, identifying market opportunity and rigorously, continuously testing their assumptions and analysing results of their experiments. If all marketers and new product development teams understood these principles, R&D would be less wasteful and strategies would be more agile.

The ability to identify an unexploited market opportunity and make yourself heard over the noise is very challenging.

Having the clarity of thought to separate tasks you can delegate from those you can’t, then give foolproof instructions to ensure the delegated tasks are carried out effectively, is also extremely challenging. Both are essential ingredients of entrepreneurial success.

Overall, I think if you interpret lifestyle design as a quick fix, it will hopelessly disappoint and will make you miserable. If, however, you take the principles and apply them to your life, with the necessary (massive) dose of discipline required – whether you’re in a corporate job, are founding a tech startup, or are trying to write a novel – they should make you more successful. How ‘free’ you end up is entirely dependent on the foundations your build and the hard graft you put in up front.

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Steven Memel November 21, 2013 at 5:27 am

Excellent comment Jane! Love your clarity.

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August Jette May 26, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Wow!!!

I don’t even know where to start when commenting on your article.

First and foremost, to use the idea of lifestyle farming as an accurate example of why lifestyle design doesn’t work is nuts. Of course lifestyle farming doesn’t work. There is almost absolutely nothing sustainable in farming. I grew up on a farm. Someone thinking that farming would be a good business model for lifestyle design doesn’t understand what lifestyle design is. Farming is very very hard work. It is also unforgiving and impossible to walk away from.

To me lifestyle design is about deciding what life you want first then making your business serve you instead of your whole life serving your business. This is a very doable proposition. Is it as easy as some people make it sound to be? Of course not.
But it is doable and someone does not have to make their business their whole life in order to have the freedom that their business could give them.

“The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss is a great book. Is it the end-all solution to how someone should run a business? No. However this book does have some great ideas that are in line with other author’s/entrepreneur’s work like: “Rich Dad Poor Dad” or “The E-Myth” or “The Monk and The Riddle”.

Lifestyle design in my life has actually been the vehicle for a much more happy life. For my life to say “Lifestyle design has made me miserable” is exactly the opposite of what it has done.

To me, Lifestyle Design is about the shift from the idea that we are what we do and we must give our whole lives to our professions to live the life you want and when you work make it serve your life while you build it.

That’s the best I can explain it.

I don’t expect anyone to agree or even understand what I mean or think about this subject. All I know is that I have created a business that takes minimum effort to maintain and now I live my life with the “time freedom” i have always wanted to be with my family. Was that business easy to build? No. But when I built it I built it with lifestyle design in mind and because of that I have been “Free” from my life being subservient to my profession. It has been 6 years now and I am loving every minute of it.

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Peter Shallard May 29, 2013 at 10:19 am

Hey August,

Your thoughts on comparing lifestyle farming and lifestyle design actually confirm what I was trying to get at. Lifestyle farming ISN’T “sustainable” and most attempts at lifestyle design-esque businesses fail at sustainbility too! There’s usually a lot more mud, sweat and hardwork than most people realize … in both. That’s how they’re similar and a good metaphor.

I understand your definition of lifestyle design. It sounds like you see it as framing “work” as something separate to our lives and passion – as a lifestyle designer you’re not looking to find meaning and purpose through your work, but rather just generating the money to buy freedom to find meaning and purpose in other activities.

It sounds great, but I’ve *never* seen an example of an entrepreneur who’s built a successful “lifestyle design” business without having more than a little bit of passion for what they’ve created.

I’m open to being corrected, but it hasn’t happened yet :)

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August Jette June 5, 2013 at 6:48 pm

I have seen some people do exactly that, built successful lifestyle design businesses with a little bit of passion.

The difference that I have seen in them vs. those who can’t or won’t is that they don’t define who they are by their profession. In this country we always ask someone we first meet, “what do you do?”. That question is very telling that most americans identify who they really are by what they do for a profession. The people who have built these businesses that I am talking about, who aren’t necessarily filled with passion for what they “do”, are people that really don’t like the question, “what do you do?”. Here’s why. They make sure that when they are considering what business to run they first look at what kind of lifestyle they want then they find a business that will give them that lifestyle. Most people do the opposite, they define their whole existence by their profession then wonder why they don’t have the lifestyle the want.

The whole foundation for lifestyle design, for the people I am talking about, is to define what they want for a lifestyle first then make their profession serve that lifestyle. That just isn’t how we, in the u.s., are taught. We are taught that we have to love what we do. We are taught that having a title and a profession that we can be proud of is the most important thing, professionally. Hence the question, “what do you do?”. We ask the wrong questions and we approach our lives from the wrong direction. That is why lifestyle design doesn’t work for most.

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Leo Jette May 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm

To add one thing to the previous post made by my brother.

Following Robert Kiyosaki’s explanation of the difference between the “S” in business vs. the “B” in business, I think I can understand both points of view. In his book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” Mr. Kiyosaki lines out what he calls the Cash Flow Quadrant. E. B. S. and I. The four ways to make money, legally, in the U.S. E = Employee, B= Business Owner, S = Self Employed and I = Investor.

If you read this article and you are an S = Self Employed. You will probably agree with it. Most S’s build their businesses around themselves. They want to and have to have their hands in everything to make their business run. Mr. Kinosaki actually explains that it is actually the reason why they run their own business. They “NEED” to have their hands in everything. Of course there is nothing wrong with running a business this way. It gives the owner what he or she needs from the business when it is done correctly. Which in most cases for an S is control. Also the feeling that they are in charge. So I can understand that if you are the “S”-type you probably think Lifestyle design is crap. Because you have the need to have your hands in everything and your whole identity can be tied to your business. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Michael Gerber in “the E-myht” would call the “S” the “manager”, the one who has to have their hands in everything managing everything, which is fine. That is their personality and their emotional need in their business.

However if you are “B”, a business owner type. You don’t design your business around yourself, you design a business that will run itself. Michael Gerber would call the “B” a “Leader”. He or she is the one who builds his or her business around systems and processes and then they let someone else do the technical work and the managerial work of their business. Their most important emotion or connection with their business is to have their business serve them; to give them the life they want the business to provide them. They usually are the types that are pro Lifestyle Design.

So both sides are correct. It just depends what is important to you.

If you are the type of business person that loves what they do, has to have their hands in everything and builds their business around themselves, then lifestyle design may not be for you and it could make you miserable. Why? Because you don’t want to let go, you don’t want to retire. You love what you do and you want to keep doing it. That makes sense.

If you are the type of business person that has the goal to make your business serve you. You probably see it as a means to an end, the vehicle to provide for you the life you want. You may not want to build it around yourself but instead around others and their abilities and around business systems and processes; then lifestyle design probably fits more in line with your viewpoint.

To say that lifestyle design will make you miserable is true in some cases in other cases it isn’t.

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Peter Shallard May 30, 2013 at 11:33 am

Hey Leo,

This is an interesting point and I think you’re right about the distinction about the two different types of business. The part you’re missing (or over simplifying) is just how HARD it is for most folks to build a “B type” business where everything is on autopilot and you just count your money by the pool.

I’ve worked with plenty of entrepreneurs with multimillions in revenue running seriously big (staff wise) businesses that STILL find the need to come in and DO stuff, lead and generally help the company grow.

The point of this article is that that type of labor is inevitable and to go INTO business with the expectation that it won’t be … is a mistake.

Hope that clarifies things for you :)

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John Kenney May 30, 2013 at 3:05 am

Yeah man. That pretty much says it. I started with a simple concept of if you will it dude, it is no dream (The Big Lebowski). But I’m stuck as hell right now. No focus. No motivation. Talking about lifestyle is less fun than actually living the lifestyle.

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Peter Shallard May 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

“Talking about lifestyle is less fun than actually living the lifestyle.” This.

I sent you an email John – I have a suggestion that just might blow your mind :)

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Erasmus June 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Have to dissent here.

I’ll grant you that no one who takes no pride or satisfaction in their work is going to crash and burn. You have to have a stake in whatever it is you do.

However, I think you are being a little unfair, not in the specific issue per se you are addressing, but in much of the other bits and pieces in Ferris advice. For example, cutting out all the extraneous nonsense – the low information diet, and focusing on the necessary information. I’ve just completed my PhD and I used that method to revise for my viva – with seriously advanced effects. Substituting asking people instead of reading all the nonsense on your own, is another good one. Reverse engineering various techniques is something I’ve used in the lab and now learned how to do producing papers. Automation is another thing that has been really useful.

I typically think that if I have taken one good piece of advice from a self-help book, that’s money well spent. I’ve taken at least six from 4hww.

So, I dunno. I have two ideas for companies – can the wet blanket stuff please, I’m spooked enough as it is – and I’ve just gotten my PhD and have no job. If I can somehow pull this off, I can at least get stuck into the research I really want while being sure that I can self-fund a bit if necessary (I want independent income so I can mooch around the best labs until they accept me, rather than lounging around on a beach, I’m sorry to say :) ). If it all goes Tango Uniform, at least I have tried that, and that will be good experience for the C.V.

I understand what you’re saying – that there’s no way to dodge the responsibilities of doing life – not living, but doing – and that you have to be willing to burn and sweat your way through. But I think that’s also what Ferris is saying.

Anyway: 6 bits of good advice for £7.59. Works for me.

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Erasmus June 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Er – sorry about that mangled first sentence. It started out between “no one who …. will succeed” and ended up as “everyone who… will crash and burn” And ended up what you got here.

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Peter Shallard June 26, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I’m not really criticizing Tim or the book itself – there’s a ton of great insight and advice in there. The concept of lifestyle design and what it’s become in the entrepreneurial zeitgeist … is what this article is about.

All the benefits you describe have zero to do with “Lifestyle Design” as most people understand it.

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Clayton June 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm

The only thing I disagree with is the “business is my lifestyle”. I am not defined by my method of income or chosen profession. I work to live and not live to work. I think the idea that your talking about is how people who pursue lifestyle design have this idea that they are going against the “American Dream.”

I definitely agree that tons of people are disillusioned with the idea of no work and getting everything you want. I’m in the middle of trying to do the lifestyle thing myself, but I didn’t ever think it was going to be easy or a piece of cake. I went in knowing it was going to be very hard, I’d want to rip my hair out, and if I’m doing ok after the first 3 years, then I’ll probably be alright.

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Luba Lee June 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Wow! I was deeply entertained by all the rhetoric!! And can totally literally relate. I was wise to try the lifestyle of farm on a small scale before plunging all the way in… I was imagining the magazine glamor… And there I was in my high heels sinking into the mud on the way to my day job but feeding the chickens in the back yard. I thought, I’d rather work in the crisp white lab coat seeing patients, sipping coffee intermittently, get paid for my services and then buy farm produced eggs. Reality of farming is no glamor. It is hard, hard work. You have to truly love it and do it not for the escapism of the day job but because you want it to be your day job :)

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Gabrielle/After motherhood, what? July 3, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Bloody brilliant article! I’ve recently started a new business -haven’t taken a cent mind you – and I’m ‘working’ more hours than ever. Luckily, I’ve discovered that I absolutely love all the hard work and my biggest problem is that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

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Ian July 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Peter, this is my first visit to your blog. I will come back. That article was awesome. I’ve been feeling kinds bad for doing my “normal” job after seeing so many lifestyle entrepreneurs tell me I dont need to. I really feel like lifestyle entrepreneurship is the MLM of the 21st century. I couldnt get it out of my mind after I read the 4HWW how anyone would want to fake credibility to sell info products. I guess in the end whatever your about page says wont really change your character.

As for wanting the milk and honey without the bee sting, I think a quote from 8 time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman is analogous, “everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody wanna lift no heavy ass weight”

haha thanks

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Savannah Correll July 6, 2013 at 12:21 am

I love the message you’re sending. I’ve been thinking about LD for so long now and am inching my way in, learning as much as I can. I definitely know that it’s going to be hard work but all of the hard work so far has been engaging and fun, even if I’m failing half the time or more. I’m fortified by your article. It highlights that the end doesn’t come as easily for anyone as it is made to sound. I’m glad to know I’m in good company down here in the mud.

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Alice July 13, 2013 at 11:28 am

Loved reading your article. I’m no longer looking for a lifestyle – I’ve got one: I’m retired but just started a business as a hobby. What I was looking for was how to get people to my blog. I think I have got the idea now – write what you want, preferably something that get most people’s backs up, and wait for reactions. Briliant! Like Michael O’Leary said, there is no such thing as bad publicity – publicity is publicity.

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Jennifer July 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Anytime you take a hobby or passion and monetize it, you will most likely lose the luster you once had for it in all of the grunt work. It’s a sad reality. However, the lifestyle designers who completely passify their income are very intelligent.

Timothy Ferris, one of the greats, is well known for outsourcing his work load. Even so, I’m sure he has obligations that he must attend to that stop him from pursing the things he enjoys. Even if he didn’t know what he wanted out of life, he doesn’t have to live in fear of being fired.

I’ve been involved in the minimalist movement and enjoy blogging about organization and lifestyle design, however, I do see a dark side to it. Everyone loves promoting movements, but not critiquing them. I do see a danger, in that minimalism can easily turn people into control freaks. I’ve seen it creeping up in myself.

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Byron August 1, 2013 at 7:48 am

Hi Peter,
I’m not sure I completely agree with all of your article however I believe your final point is key.

“The only successful (and happy) entrepreneurs are those who enjoy every step of their entrepreneurial journey, from day one to year twenty. And every day in between.”

The only way you’re going to survive when creating your own business or seeking to design your lifestyle is when you design it around what you love doing. Don’t get me wrong this can change. In fact change is the only thing that stays constant. You have to remember that if something isn’t working for you and you’re no longer enjoying yourself then it’s time to tweak what you do or change completely. Nobody in Lifestyle Design ever told you that you couldn’t change what you’re doing now, or in the future, in fact they will tell you the exact opposite.

Unfortunately in the case of Tim he is judged fairly harshly for the “4hww” term he uses however even he knows that he doesn’t work a 4 hour work week. It was a clever name that made him the well known, and most likely highly paid, person that he is today and allowed him to create a horde of followers and haters that unknowingly promote his book every day (maybe he’ll thank you later for the money you’ve sent his way). In comparison to Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk you’ll see that gary also recommends following your passion but strongly highlights that if you’re looking for fast results then think again. He believes that anybody with enough “hustle”, which simple means to put in more effort than anybody else (e.g. hours per day), then you can be successful and you can also beat someone with natural ability in this case too.

It is also unfortunate that Lifestyle Design is stereotyped to working in your pajamas or with your laptop on your beach. I firmly believe that lifestyle design is simply to design your life to suit what you want to gain from it. So i believe that everybody is already doing it regardless of whether they call it that or not.

The strange thing about all of this is that you employ many of the “lifestyle design” tactics on this website which means that maybe this article is simply to gain traffic to your own blog and hopefully funding the lifestyle that you’re dreaming? The only thing you missed as an affiliate link to amazon, maybe you could have had your laptop on the beach by now?

If that’s the case then “well played” my friend. You’ve got my vote.

If you get the chance take a look at Pat Flyn’s Smart Passive Income when you get the chance and review his monthly Income reports. Don’t get me wrong he works hard at what he does but by now I’m sure if he wanted to do just 4 hours a week and be the content with the income he generated then he probably could.

In all seriousness though I appreciate your view and all the best for the future.

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Peter Shallard August 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Hey Bryon!

I just got back from a beach vacation, so forgive me the delayed response. No joke!

I think that the term “Lifestyle Design” is starting to get way too abstract and ambiguous in it’s use – your comment is a great example. I don’t mean to play the semantics game, but when you say my blog is using “Lifestyle Design Tactics” I think we’ve shifted the topic to internet marketing in general. Sure, I use those tactics. Sure, I’m pleased that this article is now one of the top ranking articles on Lifestyle Design. I’m not sure what that has to do with the idea: Building businesses so you can STOP WORKING almost completely… is a busted philosophy.

The point of this article is to highlight the growing trend and assumption that “Muse” style lifestyle businesses are a shortcut to a early retirement. My belief is perhaps similar to yours: If people create businesses where there is some passion, where doing (some of) the work itself is FUN, then there’s no problem.

Business is hard. Way harder than every rookie entrepreneur realizes. Even the ones who think they’re smarter and more realistic that all the others. Passion is important to get you through the hard parts – to prevent you quitting.

A stoic attitude is also important. Entrepreneurs who anticipate hardship and a steep learning curve… looking forward to it as a powerful growth and psyche molding experience… are far more likely to succeed. Notice how little that has to do with laying out by the pool?

You said: “I firmly believe that lifestyle design is simply to design your life to suit what you want to gain from it. ”

… so you’re saying that this movement is just about having the life you want? I think that’s what EVERYONE’S life is about, isn’t it? Again, not to play semantics… but it’s important that the concept of Lifestyle Design not be diluted.

To the vast majority of people (mainly newbie entrepreneurs) Lifestyle Design means building a business that somehow magically offers more fun and time off from work than other businesses. It’s that definition (and set of assumptions) I’m urging folks to rethink in this article.

Thanks for your detailed and insightful comment – and for re-blogging this on your own site.

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Ryley Donkersgoed August 10, 2013 at 1:07 am

Great post Peter. After thinking about it I kind of agree that lifestyle design isn’t that great in some aspects. I think its bad in the aspect of how you are going to fund your lifestyle.

Say you want to live or travel all around the world. That is a great dream and desire of many. Then people have to figure out how they are going to fund that. Lots of people end up deciding they are going to do something online to make that money. After a while they realize that it takes up the majority of their time. I’m not sure if I am making sense, because I am having trouble getting my idea out in words.

I guess simply traveling around the world won’t be that great if the majority of the time you are traveling is spent worrying/working on you blog or whatever type of internet venture you are working on.

Also when people have all of these lifestyle dreams they really wouldn’t know how great that life actually is until they have lived it. People often focus on all the positives of a certain lifestyle and forget about the negatives.

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Daniel August 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm

What I’m most afraid of is mortgage slavery
I want to save money and see the world and enjoy life, I’ll probably be living in mobile caravan by the beach after graduation

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Corey Coates September 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Spot on!

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Andrew Guild December 30, 2013 at 8:09 am

Sometimes we forget that civilization is made of real things like steel, concrete and wood. And all of this wealth that his been created in the last two centuries is a result of big ideas and sustained effort on a large scale. “Lifestyle design” is letting the really smart and hard working people build society, while the folks sitting at their laptops in their PJs get to enjoy it.

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Cássio Leal Moraes January 23, 2014 at 10:52 am

I recently read the 4-hour workweek, by Tim Ferris. I was attracted to the possibility of not needing to work 16 hours a day in order to run my own business. Indeed, the 9 to 5 pattern is not really necessary, and the book presented several awesome techniques and concepts for saving time. Yet, there was something very disturbing about it. It seems that all revolves around running away from your own job and business. Later, I found out that Tim sold his “muse”, as he calls this minimalist business, because “it was taking up about 10% of his mental energy”. Does it work? Sure. But the thing that you run away from always end up running towards you. My opinion? Save time, forget about this “hard work” bs, but make sure you are doing something you wish to spend time with. Working is great, but jobs fuck it up. At least most of them.

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Papa Morty February 18, 2014 at 12:09 am

Holy. Shits.

Freaking awesome. Breath of fresh air.

Thank you for writing this post.

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Deborah Wolf March 22, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Spot on! I’m a writer, and spend four to eight hours every day–not every day except for holidays, weekends, birthdays, or global floods, but every single darn day–writing. It’s damn hard work (they warned me, but I never really believed it) and probably eight days out of every ten, I just don’t feel like doing it. If you want a lifestyle, roll up your sleeves and grab a manure fork, because the shoemaker’s elves aren’t going to do it for you.

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Jessica March 22, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Peter, you’re a lifestyle designer yourself.. are you miserable?

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Peter Shallard April 14, 2014 at 10:18 am

Since when?

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Dylan April 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm

There are far too many who are just ‘selling the dream’, but a real lifestyle business is often a lot of hard work. That said, I don’t think you should overstate it…set it up properly and you will have plenty of freedom, financial rewards and peace of mind. I speak from experience; perhaps I’m the exception, but I couldn’t be happier.

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Peter Shallard April 14, 2014 at 10:35 am

What’s your experience Dylan? Tell us more…

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Erika July 12, 2014 at 1:12 am

Haha, great blog. So yes if for most people it’s escapism … they fantasize about what they might “escape into” that is better than where they are now … but with no real passion for the new thing that would take them forth past the inevitable obstacles …

What if it’s not about what we are going to “do” differently? What if it’s not about designing a new “lifestyle” that replaces the old one? What if this is all about freedom and undoing? Now that I’m a location independent entrepreneur, I mostly find more and more peace just being. Most of my old frenetic activities have been discarded just because … they started to seem meaningless.

What do you think? maybe the new lifestyle is an un-lifestyle … ;)

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Getting Braces On Your Teeth Game November 15, 2014 at 2:47 am

What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness
of precious familiarity regarding unpredicted emotions.

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Aaron Dear November 24, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Great article, and probably very needed. People are jumping into this business without the willpower (or habits) to succeed.

There’s little difference between these lifestyle businesses and traditional startups – regarding how much work is needed. Know the risk you’re taking on, and how it fits into your own life.

Or start off as a hobby… I peddle tea on the side for fun. Maybe I’ll make that a thing someday!

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