To live a fulfilling life is harder than achieving an excellent career which is why I spend so much time thinking about ways to improve my lifestyle. My life is good at the moment and without stress, but designing a wonderful life is an ongoing iterative approach to reaching new heights. I define lifestyle design as a conscious, practical, and continuous approach to defining, creating, and experiencing the life you desire. From time to time, I’ll share with you changes I’ve made to inch closer to the life I envision.
Our lives are about experiences, personal development, career, relationships, and learning and understanding how these factors shape us. Therefore, much of my thinking focuses on these areas and how I can develop them to enhance my way and standard of living. Sometimes the changes I make are dramatic such as moving to a new country and other times they’re subtle such as removing certain foods from my diet. Here are some small steps I’ve taken recently to enjoy my life more.
1) Terminate Futile Relationships Quicker
It used to be the case that I would allow pointless relationships to remain for greater than a year. Now I squash them in a month to six months depending on the situation e.g. personal or business. I like my life and don’t need anyone dragging it down or compromising it. Nor do I have voids that I’m trying to fill with less than stellar individuals. Moreover, I rather remain alone than be with useless people who I know will cost me in the end (cost me time and money). Severing relationships have gotten easier under the philosophy that I don’t owe anybody anything, and relationships evolve for better or worse.
I realize that I too have a responsibility concerning who to associate with. Also, I don’t want to be closed minded or too stubborn, so I remain open until I conclude the possibilities of a relationship. I’ve considered those qualities that appeal to me versus those that don’t. For instance, I’m more likely to get along with someone who is entrepreneurial minded than someone who relishes employment. Also, I’ll likely have more in common with travelers and people who have left the nest than those still living at home with their parents. I encourage you to consider the qualities you want to attract to improve your relationships and social experiences.
2) Limit Grocery Shopping to Once a Month
Just think what you could do with an extra one or two hours a week.
I love eating but dislike grocery shopping. My loathing of grocery shopping has increased in the past few months as I have placed greater value on my time. My first thought was to limit my shopping to twice a month, but that was still budernsome. Also, I considered getting items delivered periodically, but I don’t trust the selectiveness of pickers. Therefore, I’ve settled on doing one major shop a month, and I’ve hired someone to deliver perishables once a week, for example, fruits and vegetables. In theory, I’ve reduced my store visits by over 50% to 12 visits a year. My future goal is to eliminate this activity altogether because like I say, if you don’t enjoy doing something and are still doing it into your 50s and 60s, it’s obvious you made some bad life and financial decisions along the way.
I’m in Mexico at the moment, so my options for home delivery are somewhat limited. However, depending on where you are, conduct a search to discover your options, for instance, in the US you have Amazon Fresh, FreshDirect, Instacart, Peapod, and many others. Alternatively, reach out to your network to find someone e.g. student who wants to make some extra money grocery shopping. Lastly, there are many excellent grocery apps to aid your shopping experience.
3) Plan More to Reduce Guesswork
I imagine that most of President Obama’s schedule is planned at least six months in advance. Similarly, I believe the same is true for high profile and organized politicians, socialites, celebrities, professional athletes, and those of a similar ilk. President Obama never wakes up and says, “What am I doing today?” By default, he looks at his agenda and knows what needs to be done except for last minute changes and spur of the moment press conferences. Conversely, it’s everyday people who work against themselves by not planning enough. Full-time employees can rely on work to take up most of their schedules. However, the “life” part of work-life balance requires our full attention and stick-to-itiveness to yield enjoyable results.
I have become very diligent at planning two areas of my life i.e. meals and weekend activities. I’ve created a meal plan which is taped to my fridge. Now, I hardly ever spend time thinking about what to eat unless something has run out or a tweak to my plan is required. Additionally, my meal plan makes my grocery shopping activities much easier.
As for weekends, Thursday evening through Sunday, I plan several days in advance to make the most of them. It had bothered me that I didn’t plan my weekends only to watch them drift by without any exciting developments. Now that I plan them, I get more of the results and experiences I want.
To plan my days and weeks, I use Excel, but there are many meal planning and to-do apps on the market (there is some overlap in functionally so you may want to find an all-in-one app).
4) Dine out Regularly
A meal plan sounds boring, doesn’t it? Yes, it does and to circumvent eating the same thing every week, I schedule a few “out” meals. I love food and Mexicans make a lot of food worth tasting. Trying different restaurants excites me and fits in with the lifestyle I want. Therefore, I eat out three times a week to change things up, and I usually order items I like, but don’t want to make, for example, fish tacos.
Eating out is a healthy mental activity and gift to yourself because it frees your mind from meal planning and cooking, which is work that usually follows a long day at the office. Also, you get to experience new places, dishes, and people.
5) Outsource One or More Activities
As I mentioned in my productive habits report, I’m not a huge proponent of outsourcing. However, there comes a time when outsourcing menial tasks can free up time for greater enjoyment. I spent some time thinking about a few activities that bring me more aggravation than pleasure e.g. grocery shopping and cleaning my condo. Now I employ others (I’m an employer) to take care of these activities. Having to think less about groceries and cleaning has improved my standard of living. I just need to make more money to hire someone part-time to be responsible for even more routine tasks so that I can allocate more time to my online business, personal development, and life experiences.
If you’re looking to outsource business activities, I use Fiverr and have used Upwork in the past. For local assistance, companies like HomeAdvisor (US), TaskRabbit (US), and Hire A Hubby (AUS) are popping up everywhere. For instance, you can hire a freelancer from over 30 categories listed on HomeAdvisor.
6) Stay Committed to Exercising
A complete lifestyle includes health and fitness. I have to admit; I was slacking in this area, but I’m back on board. I work out three times a week to stay energized and in shape. Now when I go exploring and walking for five hours plus, I don’t feel any slight aches or pains. If you trade a few hours of couch surfing and drinking for exercise, you’ll look better and feel more confident.
My exercise routine is limited and easy to remember but for those who want to ramp it up, these fitness apps may be useful.
7) Spend More Time Outside
Between sitting in front of our monitors and living in our phones, we’re leaving even less time to enjoy the great outdoors. Lifestyle isn’t about being sedentary; it’s about remaining in motion. It was getting on my nerves that I wasn’t outside for a couple of hours each day. Now I make a concerted effort to go outside. I’ll either go for lunch, sit on a park bench, walk around, or sip on a hot chocolate at a café. All of these are welcomed and inexpensive work-life balance activities.
An article from Business Insider highlights eleven scientifically proven reasons why we should go outside including improved short-term memory, restored mental energy, stress relief, and reduced inflammation. I hadn’t even considered the health and mental benefits of being outdoors which are abundant.
8) End the 9 to 5 Workweek Mentality
As an extension of being outside and enjoying life more, I realize that I became self-employed not to work as 9 to 5ers do. From country to country, we’ve invented ways of working that, for the most part, aren’t beneficial to us, but advantageous for our superiors and C-Suite executives.
I rather make less money shaving off half a day of work than more money confined to my desk all week. Instead of chaining myself to my desk, I now spend most Friday afternoons exploring and going to areas of the city I like. This keeps my sense of curiosity and adventure alive whereas before I was stifling them.
What are some other activities you can implement to improve your lifestyle and happiness? Tweet me your ideas.