Over the last year and a half, on at least a weekly basis, I’ve pondered new ideas and opportunities.
And almost every week, I’ve held them up and viewed them through my lifestyle lens.
And almost every week, I’d decide to pass on each of them.
Some opportunities consisted of launching new and promising business ventures. Other opportunities would have allowed me to travel the world regularly, working with Fortune 100 companies. Some offers would have doubled or quadrupled my income immediately. But fortunately, I had spent a considerable amount of time defining what kind of a lifestyle I wanted first and knew they weren’t a good fit.
My Lifestyle Lens
- Schedule – I want to work when I choose. I want to be able to stop what I’m doing and go to lunch with my wife or pick up my kids from school whenever I’d like. (Example: While writing this post, I realized my daughter forgot something important for school. I simply stopped writing, drove over to her school and was able to give it to her. It was 9:00am on a Thursday.) I want to work much less than 40 hours a week. I want to enjoy my weekends without having to work. I want to be able to take time off when I need to without asking anyone.
- Mobility – I want to be able to work from anywhere in the world (primarily from my own home).
- Work – I want to have fun and enjoy what I do. I don’t want my work to feel like work. I want to feel like I have unlimited opportunities to try new things, learn, experiment and grow.
- People – I want my work to allow me to meet new and interesting people on a regular basis.
- Money – I want to make enough money to pay my bills, cover the necessities of life, and have a little left over for charity and fun.
When I look back at this list, I’m somewhat shocked to realize that what I used to think of as some idealic, imaginary dream, is now my life! The only characteristic I find myself wanting more of, is the last part of the money line–the part about having a little more left over for charity and fun. I am insanely blessed to have all the other elements in place. And while I’m a man of faith and truly believe I ONLY have what I do because of the kindness and mercy of God, I also recognize that I wouldn’t have been blessed with what I have if I hadn’t thought it through and worked hard to make it a reality.
But don’t confuse my lens building with planning. I never had a plan. I just focused on projects and went where they took me.
Lenses, Blueprints, and Plans
Think about a lifestyle lens in terms of building a new home. Before you even get around to drawing up blueprints (plans), you need to decide on what style of a home you want (lens). For example, if you decided to build a classic Tudor style home, that decision would shape almost all of the decisions you’d make when planning and building your home. The list of characteristics you’d want might include a steeply pitched roof, half-timbered architecture, a high chimney, and perhaps overhanging second floors and dormer windows.
If in the process of building this tudor style home someone approached you with a killer deal on some massive steal i-beams and 10 foot tall glass window walls, you’d probably pass. Because while these materials would likely be amazing in a modern, minimalist home, they wouldn’t help you create what you already decided you wanted to build. No matter how good of a deal those materials might be, they wouldn’t fit with what you were trying to create. Just because great deals and opportunities arise, most certainly doesn’t mean we should take them.
If I would have accepted the business opportunities that were presented to me over the last year and a half, I would not have the lifestyle I thoroughly enjoy today. It would have been like agreeing to build a gaudy, slick glass tower poking out the top of a new tudor home and maybe saying okay to an expansive Spanish-style wing in the back.
Create your lifestyle lens. Evaluate everything through it. Then watch closely. Your dreams will gradually shift from imaginary to reality.