Designing The Hate Lifestyle

You know damn right I'm a classy motherfucker. I got these threads overseas man, you should totally check it out.To many people, the whole idea of ‘lifestyle design’ seems absurd. And not for the reason many people in that community think. It’s not because of the ideas behind it, rather, it’s many of the people promoting it. Now, not all of them are bad. I’ve personally worked with, met and spent time with a few folks, and they all seemed (at least to me) to be genuine people who truly believed in what they were doing. But it’s a trend (and let’s face it, LD is a trend. Whether or not it’ll sustain is another story). And a few folks like Adam Baker I really respect for detailing what he did, bringing his wife and young child along. To me, that’s a hell of a lot more valid than a 22 year old guy living on the beach. I’ve done that. It was called “homeless”.

I get the appeal (to some). You’ve got a shitty job you hate, bored as hell with life and have no clue what you’re doing next. Then you read a few blog posts and maybe an ebook (shit, does EVERYONE have an ebook now?) and wonder why YOU aren’t living that life. You get sad. Then you rush out and start blogging, connecting all over the social media sphere, and even selling your shit to hit the road. And maybe that works for you. Or, maybe you end up spending money to match the lifestyle they have only to be in the same spot you were.

Here’s where I see the problem:

  • Your gurus are assholes: Let’s face it, Tim Ferris walks and talks like a complete tool. He brags about cheating to win a kickboxing title. He doesn’t refer to anything he enjoys doing “work” (hence the 4 Hour Work Week title). And let’s not forget the fact that his previous company was suspected of fraud. While he isn’t the only one, he’s certainly the most well known offender.
  • Your (over)use of buzzwords: I’m sorry, but if no one is getting shot at, it isn’t a revolution. Not everything is epic, thrilling, or awesome.
  • A “one size fits all” mentality: This is a big one. Nick Reese and I had a good conversation the other day about this. The conclusion he and I came up with (and he wrote up here) is that the ‘sell your shit, travel the world’ dream isn’t for everyone. But looking at a lot of folks in the LD community, you’d think that was all there was to it. News flash: a lot of folks are HAPPY with their desk jobs living in suburbia. And there is nothing wrong with that.
  • The appearance of arrogance: Looking down on people who don’t share your dream is…well…being a dick. Just because I enjoy living in the same place every month  and owning more than 3 shirts doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with me, that I’m less ambitious, or that I don’t have “guts”. It means that I am content with where my life is, and that my priorities are different than yours.

One of the reasons I’ve even connected with any of these folks is because I work with WordPress. They use WordPress. It’s a natural fit. So yes, I make money from the house I leave perhaps once a day (twice if need be) fixing the venue they use to promote living / doing anywhere (yes, it’s ironic. And yes, I think it’s fucking hilarious). So not one to simply be an asshole, here’s a few things (in my opinion) that could be done to help the perception:

  • Stop the endless (and at times shameless) self promotion: We all need to make a buck, whether it’s globetrotting or in your office. But quit telling me my life is shit because I am not doing what you’re doing. That’s what sleazy salespeople and infomercials do.
  • Own your failures: If you read over some (again, not all) of the major sites, you’d think these folks never failed, that every product they launched was a success, and they swim in a minimalist pool of money. Face it, they don’t. TELL ME how you’ve failed, what when wrong, and what you’ve learned. Show some fucking growth.
  • Use regular English: drop the buzzwords and speak to me like a regular human being. If every 3rd sentence is telling me how EPIC THIS IS then you’re missing the point.
  • Connect outside your bubble: Many of them simply don’t talk to people who aren’t in the same LD world. Why? What is there to be gained by living in an echo chamber? I work with the tech world, but connect with more people outside of it than within. Maybe it’s my personality, but I want friends / connections that do something I don’t do, not something I am doing.

So what say you? Am I just a cranky old fuck, Am I jealous?

{ 116 comments }

Eric January 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Dude Norcross- I really connected with this post!!

I’ve been guilty of tossing around the word epic, but it’s in my arsenal of words I use riding the slopes so that aint changin’, but I feel ya on most of the points you make here.

I get tired of seeing the same shit reposted over and over and over again. It’s the same message just written by someone different. Thanks for sacking up and posting something that needed to be written!

Thanks for popping a link on Twitter too so I could find this site!

Eric

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm

We’re all guilty at times. hell, the tagline on my business site says “this is where awesome happens”. Granted, it also happens to be, well, true. But they’re thrown around so much that they don’t hold any value anymore. And that’s a fuckin shame.

Joey January 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Branding – It’s the new punk rock that everyone is doing to be different. Quick, where’s my old OpIvy t-shirt? I wanna wear it to the next Rancid concert to show people I know things. ;)

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Yep…I’m different, just like everyone else. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think my leather jacket is in need of some more studs.

Vaughn January 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm

The only time I’ve dropped a net lingo buzzword is to make fun of the people who live by them. Occasionally I doubt that my intent was understand, and for that I’ve received total fail.

Holly D January 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Thanks for this ! I found it refreshing and honest.

Joel January 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Norcross-
This post was pretty epic. #justsayin’. Really thrilled that you had the guts to write such an awesomely revolutionary post.

:)

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Nice :) Not sure if you could have crammed any more buzzwords into a single line.

Loren Nason January 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

You are not a cranky old fuck and you are not jealous.

You are probably just as annoyed as I am that these gurus sell bull shit to people and saddened by the idiocy of most people that listen/buy the bull shit.

But at least when they listen/buy the bull shit they come to people like you and me to create their new website and fix their technology.

I think its time for a round of “Social Media Buzzword Bingo”

I have always thought of you as a:
Wordpress Guru/Ninja/Thought Leader
Damn I said 3 buzzwords … Time for 3 shots of EPIC Whiskey

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

The sad thing is there are those out here actually doing shit worth talking about, sharing, and learning from. The problem is that the other 95% fuck it up.

Loren Nason January 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Your post reminds me I should do something with the domain:
http://www.urafi.com

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Nice! I’ve got weareallscrewed.com but haven’t found a use for it yet.

MKR January 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

You could make it a site that compares people who do great things without getting much attention and people who produce junk to become rich and famous.

It would be a great public service.

James Schipper January 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Yours is a lot funnier than mine. :-D

I realized I didn’t even leave the state all last year when writing a post last week. Nothing wrong with that, either.

Elle Dougherty January 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Ha, love it! Glad I found this site. Just by reading the titles I know I’m going to enjoy your other posts. Sure I jumped on the bandwagon & started a lame minimalism blog, but it’s a fun experiment. I kinda like telling other people what they should do. ;)

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Keeping a blog about something you’re doing is A-OK. It’s when you tell me I’m an asshole for NOT doing it that I become frustrated.

Susan Pogorzelski January 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm

When I first came into this social media world, I thought the idea of working anywhere sounded great — until I tried *just* freelancing for a few months and realized I have absolutely no discipline when it comes to working on my own or taking a nap. The nap always won. I need a cubicle, I love my colleagues, and I love my company — a bank.

Let me say that again — I love my job at a bank.

Crazy, right?

And I love my house — the house that I bought that has stuff in it — more stuff than I could fit into a backpack. The house that will keep me settled, a house that has become in every sense of the word a home for me.

That has been my dream achieved, and I can’t tell you how much it bothers me to read these blogs telling me that I’m somehow less because this is my dream. I love to travel, but that doesn’t mean I have to live somewhere else. I love my job in the corporate world, but that doesn’t mean I’m somehow giving everything up.

I love this post, Andrew. It details everything that’s a problem with the social media platform — share, don’t preach — because every life tells a different story. And that’s the beauty of it.

Trish Smith January 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Great post, and I agree – funny thing is, you could apply a lot of your points to the social media “revolution”/”movement” (and I love your point about how if no one is getting shot, it ain’t a fucking revolution). just a thought.

Most of what I experienced prior to the “LD” movement was the opposite – that if you lived in a concrete house in the woods, didn’t buy a new car every year, and sent your kids to (gasp!) public school instead of private (or even homeschooling them), you were somehow weird. Or worse.

I’m sure a lot of the LD shit was born as a reaction to that, but unfortunately they fucked up a potentially good thing pretty badly by making it “if you’re not one of us, you’re an asshole”. Thing is, there’s no surer way to alienate the exact people you’re allegedly trying to attract (those who are interested in running against the herd) than by making it into a trend. Pity.

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I agree to a point. The whole social media “revolution” was at least a major shift in how things were done. On a global scale, no less. LD, on the other hand, is a twist on an old idea, repackaged to sell.

Trish Smith January 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm

True; I won’t deny that the social media “revolution” (and no, I can’t not put it in quotes ;) ) did cause a major change. It’s the “dark side” of it that applies more to my comment – the whole “this is how you do social media, and if you’re not doing it this way, then you’re WRONG.”

But then, I suppose you could warp just about anything in that way – I mean, look at the organic/healthy food movement. Shit, even *parenting* has fallen prey to some of that “this is how you should be doing it” crap. Maybe the better question is, is nothing safe from that mindset and those who (try to) make their living pushing it?

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Sadly, I doubt it. Anything worth doing is worth selling, in some people’s eyes.

1Dad1Kid January 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Wonderful article! I almost said it was awesome. LOL I love the shoot-from-the-hip style, man. Superb

Cherie @Technomadia January 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Thank you for this post, and reality check!! (And thank you James Schipper for tweeting this out so I could find it).

I’ve been living life on my terms for as long as I can remember. Software entrepreneur at age 20, navigating relationship models, choosing not to have kids and in 2007 – giving up a fixed home for one one wheels to become technomadic.

I’m in my late 30s now, by the way. Not some 22 year old who has been at this all of a few months and thinks I have the world all figured out.

So, my sweetie and I are blogging about our awesome, amazing, epic life (mainly for friends and family), and all of a sudden we’re starting to be included on various lists as ‘Lifestyle Designers’. Well sure.. we’ve designed our lives, that sounds like a cool label! We virtually hang around some blogs, and come to similar conclusions as you.

Our software business funds OUR lives, and we LOVE our careers and life. I love putting in a 90 hr work week on a project that inspires me – we just do it from always changing office views. We have no aims or interests in making a living off of selling our lifestyle to others. We blog about our lives and how we make it happen because we enjoy sharing. Any inspiration others get from it is our gift. And heck yeah.. do we vent our frustrations when it’s annoying and not all magical unicorns.

*sigh*

Mostly I’m just miffed that my epic and amazing life (which it is! I’m writing this from a mountain cottage on a remote US Virgin Island soaking up 4G Wimax bandwidth) is devalued because everything is Epic and Awesome and Amazing. :)

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm

You’ve said it better than I could. What you’ve done (build a real, sustainable business, decide to travel, etc) is more than remarkable. Now instead of being seen as something out of the ordinary, you’re lumped in with everyone who throws up a blog and an ebook. Sharing, connecting, etc is what it’s all about. It’s somehow been perverted into something else by a lot of folks. Which sucks.

Mark January 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm

If you never (or rarely) step outside of your comfort zone, then I’m sorry, but life becomes boring. You may be content now, but will the same be true when you’re 92 years old and you’re looking back on your life with 10 minutes left to live? You only have one shot at living on this planet, and if you do the same thing day-in and day-out, have you really made good use of it? One of the worst things I can imagine is coming to the realization that you wanted something different for your life after it’s too late. By definition, stepping outside of your comfort zone is uncomfortable, but the rewards usually make it worthwhile. I have a suspicion that you’ve decided you’re content with your life at home because it’s convenient, and you don’t really “need” anything more. Maybe you are happy, but would you be happier in the long run if you made a drastic change? Just think about it…

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Thank you for displaying the very attitude I was talking about. Arrogance. You’ve made the assumption that I’ve (a) never made a drastic change in my life (b) have regret about things I have or haven’t done and (c) have settled. You’d be wrong on all 3 accounts.

As it stands now, my #1 priority in life is being a good father and friend. My lifestyle and decisions are centered around that. Of course no one lays on their deathbed and wishes they spent more time at the office. But I’m sure plenty of people wish they had done things differently, whether they pushed themselves out of their ‘comfort zone’ or not.

It’s not about comfort. It’s about being fulfilled. People search for those things. If your life makes you feel empty, then by all means do something about it. But traveling the world and being EPIC isn’t the only way to do it.

Mark January 3, 2011 at 11:06 pm

The point is, people tend to fall into a comfort zone, then time starts ticking away, and before they know it the end is near and they have regrets. “I always wanted to [insert dream] and see [insert beautiful place].” There’s no doubt that happens to a great number of people. In fact, I’m pretty sure that happens to most people. Just look at the downtown of any major city at 8:50am. People scurrying to their desks to do the same thing, day-after-day, year-after-year. What kind of a life is that? Perhaps you’re different, and that’s wonderful for you, but I just hope you feel the same when you’re old and feeble. *shrug*

Your complaint is that people like Ferris are looking down on a different lifestyle, but it sure sounds like you’re doing the same thing here. Some would say that YOUR attitude here is arrogant. I mean, calling someone a “tool” for the way they “speak” isn’t exactly humble, you know?

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 11:29 pm

I never claimed I was humble, so let’s get that out of the way first. But to your point, my issue isn’t the lifestyle of traveling / exploring / location independence itself. I thought I made that rather clear. My problem is the attitude & smugness of those who look down on anyone who isn’t doing that. I used to work in the corporate world. For almost 10 years. I learned a lot and gained quite a bit of experience that has helped me in my freelance business. And I would feel a hell of a lot more regret about not being there for my son as he grows up than I would if I never saw the Mayan ruins. Travel has never really interested me, and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean I’m doing any more or less than someone who’s hopping across the globe.

And those people who go to a desk every day? Has it ever crossed your mind that the job they have finances whatever it is that they care about in life? Maybe they volunteer. Perhaps they have a deep faith and do community work. Or maybe they’re working to support a family. Who knows. But to judge them simply based on the fact they have a “normal” job isn’t fair. In fact, it’s being a complete asshole.

Mark January 4, 2011 at 1:01 am

I chose the word “humble” as an antonym for arrogant, and I was being sarcastic.

Sure there are people whose desk job provides the financial backing for what they enjoy, but I think it’s safe to say the vast majority of office workers are not living out their hopes and dreams.

Okay, let’s break this down. I think we can agree that many people never do the things they truly dream of doing, and they live to regret it. For many people, that involves travel. Some people have found a way to do just that, and are loving it. Can you blame them for being passionate about sharing it with other people who it may help? I think you’re mistaking that passion for arrogance. I don’t think they’re looking down on people who aren’t doing it, they’re just expressing how wonderful it is for them.

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 2:44 am

Sharing isn’t an issue. But to claim that someone isn’t “dreaming big enough” because they don’t fit into this current method of LD is flat out wrong. If someone works hard and then travels in their 50s or 60s, did they waste their life? No.

And as soon as someone thinks their dreams gives them the right to dismiss my life choices, then it isn’t passion. It’s arrogance.

Lauren Fritsky January 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I actually hadn’t heard of the term “lifestyle designer” until recently. At first, I thought it was like a life coach or something. Still figuring out how I feel about it. I up and moved to Australia from the States and work independently as a writer and editor, but I don’t consider myself a lifestyle designer.

Adam @ SitDownDisco January 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm

I think you pretty much have summed up what I’ve been thinking for a while now. Lots of people talking crap and not really getting out there and living the dream.

Jenny January 3, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I really enjoyed this article. It made me think. I’m relatively new to the blogging world and maybe I’m guilty of many of the things your making fun of. That’s okay. However, selling my shit to travel the world is my reality. It’s what I’ve been writing about because I’m doing it. For the last decade I’ve been working really hard to inspire people to live life to the fullest, whatever that means to them. If that’s a house in suburbia with a corporate job, so be it. My blog started as a chronicle of my journey, then I realized I could use it as a bigger platform to inspire people so I transformed it. I’m taking my readers on a journey as well as helping them on their own. One of my biggest inspirations was someone who was living life differently, his way. I do talk about suburbia in a negative light. That was my reality. However, my parents love it. I talk trash sometimes and I’m speaking to those who aren’t happy with where they are at, wherever that is. I don’t look down upon anyone who chooses that lifestyle (or any lifestyle for that matter), but I do have a problem with being taught it was the only way to live life. I want people to know that they have choices. Choices to live life however they please, no matter what the circumstance is. I grew up in a very harsh environment that told me I had to conform so my feelings towards it are very strong. Emotion drives that. It’s not right for me, but I hope that I don’t come across as righteous in my attitude towards it. This article will help keep me in check, so thanks for having the balls to write it.

Your post also helped me clarify somethings for my blog. I don’t want to come across as backpacking the world, selling all your shit, or living with less than 100 things is the only way to live life. I just want to inspire people to take action on their dreams and live life without regrets. The past few weeks I’ve been really thinking about my core message and how to really clarify that for my readers. I do love the word epic though… and rad. What can I say… I’m a skater.

Jenny January 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm

To add to my last comment. When I graduated college I started my own business rather than get a job because I wanted the freedom to pursue my own passions, whatever that meant to me at the time. My business has been successful for 8-years now as a freelance graphic designer. Part of my goal is to show other freelancers how to design their lifestyles to be whatever they want it to be… to have the flexibility to have more time with their kids, take longer vacations, travel the world, buy a house, whatever.

I just know how it feels when my life is awesome. It’s EPIC. It’s rad. So many people tell me how lucky I am. That irks me. It’s not luck, it’s choices. I want other people to enjoy the same freedom I have. The freedom to make choices that enrich their lives and make them awesomely epic.

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 11:14 pm

You’ve made a very good point. There’s a BIG difference between showcasing what you’ve done personally (and selling shit, because bills don’t pay themselves regardless of where you live) and talking shit about those who do things differently. I grew up in suburbia. I live in a ‘city’ now (Tampa, which ain’t that big) and have absolutely no desire to go back whatsoever. I hated it. But it wasn’t a lifestyle that was pushed upon me, rather, it was my parents providing me and my siblings with a safe environment to grow up, go to school, etc. I recognize that and don’t fault them whatsoever.

When talking to people, I propose doing the same thing as you do – living life as they see fit without fear. But I do it with my own experience, which clearly isn’t the same as yours. And both are OK.

Norcross January 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm

And yeah, I still have some carryover from my days surfing and skateboarding (alas, my rebuilt hip and degenerate knee prevent me from doing that anymore). Although it’s mainly in the music I listen to and the tattoos. Granted, the tattoos won’t go away even if I decided to listen to Air Supply 24/7.

Financial Samurai January 4, 2011 at 1:46 am

I think it’s OK if you come across as backpacking the world, living on less than 100 things etc. It’s the trendy thing to do.

I just do it with my 6 weeks of vacation a year, and 4 other weeks of business travel. I can’t travel more than that as I enjoy home too much.

Flexo January 4, 2011 at 12:42 am

Completely agree. I’ve noticed this quite a bit in the personal finance niche, starting long ago with books. Unfortunately, bloggers see the success of the likes of Robert Kiyosaki and suddenly want to emulate their success by becoming a “guru” and a self-proclaimed expert. I tend to just ignore it, though. The marketing becomes the story — then the story becomes the story. There may never have been a real story in the first place.

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 12:47 am

Bingo. It seems that LD has become the “flavor of the month”, but it’s happened with real estate, personal finance, etc. Any area that a little experience can go a long way. I don’t see it (as much) with the tech world, if for no other reason than the skill required excludes people who don’t know what they are talking about. It’s pretty apparent if you don’t know your shit.

Cody McKibben January 4, 2011 at 1:23 am

Good shit Norcross, you always hit it on the head. I’m definitely the slacker on the beach at times, but my hope is to help more people build more REAL fuckin’ businesses this year (rather than ebooks) and dispel the myth that blogging (esp the same shit everyone else is blogging) will make you a living.

There is a lot of noise these days, there are a lot of posers, and 2011 is gonna be the year to hate on “lifestyle design”. But that doesn’t mean we’re gonna stop building shit we care about, doing it where we want to, and spending time with the people we love. Whether that’s in Asia, South America, or suburban America, to each his own ;)

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 1:27 am

Exactly. Couldn’t have said it better myself sir. And I find it a bit ironic that a few of the commenters here are using your theme :)

Cherie @Technomadia January 4, 2011 at 9:04 am

We’re grateful for Cody’s theme. Those of us not trying to make a living off blogging really don’t need to invest in a customized or pro-level theme, and having one that looks great that is offered on a donation basis totally is.. umm.. what words are we allowed to use now? Great?

We’re also excited for Cody’s new upcoming launch, and how he maneuvers around presenting it to be something different than all the other LD noise out there.

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 9:22 am

As someone who works with WP daily, I agree its a good theme. Heck, I helped him test the latest version. I’ve released a few plugins and a theme as well, so my comment was more in reference to his statement of having a real business (which you do as well).

Chris January 4, 2011 at 1:43 am

Although I agree with most of what you have written, the best thing about the web is that anyone can chose who they read/network with.

Financial Samurai January 4, 2011 at 1:43 am

An enjoyable post Norcross!

Nobody quits a job they love, so I guess I really do feel bad for them for not being able to find something that they enjoy. But, it’s cool for them to travel the world and stuff, so long as they aren’t delusional and offensive.

It would be great if they just opened up the transparency and shared how much they make, save etc. That would be a more balanced approach.

I wish them the best, b/c I know it’s tough when you can’t find a good job, or even a job.

Financial Samurai January 4, 2011 at 1:53 am

People really need to realize it’s the economy. The meltdown in 2008 really displaced a lot of folks who then became lifestyle designers. Society rejected them from getting their dream job, so now they rebel against society and look down upon others.

If you could make $100,000 at 25 years old working at Facebook and amazing projects with a chance to earn $3 million at IPO, wouldn’t you? It’s fun, exciting, and rewarding.

We should support our LDers, as they entertain us!

Sam

Karol Gajda January 4, 2011 at 2:22 am

You already know I agree with a lot of what you’ve written here. And I also think you’re a bad ass. But I digress …

The issue is not necessarily one of arrogance or people being assholes.

Before I get into that, sometimes things don’t come across in type as they would in person. That’s either because the writer isn’t skilled enough, or maybe had an off day, or maybe the reader interprets things differently than the writer intended them. I mean, just try to decipher Nirvana lyrics. :) But we’ll leave that alone.

From my own experience and from the experiences of a lot of people I know, many of us *were not* satisfied with life. That’s not to say that *you* can’t be satisfied just because you own more than X number of things and don’t constantly travel. If you are happy, that is awesome, but the vocal majority (different than the statistical majority) doesn’t seem to be very happy. And when we write we speak to those who are seeking their ideal lives not those who already have it.

“…a lot of folks are HAPPY with their desk jobs living in suburbia.” While a lot of folks are happy, millions are not. Again, the ones who are not happy are the ones we are writing for.

What you’ve written here is precisely why I tell people my idea of freedom is not necessarily their idea of freedom. Currently mine is fitting everything I own in a backpack and traveling/living wherever I please for short lengths of time. Everybody needs to decide for themselves what freedom looks like. (You can replace “freedom” with “happiness.”) Millions of people are not living their ideal lives and that is the big issue.

As for owning less, I know that a lot of people would benefit from not consuming for the sake of consuming. Maybe I’m alone in this, but when I used to watch 12 hours of TV (on my brand new big screen, of course) per day it was because life was empty. TV was a time suck and took away from accomplishing great things. Buying a BMW, an expensive watch, $100 jeans and $80 shirts was also accomplishing nothing for me. Getting rid of TV was a turning point … getting rid of almost everything else changed the world for me.

So if sometimes people who were not living their ideal life begin living their ideal life and get excited talking/writing about it, maybe we can cut them (us) some slack. Even when it comes across as arrogant or ignorant or whatever else it’s probably not actually intended like that. And it’s definitely not intended to be written for someone who is already living life in their ideal way. :)

Thanks for getting me thinking!

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 2:50 am

I gave up trying to figure out Kurt Cobain’s lyrics years ago :)

I find the idea of minimalism interesting, if only because I’ve never been one to acquire things for the sake of ownership. When I dealt drugs (yeah. the illegal ones) I had more money than I knew what to do with. I didn’t feel any better with it. Granted, the incredible amount of booze and dope I was shoving in my system didn’t help. But as it stands now I own stuff. Not a lot, but I have things. My TV gets turned on when my son is here, and occasionally during a football game. I have tech stuff, but it’s more for my work than anything else. But you’ve made a very good point: your idea of freedom isn’t for everyone. I’m pretty sure you and I would probably enjoy hanging out, listening to music and just shooting the shit. And that has no bearing on whether or not I have an HDTV or not.

Karol Gajda January 4, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Yes, definitely. We all know what someone owns doesn’t define them. Some people are cool, some people suck. That has almost nothing to do with property and everything to do with personality.

Vic Dorfman January 4, 2011 at 2:34 am

Great post man,

I went down that whole lifestyle design road and connected with bloggers and promoted myself out the wazoo and all the crap you just talked about.

It’s all good, but after a while I was thinking…jesus, is ‘how to be awesome’ all you people write about? The reason Tim Ferriss’ blog is so popular isn’t because of lifestyle design but because he offers well-researched, action-oriented advice. I’d like to see more of that and less self-indulgent crap (of which I’m occasionally guilty of course).

It’s called offering value.

And you’re right, I know quite a lot of people who love their jobs and don’t fancy staying in hostels and all the kind of jazz. My dad programs SAS at home and loves his life.

I will say, though, that the general advice of stepping outside the comfort zone is good advice.

Shit…I’m ranting. Anyway, fantastic post!

Good Vibes~
Vic

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 2:53 am

Hahaha….yeah, if you have to tell me how to be awesome, then you’re doing it wrong :) I should be able to see you and KNOW awesome. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for pushing boundaries and stepping out. But you can do that in your own town.

John Weeks January 4, 2011 at 2:50 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You’ve articulated so clearly what bugs me about the whole lifestyle design movement: the jargon, the attitude, the ‘one size fits all’ hammock.

I’m all for better lives. But I intend to poke this pervasive terminology & mindset with a sharp stick. :) Rock on!

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 2:55 am

Please do. Lemme know if you need an extra knife to keep it sharp.

Tiara the Merch Girl January 4, 2011 at 3:41 am

YES FINALLY. The lack of awareness of privilege especially rankles me. I’m a migrant in Australia on a bridging visa and a third-world-country passport. Theoretically I’m a “lifestyle designer”, being an itinerant performance artist type and exploring the world (or at least australia), but that’s mainly because it’s almost impossible to get a normal job on a bridging visa and I don’t qualify for Government support just yet. while I like the flexibility, I would also like some sort of financial stability – and saying that all my issues are just because I “don’t think positive” really ignores the sort of restrictions that race, background, culture, etc can really put on you.

Here’s my rant about it: http://tiarashafiq.com/2010/04/03/the-problem-with-lifestyle-design-blogs

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 12:02 pm

That’s a hell of a good perspective. I’m the first to admit that I’ve had the benefit of being a white, middle class American male (and everything that’s associated with it, both good and bad). That being said, I won’t pretend to have any of the experience you do in regards to race and nationality, since I simply can’t. But good on ya for pointing it out.

JP January 4, 2011 at 5:18 am

I find it funny that some people will say “good shit”, when they are the very thing you’re talking about. I guess some people have no self-awareness of what they’re doing.

“Lifestyle design” is a joke, and a scam for those who sell a product. This is the digital version of the self-improvement garbage books that everyone laughs at. If you need the help of a “lifestyle designer” to buy a plane ticket to SE Asia and write a blog or an ebook, you’re clueless, and you should probably keep your boring job and stay at home.

I guess some people need a “guru” (ie, a douchebag with a massive ego who has his own Facebook fan page) to convince themselves and others that what they’re doing is “remarquable”, when in fact there’s hardly anything remarquable to work (illegaly most of the time) in a small studio in Bangkok and doing visa run every 2 months.

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

That’s where I disagree. I don’t think the ideas behind the trend (don’t just exist, do whatever you want to do regardless of whether or not it’s “normal”, etc) are valid and worthwhile. My issue is with those who hijacked the idea to make a buck. Some people DO need a little kick in the ass, if for no other reason than they have the opposite around them. Or maybe some encouragement or simply connecting with other folks who are doing the same thing. But if all you’re doing is hocking a product, then I’d rather you go die in a fire.

JP January 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm

The majority of people do need a kick in the ass. It is true for virtually every aspect of people’s life. Maybe some people will start making important decisions after reading their horoscope. But astrology is still bullshit even if it helps people taking decisions.

Exactly the same with “lifestyle design”. It doesn’t matter if a product is sold or not. It’s bullshit.

Name me one useful thing about LD once you remove the buzzwords, and the “LOOK-I’M-JAMES-BOND-BECAUSE-I’M-EATING-STREET-FOOD-WITH-3-THAI-GIRLS”.

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Well, I went from a solid, career based corporate gig to a successful freelance business in 6 months. No buzzwords, pictures of me on the beach (I hate the beach) or ebooks involved. So there’s that.

JP January 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm

You’re simply listing what you have accomplished. That doesn’t say anything about the usefulness of LD.

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I’ve had conversations with plenty of folks one on one about the specifics of how I did it, tips, suggestions, etc. I just chose not to “broadcast” it. Nerds like me are anti social by nature. Many in the LD community aren’t.

TOPolk January 4, 2011 at 6:37 am

I concur.
(Sure, I could have left a better comment, but what else is there to say?)

hannah January 4, 2011 at 7:36 am

I’m really relieved. My hubby and I have been running our business and managing to wing it with several months traveling as well for the last 3 years. But this trip (3 months in Australia) I got a bit lonely and started to see if there was anyone else doing the same thing. And suddenly, I’m hearing about ‘digital nomads’, ‘lifestyle design’ and ‘location independant’ and i never even heard of this before! But it’s everywhere when you start to look, and i started thinking i needed help on how to do it…But i already bloody do it!! Thanks for the reality check. If it was anyone else i’d think this gullibility was naive and kind of sweet; but it’s me, so i’m an idiot.
Hannah
loveplaywork.com

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 11:44 am

I’d be interested to see what people such as yourself (who have been living that life long before it was dubbed “lifestyle design”) think about the lifestyle being hijacked by people wanting to make a quick buck.

Ruth January 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Well, you may be a cranky old fuck but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. I’ve found this group irritating for years & I think you articulated it well. Too many buzzwords and too much assumption that because for them a happy life means doing X,Y, & Z that the rest of us are the same. I’ve been told by LD people that I’m a sheep because I actually enjoy my cubicle (it’s a nice workspace in a friendly office) or that I’m still just a child and will come to hate my job later. Or, a weird one, that I don’t respect my elders for saying that I plan to work 9-5 doing library work until I retire and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not wanting to retire early. Another one told Jason at Frugal Dad that he should get therapy instead of buying a house–because he’d mentioned that as the child of a single mom who moved a lot, he liked the stability of giving his kids a house to grow up in.

It’s like they’re so attached to the idea that what they’re doing is the best thing ever that they don’t realize the implications of people being “unique snowflakes.” And their condescension/insults to those who simply want to enjoy a different kind of life, really makes LD look bad. I get turned off by the buzzwords, the scammy behavior, etc, but for me it’s the number of insults I’ve seen them throw at people who don’t want their life that really rankles.

Baker’s an exception. I’ve known him for a while and he’s good people, hard-working, and has always seemed honest. I’ve also never seen him talk down to others.

Norcross January 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I honestly feel bad for those who are living that life the “right” way (and yes, even making a living off it) having their ideals hijacked by assholes like the ones you’ve mentioned. I pray that doesn’t happen in my field, or I’ll have to become more of a prick than I already am.

Ruth January 4, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Indeed. I know people who do this kind of thing, but most of them don’t blog about it. That’s probably because they’re to busy doing it & it doesn’t involve selling their lifestyle.

Pierre Bastien January 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Hey man yeah there’s a lot of noise out there and it can be tough sometimes to find the genuine bloggers who understand that, whoa, some people might NOT want to spend every day skydiving and every night swimming with dolphins. But those genuine bloggers do exist, like you said, and they are the ones that’ll be successful in the long run. If you take your time checking out someone’s material you’ll probably be able to tell whether they’re genuinely out to help people, and whether they’ll be able to help you, in particular.

I know Tim Ferriss is full of shit sometimes but in his defense, reading his book did cause me to question how I was living my life at the time, and actually take some steps to make myself happier. Perhaps I shouldn’t have needed to read Tim’s book just to gain a bit of self-awareness but the fact is it DID help push me in the right direction, and I am grateful for that.

Now, the life I chose was moving from NYC to Philly, keeping my day job, and working from home. I get to see my wife and young kids at lunch, and at 5:00:01pm. There are lots of young families nearby to hang out with. It’s perfect — for us. If I’d started thinking more deeply about my lifestyle in my early 20s, maybe I’d have gone off and done crazy shit like you read about. But maybe not. Oh well — I had fun, and I have few regrets.

One final thing I’d like to point out: anyone who doesn’t move to Philly, have 2 kids, and telecommute to NYC is fucking up their life, and should buy my ebook.

-Pierre

Jack Bennett | 32000days January 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm

This is a very intelligent encapsulation of a lot of the more excessive (and frankly, annoying) parts of the lifestyle design “movement” (or “revolution” or whatever you want to call it :P ).

I think there’s a lot of real stuff under the surface here and there. It’s really cool that people are more free to create interesting lifestyles and small businesses, and that lots of us are letting go of (or at least questioning) the materialistic urge to buy a 4 bedroom split level in suburban Houston and his n’ hers Range Rovers.

But it gets obscured by the noisy “You’re a fucking LOSER if you own more than four things and still work like a SLAVE for THE MAN in a BEIGE CUBICLE and aren’t a HYPER-COOL EXTREME LIFESTYLE DESIGN DIGITAL NOMAD LIKE ME!! (now buy my ebook only $1447)” message.

Well thought and well written – thanks!

R. Anthony Solis January 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Glad Adam Baker RT’d this post. Exactly what I’ve been tweeting about the past few months. I almost bit into the whole LD thing. However, I think the arrogance, groupies and good ole boys mentality is also in most of the blogging sphere.

Over the years, I’ve read a lot of blogs for research and to learn. Today, it seems everyone is starting to sound the same and have so much success. Impossible. Or they won’t give you the time of day, simply because you don’t have the “stats” to warrant a response. Sad.

I’ve actually called a few gurus or ninjas on it. Some are nice enough to apologize others ignore completely.

One of my 2011 requests for everyone is to stop using the word “Ninja” to identify an expert or someone with mad skills. Please. Ninja’s are assassins and nothing more.

I’m like you a Dad and another weird dude. :)

Anthony

Joe D January 4, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I think the problem is rather simple. A bunch of people started writing blogs and ebooks about creating a revolution, quitting the crap job, and pursuing your dreams. Alone, that is fine. But many of the readers take “pursuing your dreams” to mean, “start a blog, write an ebook, do exactly what I did! Also, make sure you write about quitting your job and travelling the world!”

This creates something of a bizarre feedback loop. For example: Blogger X quits his job and starts blogging about quitting his job. Blogger X writes several ebooks about how to quit your job and support yourself. Therefore Blogger X doesn’t need a job anymore because his ebook about quitting your job is selling like hotcakes!

Many in the movement have no purpose but the very shaky ground they have built for themselves. Quitting your job, blogging about quitting your job, selling an ebook about quitting your job, and supporting yourself with the profits is just not sustainable.

I feel that a person must have some sort of other passion driving them. A final example: Blogger Z hates her job. Blogger Z loves photography. Blogger Z quits her job to become a freelance photographer, open a small gallery, sell prints on etsy, and do some wedding photography on the side. Blogger Z’s website starts getting some reasonable traffic, so she decides to write an ebook about quitting your job to pursue your dreams. The ebook is successful and she is able to purchase new equipment and taking a few trips overseas. She compiles a great anthology of photographs which she later sells on her website. Blogger Z is a success because she has a business other than Professional Passion Pursuer. Her passion is real. I trust her advice because she kicked ass and took names. She didn’t talk. She did. Then she wrote about it.

If you write about getting out of debt, that is really awesome. But if you write about getting out of debt while still in debt, and your only source of income is from the ebook you sold about getting out of debt, your message is worthless.

JP January 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm

The reality is that 95% of Westerners think that people who are “vagabonding” in Khao San Road, Freak Street, Kuta and Goa, and other ‘cheap’ destinations for more than 3 months, or longer than the typical ‘gap year’, are complete losers. Hell, even working abroad in a ‘real’ job (like an English teacher) is generally seen negatively (think F.I.L.T.H. for example – Fail In London Try Hong Kong). If some LD scammers are looking down so much on people who live a ‘stable’ lifestyle (house + marriage + car + kids + 9 to 5 job), it is out of frustration that it’s considered to be a successful life, while what they’re doing is seen as pathetic by most people.

Gotta go, I need to enroll to a McShit Online Academy because I’m unable to use the search function at http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/ and find the info I need about my blog or my eCommerce.

hannah January 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I’m surprised their is so much hostility to this. I love the original article, i’ts refreshing to read a different perspective and the discussion has obviously got us all thinking. If people are reading LD stuff it’s either because they are doing it themselves or want to do it. If you are content with what you are doing in your work/life surely you won’t continue to be exposed to these messages?

My biggest issue is with ‘coaching’ and the lack of regulation of the field (but maybe that’s just my stuff because i trained for years to call myself a coach and psychologist and get irritated by the ‘I’ve done it myself once’ school of expertise). Some people will relate to an energetic 22 year old hanging out at the beach to mentor them because they just won’t connect with a 30 something however established their business record. I agree that the whole ‘I’ll make my money by selling to you how to make money’ thing doesn’t sit well for me. either But we’ve all got to earn a living with the skills at our disposal I suppose, even if those skills might seem a little shaky to some of us .

The message of LD is compelling and a lot of people promoting it are very skilled marketers, which makes an irrestistable combo. I like to think most people selling it do have integrity and genuinley want to share the joy IF its what others want. A lot of marketing is selling a dream, and plenty of it IS pretty evangelical. Let’s face it, if you can pull it off, working/travelling is a pretty good lifestyle, if you like that sort of thing.

Reality is, few people make the big bucks; few people get to live permanently as a backpacker; but some do, and while there are people who want to buy hope, there’s people who can sell support and techniques. Its up to us if and who we buy from. And how it makes us feel when we read what they are putting out there

Hannah

Early Retirement Extreme January 5, 2011 at 12:22 am

The problem is systemic because a blogger can prioritize marketing or they can prioritize quality. For those who don’t make it their business to know everything about a subject, guess who they are going to come across first? The marketeers.

The marketeers all use overhyped buzzwords, cross promote their launches using affiliate links (a lot of them make more people hyping their colleagues ebooks than they make on their own ebooks), and repeat each other (because they don’t have time to research or think).

I think it went wrong when people started making money to support their lifestyle by telling other people about their lifestyle and how to make money supporting it by telling other people about how to make money telling, etc. This essentially turned the whole circus into a guru fest, where a handful of people market inspirational junk to thousands of hopeful people who think they may be able to join the select few if only the sold their junk, moved to Thailand ans started blogging about it.

Duff January 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Jacob hit it right on the head. The marketers encourage shallowness by advocating that everyone is an expert at something (which is patently false) and that therefore you should write an ebook about your area of expertise. Or to put it another way, the only thing most of these people are experts on is themselves, so you get 10,000 ebooks on “how to be like me.”

Norcross January 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm

A book on “how to be me” would probably kill most people.

Jack Bennett | 32000days January 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Can I quote you on that? That’s awesome[1] :)

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”

[1] I mean the real awesome, not the grade-inflationed blogger currency of awesome.

Andrea January 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

Thanks for being one of the few people who understands that life is longer and more complex, and the choices more varied, than the lifestyle gurus would have you believe.

MKR January 5, 2011 at 10:51 am

I like this post. It gets at something I’ve been pondering on. You stirred the pot, then used the inevitable reaction to have some good conversation in the comments.

And now I’ve got your blog in my feed reader. :)

Megan Cassidy January 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

I’m sorry, I have to say it, this post is EPIC, NINJATASTIC and AWESOME. I happen to have a job I love that isn’t for everyone. People need to accept that everyone is different, with different personalities that might not be suited for being a traveling, blogging badass.

netmeg January 5, 2011 at 10:57 am

On behalf of cranky old fucks everywhere, I object to the modifier “just” (i.e. “just a cranky old fuck”) I’m a cranky old fuck. And I’m okay with it. And anyone presumptive enough to wanna redesign my lifestyle can bite my cranky old ass.

Jess January 5, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Yes, you’re cranky alright… I like that about you.

Also, I adore this post. Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking for quite some time.

Duff January 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Dude, you’re just jealous of my epic ninja beach-dwelling lifestyle. Oh wait, no, that must be some other dude–I rarely leave the house (and like it this way).

Homebodies FTW!

Andrea January 5, 2011 at 3:33 pm

@Duff: Can I steal the phrase “epic ninja beach-dwelling lifestyle” for my twitter bio?

Sam Karol January 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm

No, you are not a crazy old fuck, you are right on. I actually just wrote a post that on the surface seems totally different, but really has the same message. It was about how I chose to only look for jobs in New York because that’s where my fiance is going to law school. Yes *gasp* I did put love ahead of career on my priority list. It’s all well and good that some people can lead “location independent” lifestyles and drop everything to advance their career and all that, but it’s not for everyone, and THAT’S OKAY. There are quite a number of people on Twitter who really need to read this. I hope they do. Kudos.

Grace Boyle January 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm

This is such a good post and even someone like you, who could technically live and work from anywhere with your profession, speaks the truth.

I also like Jenny’s: http://www.lifeaftercollege.org/blog/2010/01/10/i-love-my-cubicle/ that speaks to this :)

SO good. Thanks for writing it. Clearly, it invoked a lot in a lot of people!

Justin January 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Norcross,

Man, this is exactly what got me blogging. Before this post, I hadn’t found a voice for the “non-minimalist”. These guys that are out there shilling their 3-page ebook, so that they can live in Sweden with the Bikini team, need to wake up and smell the salmon. Their life is not my life. I tend to work hard for the money I make, to support my family, to pay my mortgage. I want to pick them up and shake them……Don’t blast me because of the life route I took. Help me gain knowledge from your experiences, to apply what works for me. I’m not 21 anymore. I don’t have the opportunity to sell all my shit and move to the rainforest, to hug a tree. I’m too old for Yoga. Hell, I can’t get out of bed in the morning nowadays without feeling the effects of a military jump school, years ago.

You hit the button on this post. Awesome, job!

Grump

Marc Jacobs January 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm

GREAT POST!

Like many people here, I am tired of these people, especially E. Bogue and his sycophants. The latest topic with them on Twitter is what happened to Bogue’s pants when they had their world-changing EPIC meeting in Chicago.

I don’t care what happened to Bogue’s pants. And he also mentioned changing his site header. Yep, the earth is now HUGE and so is his pic. This guy’s ego is ENORMOUS! And for no good reason. He used to make some sense, lately, he’s into predicting the future…which goes like this…everything is changing so fast we can’t possibly keep up! Ummm…profound!

Sadly, too–bozos like Bogue who go on about all the “zombies” who work 9-5 rely on those zombies to get flown across the country/world, make their java, their clothes, etc.. Hypocrites, man!

Thanks for the great post!

Justin January 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Bogue has gone so far in the recent past as calling those of us that don’t follow his profound “philosophy”, idiots. I say to Bogue, get some years under your belt. Face some real hardship, take on some REAL responsibility, before you go throwing around names.

Grump

John Bardos - JetSetCitizen January 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Awesome post!

Quitting everything to earn a part-time income while partying on exotic beaches is not extraordinary, kick ass or non-conforming. Running away from your obligations to chase hedonistic pleasures is just childish.

I have met many locals on my travels and for the most part everyone enjoys their static lives. The real contributors are the teachers, nurses, professors, entrepreneurs, doctors, and countless others that just want to do their job to the best of their ability and make a small but noticeable difference in the world.

I hate the “I’m too sexy for my job” attitude of North America. A little bit of respect for the customers that pay their salaries would be appreciated. Everyone thinks they are a frickin rockstar changing the world just because they blog and plan to travel. I second your opinion and call a big fat bullshit.

Jack Bennett | 32000days January 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Running away from your obligations to chase hedonistic pleasures is just childish.

For all their faults, I don’t think anyone in the lifestyle design world is suggesting turning one’s back on genuine like personal debt, your kids, or other real responsibilities. And of course, if a person quits his job, it’s no longer a responsibility. (And the workplace no longer has responsibility for him either – goodbye regular salary and benefits…)

John Bardos - JetSetCitizen January 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Hi Jack. Thanks for the reply.

You are correct, “obligations” wasn’t a good choice of word. I meant it more as a responsibility we have to society. For example, committing to and then continuing with a career that contributes something back. I think we need more teachers, doctors, nurses, professors, scientists, garbage collectors, tradespersons, and other workers that can deliver basic levels of service and respect in all areas of our lives.

Earning passive income, blogging and selling high priced ebooks is not really contributing in my view. There seems to be an attitude that you need to work as little as possible to be extraordinary. I believe the opposite is true. Greatness takes a lot of effort. A real contribution can be as simple as a store clerk that is not glued to their cell phone screen, or wait staff that smile and actually put in the effort to be nice to customers. Just because a person blogs or doesn’t have a traditional job, doesn’t mean they are better than anyone else.

I love to travel and certainly enjoy my lifestyle but I think I would be doing a disservice to mankind and the planet if I suggested that this was the best life.

Jack Bennett | 32000days January 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

John – thanks for clarifying.

It’s an important question, and a lot of the rhetoric obscures this. Is a vascular surgeon who enjoys working very long days repairing peoples’ bodies a “loser” or a “slave” because he has a regular location-dependent job? Hope not, otherwise we’ve lost track of priorities.

Of course, a lot of the rhetoric is calibrated to sting angsty and unhappy, cubicle dwelling, quarterlife-crisis sufferers, not people who are already passionate about their profession… :)

Jack Bennett | 32000days January 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

genuine -> genuine responsibilities :P

Jay Tullis January 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I only recently fell down the rabbit hole of the “social media lifestyle” phenomena when my daughter moved to Boulder. Through Twitter and associated blogs, I’ve seen a glimpse of the rolling cocktail party, networking world of this corner of social media. After following the various threads that came my way for a week or two (including this one), I came to the conclusion that like all such “revolutions” there is nothing new. There is a core of the social media craze that will eventually result in leaps of innovation and growth, but, as with the .com bubble, there is a lot of chaff. The lifestyle design (oy, hard not to choke on that ) part of the movement, is revolutionary only in the sense that things have come full circle yet again – Michener’s “Caravans,” Maugham’s “A Razor’s Edge” and we could go back to Jesus and Buddha, if we wanted – all were stories of the young rejecting their parents’ paths and searching for their own way. Some are really looking for a path and some are just dilettantes and trustafarians drifting on the tides. I suppose it’s more acceptable to their parents than following Phish around. Throughout history there have been hucksters selling road maps to the path – Tim Ferris, Timothy Leary, Rev. Moon, Oral Roberts, various religious institutions – all the same. But this is necessary to the distillation and enlightenment. As Buddha said (and if he didn’t, he meant to) In order to recognize truth, one must know falsehood. Keep putting ideas out there, but don’t get too upset if it falls on deaf ears. As George Carlin said “Imagine how dumb the average guy is. 50% of the population is dumber than that!”

Michael Carwile January 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm

So many people have said so many things, positive, and negative; it’s hard to feel capable of any eloquence here. I crawled my way over here from http://www.ridiculouslyextraordinary.com; I’m glad I did. I’m looking forward to reading more of your perspectives, Norcross (almost called you Andrew, then checked out your About page), and maybe, as time goes on, I’ll find a better place to add something to the conversation.

In the meantime, I wanted to say thanks for posting this. I hope (and it seems apparent that you do, too) that the very people that give all the negative schemers their motivation (by buying their products) to push their crappy products read this post, and more importantly, that they are cognizant to the meaning of your words.

Michael Carwile January 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I realized, after reading this, and reviewing some of my own posts, that my language can come of as arrogant similar to what you suggest. So thanks also for helping me realize that I need to be careful HOW I say and write things, as I in know way wish to claim I have all the answers. I agree with your point about there not being a single solution for every person. It helps to be reminded of these things.

Jess Ostroff January 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I get what you’re saying about the preacher stuff. I hate that shit too. But who exactly is preaching here? I haven’t read Tim Ferriss’s shit, and that’s because I’m not interested. You don’t have to read or prescribe to everything that is written on the internet. Just like you don’t have to read every self-help book that’s out there. You can easily ignore it. Self-help books have been written for years and years. That doesn’t mean everyone reads them. And that’s the difference I think (aside from the fact that this information is more easily accessible because it’s on the internet): these people are writing for people who are LOOKING to make a change and seeking out the resources to do so, not people like you who are happy with the life they’ve got. So why bother with it? In the Art of Non-Conformity, for example, Chris clearly and explicitly states throughout the book that this lifestyle is not for everyone, and that there is nothing wrong with working at a 9-5 job, as long as you’re happy. And that’s the point really. A lot of people aren’t happy with their work, and are looking for a way to be happy (or at least not miserable) with their job. While that may not mean freelancing at home or working at a surf shop on the beach, a lot of times these resources give people the insight and examples they need to shift their thinking.

And let’s not get crazy Norcross, you’re doing almost exactly what these people are suggesting: working on your own schedule, only managing awesome people (ahem), and living geographically and financially independent, all while doing exactly what you love. The ONLY difference is that you’re traveling. So what?

- Your Faithful (although stubborn) Assistant

Jess Ostroff January 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Oh, one last thing, the ‘buzzwords’… I agree they all sound like complete bullshit, but repetition helps people learn, and as a business major, I was inundated with those in every course, in every book, with every professor. They might sound stupid when they’re fucking ambiguous and don’t actually mean anything like the ones that some of these LD people use, but the smart people try and use the same words repeatedly so that people can learn. Again, not defending anyone, that’s just my observation.

Ivan January 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Excellent post Norcross..you articulated many of the things I also feel on this topic….In 2007 I moved to Prague and was day trading for myself…at the time it was the most accessible thing for me to be able to work for myself in a new location…I moved with very little…then all of a sudden I starting noticing all this talk on minimalism, traveling, being location independent…

I was like oh shit I didn’t know I was minimalist…I guess that’s cool…I have always just followed my heart and learned to be content with wherever I find myself in life…I was a minimalist but not because I was trying to be a minimalist…its all about just living with awareness and taking conscious actions…otherwise your just moving from one extreme (materialism) to now minimalism but the same obsessive tendencies are there only the objects have changed…eventually by trying to conform to that ideal you will hit a breaking point as well…then some new fad will come along…

my problem with this whole lifestyle design thing is that I see that most of the people promoting these things are only giving half the story…the good half..i don’t really see whats so remarkable about selling all your shit and then spending the money to travel then feel it is something you can teach others to do…plus you have not done it long enough to know what happens when you want your shit back or that now you find your self unhappy when the high wears off…i can’t believe people actually want advice on this..they don’t tell you what its really like when your living in that space and where you can go from there…

they are only appealing to the people who find themselves in a tough place and paint this amazing fantasy life…of course thats an easy sell..I have now returned to the “working” world teaching english in a orphanage in South Korea…and I am now more fulfilled then when I was “free” wandering the streets going from cafe to art gallery to cafe to beach….a really good exercise to do is to imagine that everything you have ever wanted to have and do has become a reality… because then you will realize I have everything… “now what?”..you will feel that life has become meaningless…..so then you might realize that the ultimate thing to achieve is to be happy and content for no reason (which is to see yourself as you “are” not as you imagine yourself to be or what others tell you to strive for) ..to be completely at ease with life…no matter what you may be doing…..to find out what meditation is…

Thanks again sorry for the long comment….hope all is well..peace

A.H.A. January 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm

You hit the head on the fuckin’ nail here. Kudos.

I’ve always believed in working harder AND smarter whereas some LDers only seem to believe in the latter.

Selling e-books about how to sell e-books is just not sustainable as a technology for the advancement of the destiny of homo sapiens en masse. A big part of what we want to do with Interesting Times is find out how to improve lifestyle design so it actually works on a grand scale (emancipating humanity from 9 to 5 on a grand scale – Communism, anyone? lol).

A.H.A. January 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I was like oh shit I didn’t know I was minimalist…I guess that’s cool…I have always just followed my heart and learned to be content with wherever I find myself in life…I was a minimalist but not because I was trying to be a minimalist…its all about just living with awareness and taking conscious actions…otherwise your just moving from one extreme (materialism) to now minimalism but the same obsessive tendencies are there only the objects have changed…eventually by trying to conform to that ideal you will hit a breaking point as well…then some new fad will come along…

A lot of these minimalists are just hipsters. It’s just a fashion statement.

Here’s my quotable aphorism for y’all: True minimalism is dedication to the necessary complexities of life.

The great men of history didn’t spend all their time admiring their spartan condos and submitting photos of their immaculately clean desks to lifehacker.com. They accomplished great things. Even in spite of stress and clutter…

A.H.A. January 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I think a worthwhile niche in LD could be “unconventional lifestyle design”. Ie basically everything else besides the standard “become an e-book writing backpacker” mold.

Oh, wait… something like that exists already :p Let me be a hopeless shill and give you the table of contents for Interesting Times #5, which was in fact dedicated to Lifestyle Design:

* American Dream 2.0: Or how we slipped through the cracks and found Utopia by following Tim Ferriss and his six-minute abs
* Review: The 4 Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss
* Top 10 tips and hacks of lifestyle design
* The Hank Rearden of Scandinavia: an interview with Morten Lund
* How to network awesomely in the world of Cyberpunk 2010
* Lovestyle design: how to become irresistible to women
* Review: How to get rich, by Felix Dennis
* A student’s unusual academic success
* The Ferrisspunk Manifesto: the 42 tenets of modern leverage
* Do as I think, not as I say: reverse-engineering the mind of Tim Ferriss
* Review: Under the bar, by Dave Tate
* So you want my lifestyle: Treasure hunter
* Lifestyle design from the survivalist perspective: interview with Jack Spirko of TheSurvivalPodcast.com
* How they made a billion
* Picking up girls with the 8 circuit model
* Hacking songwriting the 4HWW way
* Standing out in the crowd: why you should run a magazine in the age of the blog
* So you want my lifestyle: Mad inventor
* The Chinese e-boom minefield

It may not be terribly humble of me to say it, but I think this was a HELL of a lot more creative and original than most stuff you see in the LD sphere. Plus it’s a gorgeously layouted PD, not a blog. And 100% free. And that means FREE, not “give me your e-mail first”. Download it here: http://interestingtimesmagazine.com/archive/IT05.pdf

Btw, stay tuned for issue 6, due any day soon.

Miss Britt January 8, 2011 at 9:43 am

You had me at “Tim Ferriss is a tool.”

James M January 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I’ve been having similar thoughts for a while now ever since I came across Steve Pavlina’s blog. It started off interesting to me with some of his 30 day challenges and how much he was earning through his site. Then he turned “new-agey” and has taken a 180 degree turn in life (leaving a marriage to have a longterm relationship with someone in Canada, polyamory, D/s, etc). Following in his footsteps is virtually impossible for a lot of us (relying on a dead friend to make us money at blackjack, for example, or a 100% raw vegan diet).

Tim Ferriss, in my opinion, has been riding Steve’s coat tails the past few years. He writes a lot about his experiments in his new book, talks about some of Steve’s experiments, and twisted “personal development” into “lifestyle design.” Tim is just more of a jock and media savvy than Steve is, which is more appealing to a television audience. Both are con men at heart.

Travis Guthman January 9, 2011 at 12:57 am

Love the disussion that followed the post. Just read all the comments (that took a while but it was time well spent). I am not a tech guy, or a blogger, or a minimalist. I am happily married. 5 kids. One on the way. We live in the country in central Illinois. We have stuff. We own a restaurant. I guess my contribution to the discussion is that we are living our dream. And it’s not always peachy. Sometimes it downright sucks. And sometimes it’s totally rad. But it’s ours. We own it. We designed it. We are accountable for it. Maybe someday you’ll read our blog and buy our ebook.

Paolo January 9, 2011 at 6:16 pm

I HATE the word ‘epic.’ It’s lost all fucking meaning to me (including ‘hustle’, which I blame Gary V. and Rick Ross for)

If everything is epic, then what’s the goddamn point?

This post meant a lot to me to read and voiced a lot of the reservations I had about this whole sphere. So much so that I’m going to write an actual thought out comment at a lamer time.

Jenn@t1 service January 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Okay, but the tone of this blog post comes across as pretty hateful, too? Maybe I’m reading you wrong?

Mitch January 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Read 4 Hour Work Week and was kind of into it. I came out of the book thinking Ferris was kind of a good guy. Then I started reading his blog posts and watching some videos and found that everything he put out was a bit pretentious. I don’t like his “know it all” attitude. I agree! Humans fail naturally and he seems to provide this facade to make people think he’s the perfect person.Tell me how you have failed and I will respect you more. Don’t stand on the soap box forever telling me how great you are. I’ll tune out.

Mia January 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Two words: fucking awesome. You should have statues erected to you for this!

“Looking down on people who don’t share your dream is…well…being a dick.” Genius :)

The Everyday Minimalist January 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I absolutely love this post. This is why I always push to think about what you’re doing even if I’m blogging about it, instead of blindly accepting it.

No one person fits into one mold. Just because something worked for me, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you and vice versa.

I also hate the whole idea of people looking down on others for not living their exact life.

1Dad1Kid January 24, 2011 at 12:56 am

Thanks for this! I personally think the term lifestyle designer is ridiculous. You’re living your life the way you want to. That is neither overly original nor epic. And it seems like most LDs are bent on telling me how I should be living like them. Doesn’t that contradict the whole idea of LD to begin with? If I wanted to live like other people instead of living my life my way, then aren’t I just being a sheep?

Jonathan Manor February 9, 2011 at 9:54 am

Well that was pretty effing great!

It’s soooo freaking irritating to have to go through so many blogs and not be able to find anything that’s ballsy and not flat with cheap tips on how to live life better. There’s a dishonesty with bloggers when they can’t share who they are.

Good post, I’m recommending you to everyone.

John Weeks February 18, 2011 at 9:33 am

I’m removing the terms ‘Digital Nomad’, ‘Vagabonding’, ‘Lifestyle Design’ and ‘Social Media Guru’ from my lexicon for 2011. Y’all are welcome to join me. http://www.quickdraw.me/705

Layla February 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Good post, was also a bit curious about this.. Thought lifestyle design would mean ‘how to live your life well’ and choose wisely among the many choices and what is better for individual people in certain times in their lives… not about ‘how to be an affiliate marketer and live in a van’ or such, quite surprised by the whole ‘lifestyle design’ community mostly focusing on ‘one option’ sort of (in many cases). I still like the name, for me, it has a different meaning tho…

There may be times when doing the online thing might be better, and other times (or circumstances) when ‘safe’ or RL jobs may be better… What if (god forbid) the internet crashed or the Peak Oil ‘worst case scenarios’ happened? (or undemocratic governments just cut internet – we’ve seen it in North Africa) What would all the internet marketers do then? mindboggling, isn’t it? So, ideally everyone would have ‘backup’ scenarios too…

Some people are greatly inspiring and worth reading nevertheless… Some are pretty honest too, with fears and numbers and all..

I think it’s kinda like with healthy food – many people become convinced that what worked for them will work for everyone, but as our nutritional needs are different, different things work for different people…

Norcross February 25, 2011 at 2:11 am

I agree that semantics has a lot to do with it. One would think that a name like “Lifestyle Design” would be a very broad topic, encompassing a lot of different scenarios. But it doesn’t seem to be the case, now does it? Maybe it’s just those who are talking a lot more are doing very similar things, whereas others are busy actually DOING them. I’ll be the first to admit parts of my lifestyle fall into the LD blueprint. But not for most of the reasons they champion.

At the end of the day, I’ll be the first person to say that doing what makes you happy, yet allows you to maintain meeting your responsibilities, is a great idea. Whether it’s in a cube on or the beach.