Doing yoga in a five foot by five foot shower room, mat folded in half, and toweling off with a T-shirt may not seem like a dream lifestyle to many. For me it is, and it’s a direct result of the work and lifestyle freedom that I’ve worked so hard to attain. I am in shape, clean, full--even sometimes full of “it.” Of course, freedom ain’t free, so achieving a life of travel, relationships, and meaning may even require an awkward yoga sesh or two.  This is the story of “lifestyle design,” or at least one perspective on it.

Lifestyle Design

“Lifestyle Design” as Tim Ferris lays out in the famous 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, consists of “outsourcing your life, playing currency arbitrage while traveling the world or creating automated cash-flow businesses.” This digital nomad life sounded brilliant to me, via audio book, in 2014. Four hours a week, eh? That same year, following my cubicle existential crisis, I became independent and fully committed to TWO businesses: Gillingham CPA and Accounting Play. I worked about 1,900 real hours to get there.

In the short term, I was failing financially. First it was the credit cards, then the personal loan, then the IRA withdrawals. San Francisco is not a cheap place to live. Long-term, I was planting seeds for financial stability, but not fast enough to catch up to my cash burn rate. I launched Accounting Flashcards finishing up my tax season, then worked a temp job to keep from financial ruin.

Lifestyle Design Meets Self-Happiness Objective Analysis

Successfully designing your lifestyle is meaningless if you are not designing for a reason. Loosely I know what drives me: positive business (creating ethical value), women (love), surfing (soul), family (support), and ethics (faith/karma). Therefore, being location- and business-independent is crucial. Working with ethical people, meeting wonderful partners, ocean proximity, family time when most important; these are the things I value most. For others, it might be kids, status, legacy, wealth, etc.

Chemical and Work Cocktail and Conscious Consumption

We consume everything as humans. Some of it passes through our minds or physical bodies, and some stays. Being conscious of our consumption in every scene allows us to be 10X life maximizers. From drugs, to social environment, work, clients, customers, family, exercise, food, smokes, booze, television, internet media, music, scents--the list goes on. It all stays with us when we lay down to sleep and wake up to a new day. At a time when anything is as accessible as it has ever been--pure joy or evil--having even just a little cash to burn can be a dangerous thing. Choose wisely. This is particularly important to achieve true independence. Wherever we bring ourselves, mind and body are directly related to our consumption and production, and furthermore, to our work.

Already 10K deep in 2013 While I Had My Day Job

Accounting Flashcards actually began in 2013, when I was still a full-time employee. Thank goodness. I studied via podcast and wrote material on the bus. Also, I popped the seal on my Chase Freedom credit card. After years of fiscal frugality, earning large signup bonuses, and cash back rewards: I became a debtor. I ate out and kept up a fiery lifestyle with my lovely GFAT  (girlfriend at the time). And I didn’t care. With money in my retirement accounts and startup-filled, starry-eyed San Francisco, I was just one step away from app greatness.

Losing Love, 2,240.37 Hours Later: 2015

Lost, with an app making $20 a week, bleeding financially, it was time for massive action. Surfing? Barely. The pressure of trying to make things work crept into every part of my life, from the family dinner table to the bedroom. “When are you going to get a real job?,” (thanks Dad). “When are you going to stop making apps?,” (thanks GFAT). Both of them were and are wonderfully supportive, but they still had their doubts and loved me enough to express them. I responded in my head, of course, “F-you, I can’t wait to prove you wrong.” My physical shape must have turned to S- as GFAT dragged me into her gym, with a free pass of course. It was there, a mantra was borne, repeated, and followed through with. Repeat with me: Set, Goals, A-ccom-plish. Set, Goals, A-ccom-plish.

Set Goals Accomplish, Set Goals Accomplish

And so I did, as any aspiring to the outlier life should do, set goals.  Back against the wall, constantly having to monitor account balances and bills, I gave my businesses my all. Much like passing the CPA exam, I started tracking my hours for every project, and methodically followed through on everything and with everyone. No appointments missed, no coffee talks refused. Client, app, creative time, whatever. I put myself all in. Sadly, in dedicating myself so wholeheartedly, much like I lost my first love through the CPA licensing process, so did I lose my second.

Pick Your Ride: The Merry-Go-Round or Rollercoaster (Both Rides End)

Outlier work, pain, and pleasure--life on a rollercoaster. Do you like rollercoasters or would you rather watch your family enjoy them, or rather take those little cars that circle around for three short minutes? I think most are on an old fashioned merry-go-round, or at least the one I know about at the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. There are some big horses that go up and down a bit, some static, and even some sit-down, safer, lazy options. Everyone still goes round and round. I will take the roller coaster for now, and if I don’t like the theme park, I am leaving the country.