Corbett Barr

Lifestyle Business Weekly

What is Lifestyle Design?

Is this lifestyle design?

What are you planning to do when you retire? Do you hope to travel, spend time with friends and family, take up new hobbies or volunteer to support a cause?

How long will it take you to retire? For average people, it takes about 45 years, if you live that long. Maybe you’re hoping to retire sooner, in 30, or 20 or even 10 years by working hard.

Why does it have to be that way? Why do most of us go to college, find a good job and spend 30-40 years of our lives climbing the corporate ladder only to retire when we’re past our prime?

Why not live the life you want to, right now? Can it be done? Can you live the good life now without being independently wealthy or retired?

Yes, you can live an unconventional life that unlocks the lifestyle of the rich and retired now, while you’re still in your “working years.”

That’s exactly the philosophy behind Lifestyle Design. That’s exactly what I hope this blog will help you achieve.

Lifestyle Design has received a lot of attention lately, ever since Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich broke into the public consciousness in 2007.

Ferriss didn’t invent the concept (people have been talking about and practicing various forms of lifestyle design ever since the American Dream became the de facto lifestyle in the West), but he did label it aptly and put forth a number of techniques for designing your optimum lifestyle. Since then, hundreds of other books, blogs, websites and other resources about lifestyle design have been launched.

Just how does Tim Ferriss define lifestyle design? In the introduction of his book, he introduces both lifestyle design and the group of people doing it (the New Rich):

The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility. This is an art and a science we will refer to as Lifestyle Design (LD).

He goes on to explain how most people simply accept the status quo and never even question if there could be an alternative to working hard your whole life to retire at age 60:

Life doesn’t have to be so damn hard. It really doesn’t. Most people, my past self included, have spent too much time convincing themselves that life has to be hard, a resignation to 9-to-5 drudgery in exchange for (sometimes) relaxing weekends and the occasional keep-it-short-or-get-fired vacation.

People don’t want to be millionaires — they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy. Ski chalets, butlers, and exotic travel often enter the picture. Perhaps rubbing cocoa butter on your belly in a hammock while you listen to waves rhythmically lapping against the deck of your thatched-roof bungalow? Sounds nice.

$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows. The question is then, How can one achieve the millionaire lifestyle of complete freedom without first having $1,000,000?

Is Lifestyle Design for Everyone?

Yes, definitely, everyone can take advantage of certain elements of lifestyle design. At its most basic level, lifestyle design is about questioning the predominant work ethic that teaches us to become corporate drones, working 40-60 hours or more every week while living for the weekends and a few weeks of vacation every year.

Lifestyle design certainly doesn’t have to be as radical as (Ferriss advocates) outsourcing your life, playing currency arbitrage while traveling the world or creating automated cash-flow businesses, unless you want it to be.

The point is that it’s about examining your life and your goals and thinking unconventionally about how to make things possible now instead of later. It’s about designing your life instead of letting society design it for you.

That’s what this blog is about, and that’s what I hope the blog will help you achieve. Through resources, stories, news, tips and my own personal lifestyle quest, I will show you how lifestyle design can dramatically change your life for the better.

photo by kennymatic

Corbett Barr

A weekly curated email of useful links for people interested in lifestyle businesses and independent entrepreneurship.


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  1. love that tilt shift photo!

    • This is probably the most realistic look at lifestyle design I’ve seen in a while. It’s not about trading one lifestyle (the 9-5) for another (location independence), but about creating the lifestyle that makes sense for the individual.

  2. “lifestyle design is about questioning…”

    Well-said. It’s about examining our life, and wondering why the heck we would settle for what society deems acceptable or normal when it’s clearly not what we want.

    Definitely adding you to my reader. I just launched my new site last week, and we share very similar views. Nice work.

    • It sounds simple, doesn’t it Blake? Those acceptable societal norms are hard to break free from. Defining lifestyle design is the first step in making it happen, but lots of action must accompany the planning and examination. Best of luck with your blog!


  3. Thanks Corbett. Best of luck to you as well; I’ll be avidly following your writing.

  4. Dan

    Wow! Love it… so glad for stumbleupon. Great article.

  5. Corbett, I had this post saved in Evernote and just read it again. Thanks once again for your commitment to sharing stories, tips, etc about lifestyle design!

    I’d love to see something along the lines of what definitively IS and IS NOT lifestyle design as this is something I’m constantly interested in. I realize there’s no official rules or way to lay down the law….but there ARE things that are inherent to the goals of lifestyle design…I see this discussed in debates on location independence in connection with lifestyle design

  6. I have to say, as a new-kid-on-the-block concerning lifestyle design it’s definite worth making sacrifices and taking the plunge.

    Take action and do something to change your life. Otherwise you’ll never get out of the rat race. Hell, I blog about it now :)


  7. Corbett, it’s my first time on your blog and I would like to say hello. I clicked on resources and saw that you recommend: Unconventional Guides by Chris Guillebeau. I think it is the best choice from all lifestyle design publications. It is very down-to-earth and not as radical as 4HWW.

    I will add your blog to the News section on Good luck with your adventure.

  8. Ellen

    Hello Corbett. I have to say how glad I am for stumbling upon your blog. I can really equalize with your story, because I also don’t want to live conventional life. I think we all must follow our desires, our dreams, because life is too short to spend it in regrets and complaining. I think Paul Coelho explained all this excellent in his book Alchemist..we all must go to a journey to fulfill our Personal Legend..But my problem is that I cannot really decide what I want to do in my life..there are so many things that I would like to do..I would like to be a photographer, a musician,an actress, an dancer, I would like to write a book..and worst thing, I think I would be good in all those things I just don’t know is there any chance I can accomplish all those things..And another problem is my parents..I don’t want to disappoint anybody, but yet I cannot live the life somebody else told me to live..I just have to find a way to follow my own path and yet not to hurt somebody else..I would really appreciate if you can help me with this..thank you so much..your blog is really really enlightening

    • Hi Ellen! I’m glad you like the blog. It sounds like you have a lot of interests, which is great but it can also be overwhelming. My advice would be to try and analyze the pros and cons of each potential activity/career, etc. and be honest with yourself about which ones you would be able to dedicate enough time to. It will likely take you 3-5 years of serious effort to really master the creative pursuits you mention (unless you already have experience). It’s easy to get distracted during that time or if the results don’t come as quickly as you’d like. Check out for some additional insights.

    • I can understand being pulled in multiple directions wanting to do many things with my life. The thing I am starting to find is that many of the things that make me successful in one area of my life can make me successful in others. Programmer, personal trainer, politician, philantropist, entrepreneur, minister… the list goes on and on, but I am finding as long as I like what I am doing, I can work endless hours towards these goals. The goal in my mind is to just not “have” to do any of these things.

  9. Hello and thanks for this blog! As one who has had some life changes, I am trying to sort out how to make my own lifestyle design.

  10. The great thing about lifestyle design is that you do the designing. If your design is to work in a factory because you live being a machinist, then do it. If your design is to live in a trailer and sell beads, then that’s your design.

    It also doesn’t matter when you start. You can be twenty or sixty. It doesn’t really matter!

  11. Hey, Great post. I just recently found out about lifestyle design even though I realized it had been something I was doing anyways. I think it’s so important for people to craft their lives the way the want. Good article!

    Darren L Carter

  12. Corbett, obviously I’m a little late in discovering your blog but 100% agree. It’s taken a couple of years for Tim’s material to sink in with me but this path has been inevitable for me for about 13 years. I was handicapped by my lack of tech savvy and that was further compounded by not having the resources to hire someone. So, I’ve learned things on my own and really started kicking it in the behind over the last couple of months. 3 sites up and more to come. There’s a bit more to my story but that’ll be the first post on my new blog that’ll be coming within the month.


    • 13 years! That’s one heck of a long journey. I love that you’ve kept after it though. Best of luck with the new sites and blog, and keep us posted on your progress. Cheers!

  13. Love that you’re expressing the individualistic view. Many people who want something different but don’t know exactly what will appreciate that!
    Starting to design my own life via social entrepreneurship. Thanks for the advice that I’ll surely use along the way!

  14. Love the site and can’t wait to read more of the articles. I read the Timothy Ferris book and blog as well. It has had a profound effect and I’m keen to try out some of the concepts. Have already implemented a few in my professional life – which means I haven’t escaped the 9-5 yet!

  15. I think it could be said that lifestyle design is about separating yourself from the default.

    With that said, I don’t think it is for everyone.

    Great post Corbett

  16. Nice Work Corbett!… I’m aiming for 1,000,000 views!… That’s easier to achieve than $1,000,000!…

  17. Corbett,
    I’m late to your party. Having missed the boat during my career, I am determined to make my retirement outrageous. People can wake up to the opportunities at any age but just getting older doesn’t mean that the party is over and you have to drift into a boring old age.

  18. Corbett:

    Nice job! You nailed what I couldn’t name and have been thinking for years. “Lifestyle Design”. My wife and I are in our early 50’s and our seeing the other side of mobility down the road and we are realizing the economics of planning for retirement.

    We decided to start having fun now, (before we physically cannot). We love sailing and boating, so we bought a nice yacht, joined the local yacht club and we are having a blast!

    Our boat will be paid for about the time we retire and we will have the skills necessary to safely sail it well into our 70’s. Imagine waiting until we could pay cash for a yacht, then learning the skills. We would be in our mid 60’s and it would probably never have happened.

  19. Thanks for the article Corbett! I just resigned from my corporate job in order to travel more. I’m getting freelance gigs on the side to sustain this passion (traveling). But yes, I now realize that it doesn’t have to be all about traveling and being location-independent. Lifestyle design is by living in the NOW.

  20. Just found your blog! My family and I currently live in Thailand and we in Italy last year; we hope to find a way to keep traveling all the time. I have yet to read Ferriss’ book, to my wife’s dismay, but I like what you quoted above regarding the status quo. Now I have to read the book!! Thanks for this post!

  21. Hey Corbett. Thanks for that great post. I’m reading on your other blog (think traffic) a lot. But this article hits the nail (right) on the head :-)


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