Lifestyle Design is Not Just For Tim Ferriss

The author of The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss, has quickly become THE guy to go to when puzzled with questions about lifestyle design. He is never afraid to test and improve his methods, and his experiments show us that it’s possible to go well beyond the ordinary limits of our human minds and bodies.

Still, in many ways, most of us are very different from him and do not seek the same kind of lifestyle Tim is after.


Tim is a single guy who thrives traveling the world. We have families to take care and would love nothing more than to spend more time with them.

Tim goes to the gym twice or more every day and has a perfect six-pack. We would be happy just to lose the few extra pounds of belly fat.

And so on.

Tim Ferris is a bit like a movie star or a figure in a fairy tale — a guy from some other world than the one I live in.

Lifestyle Design Doesn’t Mean Becoming Tim Ferriss

Lifestyle design is about figuring out what YOU want in life and then finding ways to make that dream to become reality. Making room for the things you love, one small action and choice at the time.

For someone like Tim, the life he wants can be about exercising many times a day and winning tango competitions in Argentina. And that’s just fine. But it’s important to remember that for you the dream could be something entirely different: growing tomatoes, baking fresh bread, and building castles from Lego bricks are just as good choices in your lifestyle design as the fancier sounding Ferraris and trips to the Amazon.

Further Reading

Here are some highlights from the more down-to-earth lifestyle design posts (many written by other dads) that I have enjoyed lately, mixed with some favorites from this blog’s archives:

And a Question to You

If lifestyle design means nothing else than figuring out what you want your life to be like, and then engineering your thoughts and actions so that they get you closer to that goal, why not start now? There is nothing mysterious or snobbish about it. And definitely, there is a lot for the normal people, moms, dads, guys from across the street to gain from it.

So, here’s my question: If you were to start designing your lifestyle today, what is it that you would aim for?

11 thoughts on “Lifestyle Design is Not Just For Tim Ferriss”

  1. I’m in the process of figuring out the answer to this question at the moment. Like Tim, I don’t have a family to consider, but most of my preoccupations are completely unlike his, which is why I found his book a little hard going.

    I think where people often have trouble is identifying their REAL dreams. It’s easy to say the big house, the fast car or whatever, but I honestly don’t believe that for most people looking honestly into themselves these are real dreams. They don’t go deep enough.

    Which is why I love your example of spending more time with the family. We lose that magic from childhood of being in the moment. If we could all identify the dreams that made us truly, deeply happy, what a great world we would have.
    .-= Tess´s last blog ..*8things: practice makes perfect =-.

  2. I enjoyed Tim Ferriss’ book, but (and this is a big but) I thought it was more valuable because it got people thinking than because it actually taught anyone how to design a lifestyle.

    Ferriss started with an already-successful business, without any family obligations and generally in the best possible situation to just focus on figuring out what he wanted to do — and then doing it. I don’t think that means that folks not in a similar situation can’t do something similar, but I think most of us have very different concerns than Ferriss did.

    I really appreciate the fact that you listed some different (and more widely applicable) takes on lifestyle design.
    .-= Thursday Bram´s last blog ..Market Your Freelance Writing In 31 Days: The Ebook =-.

  3. There’s one other thing I thought of when reading Tim’s book, keeping in mind that he had a very different sitation that I currently have (married with four children, job, mortgage etc.) – and it was this.

    There are plenty of people who are (and have been) just like Tim – young(er), single, lots of free time – and what did they do?

    Nothing.

    So, maybe I can’t have Tim’s life. Maybe I don’t want Tim’s life anyway.

    But if I do nothing to change where I am (assuming I want to redesign what I have), then nothing will happen!

    Tim made the choice to do something. We all have the power to choose.
    .-= Brett Legree´s last blog ..small changes. =-.

  4. @Tess: I agree: the material wants have become such a big part of our society that it’s hard to even question them. But like you say, when you really allow yourself to think things through, the bigger house isn’t what really matters. Something like working one day less per week (I work only 4), can be much more meaningful.

    @Thursday Bram: I’ve been thinking about the same thing. But I do believe that it’s sort of a requirement for making it to the lifestyle advocated by Tim: You need to work hard at first if you want to relax later. You cannot just read the book and then decide to start working 4 hours per week. You need that long period of building your business and income streams that Tim did before setting out to this new path of his.

    That said, I’m glad that there are smaller lifestyle design changes you can do even while still working on that one big, hairy, audacious goal. :)

    @Brett: This is so true. We all have been young and single at some point, but didn’t do what Tim did :) And you’re right, it’s not too late to make changes (start doing something / stop doing something / whatever it is that makes your life perfect).

    Thanks for the insightful comments, everyone!

  5. Jarkko,

    For those that agree with Tim or not I think it has given us all something to think about, mainly the value of time and the power of choice in how we spend that time. Right now we are living in a very dynamic world where many of the “norms” do not really align with the belief system of many that is becoming more permeable as our exposure to the belief system of others occurs more easily with the click of a button. The very concept of lifestyle design is a new one.

    Like Brett said we have the power to change, however, without books like Tim’s and the other Lifestyle Designer’s that are now letting us know what are some of the choices possible. I fear I would have only been limited by ideas of employment or small business owner. The biggest take-away that I’ve gotten is that there are different types of business owners i.e. the location independent, which is something I hope to one day achieve.

    Thanks Jarkko, for helping expand the options by putting it all together and reminding us we do have choices.
    .-= Shane´s last blog ..Dream Again =-.

  6. @Shane,

    Exactly! People like Tim and so on sharing their experiences is something that was difficult to come by when I was a lot younger – I suppose in a bigger sense, it is access to information and ideas that can make the difference.

    The lifestyle designers show us that we don’t have to follow the path we think we do, work in the cube and so on.

    Most of the people where I grew up are still here, because they never thought it possible to go anywhere else, if they wanted to do so.

    I was like that too, up until a few years ago.

    And now I know where I want to be, and I am going there.
    .-= Brett Legree´s last blog ..small changes. =-.

  7. @Shane: Well said. Tim’s book was a huge eye-opener to me too and I’m among the first to recommend it to anyone interested in the topic.

    With this post, I wanted to say that people shouldn’t give up on the idea of lifestyle design just because the type of lifestyle they are looking for is different from what Tim is after.

  8. The 4-hour work week was a life-changing book for me, even though with family obligations I obviously can’t live the life Tim is. The greatest value of the book, for me anyway, was thinking outside the box, to realize how many possibilities and options there are out there, and to go after them.
    .-= Home School College Counselor´s last blog ..Questions of the Day =-.

  9. Thanks for posting! I think you hit the nail on the head. Many people are trying to live the Tim Ferris life and not their own. The reason, I think, most people do this is the inability to make up their own mind and create their own path. Its no different than people trying to become millionaires because of what they’ve seen on TV.

  10. A great post. I love Tim’s book. A quick comment for those people who doubt it can work for them because of family and job commitments (Tim had a business and not wife and kids). Sure, a job and family can limit some things, but not all things. Give it a try, and you will see increasing possibilities with each step taken!

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