Stephen Gary is the Co-founder of Flashpacker Co., one of the YoPro Know's partners. Stephen has been a digital nomad for the past 5 years, traveling all across the globe while growing his career and starting several businesses. He’s also my neighbor (or was!) and even helped The YoPro Know get on its feet in the digital marketing space. Today, he shares his story about his journey to becoming a digital nomad and finding a job that allowed him to achieve his ideal lifestyle. If you are struggling to find the right work-life balance or looking for ways to improve your work life, this is the article for you.
Build a (Work) Life You Love
If you sleep 8 hours a night and work a 40-hour workweek, you spend over one-third of your waking hours at your job.
For many, a job can be self-defining and the sole factor in determining who you are. For others, a job is just a means to the income needed to survive. Defining yourself by your job makes it incredibly difficult to be fulfilled outside of work. Conversely, if work is just a way to make money, you’ll likely be miserable when you’re there.
Finding the middle ground can be a challenge as most of us are motivated by more, more, more. For me, lifestyle design has helped me find that balance.
Why I Chose Lifestyle Design
I discovered lifestyle design in 2014 and it changed my way of thinking. Until that point, I’d always thought the goal was to have the “best” job possible; something prestigious and high paying. I had made the subconscious decision to sacrifice other freedoms in pursuit of job titles and raises that I didn’t really want or need. After several “very successful” years I was incredibly miserable. I had been really successful at building a life I did not enjoy living. I needed to restart with my life goals in mind.
What is Lifestyle Design
Lifestyle design is the process of defining your ideal life. It is a thoughtful, introspective, and personal process that is different for every person. Lifestyle design has nothing to do with achieving a specific career outcome. The process is only as good as the effort that you put into it, but the more effort you put in, the more clear your target will be, and the more clear your path to getting there can be.
There are templates and programs available and almost any will work. What’s important is the process of being completely honest with yourself about what is important to you, what you want out of life, and what a fulfilled life looks like to you personally.
Factors to Consider
A major part of achieving your ideal life is finding that job, business, or income-generating opportunity that can provide for that life. Here are 4 factors to consider when it comes to finding your ideal job.
1) Income: How much income do you really need to accomplish your goals/get what you want out of life?
If you want more income, you need to be more valuable. Elon Musk says, ‘you get paid in direct proportion to the difficulty of problems you solve’.
Talk to your boss about how you can make your firm or department better.
Seek out inefficiencies and come up with solutions to improve them.
If possible, figure out how your efforts can help the company make more money, or save money - frame your thinking in solving problems for the company.
2) Time Freedom: This can mean many different things; 9-5, part-time, freelance, being expected to work overtime, working your own hours, or flexibility to take vacation time.
If working overtime is the issue, first determine why you are having to work overtime. Is your job really taking more than 40 hours or are there systems that could resolve backlogs?
Consider whether you actually want to work 40 hours a week or if working less and taking a pay cut is preferable for you.
Alternatively, you could begin building an argument for how you can get your job done in fewer hours (careful, this could mean you end up with more responsibilities rather than more time off!).
3) Location: Consider whether you want to work at a desk and be tied to a geographic location or if traveling for work or working remotely is important to you.
Do you have to be present to complete your job? Do you have to be present every day?
If you travel for work can you make a business case to try new technology limiting the need for your travel?
Do you want to travel for your job?
If you are required to go into an office daily, try working from home one day if you have an appointment or other conflict; be extra productive, then share this with your boss and propose doing it again. Gradually increase work from home days as desired.
4) Consistency & Confidence:
How important is it to you that you have a stable paycheck? How confident are you in your own ability?
Will you feel more motivated if your paycheck is correlated to your personal success? Will you feel more fulfilled?
It’s Difficult to Have It All in One Job
It can be incredibly difficult to find a job that gives you maximum benefits in all four of these categories. Generally, it’s a give and take between factors, which is why it is absolutely critical to determine which are most important to you personally. With that clearly defined at the start, you can evaluate jobs based on what you want out of life and whether or not that job will take you in the right direction.
For me personally, income and location independence were freedoms that were incredibly important to me. I wanted to travel the world and live life as a digital nomad. That would require a well paying, remote job. In exchange, I’ve sacrificed a lot of time freedom (working long hours and weekends like right now) and pay consistency (working mostly on commissionable projects).
More often than not, my advice is to try and move your existing job as close to your ideal job as possible before considering changing jobs.
It can seem overwhelming to ask your boss to change the structure of your job or to start over and build skills for a vastly different career than what you’ve worked as so far. However, ask yourself, if your life was exactly the same in three years as it is today, would you be happy? Growth and change can be hard, but keep reminding yourself why you’re doing so: to achieve the life you want.
YoPro Know's Takeaways:
- Don't let your job be the only thing that defines who you are.
- Take the time to find the work-life balance that suits your lifestyle.
- Lifestyle design helps you to combine your professional and personal goals in order to live a more fulfilling life.
Connect with the author here: Stephen Gary