From Instagram celebrities to travel vloggers, it can feel like there are very narrow criteria for designing your life. If you don’t become the next Richard Branson, you’ve done something wrong.
But we’re not all destined to be multi-billionaires – and that’s totally fine! Success looks different for everyone. The key to creating that lasting, happy success is to design your life around your core values.
What are you passionate about? What are you interested in? What lights your brain up in ways that nothing else does?
A few years back, my wife and I sat down and asked ourselves those same questions. We were stuck in corporate jobs that were sucking the life out of us and working so many hours a week that we had no time to actually live. Literally.
We had no hobbies, vacations just induced a work-themed separation anxiety, and our sleep suffered immensely. Eventually, we both developed chronic stress related illnesses. Within weeks of each other, we were hospitalized for treatment. Our doctors gave us a devastating decision to make – either cut back the hours or face an early death.
Something had to change. And for us, that meant leaving the corporate environment permanently. We wanted a career that allowed us to work alongside each other, from anywhere in the world. We wanted to start doing work that was meaningful for us – helping people improve their lives and become the best versions of themselves.
And now we’ve designed a life that makes us excited to wake up every morning. We run a location independent online business, live and work out of Medellin, Colombia, and take salsa and Spanish classes every day.
Our core value is FREEDOM, and we’ve designed a life where we can have as much freedom and flexibility as possible. This is what has worked for us, but like I said before – lifestyle design isn’t a one-size-fits-all.
So we’ve compiled a list of incredible lifehackers who have cultivated a life around their core values.
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In his youth, Dan learned that he was graced with what he fondly calls his “superpower” – ADHD.
And while that might deter some people from pushing for greatness, it accelerated Dan’s desire to be a successful entrepreneur. Today, Dan is one of Canada’s top angel investors, has invested in over 30 different startups, and has become a world renowned serial entrepreneur. He built and sold one of our favorite websites, Clarity.fm.
He’s done all of this by designing a life that’s true to his core values, which are spending high-quality time with his wife and young boys.
What’s allowed him to sustain such a busy, productive and impressive life are his trusted systems. He’s created and perfected systems for everything in his life – from work to play. “What works for building multi-million dollar businesses also works really well for families,” Dan told us during our interview with him for our 2017 Lifehack Summit.
He goes on to say that each Friday him and his wife sit down and go through a laundry list of logistics that could trip them up and turn an awesome week into a frustrating one. They plan ahead and create the systems they need for their family to stop worrying about logistics like shopping and cooking, and instead spend quality time together.
“It allows us to be proactive instead of reactive. Every week I’m using ninety day goals to drive the week.”
And that goes for his family and his business!
Oksana and Larry Ostrovsky
We met Larry and Oksana here in Medellin, Colombia. Their focus on designing a lifestyle where they can pursue their passions and make an impact in the world immediately drew us to them.
Oksana and Larry are a Ukrainian couple who decided to live life differently after feeling unfulfilled in their careers. Today, they are prominent members of the health and lifestyle community, and are currently helping to revolutionize the CBD industry through their company Soul CBD.
Their life is designed around their core values of constant improvement. They say, “Our core beliefs are grounded in Kaizen. We work on getting past our negative programming on a regular basis and creating habits that facilitate harmony in all things.”
Like us, they’re also big advocates for couples lifestyle design. Larry says “We had to explore the fundamental nature of what makes us tick individually and together. Our passions, ethics, likes and dislikes line up in an incredible way which makes it VERY easy to co-create our reality.”
Of course, they didn’t trip and fall into their dream life. They’ve put in the work to make it a reality. “After 10 years of ups, downs and massive growth we’ve come to a place of true happiness and fulfillment where value is placed on experience, not things. Business success is measured by impact on others, not amount of zeros in the bank.”
They’ve created a massive business that takes minimal effort to maintain, but this is not the end of the road for them. Larry and Oksana continue to live their core values every day so they can spread their message to as many people as possible.
When Jyothi gave birth at the age of 32, she was diagnosed with a rare congenital disease. The doctors said she wouldn’t make it pass 40.
Instead of letting this news destroy her life, she used it to propel her into action. She set out to design a life that she truly wanted to live.
Her core values of family and community are at the heart of everything she does.
Jyothi is now is arguably one of the world’s top veterinary consultants. Her work allows her to travel the world with her family when she wants, but most importantly it allows her to spend plenty of time with them. She “custom-schools” her children and gives them the once in a lifetime opportunity to learn all over the world.
When we asked her what lifestyle design meant to her, she said: “Lifestyle design is about making conscious decisions that propel you to a place you only imagined at one time would be feasible. In my case, it’s a life that includes my husband, children, and parents. It’s a cross-cultural, multi-generational existence where we travel together, exploring new opportunities while helping animals and communities.”
Sometimes it takes a crisis or a wake-up call to realize that you are not fulfilling your mission or living up to your potential. It’s at that moment that the choice becomes yours to create the life you want and just dive in and go for it. Now past 40, Jyothi has successfully built a business that allows her great flexibility and has been given an excellent prognosis by her doctors.
Alexis woke up one day in 2016 and felt discouraged.
“I was 40 and feeling life had become a massive list of “to dos”. I am a high achiever but I was in a fog and knew if I didn’t get my priorities in order I was going to look back and have major regrets. My life had become all work. I was wearing many hats that I didn’t feel I was good at anything, just mediocre at a lot of stuff. And the mom guilt was immense.”
Alexis had left the industry she had worked in her whole life as a teacher, and bought a franchise of children’s haircut shops. And while the transition was momentous and exciting at first, she started to feel like her work was trapping her. She had no time for the things that mattered most.
After attending an international business event, she realized her old framework was an illusion. She could design a business that she could run anytime, anywhere and not miss out on any of her teenage daughters’ water polo events.
Like all true lifehackers, Alexis recognized the need for systems and processes that could free up her time. “I began to set up process and procedures within my company that would allow my company to run beautifully, with or without me. Through systems and with Carey and Demir’s help, I believe I developed the most extensive, detailed marketing plan any franchise has ever seen. These systems are in continual process, but they are in place so if I get hit by a bus or travel to Italy for ten days, the show can go on.”
And was she successful in this huge undertaking?
Less than two years later, Alexis finally has the free time to stay true to her core values – adventure and family.
“Now I’m taking my 3 kids to the Dominican Republic where we will be working in an orphanage. In March I will accompany my daughter to the Olympic Development tournament for Water Polo in California. In May I am taking our water polo team to Italy for a ten-day trip where the kids will learn about the culture and play water polo against Italian teams.
I have peace and happiness. I’m not running the rat race.”
Sam is no newcomer to lifestyle design. His bestselling book Work The System is used by hundreds of thousands as the blueprint for creating and perfecting systems that work for you in both your personal and professional life.
Sam has the kind of eclectic background (from mountaineering to software engineering) you wouldn’t expect for a productivity expert. But it is that exact background that gave him the tools needed to become the “master of systems” that he is today.
In 1984, he founded a telephone answering service. He soon got sucked in to the typical workflow of a startup CEO – lots of work, little sleep, and practically zero profitability. On the edge of severe breakdown, he decided enough was enough.
Leveraging the power of systems, he figured out how to cut his hours down from nearly 100 to just TWO per week. This allowed him not only to maintain his blossoming company, but get way ahead of the game and build one of the largest telephone answering businesses in the nation.
Now, he uses his abundance of free time to compete in long distance bike races, a longtime dream of his.
Everyone on this list is wildly successful in their respective industry – and also wildly satisfied with the life they lead! Designing a life that works for you doesn’t have to be cliff diving in Bali or founding Fortune 500 companies. The spectrum available to you is wide and vast.
And it all starts by refusing to be satisfied with the status quo.
Comment below – which lifehacker resonates with you, and what kind of dream lifestyle do you envision for yourself?