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Lifestyle Career: Taking Work-Life Balance to the Next Level

Lifestyle career

We talk about work-life balance while hustling for the next promotion and buying yet another gadget that will make us feel like we’re living the life. But what if we change our perspective and focus on the values that will shape our lifestyle instead of chasing secondary gains?

Lifestyle career is a concept that helps us find that balance – going beyond binary understanding of professional vs personal and taking a look at your life in a holistic manner.

What you’ll learn in this article

What is work-life balance and why is it important?

Work-life balance has been a hot topic for over a decade with more and more people striving to find that sweet spot between the should and the want

In its essence work-life balance is defined as the division of one’s time and focus between work and family or leisure activities (Lexico by Oxford).

But the popularity of this concept is growing not because people don’t get enough time to spend with their families or engage in leisure activities, but often because of high stress levels in the workplace and a sense of futility in f one’s career. This is especially true for millennials, who tend to look for a career that will support their “lifestyle” instead of focusing on separating professional from personal.

The idea of work-life balance is as important as never before. Nations worldwide are struggling with mental health challenges, as the latest WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health reveals troubling statistics:

“People with mental health conditions experience widespread human rights violations, discrimination and stigma. More than 80% of people experiencing mental health conditions, including individuals experiencing neurological and substance use disorders, are without any form of quality, affordable mental health care. This is despite mental health conditions accounting for 1 in 5 years lived with disability globally, leading to more than US$ 1 trillion per year in economic losses.”

We all have friends and family members affected by mental health conditions that are only aggravated by high stress work environments and external pressure to achieve more, perform better, grow faster and act stronger. 

While a healthy challenge is surely a catalyst for growth, balance here is key. The world is in need of a paradigm shift – and while many organisations are developing more supportive company cultures, the real change can only happen on a personal level. This is where you need to ask yourself – what is my idea of work-life balance? Am I pursuing someone else’s vision of success?

💡 Read moreAre You Pursuing Your Vision of Career Success — or Someone Else’s? by Laura Otting, Harvard Business Review

What is your idea of work-life balance?

Choose a lifestyle career that will get you closer to nature

While it can be helpful to look around when trying to answer the question “What should I do with my life?”, you will only find experiences of others. This might be inspiring and motivating, but more often than not it will be confusing: should you model the success cases and do exactly what those people did to achieve “success”, or should you find your own path, or should you merge all these ideas into one?

Instead of separating work and life – and thinking about these things as separate entities, try asking yourself – what is the lifestyle that you want to lead? 

What you’ll find might surprise you. Your answer won’t focus on the external validation of socially constructed success – it will instead be grounded in the feeling that you want to experience. 

It’s possible that in order to lead the lifestyle of your dreams you will need a radical career change, but it’s also very likely that you’ll be able to see your current situation in a new light. 

As humans we are highly susceptible to look for external solutions to our discontent and that’s why consumerism is booming. But the most authentic answer will come from within: What you need is to to learn how to be honest with yourself.

💡 Read more: How to change career at 40

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Try switching up the perspective – how do you want to be instead of what you would like to do.

This is where lifestyle career (or lifestyle business) approach comes in handy. Focusing on the process of your life and understanding what really matters to you – and saying no to things and actions that don’t reflect your priorities.

What is a lifestyle career?

A relatively new concept, lifestyle career (or lifestyle business) is a process of attaining a particular income that is no more than is necessary to enjoy the desired lifestyle.

It might sound that lifestyle career is a concept similar to downshifting, which is a switch from a financially rewarding but stressful career for a less pressured and less highly paid but more fulfilling one. But downshifting is just one of the lifestyles you can lead. You might want to choose a luxurious lifestyle – and then you’ll attain a particular income to sustain it, and it would still sit under the lifestyle career umbrella. It’s all about values, priorities and choices with this approach.

Choosing a lifestyle career that makes sense to you

The goal of all the hustling is life.

Lifestyle careers are built on clear understanding of how much you really need to live the life you want and we can’t avoid the discussion about financial independence here. These topics have been extremely popular in the past years as people want to attain their lifestyle goals as quickly as possible. Questions like “How much do I need to retire?” are searched by thousands of people weekly.

While attaining financial independence is admirable – you will be surprised how little it will really do for the restless mind. And more so – without understanding your reasons for financial independence it’s unlikely that you’ll achieve it at all.

We are in the age when pushing oneself, hustling and reaching for ambitious goals is praised like never before. Which is quite ironic, as the end-goal of all the hustling is still the lifestyle.

You want to retire because you want to feel a certain way. But why not focus on your lifestyle now instead of when you finally retire? 

With the gig economy growing, it becomes much easier to have a portfolio of multiple jobs that provide comfortable income to sustain the lifestyle you choose. But you have to be honest with yourself – how much do you really need? What is the lifestyle you’d like to lead? Especially if you forget for a second about the Instagram pictures of celebrities, yachts and branded shoes (even though there is nothing wrong with yachts or sustainable brands!). Starting with these questions and answering them in the most authentic way will allow you to understand how to design your lifestyle and finally enjoy yourself.

💡 Read more7 Reasons Most People Should Build Lifestyle Businesses, Not Startups by Sean Ogle, Forbes contributor

Asking the right questions to improve work-life balance

Finding your work-life balance through lifestyle career design

“The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself” – Anthony Robbins

Understanding what you enjoy the most and what energises you will be the key to building the lifestyle you want and attaining that delicate work-life balance.

Here are some of the high quality questions that you can ask yourself as proposed by human behaviour specialist Dr John Demartini. Once you have clear answers – you will be able to prioritise your life accordingly.

1. What are the items in your physical environment that surround you and what do they mean to you? Are these books, design elements, technology? What do each of these mean? Your phone could be a source of knowledge, a way to do your job, and it can also be a way to communicate with those you love. Understand that distinction.

2. Where do you spend your time the most? And what do these activities mean to you? Including your job – what does it mean for you to do the job that you do? Is it your source of income so that you can invest into your children, hobbies or education? Do you feel that it’s your calling or a way to give back to society, or both?

3. What activities do you always have energy for? What activities energise you even if you are tired? This is an insight into what feeds your “soul”. You might be shattered after a long day at work, but there is this one or many! things or actions that you will always be happy to do. It could be a conversation with a friend, cooking a meal in silence, or maybe it’s an episode of a podcast on a particular topic. Pay attention to these nuances, as they have valuable bits of information for you.

4. Where do you spend your money the most? This will show you what you currently value the most. You are actually investing your finances into it – make sure you understand what it means for you.

5. What are the things that you’re most organised and reliable in? Even if you don’t consider yourself an organised person, there will be things that you do religiously. It could be your dedication to working out, spending a Friday night with your friends at a pub, a Sunday roast with your family, 30 minutes of reading before bed or organising your pantry. Don’t forget the inspiring case of Marie Kondo, who loves organising people’s closets and created a beautiful business around it.

6. What are you thinking about the most every day? Even your anxious thoughts serve a purpose – you’re obsessing over a particular topic, and that topic is deeply important for you – use this to understand your values better. Don’t just dismiss them. Anxiety is just one of the feedback systems we have to understand that something needs our attention.

7. From the things that you tell yourself that you’ll do – which ones actually come to life (search for real-life examples)? Did you promise yourself that you will work out and now you are? Great example! You’re definitely valuing your health. But maybe you’re valuing something else more than your health – and that’s absolutely fine. We’re trying to find out what is true for you through these questions – no pressure to comply with what the TV says you should value.

8. What are you talking about the most with other people – in which direction the conversation would usually go? Most of the conversations you’re having with other people will have a certain theme to them – pay attention to what you’re talking about, as these things matter to you. 

9. What inspires you the most in events and other people? Do you feel that sting of envy when looking at someone’s Instagram profile? Don’t worry about it – it’s just a feedback system to tell you that the thing you see is something that matters to you. It could be a #relationshipgoals picture of a couple, a car, a photo of a happy group of friends travelling. Go beyond the image and ask yourself – what inspires you about it? What is the emotion behind it? Is it the joy of belonging, freedom to go anywhere, human connection? Envy and inspiration go hand in hand and can uncover your true needs and desires. We are collecting all of these pieces to see what lifestyle career you can build that will be congruent with your values. 

10. What information are you craving? What do you learn and read about the most? There will be topics that you just can’t get enough of – maybe you go to workshops to learn more, maybe you read one book after another, maybe you’re spending hours learning about a certain topic on YouTube – pay attention to this interest, as it is yet another piece that can help you understand the full picture of your life better. 

Once you’re done answering these questions you’ll see that there are several themes that come up the most. These are your priorities – things you don’t even notice, as they’ve become so natural to you. These priorities can help you do the next exercise – budgeting for your dream lifestyle. 

Understanding how much you really need to live the lifestyle you want

4-hour workweek lifestyle is attainable

Start with calculating what’s the minimum you need – your baseline. You can easily check what should be the minimum income for your family type in the UK with this tool.

Then make a simple budgeting exercise – list the necessities and the nice-to-haves, what those mean to you and calculate how much all of that costs in your location.

Check if the items that you list as necessities and nice-to-haves are congruent with your values and priorities. Which of those things that you want are actually non-essential to you? And what are the things that are possibly missing? You want to make sure that your budget reflects what you really want to do with your life – and not what society is suggesting you do. 

You might be fine with having no gym subscription because you choose to take care of your health outdoors. You also don’t need to think about a mortgage if what you really want is having a nomadic lifestyle. When you’re honest with yourself about your values and the lifestyle that will support those – it’s easier to say no to things that don’t fit in, and yes – to things that do.

Here’s an example of a person whose values revolve around quality time with friends and family and who is leaning towards a simple lifestyle with no particular attachment to a specific career. 

SpendingWhat do these mean to you?
HousingHousing is about comfort for me, as it means I can relax deeply and spend quality time with my partner. I choose to pay a little extra here. However, I definitely don't need to buy a new item for my living room.
FoodFood is about health for me. I eat simple meals, but focus on quality. I don't need to go out for lunch as I prefer a healthy home-cooked option.
TransportationNot many options here. Public transportation is my choice.
Basic utilitiesIs there a way to pay less for these? How can I reduce the costs here?
InsuranceDo I even need insurance?
SavingsAm I able to save 10% of my income? Do I want to save more and what is the reason for that?
Care for a family memberI don’t have any children and my parents are healthy, so I can skip this for now.
SubscriptionsGym, Classpass, Netflix, Spotify, Audible, Amazon… I actually only care about two of these, so I can cancel those that I barely use.
EducationI enjoy learning new things, but it's not my top priority. A lot of information I can find for free online - so I don't really need that expensive course I was considering. Also - my employer can help with some of the education costs.
TravelTravelling is fun, but it’s not about exploration for me, it’s about spending quality time with friends and family. Maybe I can save on travelling and actually just enjoy the UK this year while focusing on my relationships.
EntertainmentEntertainment is about spending time with my friends for me. I can potentially optimise the costs here and opt for a movie night at home instead of spending £20 at the cinema.
Dining outGoing out means I can spend quality time with my friends, which is really important for me. Maybe I can host simple and soulful dinners at my place instead of spending so much money on restaurants?

Going through this process of actually calculating what you really need and what actually supports your values makes it so much easier to make lifestyle decisions.

The types of lifestyles to consider and jobs that you could do

Design your lifestyle

While there are as many lifestyles as there are people and you will create your own unique way of living, we came up with some examples of lifestyles and jobs that you could do. 

Simple living

This would be the example that we used in the budgeting exercise with a person mostly interested in spending quality time with family and friends. 

Work-life balance can be easily achieved here by adjusting certain commitments. Seeing work as a way to sustain the lifestyle that is focused on relationships with friends and family will reduce anxiety around work-life balance and stop you from over-consumption.

Low-stress jobs that you can do here will depend on your skills and natural qualities. For some, accounting or web development will be the perfect low-stress career. For others it could be something completely different. 

You can also go back to the questions and connect the dots – based on the things you enjoy doing spontaneously you can identify your optimal job.

Digital nomad

This is the easiest one to sustain: anything digital goes! You can try freelance social media jobsgraphic designsoftware developmentQAvirtual assistant jobstranslation and proofreading, as well as online tutoring. Expand your horizons and see what kind of remote jobs are out there. 

💡 Read moreA guide to working remotely and How to become a virtual assistant

Rural

Before transitioning into a full-on farming lifestyle you can try various live-in estate and seasonal farming jobs. And as eco-tourism gains popularity you can explore B&B or lodge management jobs too (these are actually quite popular for couples).

Urban

There’s a high chance that you’re already living the lifestyle you want, but aren’t noticing it – which is fairly common in our world of achievement obsession. Make a list of things you love about your urban lifestyle, identify what is essential to it and what isn’t. Maybe you want to be closer to cultural events, or maybe it’s the food scene that you’re inspired by the most. Focus on that.

Does it matter what job you do or do you just want to experience urban life? Many times you will notice that it’s not the job that makes you miserable – but inattention to things that really bring joy. Make a list of those things and finally give them that attention.

Active outdoors

If you find that all you care about is the outdoors, it’s very likely that your hobbies already reflect that, so you can build on it. If you’re not attached to any particular location, you can move closer to nature and become an outdoor education instructorhelp running a hotel in Highland or join an outdoors activities business – those need accountingmarketing and administration just as much as any other enterprise. 

Spiritual

There are plenty of jobs that can support your spiritual aspirations. If you’re on this path, most likely career in its traditional sense isn’t the most important thing for you.

Possibly it’s a way to help others or maybe it’s just a way to sustain your existence, so your options are especially broad. You can have a portfolio of various part-time jobs, or focus on teachingcarecoachingcharity work.

If this lifestyle for you is more about the community – you can look into various options to give back through volunteering.

Academic

If you’ve come to a realisation that knowledge is what makes you excited and fulfilled – there’s plenty of pathways into an academic lifestyle. Besides teaching, there are plenty of research-based roles, PhD options and administrative vacancies in universities and various organisations that operate in research-based industries.

💡 Read more: Lifestyle as an academic by The University of Manchester 

 

Most importantly – don’t limit yourself and experiment! You don’t need to have one career for life, you can pick and choose and see for yourself what you enjoy the most. The only rule here – don’t forget about your values. 

Learn what other jobs you could do with our ValueMyCV tool that checks your CV and suggests alternative career pathways.

 

Author: Margo Barsukova