This week’s guest post comes from Ryan Gibson of Generation Y Working. Ryan tells us why you don’t always have to move abroad to live a better life, and why many of the concepts and philosophies we discuss here on LWA are applicable wherever you choose to live and whatever stage of life you’re at. Read on to discover Ryan’s ideas on lifestyle design and location independent working.
Moving abroad is a dream for many. They take a two week vacation, laze around the pool, eat an illegal amount of sea food and drink wine every night. For many this is the dream they have when they think about leading a better life. Unfortunately there is a small matter of work which seems to always come in the way of these types of dreams. Ultimately our dreams become mere fabrications and we go back to the normal 9-5 grind counting down the days to our next vacation when we can dream again.
Does this sound familiar? This is quite possibly a regular occurrence throughout corporate offices globally. Most just conform to what’s expected of them in life, almost like they have no choice in the matter and this is the way life should be. The majority continue to believe that indeed life was meant to be this way.
There are some however who break the mould and seek this lifestyle abroad. Whether this is through a great international job opportunity or whether it’s through freelancing from a holiday home in Turkey, it can be achieved. For me however I have a different vision. I want a better life but I want a better life here within the UK from my nice home office in Leeds. For a better life you don’t have to leave the country you reside in and make drastic changes. For me a better life is designing my working day around the lifestyle I want to live. Those of us who work on the web are fortunate that we can do this and those business decision makers should embrace this.
A definition of a better life can seem like a mere pipe dream but why not make small steps to make your current life better? This doesn’t have to be a drastic life changing decision it may be as simple as tailoring your current work/life balance to be more sustainable for a better future.
Companies throughout the world are beginning to embrace remote working, flexible working hours and ultimately a work/life balance. I work from home, I tailor my hours, I have no commute and I am happy. Small steps are always the beginning. Moving abroad is the dream for many but maybe escaping the office environment you actually have your own paradise right under your nose. My definitions of a better life are quite different from others. I don’t seek sun, sea and sand 365 days a year, I just want to smile every morning.
My definitions of a better life:
Work life balance:
Having a clear balance between work and life can really help create a better life. The reason why we enjoy our holidays so much is because we spend our time doing things we enjoy. This can still be achieved by having a clear work life balance. Those who crave a new lifestyle are typically those who work way too many hours. When they eventually get some down time it becomes such the unknown that they crave this lifestyle.
By working hard when you are on the clock and maintaining a sense of balance will make your work life become more enjoyable. Those who are bogged down with heavy working days, countless emails and cannot shut down when off the clock will continue to wonder what life is indeed like on the other side. If you’re mind set is wrong then it’s irrelevant whether you move abroad or not. You’ll continue to have the same bad habits, the same weighting on work and ultimately you’ll be exactly the same.
Work/life balance should be assessed first and this can go a long way to making your life happy while still living in the same country.
For me, life is about family. The reason we love our holidays so much is because we spend the whole time with our loved ones. There’s nothing more fulfilling in life than spending countless hours with your family. Leading a better life for me is having more free time to spend with my family, watching my children grow up and been there to support those at the most critical times.
I’ve watched senior managers work countless hours, travelling across multiple countries and therefore missing crucial family time. The time arrives where they resent this decision to put work before family and they wish they had seen those experiences in life which cannot be found in a board room. Your child’s first nativity play, watching your son play football for the first time. Something as simple as reading a child a book. The reason we crave living abroad so much is because we experience these family moments when on vacation.
The key to leading a better life is to have the same focus on the things you love and cherish as you do for work. Having a fantastic relationship with your family is a crucial component to a better life. Moving abroad may fulfil some of your aspirations but for me, home is where the family is.
Moving away and leaving behind your current work place does not guarantee work enjoyment. Sure it may be more tolerable if you are able to leave the office and watch the sun set down at the beach however if the work principles maintain the same you’ll still be unhappy. Enjoying your work is key to a better life. If you dislike your role then it doesn’t really matter where you live. The same can be said if you enjoy your work. If you enjoy your role then you’re more likely to have a better life.
It’s estimated that we spend 30 full years back to back in employment. This is a large proportion of our life. Enjoy what you do and make sure you enjoy it today. If your work makes you unhappy then your life will be unhappy. We spend the majority of our time either sleeping or working; make sure you enjoy them both just as much as one another.
Exercise and a balanced diet breed productivity in the workplace. At the same time this leads to well being and general life happiness. Again it’s irrelevant as to where you live if you neglect exercise and a healthy, balanced diet you are more likely to be unhappy.
Those who do not exercise or commonly eat an unhealthy diet will be lethargic, overweight and lacking self confidence. Will this all change by moving abroad? Probably not. The way you lead your life is what needs to change. Improving diet and exercising will lead to a better, longer life. Been able to play football with your child in the park or been involved in a works 5 a side team will bring happiness to your life. Correct the areas you fall short first before making rash decisions. Exercise and diet make you feel good and when someone feels good they more often than not are happier people.
We all need to work. It allows us to sustain our lifestyle as money makes the world go around. Those who are unhappy with their lifestyle are most probably unhappy with the conditions they currently work within. Rigid working hours, stuck in an office cubicle and no time to enjoy the things they love.
It doesn’t matter where you live; the real change needs to be how you live your life. A change of country will be a short term fix but the real change needs to be your life. If you have read the four hour work week then you will be well aware of lifestyle design. Although I cannot promise the four hours of working per week what I can say is that we are all in a position to design our lifestyle as we would want it to be. Want to work at 7am in the morning and finish earlier. Why shouldn’t this be acceptable? Want to work from home to save money on commute time and be at home when your kids have finished school? Why shouldn’t this be acceptable?
Happiness and a better life will come through exploring options available to you. Whether this is through your current employment or by exploring organisations who embrace this type of flexibility.
I personally like to start work early. I’m an early bird and it’s when I am at my most productive. Why wouldn’t my employee want me to be working when I am at my most productive? Moreover why wouldn’t my employee want me working when I am happy? I also like to go to the gym at lunch time however I find it hard to fit my workout and lunch into an hour. That’s no problem; I’ll take a 90 minute lunch and work an extra 30 minutes at the end of the day.
Lifestyle design and an organisation who embrace this is the key to a better life. It essentially doesn’t matter where you live; if your employers allow you to live the lifestyle you want to live while still maintaining excellent standards you will be a happy employee and a happy individual in general. Design your life correctly and it won’t matter where you live, you’ll love life.
As human beings we crave the unknown, the unexplored and a different lifestyle. Moving away from the home life you become accustom to and embracing a new culture can seem like an exciting change to breed happiness and grasp that better life you desire. Commonly however this happiness is short lived as the key principles of lifestyle design have not been changed.
Moving to a different country can bring happiness to many but a move to a different continent is not for us all. Happiness can be gained by removing bad habits from your life. Where you live is irrelevant in the pursuit of happiness. Becoming happy and fulfilled in how you lead your existence is the answer for us all. Whether you are in Sheffield or if you are in Singapore, you can be happy by increasing the things which make you smile and decreasing those things which don’t. More often than not the small changes can make the biggest difference. A move of country is not often required, more so a move of your life goal posts.
About the author:
Hey! I’m Ryan Gibson. I write about management philosophy, productivity and getting the best out of the time you spend at work. Rock star tools, remote working and lifestyle design are key characteristics of Generation Y Working. If this appeals to you then hop over to Generation Y Working. Sit back, relax and enjoy the posts.