What is Lifestyle Design and How to Live the Life of Your Dreams

Lifestyle design is a philosophy that empowers individuals to proactively shape their lives according to their desires and aspirations, determining what they want to prioritize, where and how they want to live, and with whom they want to share their journey.

Quite simply it’s designing your life choosing to live exactly how you want to.

Right now, as I write this post, I’m a Brit living in Phuket, Thailand as I have done for a few years now. When my daughter finishes school in May, as a family, we’ll head off around the world again to explore new countries, new cultures, and live life to the full.

I work on my laptop, and choose travel as my lifestyle.

The operative word being ‘choose’.

That is Lifestyle Design.

Image of beach and sand depicting a dream life by the beach
Bang Tao Beach – Phuket

What is Lifestyle Design?

Lifestyle design is about choice.

It’s about choosing with purpose & intention the kind of life you want to live, including what you do, where you do it, who you do it with, and making it happen.

Quote by Byron Katie showing sunset and marina depicting lifestyle design

How to Design Your Life – TL;DR

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of dispelling myths surrounding lifestyle design, giving you the reasons to design your life, and walking through the critical steps for designing your own path, let me give you the quick and dirty version.

  1. Know what you want. Create a compelling vision for your future. It’s imperative you’ve envisioned the kind of lifestyle you want to live. You can’t possibly take action towards your dream life if you don’t know what it is! So, start with the end in mind.
  2. Create a lifestyle design budget. Nine times out of ten, it costs much less than you think to live your ideal life. So make a budget and get clear on what you need every month to live the life of your dreams.
  3. Make a plan. What do you need to learn/do to make it happen? Start a side hustle? Build a lifestyle business? Renegotiate terms with your boss? Create a plan of what needs to happen to make your dreams a reality.
  4. Have the difficult conversations. Perhaps you’re going to be leaving your family for a while. Maybe you and your spouse are going in opposite directions. You might be saying goodbye to your job. Who do you need to consider in your journey, and what decisions do you need to make?
  5. Make It Happen! Nothing happens without action, so take it and go for your dreams.
Me displaying lifestyle design in EL Nido with clear green ocean and rock/cave formation following my own path
Having fun in El Nido – Palawan, Philippines

Let’s get into the details now and start by dispelling some myths.

Lifestyle Design Myths

Myth 1 – You Have to Travel the World

Though many lifestyle designers love to travel and, I highly recommend it, travelling the world is not a prerequisite for lifestyle design.

The point of lifestyle design is that you’re designing the life you want to live, not how you see others on Instagram or TikTok living their life.

If you love where you live, have a big group of friends and a great community, and simply want to design into your life more time freedom, or more love for what you do, so be it.

That’s your ideal life, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Myth 2 – You Have to Start Your Own Business

If you follow my brand, chances are you want to start your own business, as that’s what I recommend to fund your travels, give you purpose, and create a saleable asset.

However, as with travel starting your own business is not a prerequisite for lifestyle design.

If you love your job, thoroughly enjoy going to work every day, and can’t see yourself doing anything else, then that is your concept of lifestyle design.

Of course, the point of starting your own lifestyle business is that you can work your own hours, be location independent and become a master of your time & place.

However, in this day and age post-pandemic, it’s far more likely that you may have a job that offers these options also.

The critical thing to remember is that lifestyle design is all about designing the life of your dreams.

Myth 3 – You Have to Become a Millionaire

Not only is this a complete myth, but lifestyle design is the antithesis of working hard to become a millionaire.

The whole point of designing the life of your dreams is about chasing experiences and living life to the full now, not working to the bone to make millions you don’t get to spend until you’re too old to enjoy it.

Whether you choose to start a lifestyle business, travel the world, or work from your kitchen table. The chances are to live the life of your dreams you’re going to need much less than you think you need.

When we first came to Phuket, we were financially free at just $3000 a month.

Even now, we don’t need much more to experience ultimate financial freedom, travel the world, and write blog posts at the beach.

Me in front of my laptop working in front of the beach and relaxing
Me blogging on the beach – Coconut Island, Phuket

Myth 4 – You Have to Buck the System

When Tim Ferriss first wrote the ‘Four Hour Work Week‘ in 2007, the idea of running an online business and gallivanting around the world seemed to be something only truly progressive thinkers would do.

These days it’s far more common to run a small business entirely online and be able to do it from anywhere in the world.

Instagram influencers, travel bloggers, global online business owners are no longer ‘bucking the system’. Instead, they are making the system work for them.

And you can too.

Why Focus on Lifestyle Design?

So why design your life?

Why not just go to school, get good grades, get a degree, get a good job, meet the partner of your dreams, have kids, buy a house, car, pets, etc., and let the chips fall as they lay?

As long as you’re happy, that’s all good, right?

Well, yes and no.

Apart from the obvious, such as, you’re likely paying too much tax to corrupt governments who rarely spend tax dollars wisely, (I’ll save my political opinions for drunken evenings with friends), here are 5 reasons you should be designing your life;

1. You Only Have One Life

As I’m sure you’re more than aware, you only have one shot at life on this planet. As Steve Jobs says, ‘why spend it living someone else’s life‘.

Designing your life ensures that you’re living with intention and that the choices you make every day are yours and yours alone.

It means doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, and from where you want to do it.

If you live for 80 years, that’s only 4000 weeks. When you put it like that, our whole life is a lot shorter than we think, so we need to be grabbing the juice out of every single day.

My good friend Nikki & I messing around on a skiing trip
My good friend Nikki & I messing around on a skiing trip – Avoriaz, France

2. Freedom of Choice

The ‘Four Hour Work Week’ inspired me to change my life and start travelling the world, as I’m sure it did for thousands of other solopreneurs and digital nomads.

In a section that struck home with me, Tim muses about the possibility that;

The 80-hour-per-week, $500,000-per-year investment banker is less ‘powerful’ than the employed NR (what he calls new rich or in my terms solopreneur) who works ¼ the hours for $40,000, but has complete freedom of when, where, and how to live.’

The fact is that when you compare lifestyles, the solopreneur earning only $40k/year may actually have a far better life than the financially wealthy investment banker.

And that’s because real wealth (or power, as Tim puts it) is in the ability to choose.

Ultimate freedom comes from being able to make the life choices you want to make.

Whether you want to work in a 9 – 5 job or travel the world, wealth, freedom & happiness is more about choice than money. (Although money certainly aids choice!)

3. Opportunity

It’s easier than ever to create an online lifestyle business you can run from anywhere in the world.

Do you love to bake? These days you can spend your days baking, making videos about it, building an audience and making money from your passion.

Do you love to make jewellery? Do you love health and fitness? Do you enjoy talking about sports with your friends? Are you obsessed with yoga? Do you wish someone had given you the parenting advice you’d now love to give others?

It doesn’t matter what your passions are these days; you can make money from them online, meaning you can talk about, create content around, make videos about and live your passions every single day when you want to and from where you want to.

Case in point I am (writing) speaking this blog post while walking back and forth in the Andaman ocean in Phuket, Thailand, and I have to say, avoiding a jellyfish that just got quite close to my leg.

image of a jellyfish in the middle of the clear green ocean water
Trying to avoid a jellyfish (although I don’t think it’s a stinger) – Phuket

4. Security

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s how insecure jobs are.

It’s time to take control of your financial destiny.

Once you know how much your ideal lifestyle costs, you can purposely set out to ensure that you can generate that monthly income with the ultimate flexibility. You are now in control of your financial destiny rather than leaving it in the hands of someone else.

Whether you need to add side hustles, start a lifestyle business, or invest fully into becoming an entrepreneur.

The beauty of lifestyle design means it’s entirely up to you. You choose what you do.

5. Time

Time is our most precious asset.

The one thing that we can never get back is time.

That is why you need to be making the most of every minute of every day.

For example, I got up at 4 am this morning to complete two posts that I wanted to publish on Medium before coming to the beach to relax and record this post.

When we leave at 12, that will be the end of my working day. I will spend the rest of the day with my husband & daughter.

That is the ultimate in mastering your time and having complete freedom.

That is lifestyle design.

Cerys & I in New Zealand visiting Hobbiton
My daughter & I visiting Hobbiton during a trip to beautiful New Zealand

Why Lifestyle Design is Easier Now Than Ever

Social Media

Due to the transparent social media led global world we now live in, designing an exciting lifestyle is much easier than it was a generation ago.

If travel is your thing, it’s not unusual to throw on a backpack and head off around the world, plus there are a million videos, blog posts and podcasts telling us where to go and how to be safe when we get there.

Countries that were entirely insular years ago now expect and welcome tourists, with better facilities, more English speakers, and great WiFi!

Even exploring our own countries or moving to a new town is made easier by the plethora of online information, plus the connectivity we now have no matter where we are in the world.

Staying connected to our family & friends while halfway across the world or country makes travel or migration less daunting, and we’re more likely to embark on the adventure.


The changes I have witnessed in just the last 13 years building online businesses are phenomenal! We have made some amazing friends like other Amazon FBA sellers and travel bloggers we’ve met along the journey.

With Instagram, TikTok & publishing sites like Medium, it’s far easier these days to start an online lifestyle business with no money, no technical knowledge, and just an iPhone.

The advances in the blogging world, video world, social media world and ecommerce world have been such that these days, literally anyone (and I mean anyone) with an idea and a dream could start generating a healthy monthly income online today.

Remote Working

The upside of the pandemic has been the rapid onset of remote working. While I realise it also has its setbacks, like isolation and loneliness, as someone who’s been working remotely for over 13 years, there are routes around this, such as groups and meetups.

I’ll save those details for another post, but many more people have now developed the skills to work remotely.

For example, how to conduct Zoom or google meets. How to use online chat and organisational platforms like Slack. How to prioritise their time. How to strike a balance between home life and work life and crucially why it’s imperative to get up and get dressed and not work in your PJ’s all day! (Although I’ve been there and done that!)

More importantly, companies have discovered the benefits of employees working from home, both in costs and productivity.

If you love your job but would enjoy more location independence, there’s every possibility over the coming years, if you’re now working from home more often, that you could take your job on the road with you!

At the very least, depending on the kind of work you do, work your own hours at the times of day or night that suit you, giving you the freedom to pursue other hobbies and interests.

It’s an exciting world right now with a plethora of new opportunities!

selfie with hot air balloon in the background in Bagan Myanmar
Hot air ballooning in Bagan, Myanmar. One of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had!

So, by now you’re hopefully enthused about the idea of lifestyle design.

Let’s start your new profession as a lifestyle designer and walk you through designing your life.

5 Steps to Designing The Life Of Your Dreams

1. Know What You Want!

Start with knowing the kind of life you want to live.

What are your priorities?

  • Do you want to travel?
  • Do you want to work from home?
  • Who do you want to spend more time with?
  • What do you want to spend more time doing?
  • Do you want more free time to do the things you love to do?

Starting with the end in mind is always an excellent strategy as it gives you the vision to work towards.

How can you know which direction to go in if you have no idea where you’re going?

Stop ambling through life and live with purpose. Decide what your ideal life looks like. Where you live, who you’re with, what you do, how you spend your time.

Get granular and create a vision board on your phone or Pinterest account, or write a letter to yourself, one year, five years, ten years from now, describing the amazing life you’re living in detail!

The more emotionally invested you are in your future, the more likely you’ll take steps to get there.

2. How Much Do You Need to Live the Life of Your Dreams?

I love this one!

So many people believe they have to become millionaires to be financially and physically free. Not so!

In most cases, you need far less than you think you do.

Do a cost exercise to discover precisely how much you’ll need every month to live the life of your dreams.

​​Create your own table similar to the one below with the categories relevant to your lifestyle vision, and start calculating your freedom budget!

Sample design for budget you can use

Hot Tip!

Talk to people currently living the lifestyle you’d like to emulate and get some numbers from them.

For example;

  • How much does it actually cost to house sit my way across Mexico?
  • How much does it actually cost to move and live in Thailand?
  • How much does it actually cost to rent an apartment in (insert ideal city)?
  • How much does it actually cost to rent a boat and sail around (insert dream location) for 6 months of the year?
  • How much does it actually cost to (insert your dream lifestyle here)?

Once you know your number, you’re so much clearer about what you’re working towards.

This exercise is a game-changer. It takes your dreams out of the clouds and makes them a reality.

Do this, and you’re halfway there!

3. What Do You Need to Learn/Do?

Now you know your monthly lifestyle design budget, what do you need to do to get there?

Do you need to create a lifestyle business? Do you need to add a side hustle? Do you need to renegotiate your contract?

What skills do you need that you may not currently have and what’s your plan to get them?

It’s time to take action and make a plan.

4. Who Do You Need to Consider?

Is your ideal life to travel the world but you’re worried about leaving family behind?

Perhaps you have school-age children and are unsure about schooling.

Do you need to chat with your boss about renegotiating your contract to suit you better?

Maybe you and your spouse have different ideas of what an ideal life looks like. Or perhaps the goal is to move closer to and spend time with the ones you love.

It’s time to sit down, have difficult discussions if necessary and make some decisions.

To live the life you dream about, there may be some compromises and agreements along the way. But the critical point is that you’re taking the reins and being responsible for your own choices.

NB: If I had my time again, I would world school my daughter; you can read more about that here.

5. Make It Happen

If I’ve said this once over the last 13 years, I’ve said it a thousand times. The only difference between people who are living their dreams and those who aren’t is that those who are, are.

In other words, they’re out there doing it, making it happen.

Nothing can be achieved from just dreaming, thinking and talking. You have to do!

Know what you want, how much money you need on a monthly basis to achieve it, what you need to do to get there and make it happen!

You can!

my image in Great wall of China
On the Great Wall of China, where I bumped into Mark Zuckerburg!

Lifestyle Design – Summary

We should all be lifestyle designers, no matter what we do or where we do it.

Remember the John Lennon quote, ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’? You need to become a master of your destiny. A captain of your own ship. Otherwise, you’ll be living a life planned out for you by others.

Make today the defining moment in your life when you chuck out the status quo, choose to move out of your comfort zone and start designing your life.

Imagine how you’ll feel if you completely own your time? How much extra energy will you have living your passion every day?

By choosing to become your own lifestyle designer today, in just a few months, you could be so much closer to living the life of your dreams.

Get started today and give yourself the opportunity to make better choices because you have more money, more time and more passion for what you’re doing than ever before!

Good luck!

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About the author

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