An Experiment in Lifestyle Design

August 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is the first in a six-part series of a Lifestyle Design experiment en route to Montenegro in Summer 2010. Click for parts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

N.B. We’d like to inform you that the following is best read with an almost uppity and slightly jibbering Hugh Grant-esque British accent.

Part 1: Proclaim

An old and good friend of yours is traveling by van from France to Montenegro. Two years ago he bought a wooden shack near to a beach in the former Yugoslav country, and this summer he intends to honour his pledge to good times by taking what amounts to a music studio with him to his little corner of European paradise. He wants to spend the summer with as many friends as possible, but more than anything he wants someone to accompany him throughout that long, hot and unknown trip from West to East with thousands of euros worth of possessions in tow. On the way there he’s set up quite an itinerary, including a jazz festival with free lodging in another friend’s home, a certain leaning tower, and an unlimited supply of oysters. He makes you an offer.

The truth, you say to yourself, is that it’s not really your first choice of a holiday, and although you do like random adventures you could never justify it to yourself: you’re low on cash, you’ve got problems in getting your one-man Coaching business off the ground, and in general you’ve got just too much to do. Although, as a series of contracts end for the summer, and a three-week vacuum looms in your diary, some kind of short foray may not be impossible. Your better sense impels you to decline, but for reasons that certainly your logical mind doesn’t engineer, you find yourself in increasing contact with the salesman and very quickly all your objections are being adequately taken care of: your friend and host has a dongle! You can check your emails 20 times a day and take care of all your consultancies by skype. Result!

Now that the seed’s firmly been planted, it doesn’t take long for the self-justifying mechanisms to take effect. You’ve been a fan of Tim Ferriss and The Four Hour Work-Week for a few months now, and although you still can’t adequately relate the nature and benefits of The Exercise, your fantastic one-on-one Coaching skill, to the market, the knowledge that – aside from said dongle and your trusty macbook – you don’t need anything else with which to get work done, you realize that suddenly it’s your time to carry out your own experiment in Lifestyle Design. You double check to see if your friend and host’s got that dongle a few days before you go and he reassures you that you’ll pick it up as soon as you get there. Now you’re not keen on this answer but you certainly don’t go out of your way to do an easy search on the internet to find the expected bandwidth of a dongle on the Albanian border.

An unconscious business blind-spot maybe to give you a kick in the arse towards fun? Under the confusion of starting up in business and having so many tiring and unanswered questions in terms of how you can do it and how you want to do it, you have to admit that your social life’s not been as exciting as you’d hope that it was. In fact, you’ve been slowly and steadily growing more confused and isolated as the year’s gone on.

You repeatedly ask yourself if this little sojourn is an intelligent, perspective gaining move or a totally irresponsible action? On many logical barometers you figure it’s the latter, but the final decision is confirmed when you realize the higher irresponsibility of passing up not just an as-promised-almost-free holiday, but the opportunity of extended quality time with your friend and host. That just does not happen every year. You go, and as soon as that bus pulls out of Estación Nord towards the highway to France, your troubles ease and the smile that starts to extend across your face lets you know that you’re totally vindicated.

What you do do however is plan how to take advantage of this little trip in order to do an in-depth investigation into the mechanics of Lifestyle Design, and test your ability to work on the road, since, this is ultimately the dream, is it not?

During five hours of warm bus journey, you manage to engineer your laptop into a workable position and you get a few little tit-bits done: a bit of reading, a bit of writing, and a bit of catching up on some housekeeping. It’s a positive start, and even more so considering the two cute members of the opposite sex eyeing you up on the other side of the aisle and the freaky Moroccan man craning his neck as if to read your every arial-font-size-eight word. But the universe quickly conspires against you and when the Moroccan man reaches his stop you find yourself quickly getting chatted up and these people are in fact going to the same jazz festival as you. As intrepid a Lifestyle Designer as you aspire to be, you cannot be rude to new people who wish to interact with you, and you move from bus to train to foot around the charming French town of Sète as you move from water to beer to mojito. The festival’s started and with it the weekend and the reunion with friends. Lifestyle Design always starts on a Monday, anyway.

It’s almost embarrassing how well you eat and drink over the next few days, as the Landlord’s son announces free reign over the house’s booze cabinets and both a kilo of oysters and mussels come out at a little under three euros each. Landlord’s son, nor his girlfriend, end up seeing much live music over the course of the weekend as the Volkswagen Combi in which they drove down in from the North of England packs up just as Friday night starts to warm. In fact, you end up seeing most of the festival with new friends you make along the way as your friend and host has invited his new girlfriend down at the last minute, who doesn’t have a festival ticket. Your friend and host instead resorts to spending the whole weekend canoodling and eating oysters with her, picking you up promptly at the end of the concert to drive you back to the algae-gray village house half an hour away from the venue. You decide you don’t really like the girlfriend, and that you tell to your friend and host, but you’re realistic enough to realize that it’s not so much for any real personality flaw but rather out of jealousy of not getting the quality time you wanted with your friend and host. You also find yourself thinking more about work than canoodling with someone yourself, perhaps a behaviour a little bit limiting on your own ability to have fun.  And even more so in the warm and breezy Southern French coast.

But to your surprise, although well within the frontiers of a modern industrialized Western European economy, Languedoc-Rousillon doesn’t yet appear to have internet. And although no work is possible during the first few days of your summer adventure, two separate people are definitely interested in trying out The Exercise. Sadly, privacy, pens and paper also prove to be difficult to come by, but as the festival comes to a close on that Mediterranean beach on a Sunday night where you dance to Laurent Garnier with all your friends now mobile and not distracted by sucking face, you feel happy that the countryside pace of life has worked its way in and you relax, smile and leave your work related stress for now.

Continue to Part 2.

Procrastinating?  Pick up your Free Workbook and overcome that habit, today.

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