The 6 Irrefutable Laws of Lifestyle Design

August 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is the final part of a six-part series of a Lifestyle Design experiment en route to Montenegro in Summer 2010. Click for parts 123, 4 and 5.

The following is dedicated to all you out there in the blogosphere who just love 3-10 point instructional/advisory posts. And it’s especially dedicated to those who may be offending rule #5.

Part 6: Out Of The Ashes

Zadar, July 22nd.

Hell yeah! you say to yourself, stoked. This is what it’s all about!

You get off an absolutely stunning eight hour bus ride up the Croatian coast from Dubrovnik to Zadar, and the whole thing was better than a movie. Luckily you pitched up early at the bus-stop, and boarded the bus when it still had a full window seat on the coastline side available. You took it, even though your seat number was different, and you survived several bitter-looking attempts from angry gringos to de-seat good view-hunters like yourself. The result: cramped legs from the rabid necessity to be in reaching range of your full array of electronic media products and hours of shoddy video camera footage, but a general sensation of relaxation and contentment nonetheless. You probably already know, but feel it fitting to remind yourself, that aside from the bluest seas imaginable to man, Croatia has over one thousand islands off it’s dramatic and rugged mountainous coastline. And when the bus momentarily turns inland, you’re refreshed by a vegetational expanse of green more succulent than a Sunday Roast resplendent with an overabundance of runner beans.

The ancient walled city of Zadar is splendid and inviting, you witness the sunset, and amble past the several watering holes and trendy pizza joints in sight. It takes a while to find a non-ripsy, non-fast food joint for dinner, but after some meandering deliberation you have a table, beside a stone wall in a dimly-lit alley, with jazz music piping through from the neighbour and a large, cold Karlovačko. A mixed grill of random Croatian meats and sausages is on the way. This is what it’s all about.

In terms of work, you feel satisfied to know that you got a fair bit done on the bus – you finished off an audio course that was sticking around too long and caught up on a couple of tele-classes for your current Masters programme, taking notes on the way and ready to e-mail in your feedback on the ideas presented. But the pièce de résistance came whilst reflecting over your experiences of the last two weeks. You realize you’ve completely experienced the six definitive and most difficult things about work on the road, and thus your hyper logical and super resolutive brain jumps to define and proclaim The Six Absolutely Irrefutable Laws of taking a Lifestyle Design work-trip to the world:

1. Think About Sartre. (Is Hell Really Other People?)

From the couple of cuties liable to chat you up on the bus at the beginning of the trip to those neighbours that invite you for beer brunches and cognac at every hour of the day, other people can really be a limitation on you and your getting work done. Can you refuse and block them out? Of course, but there comes a point where there are people in your own house, shouting your name and filling up the fridge with beer. And given that you’re invited away by a friend in the first place, there is no way of permanently avoiding hell, you mean, other people.

But this whole equation flips on its head at the end of the working day, and you’re glad that there are other people around for a very satisfying happy hour. This pattern flips itself again onto its other head when you realize that another issue you have to contend with are wild, late nights, and consequently late mornings.

But it is certainly possible that other people turn out to be pivotal, not just in your ability to have fun, but also for work. Friends you meet and friends of friends can end up being clients and working directly with you – and other contacts you may make could be waiting for a phone call as soon as you get back. The idea is that, as good as solitude is for some kinds of creative work, no man is an island, and it’s exactly this social circle that can help you flourish in much more exciting and unpredictable ways.

Now all things are worth evaluating in context, particularly when it comes to relationships on the road. And although your friends on one trip can generally be supportive and leave you alone if asked, it’s true to say that not all friends would be so understanding and could be a real detriment to your objective.

In other words, other people create business and create fun. If the other people around you don’t look like either, 80/20 them. (That means, kick out the 80% that are not helping you with your aim).

2. The Simple Should Never Be Underestimated.

Also known as: Plan ahead. Before leaving home, ask yourself, what’s likely to happen on this trip? And then, do your research.

In other words, where are you going? When? Where are you going to sleep? If you want to get quality work done, you need a good night’s kip. If you want to work efficiently and effectively, this may be difficult in temperatures over 35º. What is the climate of the place you’re going to? Is it peak season or low season? Are you going to be out on the road for a while? And do you have any need to use the phone or internet during this time? Find quality advice, preferably from people who have recently travelled to your destination, on exactly how good the services in your destination are and how you can find them.

Another point crucial to consider is that mentioned in part three, that it’s good to know the road ahead. Something unpredictable and overly delightful can make you want to live the moment and not miss out by concentrating on work. Perhaps, if you need to get a lot done, it’s better to go somewhere you already know somewhat. Perhaps, it’s better to stay in a city or a town that acts as a base-camp, some kind of hub settlement between more interesting places in which to pass the weekends.

When you don’t know what’s ahead it’s best to make the most of the certainties when they do arise. If you are to have, for example, an 18-hour ferry trip, it could be a good idea to get some stuff done rather than stare vacantly at the sunset and eye up the opposite sex.

3. The Hammock And The Margarita Is Just A Marketing Con.

Now it’s certainly possible that a five- or even four-star resort in the Caribbean or Dubai has a wi-fi signal that stretches to the swimming pool bar. However the world, in 2010, contrary to the bubble in which you’re probably sat now suggests, is not well interconnected. Not even by half. And certainly not by dongles.

Don’t get seduced by your desire to just get away: do your homework on your destination’s ability to connect with the outside world. As experienced on this trip, not only is there not internet access nor a working telephone along a ten kilometer strip of beach, one has to travel a further 5km by car to find an internet café which is just impossible to use. Perhaps in a few years time it will be a reality to consult over skype from the edge of nowhere, but until then.. know the frontiers of the digital community. If this is key to you, stay within them during work time.

In other words, a person usually goes on holiday to forget about the world outside. Montenegro’s great for that, because, thanks to it’s unconnectability, thinking about your clients and even getting hold of them is virtually impossible. However this is no place to do “business”.

4. Know Thyself. (And Make Thyself Strong).

Are you trying to trick yourself? What are you missing from your own behaviour?…

Watch out for those unconscious business blind spots. What this is trying to say is “don’t be scared to check the facts before you go”. And if you find yourself avoiding the facts, give yourself a business slap and check those facts before you go.

When you meet interested potential clients on the fly, move hell and high water to consolidate that job or that contact. Don’t just limply give up in the face of a challenge that may be more uncomfortable than hanging out in your hammock. Getting stuff done does in fact energize, equally or even more so away from home than at.

Be aware enough to notice and ask yourself: what kind of work are you actually doing? If it’s passive, catching up on information or other procrastination, again, give yourself a business slap and 80/20 it. When you do work when away from home, make sure that it’s money related tasks. And if you’re not doing money-related tasks, make sure you’re making the most of your time traveling.

Be strong. At home it’s easy to control your working environment so as not to fall into bad habits. i.e. banish the TV, don’t put chocolate chip cookies in the cupboard, whatever. Away, you’re going to be surrounded by temptation again and again (unless of course you go to a “dry” country). Keep healthy food and drink around and enforce a pub law: i.e. no partying until a certain amount of work has been achieved.

5. Keep Things In Perspective.

And Get Laid.

If there’s the possibility that you’re a little too involved in your internet start-up project: Don’t be a geek and internet your life and experiences away. Don’t get sucked into the vortex..

At almost every juncture you’re passing up a good opportunities for romance with cute members of the opposite sex, and cursing everyone else around for sucking face.

Too much thinking of work, too much planning and trying to solve problems that potentially don’t exist turn you into an overinflated head perched atop a limp and dysfunctional body.

Get real, if you’re reading this you’re probably young.  Allow the good stuff to happen.

If you haven’t got laid in a while you’ve probably forgotten just how energizing it is, and just how much perspective it affords to how you’re spending your time and what’s fun in life.

Not only that but when you’re satisfied sexually you’re much more attractive, not just in a sexual sense but in every sense of the word. Other people smell the confidence and the relaxed concentration you exude. And this leads to more business deals as well.

Now, back to the marketing..

6. To Be (And Not To Be).. A Niche Artist.

Be ballsy about what you do, be general, and communicate in a language that the people you’re talking to can understand..

In other words, you were probably told that on setting yourself up for online business success, it was good to find a niche, something very exact, something very small, and something you could dominate the world at..

And if working with pre-established clients the world over one can wholeheartedly agree. But decide how you want to work whilst away, especially if you want to engage with local people and find clients from other cultures.

Because it’s very likely that your tightly-wound area of expertise just doesn’t fit into that society; that there’s no-one suffering with the frustration you serve, and if the chips are down and your business fails whilst romantically stuck long-term overseas, you’ll quickly find yourself with no work and useless, needing to your way up from janitor with a long and slow journey ahead.

Be general, open up the possibilities of things that you can do, and as the interested party gives you more specificity as to what kind of service they’d buy, go matching your offer to their needs.

And as you sit reflecting upon these learnings of the last two weeks, and however disastrous you perceive this trip as having been once considered in light of the milestones you set yourself at the very start, you’ve learned and realized things much bigger than the imaginary productivity vacuum caused by your relative “inaction” on holiday. Um, working trip. You can turn to the next chapter to learn more..

But enough diary for now.. Meat’s arrived!

Continue to After 6 – Epilogue, and Prologue (Action Space)

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

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