Over the last year or so, Shelly and I have had many conversations about where we’re heading in life. We’ve come to several conclusions that have and will continue to alter our lifestyle. For those of you that have been reading this blog for awhile, none of this will be a surprise. For those of you that are new, welcome to our lives! Make yourself comfortable.
Here are a few of the principles and ideas we’re in the process of developing or implementing that have affected our lifestyle (in no particular order):
- Minimalism: This started as an offshoot of barefoot running. The idea is simple, literally and figuratively. Less is more. Making things overly complex just leads to clutter, which leads to anxiety. We’ve adopted a “simple is better” approach. This idea is pervasive in many things we do. Most notably, we’re in the process of eliminating all of our unnecessary material possessions. Also, we’re greatly limiting the acquisition of new possessions. We only buy stuff that is needed to aid us in the adventures we embark on, most notably our running adventures. It is a drastic departure from the “keeping up with the Jones'” attitude that is pervasive in our society. This concept will eventually allow us to be exceedingly mobile should we decide to add the element of extended travel to our adventures.
- Paleo diet: Okay, it’s sort of like a paleo diet. Shelly and I have more or less stopped eating wheat and soy-based products, limited corn-based products, and limited processed foods of any type. The results have been promising as far as energy levels, mood stabilization, and weight maintenance. Unfortunately I have developed a candy addiction which I’m trying to kick. I still occasionally eat bread products when dining out, perhaps once every seven to ten days. Oh, and I still drink beer, too (see Pareto’s Principle below).
- Social running: We’ve recognized that we love running with groups of people, especially like-minded friends. Hence the development of the Hobby Jogga social running club. Prior to this realization, I was almost exclusively a solo runner unless I was running with Shelly. Since developing this affinity for group runs, Shelly and I find it almost impossible to run alone. We’ve incorporated social running in our exercise routine as much as we possibly can.
- Pareto’s 80/20 principle: I’ve commented about this multiple times and it plays a role in determining what to simplify from the bullet above. The idea is pretty basic- 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. We actively try to determine what 20% of our activities results in 80% of our happiness or excitement and do more of that. We also try to determine the 20% of the causes that produce 80% of our unhappiness, then eliminate that. The results of this process is striking- it really works! This is the reason we do so much running- we both realized it is responsible for a great deal of our happiness. Unfortunately eliminating the 20% of bad stuff can be difficult, especially if it involves other people. Still, it is an empowering feeling to recognize the control you have over your own path in life.
- Meeting with a group of friends: This almost always involves the Hobby Joggas. We’ve recognized the importance of regularly meeting with a group of close friends. It enhances our own experiences and helps form bonds with great people. The fact that we do so over (usually) good food and spirits is a bonus.
- Spending quality time with kids: This one is a work in progress simply because of our present situation. We’ve both recognized the importance of spending significant amounts of time with our children for both their well-being and our own. We’ve always made an effort to spend time with them, but our future plans will radically alter this (for the better). My evolving views on education play a role in this issue. I’ll share a lot more about this idea down the road.
- Embracing the unorthodox: Like several other ideas, this one spans many elements of our lives. Both Shelly and I have recognized the importance of developing and maintaining a skeptical attitude about all that is popular. This includes an automatic distrust of any “expert”. I suppose this started based on my experiences with barefoot running, but have spread to more or less every aspect of my life. This has resulted in a ton of unorthodox ideas, solutions, and behaviors. As an example, I run a multi-faceted business that revolves around this blog. I have an unconventional business model… my first and only priority is to teach. I don’t have a business plan. I don’t do elaborate market research. I don’t advertise. I don’t give sales pitches. I purposely resist growth to stay small. I don’t care about profits as long as I can pay the bills. I drive business people crazy. So what do I do? I teach. If people choose to buy my book, advertise on this site, or hire me to speak, coach, or conduct clinics, great! If not, I still get the satisfaction of helping people make their lives a little better. It’s pretty unorthodox. And it’s fun.
- Live Debt-free: Okay, this one is a work in progress. As of today, we’re still at least 5-7 months away from being debt-free. This journey was started a few years ago after we financed a vacation to the Dominican Republic and purchased a few acres of land (at the height of the real estate market right before the bubble burst), then promptly had to borrow money to buy groceries. Since then, we have been following a Dave Ramsey-esque debt snowball plan that is coming together nicely. The goal of being debt-free is similar to the goal of becoming truly minimal in regards to possessions- it allows for mobility. Debt is a trap that, once tripped, can keep you in a shitty job or undesirable lifestyle. We want the freedom to make choices without having to worry about money.
- Do something creative: I like writing, as evident by this blog as it approaches 200 posts, my book, and the thousands of forum posts I’ve made. It’s a great outlet. Sure, I’m not the best writer in the world, but I’m not going to let that stand in my way. Shelly is toying with this idea, too. She’s playing with photography and some loose plans to photograph runners during races. Having some sort of creative outlet is wonderfully enriching. For me, that realization came to light after reading Hugh MacLeod’s “Ignore Everybody’ book. You can read the first part on Hugh’s blog here: http://gapingvoid.com/books/
- Stop caring about the opinions of people that don’t matter: We tend to spend a lot of time trying to impress people that really don’t matter. Shelly and I both came to the realization that this is not only counter-productive, but toxic. If someone has an opinion about anything we do, we’ve come to the realization that it is almost always a reflection on their own personality quirks or insecurities. Life is a lot more interesting when you drop your filters. Dance to the beat of your own drum. If other people don’t like it, fuck ‘em.
- Do what excites you: This is the concept borrowed from Tim Ferriss. He uses it as a basis of his book “The Four Hour Work Week“. His premise is to live your life by doing what excites you as opposed to drudging through life in a perpetual state of unhappiness. I like his take on the typical American lifestyle- we work our assess off doing something we usually do not particularly enjoy while accumulating stuff we don’t particularly need for the eventual freedom of retirement which we can’t fully enjoy because we’re well past our most physically-capable years. His idea is much more appealing- live your life by doing things that excite you. We do this as often as possible, and most of the ideas above are meant to increase our opportunities to do this more in the future. Read the book. It’s a life-changer.
So those are a few random things that guide my lifestyle. I’m curious to hear from others. What are some ideas or principles you live by? where did you get the idea? Did you develop them on your own based on experience?