The Power of Choice
What do you want?
Wealth? Health? Happiness? Fulfillment? Purpose? Etc.
If that question seems too difficult, consider this: What do you NOT want?
Financial Stress? Poor Health? Unsafe Living Environment? Lack of work-life balance? Political instability or conflict? Environmental degradation? I’m sure the list can go on and on.
There are things that we want and things that we do not want, most of which is a direct result of your lifestyle.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that most people would benefit from defining the type of lifestyle that brings them more of what they want and less of what they don’t. This involves understanding the factors that make up a lifestyle and proactively making choices to build an ideal lifestyle.
I believe that you should have a choice if a choice is a legitimate option. In our society, many people try to give themselves choices that are reserved for God. I am not suggesting that you need to go on a different path or choose random paths for the sake of being different. I am merely stating the obvious that in many lifestyle decisions, you have a choice.
For example, where you decide to eat, live, learn, and raise a family are all well within your control. I believe that you have a choice to live the life that you desire. Whether right or wrong, it is your choice. History tells us that Jonah made a bad choice and suffered the consequences, but he had a choice. In the same way, we all have choices and consequences. Choosing (or not choosing) will give us a consequence that is either good or bad and the little choices that we make every day provide a lifestyle of good or bad consequences.
What is a lifestyle?
A lifestyle is defined as a combination of factors that define a way of living. It encompasses habits, behaviors, preferences, and choices.
These choices are influenced by factors such as culture, values, socio-economic status, and personal beliefs. However, most of the choices are made by default.
- Where you grew up.
- What you heard or learned.
- What your community has always done or parents, grandparents, teachers, etc.
- Your financial situation.
I think most people feel like they do not have control to change their lifestyle, so they settle for what is in front of them and accept the default choices versus actively thinking about each choice and then making the one that is right for their life and family.
If you were going to change your lifestyle and thus affect every area of your life, then you would need to understand what makes up a lifestyle and then make different choices to proactively live differently.
“Different” is not always better, but I think if you take time to form your own analysis, then you will have a better understanding of the choices being made by default and the choices that are in your power to make.
Let’s look at 10 areas that make up a lifestyle:
- Daily routines and habits: These involve the activities one engages in on a regular basis, such as exercise, work, sleep, and leisure activities.
- Diet and nutrition: The types of food and beverages consumed, along with their frequency and portion sizes, are a significant aspect of one’s lifestyle.
- Social relationships and interactions: The way individuals communicate, socialize, and maintain relationships with others is an important part of their lifestyle.
- Work and career: One’s profession, work environment, and work-life balance play a significant role in shaping their lifestyle.
- Recreation and leisure activities: How one spends their free time, such as hobbies, interests, and sports, contributes to their lifestyle.
- Personal values and beliefs: The principles, morals, and beliefs one holds dear can greatly influence their lifestyle choices and preferences.
- Financial habits: How individuals manage their finances, including savings, investments, and spending habits, impacts their lifestyle.
- Living environment: The type of housing, neighborhood, and community one resides in can affect their lifestyle.
- Health and well-being: Attitudes and practices related to physical, mental, and emotional health play a crucial role in determining one’s lifestyle.
- Education and personal development: The level of education, learning preferences, and commitment to personal growth can shape an individual’s lifestyle.
What most people don’t realize is that these areas are interconnected. If you have a major failure in one area, it will affect the other areas. For example, if you lose your living environment due to a natural disaster and you are forced to sleep on a friend’s couch, then this might impact your sleep, work, health, and definitely the relationship with your friend.
In my opinion, not calculating for how these categories are interconnected is why most self-help programs fail. For example, there are many gurus, coaches, and teachers that believe changing your:
- Routine is the answer (Like waking up before 5am)
- Health is the answer (eat and apple a day, workout, and avoid bread)
- Wealth is the answer (become an entrepreneur, learn to flip real estate, etc.)
- Education is the answer (get a degree or take a course, hire a mentor, etc.)
All of these ideas are wonderful and can positively impact your life. They will even impact the other areas of your life. For example, if you get your wealth right, you will likely be able to afford to take care of other areas in your life. However, I think it would be a mistake to have singular focus on only one area.
Many people die of poor health and are financially wealthy. Having one is not a guarantee that you have a good lifestyle or that your categorically good decisions will make up for the bad decisions you are making in another area (possibly by default).
Developing a good lifestyle requires that you take an assessment of your life and all of the choices and preferences that you would like to have and then create a plan to proactively make the right choices. Going through this process also helps you prioritize the best decisions so that your lifestyle changes fast and dramatically.
Choosing to Move
One of the easiest ways to change your lifestyle is to move locations. If you live in a place that doesn’t align with your desired lifestyle, then moving will often open up a world of possibilities.
Now most people will stop reading right here…
Because this idea can completely take you out of your comfort zone.
Many people have a flawed lifestyle within their comfort zone and they will reject changing because comfort is the easiest choice. It is why some people are not healthy or wealthy or will ever live their best lifestyle. Comfort is why only a few people will benefit from reading this article.
Before reading any further, ask yourself, “Is your current lifestyle comfortable?”
Would it be worth it to be “uncomfortable” to discover a new or better lifestyle?
Hopefully, you can allow yourself to be uncomfortable at least long enough to go through a lifestyle assessment and consider the possibility of change and what that might look like.
Let’s go back to the concept of moving to change your lifestyle.
It is difficult to determine a single country that provides the best lifestyle for everyone, as preferences and priorities vary from person to person. However, different countries may excel in different aspects of lifestyle. Various studies and indexes, such as the Human Development Index (HDI), World Happiness Report, and the Quality of Life Index, often rank countries based on factors that contribute to overall well-being. Some countries that frequently appear at the top of these rankings are the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland): These countries are known for their high standards of living, excellent education and healthcare systems, low crime rates, strong social support, and a focus on work-life balance.
That sounds good on the surface, but unless you live there it is hard to imagine what these factors actually mean for your everyday life. However, since most people are not able to travel and spend time experimenting, then it is wise to deeply think this through.
For example, what would an extremely low crime rate mean for your location?
It could mean that you will feel safer taking a walk in the late evening or early morning and this extra walk might provide you with better sleep, fresh air, and mental clarity. Maybe this low crime rate means that people are less desperate or maybe that they have deeper moral or community values. A low crime rate could cause the entire community to feel safer and as a result there are more options for late night or early morning activities.
I’ve lived in cities where I don’t feel particularly safe going out after dinner and have no reason to go out. I’ve also lived in places where going out for a nice tea or taking a nice walk before sleep is common and enjoyable.
On the other end of the spectrum, if the crime rate is high, you can’t do anything without taking a big risk. Good luck walking around with a nice watch on your wrist, driving a nice car or enjoying a day at the beach with your family.
If you are constantly looking over your shoulder for potential danger, then it definitely decreases the joy of going out.
Safety is important and you may or may not currently feel safe, but let’s assume that you live in a place that has a moderate crime rate. What would it take to change it? You could take karate classes. You could walk around with pepper spray. You could also move to a safer city. If a safer city is less exciting or is too expensive, then maybe moving to a new country is the best option.
I’ve been to most big cities in America and I love visiting the downtown areas. However, most American cities have so many homeless people in downtown areas that you have to think twice before taking a walk.
This may not affect you and that is fine because everyone’s preferences are different. The key is to discover the factors that do affect you and work to choose them on purpose.
Let’s consider one more example. I personally don’t eat breakfast, but my wife and son do. Having a delicious breakfast is very important for them. It is a part of their routine. If breakfast is not good, then it affects them every day. Having a good and healthy breakfast cafe or breakfast options is a luxury that gives them an edge in their work and completely affects the other areas of their lifestyle. Therefore, as a family, we need to live in a place that has access to delicious and healthy breakfast options. I need access to good coffee, tea, and I love saunas. Having these within my daily routine is a luxury that affects me. It would suck to love coffee and live in a place without good coffee. It’s a simple thing, but it matters when compounded over time.
There are places with a good coffee culture, and finding a coffee shop that understands coffee is not difficult and people in the community also share the passion for coffee. Sure, you can order good coffee online and make it at home. You can ensure that you have good coffee even in the most remote areas, but it’s not the same. It’s unnecessary resistance to your ideal lifestyle. If coffee is important to you, then it is something you must consider.
The key question is: does the place also check all of the other boxes that you have to design your lifestyle. Everything is interconnected so you must have the perfect balance. In some ways, this can cause you to compromise and that would be ok, if it is your choice. There may be a more perfect place for you, but a compromise is something that you choose to deal with. For example, you want to live in a safe beach town that has good surfing, but you have to import all of your favorite foods because the local options suck. If you love surfing more than the food, then a compromise would be worth it.
However, most people don’t get to make this choice. They have no big reason to be where they are or live the way that they do. They can’t live differently than what they know. To live a different life, you must learn to live a different way. The learning and knowledge of another way can come to you through travel, mentorship, books, and maybe even VR.
Once you discover a new way of living, then you must choose to eliminate what is holding you back.
What is really holding you back?
Most people are held back by one of 4 big reasons:
- Social Connection
Each of these reasons are legitimate and they cause resistance for your ideal lifestyle. To overcome these reasons, you must be proactive. Knowledge is the easiest to overcome. You simply need to be open to new lifestyles. Ask questions, test, travel, and learn how other people live. Look within yourself to decide what you like as well. Do you like cold weather, warm weather, or rainy weather? A simple question that might influence where you want to spend your time.
Health is very difficult for people to overcome, however, most people are only held back in their elder years. When I am old, my preferences will likely change. I will likely want to live in a healthy place, near my doctors and state-of-the-art medical hospitals. I’ll likely want to live in a place with a lot of other old people because there will be activities and in a place where the society respects their elders. Most likely I will want it to be warm so my joints will feel better. Age changes your lifestyle and health is a big reason for many people to not change. Typically because they don’t know what is best and don’t have the health to test. Which is why I recommend learning while you’re young and healthy. I’m constantly on the lookout for possible places that I’ll retire when I get old.
Money is also difficult and I think the ultimate solution for most people is to find a way to work online. This would free them of the restraints to travel and try different lifestyles. Even if you do not make a lot of money, there are many places that you can go. The money that you save in “cheaper” places will give you the ability to splurge in other more expensive places.
Lastly, there are social connections and I think this is the hardest factor to not only assess, but to leave behind as you seek a better lifestyle. “Leave Behind” might not be the best phrase to describe what you will do when moving in search of a better lifestyle, but it will feel like that. The internet is good at keeping everyone informed, but it doesn’t do a great job of maintaining good social connections. People simply do not like to keep in touch with people that live in another place. I’ve moved a lot and know that I can make friends wherever I go, but I also know that building strong relationships in one place is easier. Family may also be hard to leave. However, I believe that you only have one life and you have a duty to fulfill your own purpose in life. Purpose is a major factor of lifestyle. It is one that you shouldn’t compromise on. In fact, it could be argued that you should compromise other lifestyle factors to fulfill your purpose as it is a more worthy goal than long term comfort.
For me, I believe in traveling. If you live a good lifestyle 80% of the time in a place that you love, you can always travel to see your friends and family (if they choose to live in another place). Living in another place might give them their ideal lifestyle. However, if it doesn’t, then maybe they too will move. Maybe you will find community and together move to a better place. In recent years, many people who lived in California moved to Austin, Texas in search of a better lifestyle. Sometimes it works out this way.
My goal is not to convince you to move to a new place.
I moved multiple times and each time, I can honestly say that my lifestyle improved. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I chose to stay versus move. Maybe I would have figured out a personal algorithm to improve my lifestyle and maybe I would have developed a new appreciation for where I lived. On second thought, I probably wouldn’t have realized how good a designed lifestyle can actually be. I wouldn’t have developed a lifestyle of working online, eating khinkali, drinking pu erh tea and relaxing in banyas, but I’m glad I did.