When we first started buying rental properties, the goal was passive income, and I was chasing this much talked about goal of Financial Freedom. Pictures of me sitting on the beach and traveling the world were dancing in my head. I was planning to be totally checked out of working life and just hanging out with my wife and kids. That’s the dream that is sold and talked about, and what I was going to accomplish when we bought our first duplex. Or so I thought.
Six-plus years into our real estate journey, and I’ve realized that Financial Freedom dream is no longer of interest for me—not in the conventional sense anyway. Yes, I want to provide a great life for my family. I want financial security. I want beach vacations (and mountain vacations). But I don’t want that version of Financial Freedom we are all fed in the commercials you see from Financial Brokerage companies. I don’t want to passively sit by and do nothing all the time.
I’ve found my forever job and my forever passion in buying and adding value to apartments; engaging with and creating value for our investors. I’m engaged in my work, my family, my health and my past times. And I’m doing it all by leading a living something called a “Life By Design”.
So what is Life By Design?
For me, it’s the successful integration of your work and personal life and the intentional planning of your days and weeks so that they align with your goals. It’s the perfect marriage of “work-life balance”. It’s time- and place-shifting. More than anything, it’s being in charge of your life and schedule, prioritizing what is important this month, this week and this day—and that architecting your calendar and time to support that vision.
For me, it means I can work from the soccer field at 4:00 when I drop off my daughter. It means I can pick up my son from preschool and spend an hour with him in the middle of the day. It means I can have day dates with my wife. It also means I can work from anywhere, at anytime—including the golf course and a front porch in the mountains. It means that we are flexible in planning vacations around when we’re closing deals, and that I have to do some work on the weekends. It means I spend a lot of evenings working after the family is asleep to maximize my time when they are awake.
Leading and living a Life By Design has totally transformed my outlook on life, increased my positivity about our future and gotten me excited to tackle every single day. Whether you work for yourself, work from home, or check in at an office everyday, you too can lead a Life By Design.
Over the past year, as I’ve really embraced this concept and taken my business and personal life to a new level, here are the steps I took to create—and make sure I’m living—a Life By Design.
I sat down and really thought about what I wanted out of life, what my long-term goals were, things I wanted to achieve and have. And then I created a board with those things on them. For me, this includes things like a photo of a school bus reminding me how lucky I am to be able to greet my daughter a few times a week when she gets off the bus. Pictures of vacations we want to take. The number 1000—which is our first goal of apartment units to own (and that we’re well on our way to exceeding and resetting the goal). In the middle of the board sits a sticker that reads “Do what you love, love what you do” which is a reminder of everything Life By Design represents for me.
I look at this board daily, and update it as necessary. For example, this summer I’ll be replacing the “1000” with “2500” as we exceed that first goal and move on towards the next milestone.
Last December, my wife and I went through an exercise to individually write down our goals for the coming year. Then we had a meeting to review our independent goals and come up with a single list of holistic goals for this year. This was not just a business meeting though—we wrote out goals for nearly every aspect of our lives. We have a section of goals related to our finances, our travel goals, our goals for our relationship, goals for our relationships with our kids, etc. Coming out of that, we have a roadmap for the year that we check-in on monthly to make sure we are meeting those goals. We folded these collective goals into 5 key phrases that now sits on our bathroom wall and we look at every morning and night.
It is a great exercise to look big picture at your life and your year and set goals. But to keep on track and ensure you are meeting those goals, I’ve found that I need to intentionally plan out my week and align it to those goals. To do so, I’ve created a practice of spending 30-45 minutes on Sunday mapping out my week, looking at my calendar and my goal list and creating the week that allows me to best live the Life By Design.
I give each day a theme, with 2-3 big items I want to accomplish. Sometimes they are work-related (“finish my market analysis” and sometimes they are more personal (“spend time with my dad”). I consistently block out certain times of my week for specific activities—Tuesday mornings are blocked out for writing for example. As I review my calendar and my week, I then make sure I’m creating a good balance and integrating personal pursuits. When I’m done, the week has not even started but I’ve got a roadmap for what I’m going to accomplish, a checklist of big-ticket items for each day and a sense of purpose that I’m keeping thing in balance.
I mentioned this above, but time blocking has been a key strategy for me in realizing this Life By Design. I have time blocked out each week for Writing. One afternoon per month I block out for “Admin” work related to accounting, receipt filing, etc. I also put things like my daughter’s soccer practice on repeat for every Thursday afternoon.
During my weekly planning session, as I create my theme for each day, I’ll block time during that day—between meeting and activities already scheduled—to specifically tackle that day’s tasks. To take it a step further—when I’m in one of those time blocked sessions, I will usually turn off all my email and phone so I can focus on what I need to get done during that time, protecting that important issue I need to get done.
None of these are new techniques to the world, but the combination of putting them into practice, and coordinating them with one another have taken my life and my business to a new level of productivity, satisfaction and positivity. If you are not living a Life By Design, I’d highly encourage you to find ways to incorporate these techniques into your life and take it to the next level.
Are you interested in Living A Life By Design?