Choosing a Lifestyle

What would happen if instead of asking our children, our teens, what they want “to do” in life, we ask them “what lifestyle” they want?

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with reading and contemplating Cal Newport’s StudyHacks blog and two of his books. One of the ideas he proposed was that students – and adults – should not be focusing on what they want to do in life, but on creating a lifestyle.

This thought resonated with me as truth, as when I think about it, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

I did not set out to be anything specific – I knew that I love writing and I love teaching/training. But what I wanted to do with that, who knew. In fact I was told that I could never make any real money writing or teaching. Hah – guess what – that’s wrong!

But what I have done, since I was 17, was sought and gone after opportunities that afforded me the lifestyle I wanted.

When I was young, I wanted to travel. Oh how I love to travel, and so when my skills set and work opportunities arose that allowed me that lifestyle, I went for it.

I didn’t know ahead of time what opportunities would present themselves, where skill and opportunity would meet. But I could define what I was looking for as a lifestyle and vet opportunities through that.

Before I had kids, I knew I wanted an at-home lifestyle. So, for the last 16 years, I’ve vetted opportunities through that filter – doing what I needed to, gaining the skills, cultivating the relationship, and accepting or turning down opportunities based on how they fit into the lifestyle I wanted.

So now, as I have three teens in my house (My sister, Kgirl, and J), I’m contemplating this insight.

We no longer go to college or vocational training and then get a job we stay in the rest of our lives. Instead, we build skills, seek training, and gain experience that open us up to other opportunities, which we vet through where we are in life and what we want to accomplish.

This thought has changed how I think about facilitating my kids’ education. I cannot possibly know what opportunities will come their way, or what their world will look like in the future, but I can help them cultivate skills, experience, and attitudes that help them achieve their goals and bring value to others.

Instead of thinking about “what you want to do”, instead I’m asking them to consider the lifestyle they want to pursue, what interests speak to their hearts, and help them vet their opportunities based on that.


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7 Responses to Choosing a Lifestyle

  1. Mark Hornbeck says:

    I’m just now seriously getting into homeschooling as a way of life. There is so much to learn, to become aware of. I really appreciate your article and insights. I am moved by your wording of ‘what interests speak to their hearts.’ That’s so vital. We don’t want to simply move our kids into a wasteland of despair, so to speak, when they get older. I have always felt that life was so fascinating, a grand adventure. I haven’t always known how to pursue what was in my heart, and so I’ve had a lot of dissatisfaction with my work life. But perhaps I can change that. And perhaps I can help our children steer their lives in a different direction. Your article helps point the way, thank you.

  2. Shannon says:

    Mark, I’m glad that this touched you. Your modeling your own pursuit of lifestyle and growth, and a learning will speak volumes to your children. enjoy the journey!!

  3. Katie says:

    2010/03/01I am very interested to know if your vletnuoers will consider coming to Thailand for up to three months?We are a missionary family currently using ACE home school material. our four children are between 9yrs and 15yrs. We are in desperate need of a teacher/supervisor for them. Please contact (check out our web site for more info)Blessings,Janene Buckley-Ala

  4. Xuan says:

    Choosing the lifestyle you want doesn’t have to be difficult. If you know what you want, picking the right one is a cake walk. You can always choose the lifestyle you want according to your preference. Every one of us has a different perception in life.

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