Many years ago, I was miserable.
When I was still an executive working for a corporation in Silicon Valley, my life was not my own. My long days comprised 2-4 hours on the freeway for my daily commute, running from meeting to meeting, and going where my calendar told me to go next. It started with early-morning standup calls, and it ended with late-night calls with teams around the globe.
I left all of that behind in 2010 when I quit the corporate world and started my own consulting business. Life was certainly better after that. I worked with amazing clients, and I worked fewer hours. I had more control over my schedule, so I spent more time with my family.
However, I was still trapped in a familiar cycle of a daily work schedule, commuting on freeways, working in clients’ offices, and not taking much time off for vacations. Even after I founded my own startup, I followed a similar routine (e.g., commuting, long hours), although I had way more control over my “coworkers,” working hours, and how I spent my days in the office.
I guess I had considered nothing very different because I had spent decades in a traditional 9-5 model. Although I was the boss, I essentially replicated many of the old patterns of “having a job.” It wasn’t until years later—when my startup failed—that I challenged my conventional notions of work and running a business.
I had always lived my life in the margins around my jobs. I also lived my life around my first businesses. But this time, I designed my new business around my life instead. I challenged myself to create an operational model that let me have a good life while I am still young enough to enjoy it. Ok, young-ish. 🤣
Here are a few of the must-have elements of the new business I created:
A solopreneur model with no dependencies on anyone else (e.g., no employees, partners, or investors).
No more daily commutes!
No expensive office space in a fixed location.
A location-independent business that can function anywhere in the world.
No equipment or resource demands other than a laptop, phone, and internet.
No requirement to meet with clients in person.
Complete control over who I decide to work with as a client.
No set hours other than what I choose to work.
On that last point, I recently applied “Day Theming” to further improve my life and design my business around it. About 5 months ago, I decided to block off Wednesdays for outdoor activities with my wife every week. We went skiing every Wed morning this winter, and now we're doing long hikes and trail runs on that day.
Why Wednesdays? I don’t enjoy crowds. After much experimentation, we discovered we often have the ski slopes and mountain trails mostly to ourselves when we go on Wed mornings.
Roughly, here is how I’ve structured my week to give each day a theme and focus:
Tue: Business writing and podcasting
Wed: Outdoor activities and fiction writing
Thu: Client meetings and business tasks
Fri: Client meetings and business tasks
Sat: Running and fiction writing
Sun: Walking and business writing
Of course, this doesn’t detail every single little task I do, and some emergency stuff comes up that I have to take care of, even if it doesn’t fit a day’s theme. But you'll notice how much of my time I dedicate to my personal life. And yes, I’m having some fun writing fiction for the first time in my life!
I’m now considering taking this concept of theming and designing my business around my life to another level. There are times of the year when I just need to set work aside, recover, and be with my family. I want to take summer vacations with my wife, visit my children, and see my extended family, too. I want to take time off during the holidays in November and December. So, I have some more business design work to do. Creating that healthy balance is an ongoing task that requires maintenance, evaluation, and tuning.
I also structure my days to have time to work out every day, spend mornings the way I want (e.g., coffee, journaling, workouts, and breakfast), and enjoy meals with my wife. I don’t take client calls at night or over the weekend. I’ve had to establish some rules to maintain my quality of life, which I sadly never did with the old corporate jobs that almost killed me.
You deserve to live a good life!
Now. Not later.
Yes, you need to make a living. We all do. But you don’t need to “sacrifice living” to make enough money to have a good life. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I believe in establishing what “having enough” means for you.
If you are seriously focused on becoming a multimillionaire or billionaire, then I’m not the business coach for you. My goal is to help you replace the income you make from your 9-5 job so you can break free and be independent. Heck, if you do build an amazing business that generates even more money and still allows you to have a great life, then go for it!
I’m not opposed to making a lot of money. But I am opposed to pursuing money with such a vengeance that you give up enjoying a good and healthy life now.
What’s the point of wealth if you sacrifice your health?
What’s the point of becoming rich if you sacrifice your relationships along the way?
I want you to build a business that gives you the balance of making enough money to be comfortable and still enjoying your daily personal life. As Invincible Solopreneurs, we believe in creating business models that give you everything a 9-5 job took away from you:
How you spend your time.
How much time you spend working.
The freedom to live where you want.
The freedom to control your calendar.
The power to choose who you work with every day.
How you make your money.
How much you get paid.
We believe you should design your business around your life, not your life around work.
In this article, I intentionally said this is about designing your life in harmony with your business, not “lifestyle design.” The word lifestyle has been ruined by the rich and shameless.
People think an ideal lifestyle means living like an obscenely wealthy person. You can’t have a great lifestyle unless you own a mansion, summer house, ski cabin, high-end sports car, yacht, etc.
Bullsh*t. That’s all about material possessions. It’s not really about your life and how you live it every day.
So, instead of focusing on the shallow and superficial, I’d rather have you focus on the deep and meaningful. How can you design your business to enable you to live a life of fulfillment, happiness, purpose, health, love, and meaning?
If that makes me sound like some happy California hippy, then so be it. I am happy. I’m happier than I’ve ever been before.
You should be able to make a good living, work less than you did as an employee, and deliver amazing value to the clients you help with your unique talents, skills, knowledge, and experience. When you build the right business model for you and them, it’s a win-win-win for everyone.
Don't treat your life like an afterthought by squeezing it into the margins of time around your job.
Instead, design your work around your ideal life.
Hi, I’m Larry Cornett, a coach who can work with you 1-on-1 to design, launch, and optimize your business. You might also be interested in my “Employee to Solopreneur” workshop (coming soon). I currently live in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with my wife and our Great Dane while running my businesses 100% remotely.