How to Live an Awesome Life on Your Own Damn Terms

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There are two paths in life. A majority of folks wait around for cool things to happen to them, watching as other, “lucky people” live the lives they wish they had. Then there are the people who take a proactive role in discovering their dreams and turning them into reality.

Books like The 4 Hour Workweek opened my eyes to the wide range of possibilities life holds for us. There are so many options outside the ‘norm’ if you’re willing to get creative and seek out solutions to build a lifestyle you truly desire.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all lifestyle.

When I realized that I hated working in an office for someone else, I started doing freelance web development on the side, and I quit my full-time job a few months later. I spent a year-and-a-half working from home, figuring out how to hell to be self-employed, and preparing my business to be location-independent so I could live the digital nomad lifestyle . I set out on a journey to live abroad for a year+ and work remotely from anywhere I traveled.

It’s rarely easy and it’s not always fun, but I enjoy the freedom that entrepreneurship and a vagabond lifestyle have given me. And the philosophy that underpins my choices is that I make the rules. If you want to see some of the things I’ve been able to do since I read The 4-Hour Workweek and starting applying principles of lifestyle design to my life, check out the brief video below:

This is your life. You make the rules.

Untemplater is all about breaking the traditional “rules” that we think apply to us. It’s about challenging assumptions. You don’t have to go to college, graduate within four years, take a desk job, stay close to home, get an MBA, climb the corporate ladder, or anything just because it’s what herd mentality tells you you’re supposed to do. The world is a complex and beautiful place with a wide spectrum of possibilities, and full of unpredictable opportunities. Your life is your masterpiece, and you are the painter.

2010 is a chance for you to start fresh and take back control of your life. Our mission is to encourage college students and young professionals to shatter the template lifestyle, find ways to do what you’re passionate about, live where and how you want to live, and be what you want to be in the new year.

Is the idea of an unorthodox career and a remarkable lifestyle exciting to you?

The willingness to risk the comfort of the familiar to find your true happiness is the path to living a remarkable life.

The key to doing what you are passionate about and living the life of your own choosing is to overcome your own fears and many of the socially-reinforced beliefs that our parents, friends, and school teach us. To begin discovering what you really want out of life and what’s truly possible, you must question all of your assumptions. Question the seemingly obvious. For example, ask yourself questions like:

  • Who says you can’t talk to strangers when you go out on the weekend?
  • Who says you have to hang out with people in similar demographics as yourself?
  • Who says you can’t leave a long-term relationship if you’re unhappy with it?
  • Who says living overseas is any more dangerous or difficult than living in the town you grew up in?
  • Who says you have to follow a conventional career path or lifestyle?
  • Who says you have to do what all the cool kids are doing?

Many of us have beliefs like these ingrained in us from infancy and may not even realize it, but we live our lives governed by social conditioning and all these rules that don’t really apply. Ask yourself what evidence there is to actually back up these assumptions. Most of these beliefs and social “rules” are unfounded.

Before you jump on the bandwagon, always ask yourself if you’re you doing this because of social pressure? Or are you avoiding doing what you’re really passionate about out of fear that you’ll fail? Don’t let social rules dictate how you live your life, and don’t let fear keep you from giving life your best shot.

Who the Hell are Jon and Kate Gosselin and Who Gives a S#!t?

If you’re ready to take back control in 2010, then you need to ignore the bullshit, stop reading gossip blogs and Glamour magazine. Forget about American Idol and following all the reality TV shows on a weekly (or daily) basis! Ignore the “trending topics” and “who’s hot” this week. Unless you’re following these pop culture icons because you want to be them and you’re actually gonna learn from them and take actionable steps to model your life after them, forget ‘em!

As social media heavyweight and author of Crush It, Gary Vaynerchuk, says, you have to “stop watching f***ing Lost and start hustling!” This new economy puts you and me on the same playing field with the big companies. You are responsible for your own reputation, you are your own company: Brand You. There’s nearly nothing stopping you from attaining the success you want or living, working, and playing the way you want to. But nobody’s going to make it happen for you! It’s not going to come without challenges, but you gotta get out there and make it happen.

10 Thoughts for Creating Your Own Untemplater Lifestyle This Year:

  1. Most people are content to live a comfortable lifestyle, doing something they’re not all that passionate about in order to pay the bills and do what they like on the weekends. But, ask yourself if that’s really what you want. Or do you want more? The Untemplater lifestyle means prioritizing your passion over money, over status, even over creature comforts.
  2. Realize that nobody else is going to come along and magically fix all your problems and pay all your bills for you. That is a destructive Disney fantasy that isn’t real. In the new economy, “job security” is an oxymoron. You’ve got to establish a personal brand and maintain your reputation online even if you just want to remain employable.
  3. Remember what Tim Ferriss says in The 4-Hour Workweek: we don’t really want to be millionaires. Instead we want to experience things we think only millions can buy. But money isn’t the only currency, and by bending the rules of your reality, it can frequently be easier, cheaper, or even free to accomplish the things you want.
  4. Stop playing the game, stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Embrace minimalism, detach your value from the things you own, and ignore others’ expectations. When you accumulate stuff just for the sake of having possessions, they begin to own you. More likely than not, you can invest more time and money into the experiences you want to have—time with friends and family, philanthropy, travel—and live a much more fulfilled life.
  5. Just because everyone seems to do things one way doesn’t mean you have to. And just because a majority of people seem to use a certain set of tools to get the job done doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right tools for you. Seek unconventional solutions that will make the life you want possible.
  6. If you still want to discover what kind of work you’re truly passionate about and excites you when you get out of bed in the morning, take weekend retreat to somewhere nearby where you can get away from your normal routine, consider a media hiatus (don’t read the paper, watch the news on TV, or read your favorite blogs online for at least a few days) and do some self-talk and search in yourself for what you really care about. How can you provide real value to the world in a way that will return to you and provide
  7. With the increasing availability of free and cheap wifi internet access all around the globe, it’s becoming increasingly possible for anyone to work from home, the coffee shop, or anywhere. Leverage the different purchasing power of currencies around the world, and you can vagabond your way around the globe while you do freelance work from your laptop!
  8. Social media makes it much easier for anyone with enough motivation to share their ideas with a global audience and build a successful business online these days.
  9. If you choose to build an Untemplater lifestyle free of dependence on any one location, if you live abroad or go on extended travel, just by immersing yourself in the unfamiliar, you’ll experience an increased rate of learning, creativity and resourcefulness that will serve to reinforce your abilities as a producer, rather than a passive consumer—sharing and adding something to the world, whether that’s in the form of a business or something else.
  10. Even though everybody seems to do it, there is no law that says you have to play by the rules or follow the crowd. Your time here on this earth is a finite resource, precious short—how will you choose to spend it?

Make sure you download our free Untemplater Manifesto and join us in the rebellion against the ordinary by participating in our Facebook and Twitter communities.

Great Resource: My good friend Sam was able to negotiate a severance package equal to six years of living expenses to live life on his own damn terms! Imagine being able to quit your job with money in your pocket and insurance to cover you for months. Learn how to negotiate a great severance for yourself in Sam’s book How to Engineer Your Layoff! Never quit, always get laid off so you can collect a severance, health care insurance, deferred compensation, unused vacation days, and be eligible for unemployment. If for whatever reason you do not find the book helpful, Sam provides a full refund!

How To Make Money Quitting Your Job


Unconventional Guides

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave - LifeExcursion January 5, 2010 at 3:42 am

“Just because everyone seems to do things one way doesn’t mean you have to.”

I am not going to lie. The notion that I didn’t have to become a lifestyle copy-cat was hard to escape. There was a point in my life where I wanted to be that person that the girls loves and the guys wanted to hang out with. Once that idea was broken, I was able to create an identity and a belief of what my future was to be. I think this idea you present is an extremely tough thing to overcome. I hope many others can realize this at an earlier age than I.

David Damron


Valerie M January 5, 2010 at 8:29 am

Cody, just here to give you a standing ovation. You pretty much nailed it on the head. 2009 has been a quite interesting year for me because that was the year I began to change my mindset and started thinking to myself: “So, hey… why CAN’T I do what I want to do?”

David, likewise. For me the hardest part was not changing my mindset. I knew I wasn’t happy I just couldn’t put my finger on why. So it wasn’t as hard for me to embrace this idea. The hardest thing has been and still is explaining everything Cody just said on here to some people. Maybe I should just save myself the trouble and email them this article.


Cody McKibben January 15, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Thanks Valerie! Glad you have begun to change your mindset. :)


Alexandre Guertin January 5, 2010 at 11:47 am

Hi Cody!

Great post man! Good luck on the contest, I’m also one of the case study (Alex from Montreal) :)!

Love to see that you’re really using Geo-Arbitrage. I was in Thailand in 2007 after I graduated college and did the steps too in Krabi, such a great feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top. Railay Beach was also my favorite spot and spent almost 2 weeks there just chilling and rock-climbing. Seeing the monkeys coming out on the beach at 4pm is priceless :).

Keep up the good work and I’ll be following your new blog religiously!


Cody McKibben January 15, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Hey Alex, thanks for the good wishes, but I was too late for Tim’s deadline. Just wanted to put together my video and share to thank him. But good to connect with another person who benefited from the 4HWW too! I LOVE Krabi! My favorite place in the world—just got back from there AGAIN on a short holiday with my visiting little sister! :)


Scott Jones January 5, 2010 at 9:25 am

Great post I definetely agree you have to live life on your own terms and make things happen for yourself. You guys are doing great things on this site I just added the RSS feed if you are reading this I would suggest doing the same!

Scott Jones


Rich DeMatteo January 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Great stuff here, Cody!

You say it best here when you talk about how no one will make great things hapen or you. We need to visualize our dreams, and then simply take them. Fucking take them, and you need the passion and courage to go for it!

Loved watching your video. Four Hour Work Week is sitting on my desk waiting to be read for a month or so no. I’m excited to dig in and see what adventures may come to me after reading it.


Cody McKibben January 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Take it by storm Rich! It opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities. Wish you the best mate!


floreta January 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I’m fairly new to this whole ballgame and have not read The 4 Hour Workweek although I keep hearing about it. However, I believe my own journey/path/inner intuition has lead me to a lifestyle described in the 4 Hour Workweek and my question is: Is “Lifestyle Design” the new hot word that was born out of this book or was this term already around beforehand?


Cody McKibben January 15, 2010 at 6:23 pm

I think Tim Ferriss does take credit as “coining” the term or whatever. Lifestyle design, personal growth, personal development, setting your own damn goals for your life, figuring out what you truly care about and want out of life, call it what you will! :)


Ronnie January 6, 2010 at 2:08 am

Cody, great post man. I remember talking to you in your house when you were planning on taking all the necessary steps towards the lifestyle you live today. Crazy that was about 2 years ago. Its great to see how much as happened since then. I definitely have to check out Crush It during break here.


Mike Key January 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I love reading about your success Toby, on Thrilling and your guest posts. I spent last year traveling after my own success but came home to get married and see if two people can get free together, I don’t see to many people talking about that in lifestyle design.


Mike Key January 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I totally put Toby when I meant Coby in the above post, so sorry bro.


Edward January 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm

The timing of this was just too funny not to share. I just finished reading the Untemplater Manifesto last night, and got this “Your Life: Mapped Out” pamphlet in the mail this afternoon. It came from a local community college.


AdventureRob January 7, 2010 at 7:48 am

Great post as usual Cody :-) Summarising everything needed for the untemplater lifestyle, the key is to crack on with things, make the plan and do it, realising it is possible.


Financial Samurai January 14, 2010 at 12:20 am

Good stuff. I enjoy embracing minimalism while having a comfortable cash savings just in case. The point of having cash is so that you never have to worry about financial security anymore.

What I really hope is for those who would like to travel location independent, can really immerse in the various cultures and learn their languages. It’ll open your minds a great deal once one can truly master another language.

Good luck guys in your adventure!


Craig January 17, 2010 at 10:31 pm

I’ve got the minimalism down … now for the reliable income :)


Merlinsboy April 27, 2010 at 11:47 am

Read this article and saw my life as written by someone else!
I have just decided to end my marriage of many years to save my physical and mental wellbeing. Today I have found place to live, and will be entering the next phase of my life renewed and seeking fresh challenges.
It’s my Sinatra time!



Rocky D'Souza September 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

:-) Excellent


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