Every so often, I am brought back to the purpose of this blog – to seek out the things that make a flexible lifestyle work. With that goes the incumbent learning, and the experiences that accompany the journey. What are the things that make it possible though?
A flexible lifestyle has many requirements. Each individual situation has its own individual needs to be met. However, there are three core things that I think are common to all.
Flexible sources of income
To support a flexible lifestyle, income is required. That’s true of any lifestyle, but finding an ongoing income to support a flexible lifestyle can be a challenge. It all depends on your requirements, for example:
- staying in one place, taking on different work assignments
- moving around, finding different work assignments
- being flexible to move around or stay put, but maintaining an income
There are many ways to skin this cat, but ultimately, it comes down to what suits you. That includes what your income requirements are, as well as how much or where you want to work. Are you wanting to move around or stay put? Are you happy to look for new work all the time? Would you prefer to have something that you can do wherever you are?
Each path has different attributes, each person different needs. If you rely on work from a particular field or geographical area, you need to touch base with clients and keep your profile active so that work prospects may come your way. If you are considering the moving option, you need to highlight the transfer-ability of your skills and your adaptability to new situations. Moving into a new area and promoting yourself through networking or other activities is key to success here.
Financial independence & risk
There is a degree of financial independence required to be able to run the flexibility option. There are certain risks associated with gaining work, but the bills still need to be paid. They may be associated with property, assets, insurances or other ongoing financial arrangements. Do you have sufficient capital to cover these costs if remuneration is delayed? What if you are in an international location and funds transfer is an issue? Can you accommodate an interim period of no new funds?
Some of the other questions to ask yourself, and to find answers for include:
- How much do you need to earn to support your lifestyle and incumbent lifestyle costs?
- What are you prepared to give up if you don’t achieve your required income?
- Have you considered what your absolute needs are, your nice to haves and your luxury items? Do you have financial limits on each of these?
This raises other questions about risk aversion. How much risk can you tolerate? What could you do if there was a shortfall of funds from one entity towards another? How long can you go without things, to accommodate a gap in income?
There is definitely a mindset that accompanies a successful flexible lifestyle. You may think you have an ability to adapt and change, and be a”can do” and “have a go at anything” kind of person. The reality is not always the same. You need to suck it and see.
Sometimes, other requirements come into play eg physical, health or emotional needs. Each of these may play a part in the success (or otherwise) of your flexible lifestyle. You cannot know until you try. Not every situation will suit every person. And, those situations that are not successful should not be considered failures. Moreover, they were not the right “fit’ and were part of the “learning” journey.
Sometimes in seeking out these lifestyle choices, we find ourselves on a journey they we weren’t aware we’d be on. Sometimes I think it is a journey to find ourselves. We find out which things suits us, and which don’t. You would think that such circumstances would be obvious but until they are entertained in these newer lifestyle formats, no one really knows.
Knowing and recognising your own needs
As a result of the two requirements above, you need to ascertain your own needs. Are they able to be met by the opportunities that are presented to you? Are you able to meet your flexibility needs, to fulfil the work demands that enable you to meet your own living and financial requirements? Are you able to recognise when you are genuinely enjoying and thriving in such circumstances, and when you are existing or tolerating them?
It sounds like a question of self-awareness, and I suppose it is. But how self-aware are we? Are we meeting our own needs or that of a dream that we thought we wanted or a dream we co-created with someone else that has turned out differently than expected? Perhaps it has exceeded expectations? Perhaps it is an exciting time of change that you relish.
Honesty is the best policy
Honesty to yourself and others is the best approach to answering the above. Despite this and best intentions, it is not always an easy approach to take. Take note of things that happen. What do you say (spontaneously) about your lifestyle/work/choices? How do you think of these arrangements in the lead up to taking them on? If you had your time over again, would you do things the same way or differently?
In short, I am recommending that you do a reality check on your flexible lifestyle. Is it what you thought it would be? Are you meeting your financial and personal goals? Are you benefiting (and enjoying) the experience? Are there shortcomings for you? Is that okay because on balance, it’s worth it? At the end of the day, you need to be honest with yourself. After all, you are the only one you will let down if you don’t.
Do you have things you can share about leading a flexible lifestyle? It would be great to hear about them in response to this blog post.