Life Designed | 70 days in, What have I done?!


I’m about 70 days into thinking life can be anything I want, but what the heck does that look like in cold hard facts? What have I read, how have I changed, where have I gone, and how can you learn from it?

During the last two months or so I took a vacation to Avalon NJ, and afterwords a service trip to the Spain, (Madrid area) came back and worked my 9-5, freelanced a lot, wrote a bit, and just recently arrived back home from another vacation to the Dominican republic with my girlfriend where I pretended to “work location independent style”. All the while I’ve had lifestyle design on the brain and in my actions. I’m now looking back in reflection to see what’s changed in my life. Has anything really happened? Where do I go from here?

Objective: Layout how “Lifestyle Design” has changed my world thus far. Chart progress in the new currency that matters, time and passion.

While a lot has changed in my life, I’ve noticed a constant hunger for more since first embarking on this quest. The biggest change so far is coming from looking within as I take in materials that fall in line with designing my life instead of bumbling along. The constants are keeping in touch with my dreams, maximizing effective productivity, making balzy contacts, paying more attention to my words, researching and soon implementing passive income business models. All in all, pretty good life planning eh? Here’s a personal look at what’s really been going on in bulletpoint fashion…learn, improve, repeat. I’ve bolded the events and the services that have had a big impact, and linked anything pertinent.

  • Read 4HWW ; mind blown away. I want to travel, live dreams and set up systems to fund it. Unrelenting resolve created
  • Bought book for a friend, asked him if he wanted to test it out
  • Took notes online, Google docs, listened to the 4HWW audio book 3 more times in a weeks span
  • Took actionwrote out realistic dreams, batched work calls/e-mails. Asked myself everymorning, with some failure…if i could only do two things today…what would they be?
  • Asked boss for Friday off
  • Saw hours (literally) freed each day, duplicated in personal life
  • Spent days finding free time at work by implementing some simple strategies
  • Used free time during or after work to read book reviews, and 4HWW forums. Wrote e-mails to any website/blog/book author I could find on life style design asking what lifestyle design meant to them
  • Spent 2-4 hours upstarting , a wordpress blog (bought domain and found theme) and enrolling brandon on how we’d test out lifestyle design in real life. Started writing copy with him after work (video and phone chats)
  • Wrestled with looking at my calendar too much. Love hate relationship. Decided that during “work mode” when you are singularly focused, use the tool to all its potential, schedule everything out. “Mission control” it…but when not in work mode…don’t use iCal. Remember to turn off work mode…hard to do during this frenzy start up time.
  • Felt a productivity shift in my life…with less physical materials, better systems, selective ignorance and singular focus, I had funneled the overload that is this world into an efficient machine; next step, monetize it so I can live dreams and free others
  • Met and talked with other lifestyle designers (at first, CodyCorbettDavid…more later)
  • Met and started trading web design services for consulting with Doug Fath , a local real estate entrepreneur and new information product marketer and producer
  • Mapped out 4HWW chapter Q and A’s to follow in Google Docs
  • Practiced nonfinishing, started a twitter account to record what I do all day every half hour or so, started recording all my workouts in detail more consistently (dailymile), started recording my reading speed….looking for ways to max out effective productivity
  • Started using Twitter to network
  • Listened to (audiobooks) “Richest Man in Babylon“, “How to Win Friends and Influence People“, and “Rich Dad Poor Dad“. I started talking about these book and resources to friends and a select work friends, gauging the reality of this idea, trying to stay grounded and not fly away in flighty personal improvement jargon
  • Realized you are always “marketing” yourself in how you speak and present yourself to others
  • Bought 7 habits of highly influencial people
  • Felt paralyzed by analysis of everything, was efficient but not effective
  • Watched Tim Ferriss’ post on blogging
  • Changed computer background to “If you could only get 2 things done today, what would they be?”
  • Created tentative posting topics, tweaked blog back-end with suggestions in Tim Ferriss’s post on blogging.
  • Started using service to announcing to both Twitter and Facebook and track clicks to posts
  • Organized bookmarks into “webdev”, “lifedesign” and “incomegen” folders
  • Signed up and started campaigns for Google adsense, analytics, and set-up feedburner for blog to practice doing it for other products or future ventures
  • Started to inherently see more opportunities in life, challenging fear and the status quo more, looked to improve or find the secret 20% of what I do in life to produce %80 of seeked outcome
  • Bought Seneca, Rapid Breakthrough Reading, and Total Immersion swimming (to improve triathlon times.)
  • Continued ongoing contact with lifestyle designers, started to build list of income niches I liked
  • Met with David of Muselife in Philadelphia
  • Realized that figuring your way to a “designed life” takes A LOT of effort. Exciting effort. Life changing effort. Sustaining your dreams are not just a few clicks away though. Continued to see the systems for effective living, and constantly started seeking business opportunity. Struggled with wanting passive income more quickly.
  • Started using Seesmic Desktop to cut down on time used to manage Twitter and Facebook
  • Continued consulting with Doug Fath on ways to turn my freelance business into a hard sellable product or find another niche product I’m interested in and monetize it
  • Started niche adword testing on a random idea me and brandon thought would be great. “Lesson Plan Magic”
  • Used this video to learn a process for keyword testing to see if an idea had marketability
  • Created a mock landing page for sales using iWeb and Landing Page Creator
  • Downloaded and started using Market Samurai for more product idea testing
  • Conversed with Brandon about ideas and next steps, hiring a virtual assistant, and actually launching a mock product for testing
  • Contacted Tim Ferris, asked him what was most difficult for him when starting out and if I could write a companion book to 4HWW
  • Started testing out speed reading, downloaded and printed Zenhabits “How I got 100,000 subscribers in 2 years
  • Fell back into trying to multitask, got distracted, confused by all this content, wasn’t moving toward freedom. Stuck. I needed to re-train in efficiency and stop thinking so much. Simplify, re-sort, look at goals, plan steps toward them again
  • Wrote a post on getting un-stuck; regained singular focus, minimized more physical belongings, reviewed ebook Source Control for seeing systems in the tasks I do that could now be outsourced
  • Put poster board up on my wall with “buckets”, fitness, life design, IT freelancing, income generation. Pinned goals and articles to poster board
  • Developed a system using Google docs and mail for organizing tasks in each bucket tied to a calendar. Have not felt overwhelmed since
  • Calendar organizes time-slots and points to a development doc for each bucket. The doc is color coded for levels of action (do asap, waiting on someone else, not important)
  • Gmail has correlating labels, and is synced with Apple mail (along with multiple e-mail accounts for projects deserving of them)
  • Signed up and started using the tool to create “mind maps” for finding the repeatable systems in both my IT freelancing, life, and potential business’ for future outsourcing
  • Moved past “Lesson Plan Magic” niche idea (not enough market interest) and started researching “The Mac Basics” idea.
  • Started reading “Work the System” by Sam Carpenter to remind me to stay efficient and see the systems in life, bought “Getting Real” by 37 Signals.
  • Conversations with other lifestyle designers turned into a new relationship amongst new friends for collaboration
  • Met Greg Rollett , started to promote the under 30 Rockstar’s Business Series I’m participating in
  • Collaborated with David on his next big project
  • Starting to get fed up with not developing more ideas to mock test for generating income that also fall in line with things I’m interested in
  • Found M6 a product for rapidly creating mock websites with goal of producing sales
  • Wrote more, reflected more
  • Found equilibrium from content overload to concrete lifestyle changes toward material minimalism, putting my dreams on a calendar, and the pursuit of passive or easily managed incomes to fund breaking free from traditional wage slavery
  • Feeling prepared and in control for continued liberation
Context has been the biggest outcome of this project so far. I can now see the pieces are in place, the stage is set, life looks different now. I say with confidence that my passions are more alive, I now see life with “opportunity vision” and I have more free time than ever before. The one caveat being the free time is reinvested toward furthering my lifestyle design efforts (currently finding incomes streams to sustain living out my passions, not to mention escaping corporate life).

I’ve already seen a big change in the normal drag that comes from the 9-5. There are definite mental and physical changes that need to be re-inforced, it’s a training process, and it’s worth it. Income generation has started to move to the forefront of my mind now. It’s an exciting stage, but if you jump to it and it’s all you’re concerned about, you’ll end up just being a junk product pusher. You will have no context without changing how you think about life and work. Still, from what I’ve read, setting up income streams of quality seem to be an allusive not really talked about part of lifestyle design, probably because making money isn’t easy. It’s what’s next for me and I’ll be breaking it down as best I can when I get there, and I’ll be recording it right here.
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  • Robert,

    Do you know Jim Rohn? I recently bought an audio book of him called “The Art of Exceptional Living” and it was so good!


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  • alistairtoffoli

    very interesting insights. I've read tim ferriss' book and i'd like to follow his path as well..good luck for your challenge

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  • MS Scientist

    Am I the only chick here who cares enough to comment?

    I like your chronology. I also liked your mind re-booting post. Only two posts I’ve read so far, so I basically think you’re great!

    I am glad I found your blog (somehow stumbled upon it after googling “lifestyle design”), and I wish you all the best in finding that right niche.

    And did you really talk to Tim??? Was he cool or a diva? How did you prepare for that discussion? Just by reading the book? Are you a natural or did you have to buck up first? (Sorry for the string of ???s I’m a huge Tim groupie).

  • DigitalJoe


    No apology needed. Apture reminded me of those text link ads which I find very annoying. Sorry for the rant.

    Upgrade – did you upgrade WordPress to 2.8.4? For the security issues? I see/hear/read a lot about that on the ‘net. I’m concerned about my theme and plugins working if I upgrade.

    Keep up the good work of living a life of your choice. There are things available to you that you can not even see yet. Enjoy the process.


  • robgranholm

    @ Jonny
    Thanks, glad to hear someone else has picked up and followed their dreams. Have you liked any book more than an another?

    Could you elaborate on putting our obstacles in our own way? My hope is to eliminate them for the most part, or put only the ones of my choosing in front of me.

    Apture is a plugin for allowing you to quickly pull information WITHOUT having a pop-up. The tough thing is, my plugin is broke at the moment because of some recent upgrades…I’m hard at work to fix it. Sorry for the inconvenience

  • DigitalJoe

    Amazing, the human capacity to put endless obstacles in our own way!

    What the hell is that Apture crap all about? You offer an interesting link. Click on it and… a frickin pop-up?! Geez.

    Ironically from a life style design site. Oh well.


  • An very inspiring article Rob and what an intensive 70 days it seems you have had.

    I will definitely be following your blog as all the books you mention have been exactly the ones on my read list the last few months and is the reason why I quite my job 2 months ago and am now living in Bangkok.

    Look forward to following your journey. The best of luck my friend.

  • robgranholm

    Thanks Clayton, best of luck to YOU. I’m amazed at how my life’s been revamped (long term) for the better and I haven’t even begun to automate, or build a business around passive income and easy management. I see the roads now, I see how it’s all laid out. Perspective is powerful. Welcome to the journey, hope to see you around, feel free to use and adapt on my own strategies.

  • Wow! I’m really impressed with what you’ve been able to do in 70 days. I’m just getting started on the path myself. Best of luck moving forward.

  • Hey Rob,

    This is all awesome stuff. I can really connect with this post because a lot of the same stuff would be on my list of things I’ve done so far. Good luck the rest of the way man looking forward to hearing more!

  • robgranholm

    Wow guys, thanks for all the encouragement. I hope to inspire and not discourage, you’ve all been vital to the progress mentioned in this post. It’s all a three steps forward one step back type learning process. I’m sure I’ve made plenty of steps in the wrong direction, I tend to over educate instead of act. I’m blown away by your support and words, I’ve now been validated in chronicling my efforts thus far. Thank you.

    no worries, you’re young still and an incredible writer.

    oh you will, this project is on a nonstop path until dreamlines are lived. shoot. that might be a while.

    thanks for the take aways, it’s weird to work so hard, to free yourself, but that’s starting to make sense. the hard work isn’t exactly what attracted me, but it’s invaluable.

    @JD and sean
    i’d love to see your lists…what information/tools are you using to produce? what fuel are you using to inspire entrepreneur opportunities? how are you having fun? sean, awesome mountain climb! sometimes i focus so much on the “efficient and effective” results, but it might be valuable to hear what FUN people are having because of this lifestyle even while they’re in the trenches to financial and time freedom.

    let’s do it man! not sure if my fumblings in re-designing life and laying groundwork for freedom will make for good video, but who knows?

  • Rob–this is fantastic. Reading through the list, I think my favorite bullet point is:

    “Fell back into trying to multitask, got distracted, confused by all this content, wasn’t moving toward freedom. Stuck. I needed to re-train in efficiency and stop thinking so much. Simplify, re-sort, look at goals, plan steps toward them again”

    I’m going through a similar situation now. It’s easy with so many resources and strategies in the field of lifestyle design to get ahead of oneself. I like how you included this in your list of accomplishments, because it highlights how important it is to stick to the basics.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Heya Rob!

    Great progress list, it’s interesting to follow!
    Good luck with, I hope it grows into an amazing blog.

    You’re definitely working hard and over time it should really pay off!

    Looking forward to great posts!


  • That’s really impressive that you’ve done so much in such a short period of time. Now I feel a tad lazy. Time to step it up a notch…

  • Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations. Very detailed and very informative. I know building a dream lifestyle is tough but keep at it. 4HWW is great and changed my life forever. Hope to hear about more success in the future


  • Wow! That is an awesome checklist. It is great to see how much you have accomplished.

    I think there are three great lessons here.
    1. Success takes work and you are certainly paying your dues.
    2. Ideas are worthless unless acted upon. It is great to see you putting the 4HWW ideas into practice.
    3. Amazing things can be accomplished with consistent effort. Looking forward at all the work ahead of you can be overwhelming, but we can be surprised at how much we accomplished looking back.

    Great progress!

  • This post has almost motivated me as much as it’s made me feel like an absolute failure. Everything you’ve done is impressive. Now that I see what’s possible, I’ll have to work harder and develop some new strategies. Thanks for this.

  • Man Rob, you are making me feel like I need to be doing a lot more! Awesome to see a step by step log of how you are going about creating your new lifestyle. I think if I did something similar, I would find a lot of things I am doing well, and also many more things that could be (greatly) improved upon. Looking forward to talking to you more about everything you are doing!

  • This is a fantastic description of your trials and your transformation since reading Tim’s 4HWW! Might have to do a video interview with you one of these days on your experience with Lifestyle Design so far buddy! Great progress.

  • robgranholm

    Well Ben G,

    Faith is intertwined in all these goings and comings. I think this post exemplifies a lot of actions on this quest to testing a purposeful lifestyle. Although there are plenty of actions to increase my faith, faith in itself I don’t see as an action. I’m not saying it doesn’t fit in though. I have certainly been stretched in re-evaluating how things work, looking for ways to be efficient and effective, and so on and so forth with personal productivity and an entrepreneurs eye. My faith comes along with me in developing. It influences what actions I take to cut out time, or how I approach people. Although this project doesn’t really detail personal faith, it’s a great point to bring up as mine certainly has been effected by the freed time, newly developed relationships and general life questioning. It’s been an opportunity for growth. Thanks for asking!

  • Ben G

    So, one would ask with all this life re-tasking, where does faith fit in?

  • Great rundown here, Rob. It’s pretty amazing how much can be achieved in 70 days, isn’t it? Difficult to keep track of it all when you’re ‘in the trenches,’ though. I’m glad you listed all these lessons and milestones as it’s reminding me of the same and inspiring me to put together my own list.

    Continued luck to you in your quest to get some more income streams going! I think we’ve all got slightly different ideas on how to do it, but if we keep each other in the loop, hopefully we’ll all come out on top, and much faster than if we were going it along.

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