If you are looking for a more fulfilling career, you may also want a more fulfilling lifestyle. What we do for a living and how we do it impacts our lifestyle and vice versa. When people initially reach out for career coaching, they often feel trapped in a job and a lifestyle that’s no longer satisfying. Just over two years ago, my husband, Chris, and I chose to live a car-free lifestyle. May our story inspire you to make more conscious lifestyle choices.

Notice Your Lifestyle Dreams & Frustrations

While I have lived most of my life without a car, Chris had grown up in a family with a car, and since age 16 had always owned his own car. Chris naturally brought his car into our shared life and marriage.

I very much appreciated all the hikes and camping trips our car allowed us to do. However, I began to notice that I slipped more and more into a car-centred lifestyle. For example, I would drive to a doctor’s appointment that I could have easily biked to.

lifestyle-dreamThe convenience of our car parked in front of our doorstep was just too tempting, especially on a rainy day, or when I was already running late for an appointment. I didn’t like how this new-to-me driving habit made me feel. I missed the movement and connection I feel when riding my bike.

Take a moment to reflect on your own lifestyle. What do you appreciate about your current lifestyle? In what ways do you feel frustrated by your current lifestyle? How does your lifestyle dream look like? Journal about these questions.

Take Initiative to Change Your Lifestyle

lifestyle-adventureOver dinner in one of our favourite restaurants, I shared my frustration about my increased car use. I asked Chris: “What do you think about living car-free?” My husband wasn’t too excited about the idea. He expressed just how much he valued his freedom, mobility and spontaneity.

A few days later Chris’ daughter called for fatherly advice on buying her first vehicle. She wanted to get started in the film industry in Vancouver and needed a car to make it happen.

After Chris and I had talked it over, we offered to give our car to his daughter, who gratefully accepted. Even though our decision was mainly founded in wanting to support Chris’ daughter, it also marked the beginning of our car-free living adventure.

Take a moment to look at the lifestyle dreams and frustrations you noted earlier. What kind of lifestyle change would you like to create? Jot down your ideas in your journal. What small steps could you take to initiate positive change? Who do you need/want to talk to about your ideas? How will you initiate these important and possibly life-changing conversations? Take a moment to write down your thoughts and feelings.

Notice Fears That Stop Your Lifestyle Design

lifestyle-car-keyOnce he had handed the car keys over to his daughter, my dear husband began to experience elements of an identity crisis. Unconsciously Chris had equated car-ownership with being ‘an adult’, ‘a man’, ‘successful’ and ‘independent’. He began to realize that he had bought into the status car-ownership is equated with in our culture.

I deeply respected Chris’ courage and commitment to give our car-free lifestyle a chance and gladly supported him through his ‘mini-crisis’. It certainly helped that we framed our lifestyle change as an experiment. Whenever Chris felt particularly challenged, I reminded him that I was open to bringing a car back into our life. I reassured him that I wouldn’t judge him for his lifestyle choices.

bicycle-lifestyleMeanwhile, I truly felt relieved that our car was gone. I was excited to once again ride my bike more often. I knew that if we were to have a vehicle again one day, I needed to be more disciplined about walking and biking instead of succumbing to convenience of driving.

What kinds of fears and limiting beliefs do you notice as you contemplate creating lifestyle changes?  Where do you notice tension between your desired lifestyle and lifestyle choices of people in your circle? What can support you in making conscious choices? Write your thoughts and feelings in your journal. Writing down your fears can really help find some new perspectives. What innate strengths can you draw on to help you create your desired lifestyle changes?

Explore Different Ways to Get Things Done

lifestyle-grocery-shoppingFor us, as a couple, car-free living opened up new possibilities. We eased into the pace of this lifestyle. A few weeks into our car-free living adventure, Chris decided to split up the weekly big grocery shopping into several smaller trips. He now likes to do ‘mini-shops’, a few times a week, on his way back from work.

Once I introduced Chris to bus-biking, he became an avid user of the bike-racks on our local public transit. It frees him up to combine bike and bus riding as he chooses, depending on the route, weather, topography, and his energy level.

lifestyle-choreWe began combining different activities, mixing leisure and chores. For example, we would pack a picnic lunch and go for a bike-ride to one of our favourite beaches. On our way home, we would stop to buy a few household items. We have discovered that combined with a fun outing, even shopping at the mall (not our favourite activity) can become a fun adventure.

What kind of chores do you loathe? How could they become more enjoyable, meditative or playful? We can easily get stuck in our ways. Chris and I realized, as we embraced car-free living, that there are many ways to get things done. What would help you open your mind to possibilities?

Explore New Ways to Have Fun

Together we discovered, on foot, on our bikes and via public transit, more and more lovely gems in our neighbourhood and beyond. We began to enjoy more extended walks and stumbled upon several pathways we had never taken. Chris researched convenient bus connections to places we love to go to, such as museums, movie theatres and local parks.

lifestyle-outdoorChris and I discovered new ways to enjoy some of our favourite activities, such as hiking, camping and swimming. When we are adventuring on foot, bike or public transit, getting there becomes part of our enjoyment.

What kind of activities do you love? How can they become part of your new lifestyle? Chris and I found so many ways to enjoy life on our car-free living adventure. How can you open up to new possibilities?

Get Inspired by Other Lifestyle Choices & Cultures

lifestyle-europeThat summer we took our car-free lifestyle adventure to Europe. We enjoyed getting around via train, tram and especially on our loaned bikes.

We were of course in good company. The city of Freiburg for example, simply can’t supply enough bike racks. Tens of thousands of bikes are parked everywhere across the city.

It was so inspiring for Chris to experience a culture where car-free living is a much more common lifestyle choice.

What kind of lifestyle choices inspire you? Sit down with your journal and write about your experience with other cultures. What inspires you about other cultures you have witnessed through movies, the media, or your own travels? How could you incorporate parts of other cultures into your own lifestyle? What small step could you take today towards embracing a lifestyle you long for?

Share Your Lifestyle Choices & Build Community

lifestyle-shareAs we shared about our car-free lifestyle in our circle of friends and family, we were blown away by all the encouragement we received. Inspired by our car-free lifestyle, a dear friend in our neighbourhood offered to share her car with us. She wanted to support our adventure and further minimize her own car-use.

We were deeply touched by her generosity. Over the last two years her trusty hybrid has taken us on several wonderful day trips into nature. We are so grateful for rides we receive from so many people in our community. Our car-free lifestyle choice has expanded our sense of community in wonderful ways. Most people in our community admire our new lifestyle choice and naturally want to participate in and support us with our adventure.

lifestyle-farmers-marketOur own generosity also expanded. Chris is giving more generous tips and I shop more often at local farmers markets, supporting local organic farming practices and providing wonderful, nutritious food for us. As a couple we treat ourselves more often to cab rides. Occasionally we rent a car such as to attend our friends’ wedding in Squamish last summer.

We decided to upgrade our bikes, which are now one of our main modes of transportation. I invested into new handle-bars and an amazing dynamo lighting system that I had been dreaming about for quite some time. Chris installed a rack on his bike, making it more versatile. One day Chris talked about his plans to buy paniers for his new bike rack at the office. One of his coworkers generously loaned the set of paniers that were collecting dust in his basement.

How do you want to share the small steps you are taking towards your desired lifestyle? People in your community may indeed want to help and encourage you on your path. You also may inspire people in your community to contemplate lifestyle choices.

Expand Your Lifestyle Comfort Zone & Stay Open

Initially Chris was afraid that a car-free lifestyle would impede on his sense of freedom. Two years later, he doesn’t want to go back to car-ownership and all the hassles and worries associated with repairs and maintenance. He is happy to no longer get stuck in traffic and spend time looking for a parking spot. Chris now enjoys a new sense of freedom and expansiveness our car-free lifestyle provides.

Embracing car-free living has been an eye-opening experience for us. We gained an even deeper appreciation for the wonderful neighbourhood we live in as we simplified our lifestyle. What a great reminder that our daily choices and actions really shape the quality of our lives.

lifestyle-trailerOne successful lifestyle experiment often encourages more experimentation. Chris has been pointing out little, tear-shaped bob-trailers in our neighbourhood, saying: “Wouldn’t it be fun to travel through North-America with a little portable home?” At first, I wasn’t too excited. After all, you know how I feel about driving.

Strangely, I am starting to warm up to Chris’ nomadic lifestyle dream. So, if a few years from now you see a bob-trailer on the TransCanada Highway with a bumper sticker reading “home is where you park it”, it may indeed be Chris and I on our next conscious lifestyle adventure.