That Eureka Feeling (And A Life Coaching Session)

I first encountered the term lifestyle design in 2011 when I was living in Singapore, working as an editor at an international financial news wire service.

It was a job that required a few people to be doing nothing at any one time, so they could leap onto any new stories filed from any of the bureaux in Asia and edit and publish it as quickly as possible. That’s the nature of a news wire, sometimes called “real-time” news.

Everyone spent their so-called downtime differently.

A guy behind me worked on his MBA. The guy next to me did his Japanese language homework. There was a fair bit of Facebook chatting going on. I played a lot of online games and researched future holidays.

So there I was, in a greyish office with stunning views of Singapore’s marina, keeping boredom at bay with Uncle Google, who I was consulting about a driving holiday through Malaysia.

Little did I know I was about to encounter *drumroll please* … the moment that changed my life.

I clicked onto a blog post about visiting a strawberry farm in the Cameron Highlands (which to this day I still mis-pronounce in my head as CameROON Highlands).

It was a slow day in the newsroom. I had time to read the whole article and then click on to the “about” section to learn more about the amazing traveling Burns family. And it was there on their about page that I first learned of the existence of a book called The 4-Hour Work Week.

That very day, after work, I went to a bookshop and bought a copy. I devoured the book over the next two days. And then read it again. And then read every single post on the author’s blog, printing some out so I could study them further on the bus home. A few weeks later started this blog (because I couldn’t think of that brilliant online business idea but I figured I may as well get the blog going that would, eventually, help market my brilliant online business idea.)

The concepts outlined in Tim Ferriss’s book helped me make the leap into the unknown, to organise a job I could do online and when that vanished, gave me the tools I needed to create a job that I love.

Fast forward four years and I’m still waiting for that brilliant online business idea. I’m also still blogging, not for money but because I love it.

light bulb

So when my virtual and IRL friend Tracey Pedersen suddenly launched a life coaching business with an offer of a free Skype coaching session, I figured maybe I could outsource my brainstorming. Because if I can’t come up with a brilliant online business idea on my own, surely someone could just hand me one on a silver platter, right?

I actually met Tracey through the Burnses. It’s a long and complicated story that involved a tweet from Colin Burns saying he was in Singapore and a gushing email from me telling him how his blog had had a mind-blowing impact on my life.

Colin and Tracy Burns were, back then, living in a fabulous house in Penang. Darling Man, Miss M and I visited them when we were doing non-simultaneous home exchanges for our ill-fated cycling holiday in France. Now the Burnses are chasing the snow in North America and Tracey Pedersen and her mob are living in their old house in Penang.

Isn’t it a crazy world we live in?

Tracey visited us in Ho Chi Minh City a few months ago, which was fantastic. We didn’t get to talk business, though, because we were busy eating, giving and taking motorbike driving lessons, cuddling babies, eating, doing food tours and chatting about travel. And eating.

Tracey's son Jono modeling one of our tour hats. And eating.

Tracey’s son Jono modeling one of our tour hats. And eating.

You can see how such a big back story can get in the way of business talk, can’t you?

Tracey also read The Four-Hour Work Week in 2011 and that was the trigger for her to embrace the concept of lifestyle design, which included a year-long round-the-world trip for her family of five in 2012.

I met Tracey IRL in a park, in Brisbane, after she returned home from her world travels, in my one and only attempt at hosting a blog reader meetup.

Tracey announced her new business and her new website on Facebook last week, from her new home base in Penang. I had a look and was fascinated. I asked if I could sign up for a free session and she said yes!

So we spent an hour brainstorming ideas to build upon the “ecosystem” I’ve developed with this blog and our street food tours. The first half of the session involved me explaining our current businesses and the things we have in the pipeline and shooting down just about every one of Tracey’s proposals because of logistic, technical or legal reasons. Faint feelings of frustration were stirring.

I decided to pose a question to Tracey: you know a lot about our business and our plans, what information or knowledge would you pay me for?¬† And she didn’t hesitate for a second, she just blurted something out.

And before the blurt was even finished, we were staring at each other with wide-open eyes full of shock and excitement. We both knew we were onto something good. One of those diamonds, shining and brilliant, that  are sometimes formed in a great brainstorming session.

We spent the remainder of the session nutting out how this gem of an idea could be polished and buffed into an online business. We used a lot of shorthand because we’ve both read a lot of similar stuff. Tracey’s just managed to implement a lot of technical online passive income generating thingies while I’ve been busy with our very location-dependent business.

It is such a great idea. One I would have never come up with on my own, not in a million years. It’s slightly out of left field but also perfectly logical. It is the brilliant online business idea that I had been looking for.

I don’t want to outline the plan publicly just yet. I need time to finish our Vietnam book and I probably need to wait for Miss M to be back at school full-time. It might take months or even a year to get this idea up and running but at the moment I am so excited and energised and motivated by this idea. And so very very grateful for Tracey’s online business brilliance.

Tracey Pedersen

Tracey tells me she still has a few free coaching sessions available between now and August 7. She specialises in coaching women and if you look at her website you’ll see the areas in which she feels she can offer the most assistance.

So, in the words of a famous bumbling Australian rock and roll reporter, do yourself a favour and check out Tracey’s website. There’s a chance that she can help you make a revelation that will set you on the path to designing the lifestyle you want. Not the one you’ve ended up with without really thinking about.


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6 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Hey Barb. Thanks a bunch for this lovely write up. We really did stare at each other with eyes full of shock and excitement didn’t we? Still makes me chuckle thinking about it!

    I’m so excited to see your business ideas come to fruition. It’ll be like having my own little baby – without any of the work, pain or giving birth to a watermelon part!

    I know you’ll make it a huge success. Just like you have with your fab blog and food tours. Can’t wait to read your book on Vietnam!
    Tracey Pedersen recently posted..Do You Know What You Hold In Your Hands?

  2. I’ve read that book too and am yet to find that gem of an idea. Can’t wait to see what you have come up with!!
    Malinda @mybrownpaperpackages recently posted..Sourdough Pancakes

  3. Mo says:

    Wow wow, that’s so brilliant:) I can’t wait to hear about THE IDEA! I’m already enjoying some of Tracey’s brilliance in her writing, you’ve maybe sold me on joining the queue for a coaching sess too though as we head into the unknown of ending our current RTW adventure:) xx

    • Barbara says:

      Join! Join! It’s very helpful to bounce ideas of someone else. Especially if you’re in a bit of a bubble, as you usually are when you’re traveling or living as an expat.

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