decompression

After finishing work exactly a month ago I have been getting mentally ready to move overseas, as well as discarding the mountain of detritus that I seem to accumulate when in the survival mode of the working world. I also managed to have some outdoor time, as well as catch up with friends before I am a few time zones away.

I moved to a mountain village/town a few days ago and this is where the real work begins. Firstly, repairing the damage that I managed to accumulate during the head-long sprint to Financial Independence. I don’t have a great plan for this yet, but decompression is the first step. Hopefully aspects of myself that got covered up and pushed out will have the freedom to return and I can begin the process of returning to a human being. In the last month I noticed a few aspects of myself that over the last 5 years have changed gradually, but cumulatively the effect has been quite dramatic.

Fortunately, with the knowledge that I can be whoever and however I wish to be,  I know now that I do not need to judge myself and simply need to decide who and how I want to be.

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giving 2 months notice

It was an interesting experience but the formality of giving my 2 months notice was neither exciting nor anti-climactic. Others around me who knew were certainly more excited than I was. I suspect they are just excited for me. When you have been thinking and preparing this plan for this as long as I have it just seemed like one more step of a journey. Of course this journey certainly goes a lot further than just finishing my traditional full-time employment.

It was gratifying that my manager made all the right offers and counter arguments to keep me, but in the end I didn’t ask for the details as this is my plan, not a negotiation, and I won’t be deterred. I really do appreciate the safety net of the permanent job offer in case I get myself into trouble at some point in the future. Several months ago I was having bouts of apprehension about giving up the guaranteed income but I have come to terms with this and accept that there are risks in everything we do, and I trust that I can solve any issues when they arise.

I won’t let the small chance of catastrophe cause me to lose focus and get lost in “One more year” syndrome. It is time to stop relying on financial assets and reduce risk by building life skills.

what will be important to you when you are free?

When you are no longer devoting your energy and the best hours of your life to your employer what do you think you could do with your life? Who will you be?

1: People

I will be someone who selects the human relationships to foster and then protects and grows those relationships.

People include friends, family, and the network of people who will be supportive or provide companionship, insight, or possibly opportunities for growth. As someone who has introvert tendencies if not required to socialise (e.g. in a work context) I am most deficient in this area. As the UK is my adopted home I do not have strong ties to any particular community and limited friends. The idea of spending every day inside my head is not too attractive to me, so I have a lot of work to do in this area. As someone who enjoys outdoor pursuits I think the easiest option will be to join clubs or groups. I have started off slowly and I am regularly going to the local parkrun event which is surprisingly motivating considering the limited communication involved up to this point.

2: Skills

I will be someone who increases their skills, especially those that strengthen a FI future and enables adding value to people and activities.

For those familiar with Jacob at ERE this will need little explanation. The skills and self-sufficiency that Jacob uses and recommends to improve life and reduce consumption can also be leveraged to add value to the people in your life, reinforcing this part of your FI life. As for myself, I need to work on discovering which of my current skills can be useful to others and what practical skills should be learned to be the most value to myself and others. At the moment I am happy to offer unskilled labour, but that is due to being lazy about discovering what other skills I have that can be useful to others. Of course skills that are in demand can be used to help others who may be able to help you in turn or perhaps simply to earn extra money if required.

3: Activities

I will be someone who chases the joy of physical pursuits, especially outdoors.

Everyone has sports, hobbies, activities and interests that they enjoy pursuing and thanks to the internet it is easy to connect with others who share your interests, no matter how obscure! However, if you can’t find a local group, probably you are in the best position to start one due to having more time than full time workers.

My interests are in outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, running, climbing, sailing etc for which there are plenty of groups. One possible issue for the newly FI is that you may not be living in the area you have been working in. This is important for people and clubs as these things are usually geographically fixed. I will be leaving London when I finish working so will be hoping to increase social connections using my sports and hobbies in my new hometown.

In summary, there are 3 very broad and overlapping categories that I expect I will need to prepare for a happy, healthy FI future: people, skills and activities. I will try to add value to myself and the lives of others within these 3 broad areas resulting in a more fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

who will you be?

If you have ever talked to anyone about your plans to exit the world of the wage slave you have probably heard the refrain “…but what will you do!?” Well, its a good question and for quite a while I put it at the bottom of my to do list and just focused on keeping my head down with my savings going up. However, as my countdown grew shorter the question began to occupy my mind more. All I knew was that the foundation for the next phase of my life was to add value to myself and those I choose to have around me.

While the sites on the right were all the motivation and knowledge I needed to achieve early retirement unfortunately I was unable to find an existing framework to design my new life and this resulted in a few months of thinking about what opportunities and projects I thought I could do. Perhaps due to a small concern that I did not have “enough” I found a lot of these projects were basically entrepreneurial activities or another way for me to invest my labour. Wasn’t I just slightly redirecting the old habit of committing my energy to an external project? Before I can be a human doing I need to be a human being.

Warren Buffett is well known for espousing the value of investing in yourself. However, during my previous life where I taught people, I recognised how bad we are at accurately perceiving ourselves and our abilities so I knew I needed a framework to decide how to invest in myself.

Now if we are going to be investing in ourselves we need to decide what aspects to focus on, which quickly lead to the realisation that before I decide what I want to do when I grow up I need to decide who I want to be before I grow up. Whoa, wholesale introspection imminent!

It sounds dramatic, but really it is as simple as deciding what type of human you want to be. Now that everything is on the table, lets clean out all unneeded psychological barriers, assorted assumptions, miscellaneous clutter and start fresh. Ahh, another of those simple but not easy things… How could I add value to anything or anyone if I do not know who I am and more importantly, who I will be?

Our entire personality, our values, the very core of our existence is able to be redesigned at will so who will you be?

countdown to financial freedom: so then what?

So you have done the hard work saving a high percentage of your income, simplified your life and lived frugally for years to reach the point where you can see the financial independence finish-line, and the image of your life without a job is starting to crystallise. Or perhaps you had a windfall to help you get to the point where you have realised you do not need to work any more.

However you got here, congratulations. So now what? I have heard some say that people in this position have “unlimited options”. However, without a way to filter and then concentrate on activities that will bring the maximum value I feel I could easily fall into the trap of unending analysis without ever taking action.

My working career is drawing to a close and to be honest it is as daunting as it is exciting. I am in my late 30’s and as great as not having to go to a job sounds, the more I think about it the more I see it as an opportunity to improve myself and add value to myself and those around me. The key part for me is to find a framework to select activities and then to take action.

I hope to use this blog as a way to journal my attempts to figure out how to add value to a life of financial independence. Perhaps it will help others, but whether you are in the same position as I, or perhaps you already forgetting your working days, I am hoping we can all share experiences and opinions.