May 25, 2019
We’re now two years into this thing they call early retirement. In 2017, we left the cozy security and cashflow of full-time work, to start doing our own thing.
I ran through a few observations last year in this post, from our first year of freedom. So I thought I’d back that up with some fresh thoughts from the last 12 months.
Because as the calendar rolls on, I learn a thing or two every now and then. Hopefully that continues! But for now, here’s a few thoughts from our second year of Financial Independence.
I haven’t been sick in two whole years!
Well…that was going to be my first line here. But as I was planning to write this last week, of course, I started getting the flu! Haha, dammit!
Anyway, I think there’s still a valid point to be made. We’ve noticed how little we get sick or ill these days, compared to the people we know.
I put this down to three things. Less stress. More quality sleep. And improved nutrition. All of these factors come naturally as a result of having much more time and not having to rush around like the rest of the population.
This by itself is a massive win. Some of this will probably come back to a more plant focused diet, in my view. We started eating this way before we left work and we’ve felt healthier and less tired ever since.
In my shift-worker Storeman days, I remember being tired every single day – it was just a fact of life. Being able to get regular quality sleep and live a low stress life is priceless.
Our first year off was mostly about slowing down and settling into a nice relaxed groove. This was a natural and enjoyable way to spend our newfound freedom.
But because we felt refreshed and energised, we then decided to put that energy to good use. So our second year was spent being much more productive as we both began part-time work of different sorts.
In that time, I realised something. Work is way more enjoyable when it’s optional.
I know we probably all believe this anyway. But I can confirm it’s true.
What a liberating feeling – to know that what you’re working on, as soon as it no longer feels worthy of your time, you can simply chop it from your schedule. And just like that, you’ve got your freedom back again, with no real negative financial consequences.
A few weeks ago, this blog ticked past its 2nd Birthday! We now have almost 100 blog posts published, which is pretty cool. It’s amazing how it builds up over time, just from doing a little bit regularly.
Building up a body of work is kind of like saving. You tuck away small amounts and before you know it, it’s taken on a life of its own.
Anyway, this blog is essentially the equivalent of a part-time job. I spend probably a couple of days each week writing a post and drafts in my phone, as well as a bit of time each day replying to comments and emails.
For those of you following at home, you’ll remember I was doing some other freelance writing a while back. But I stopped doing that to focus on this site. In the end, I decided I’d rather work on something that’s mine and which feels more important.
And besides, I love the feedback and interaction from readers. Some of you have even told me you went back to read every single post and even the comments!
Whether you’re new here or a long time reader, thanks so much for your support, and there’s already a ton of new blog posts in the works.
It sounds weird, but hear me out. Looking down the barrel at a lifetime of freedom ahead of you is kind of like winning the lottery. At first, you can’t believe your luck.
Next, you start to realise what this means. Your mind is flooded with options, ideas and opportunities. Now you actually start feeling a little overwhelmed. You now have too many choices! A first world problem, for sure, but a problem nevertheless.
And it’s the same with Financial Independence. Having complete freedom can be a little daunting. Because of this unique opportunity, you might start feeling like you have to do something ultra meaningful in a save-the-whole-world type of way.
But after a while, you realise that just having a couple of enjoyable things to work on that mean something to you, is plenty good enough. As long as you’re helping others or a cause in your own little way, you’ll derive a sense of meaning from that.
So you can then relax into your new life and work on things at your own pace. For example, here’s what our lifestyle looks like these days.
As crazy as it sounds, you’ll be going about your day, maybe doing some work stuff, or doing whatever it is you do, and then it hits you! You remember that all this stuff is optional because you’re Financially Independent.
Or sometimes you might be grumpy for whatever reason and then realise that you’re more fortunate than a large portion of the population, and the rest of the human race for that matter! These little sledgehammers to the forehead often catch me by surprise and remind me to be grateful.
Having been away from a typical workplace now for two years, we’re probably slightly different people than before. You become less tolerant of complaining and other whinging that tends to fill up a number of work-related conversations.
It’s also likely I’ve become more idealistic in my views about lifestyle and money. In addition, peer pressure tends to have less and less of an effect on you, because you’re not surrounded by it anymore. Not that it was ever really a big deal for me, as I always felt like a weirdo running my own race.
But as time goes on, it feels more and more like you’re driving down life’s highway in a different lane to other people. One that drives a bit slower and admires the trees.
Where the passengers calmly chat together in good spirits, as they look over and notice the go-go-go lane, where it’s everyone for themselves, high stress and the goal is to impress or overtake one another.
It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with what are probably the best things about Financial Independence. Many of these things I mentioned last year, but they’re worth touching on again!
No daily alarm clocks. Unlimited free time. Can avoid traffic. Very low stress. Time to smell the roses (literally). Get to be home with our dog. Freedom to choose what to work on and when to do it. More time to eat right and exercise. Plenty of sleep.
Our second year of FI was much more productive than the first. But I think that’s probably how it should be.
Nowadays we feel much more ‘normal’ than we did at the start. Having things to work on (whatever that might be) brings a sense of normality, purpose and focus, which is a good thing.
It still doesn’t feel real sometimes, to be honest. But it’s often a subtle reminder to appreciate the life we have.
There’s a fair bit of responsibility that comes with reaching FI. You’re 100% accountable for everything you do and don’t do with your new-found freedom.
Some people can become lost and depressed as they reach their ultimate goal, but have no thoughts or plans for what to do afterwards.
So it’s all up to you. You can reach Financial Independence, design your own life from scratch, and do whatever you want! There’s just one thing you’re not allowed to do…
What are you most looking forward to about Financial Independence? Let me know in the comments…