AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

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AnalyticalEngine
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AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Hello everyone, I have decided to make a new journal because I felt my old one was getting bogged down in old perspectives that I'm trying to outgrow. So I made a new journal with a new focus: how to find freedom to instead of freedom from.

Background
I'm 31 and currently work from home as a software developer. Annual income is ~$130k, NW ~$520k. Single with no kids and not looking to change that.
Been into the FI scene since 2012. Stopped tracking my expenses when corona hit but trying to get in the habit of doing that again.

New goals
Corona made me pick up several bad habits I need to shed and made me more aware of existing bad habits that have been dragging me down for years. In particular, I currently spend way, way too much time on screens/message boards/Discord/whatever. I believe this is largely a result of not doing engaging enough stuff IRL, but it's a problem. Quitting this is surprisingly difficult because I've realized I haven't solved the "freedom to" problem.

I've come to realize that I'm remarkably good at doing stuff I hate. That might sound useful, but it's actually caused me to spend years just tolerating boredom. I have more than enough money to go do something more engaging than what I do now, but I keep not making the changes I need to make because I keep just sucking up the default path.

And while this is also a symptom of depression (I think I've had high functioning depression for years now), I've come to realize that's because, frankly, I have no idea what I would rather be doing instead. It feels like my entire life has turned into the situation where you open the fridge, stare inside hungrily, but nothing in there looks worth eating.

So what I'm trying to do here is just get more engaged with life again. I want to solve the freedom to problem instead of focusing so much on freedom from problem. How to do that after years of learned helplessness is no easy task, but it's time I take this problem head on and really get engaged with what I even want to do.

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by ertyu »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Mon May 10, 2021 11:34 am
How to do that after years of learned helplessness is no easy task
this is the central problem of the salaryman to ere transition imo.

do you remember periods of your life when you were intensely engaged in activities that felt satisfying, enjoyable, and meaningful? What did that look like for you?

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Salaryman track really does instill a sense of learned helplessness. Especially in corporate jobs, I've never really cared about anything that's happening, and so have found it very easy to coast by for years by doing the bare minimum. This has trained me always to do the bare minimum, which is a habit I'm not thrilled about because it's leaked into the rest of my life too. I suppose we can't really separate work habits and life habits is the moral of the story.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun in college, both undergrad and grad school. I think it was a mix of genuinely enjoying the material, having the material being actually the right challenge level, the clear structure, the fact I also had a decent amount of downtime, and the way that college makes it easy to find friends. These things have always made me want to go back and get my PhD, but I've always decided against that because I really have zero plan to do anything with the PhD beside avoid the corporate world.

And further, now that I am 31, I am basically a Boomer compared to all the college students today, so I don't think I'd have quite the same experience any more due to generational differences.

lightfruit55
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by lightfruit55 »

Very relatable post and excited to see how you navigate this, as I am also on the same journey.

Right now, I'm leaning towards gaining more financial security first (at least while I can still ride the gravy train) before tackling the "freedom to" problem head on. For me, being able to tackle the "freedom to" problem properly requires sufficient financial security, time, mental space and
energy which is not possible to muster while one is still in "escape mode". I'm trying to take it a step at a time for now.

In the meantime, I'm just doing whatever I can to find contentment and ensure a well lived day outside of work. I'm also trying my best to enjoy work the best I can because it may be my last "corporate job". For now, finding a large looming purpose or intense zest4life can wait.

mountainFrugal
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by mountainFrugal »

My 2 cents. Depending on the field a PhD can open more doors for adjacent careers/jobs in academic, research, or corporate settings that you might not be able to swing. Part of the PhD is training you to become an independent researcher that can ask and answer their own research questions. Not that a PhD is required for this by any means, but it is a huge leg up if you want to have more freedom in the questions or ideas you pursue getting paid by someone else. If nothing seems really appealing for how you might like to spend your time (like your fridge analogy) then a PhD project could be a huge slog. I would also add that the range of ages for PhD students is much wider so no need to feel like a boomer, just a real world calibrated software dev.

bostonimproper
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by bostonimproper »

I feel the same way and am similarly struggling through very feelings of not knowing what I want to do or be absent the need of making money. I hope you find what you’re looking for and am eager to read through as you go on this journey.

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by ertyu »

We're all that elephant that was tied to a post since it was a kid and now thinks that if it's got rope around its leg it can't move even though it's now large and strong and can tear out the post if it would only put its mind to it

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Thanks everyone, I'll be sure to keep this journal updated as I go. I do think one of the hardest parts of going from salaryman -> ERE is training yourself to take initiative and not slack off any more. It's pretty ridiculous because I can remember times in my life when I wasn't this way, but I feel like years of the salaryman experience have trained me to just give up on life due to how the incentive structure of salaryman life is. Getting out of this is an uphill battle, but as the saying goes, there's no way out but through.

Anyway I am stealing AxelHeyst's excellent post here for a moment:
Phase 0: Essentials
Step1: Stop doing anything you don't need to. Address the big 3, do a minimalism purge, do a #buynothing, do the "stop all the things" practices to pare your life down to basics.
Step 2: Identify the Essential Activities in your life, the stuff basically everyone has to do. Food, shelter, transportation, your body, your mind, your social world. So the Activities are grocery shop and cook food; keep up the house/apt/van; maintain the car/bicycle; exercise - mobility, strength training, cardio; introspection/reflection, therapy, cognitive functions and emotional health; social skills; personal finance.
Step 3: Deliberately seek to level up in all of the Essential Life Skills until all of them are "pretty good" to "above average". Any deficiency in The Essentials is going to be a weakest link / Liebig's Law of the Minimum constraint. Learn to cook well, maintain your bicycle, stay fit without a gym membership, deepen relationships, start to heal old emotional baggage and improve cognitive function, read good books, etc.
I definitely have a lot of bad habits that fall into this department, so I'm going to attempt to purge them one at a time. One pitfall I've ran into eliminating bad habits before is that I have a tendency to just try to kill a habit off without replacing it with anything else, which always just leads to me picking up a new bad habit or relapsing into old bad habit. I think a lot of what's driving all of my bad habits is boredom and under-stimulation, especially since working from home, so I really need to keep this in mind.

The current bad habits I'm trying to kill off at the moment are:
1. Sugar and caffeine - Trying to set daily intake of both to zero. I intend to keep consuming these substances but only very rarely/for special occasions.
2. Internet usage - Huge problem that's gotten worse since pandemic. I spend way too much time online.
3. Eating out - I've made steady progress here, but this is another area where boredom has driven the bad habit.
4. Exercise - Another area with a lot of room for growth. I hate exercise so this one is an uphill battle but it's critically important.
5. Social involvement - Also gotten really bad due to the pandemic. I've gotten pretty socially isolated. What I've realized is how much I was relying on work for social interaction and how bad where I live now is for making friends. I live in one of those sad suburbs where no one ever talks to each other. Long term, I'm planning on moving, but I'm still writing it down as an action item.

It is really quite amazing how hard even phase zero is because you're fighting an uphill battle against the culture to even attain the bare minimum of personal healthy and wellness. But so it goes.

Green Pimble
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by Green Pimble »

I wanted to chime in and thank you for your perspective AE. I've been reading your journals for a while and often feel the little cogs whirring in my head as a result. I especially liked your post a while ago about climate change being, in many ways, an inevitable outcome of society as it stands, so mourning the 'lost future' is actually mourning our imagined future, not something that actually has been 'lost'. I'm paraphrasing and can't find the post right now, but I hope I've remembered your point correctly.
AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 9:25 am
...
4. Exercise - Another area with a lot of room for growth. I hate exercise so this one is an uphill battle but it's critically important.
...
The attitude of hating exercise is foreign to me, but I know it's common. Can you identify why you feel you hate it? Perhaps there is something to be said for finding the right exercise for you, and not being afraid to pay money to find it, at least initially?
When I rock climb or weight lift I can't help but be amazed at my own body; how strong and capable I am; with just practise I am able to do so much, to move weights and myself in space. I am not at the pinnacle of any sort of fitness or body ideal, but being in that space, working hard at something elemental, is a great source of joy. I wonder if there is an activity out there that will make you feel similarly :).

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by ertyu »

Green Pimble wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 8:00 pm
Can you identify why you feel you hate it?
I hate exercise. I don't claim to hate it for the same reasons AE does, but for me, on a physical level, I feel an aversion to doing it and struggling against that aversion and forcing myself to do it against the force of it is really hateful. It's the "white - knuckling" of resistance, if you will (white knuckling being the extreme suck one experiences when one struggles not to give in to a craving).

Then, on a psychological level, there's secondary feelings determined by past history. Times when being seen exercising by others has been associated with humiliation - which still gets triggered even when alone. Times when exercising reminds me of people who've tried to mock me or undermine me into being more manly -- this is a favorite in my family of origin; I'm a gobblogabgalab type who excelled at school and went to work abroad, thus securing more material success than the tradiitonally "manly" men of the previous generation who feel no qualms in undermining me in service of their own egos. So, as people are wont to do, I've picked up my automatic internal attitudes from them. Instead of enjoying how capable I am with practice, what arises automatically is hating and disparaging myself and feeling inferior for how unpleasant I find exercise.

The physical and psychological combine and arise all at once, which results in an experience which is intensely unpleasant - swimming in one's own shame and self-hatred in addition to the joy of white knuckling. Solving the "I hate exercise" problem isn't as simple as "Well, why don't you just find something you like."

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

@Green Pimble - For me, I think it's a combination of exercise being boring, me being pretty out of shape, and then getting bogged down in the minutia of logistical details since it's a new habit. (Ie, when do I shower? What do I do if it's raining? Petty stuff like that)

You have a good point though about feeling proud of what your body can do. I think modern life is very dissociative, and it's very easy to start to feel like a brain in a jar + "meat sack" body when you're used to cheap entertainment coming at you 24/7 from screens. But the reality is that you are your body, and trying to develop mindfulness/awareness/appreciation of what your physical body can do is important. I do think that's one benefit of playing sports as a kid--it develops this connection.

Green Pimble
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by Green Pimble »

ertyu wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 1:31 am
...The physical and psychological combine and arise all at once, which results in an experience which is intensely unpleasant - swimming in one's own shame and self-hatred in addition to the joy of white knuckling. Solving the "I hate exercise" problem isn't as simple as "Well, why don't you just find something you like."
That was very well articulated, and a real insight into the barriers that arise to exercise. Thank you. After reading your comment I reflected on my own dislike of certain types of exercise (ball sports primarily) and noted those feelings arise from childhood humiliation too.
AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 11:11 am
@Green Pimble - For me, I think it's a combination of exercise being boring, me being pretty out of shape, and then getting bogged down in the minutia of logistical details since it's a new habit. (Ie, when do I shower? What do I do if it's raining? Petty stuff like that)
I definitely understand the logistical 'glue' of a new habit. I'm not sure I've developed a new habit in almost 5 years at this point; changed old ones a bit, but all none that I can say are all new. What a scary realisation.
Contrary to ertyu's feelings, perhaps some of these are problems that can be sorted by finding the right exercise though. When I'm climbing I barely even realise I'm working until, a few hours in, I start falling off climbs and notice I'm exhausted.
AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 11:11 am
..I do think that's one benefit of playing sports as a kid--it develops this connection.
This is a really interesting point. I do think my own connection to my body has increased since exercising more, but feeling like a 'brain in a jar' is hard to overcome. I suspect it's rooted so deeply in our culture and language that it's hard to even notice it at times. Especially if you're a recovering technophile!

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by ertyu »

Not my journal, but this has been very helpful to me also: maybe I could look to distinguish the parts of my dislike that are therapy-grade and solved by navel gazing and those that are logistical and solved by finding the right exercise or developing a suitable exercise procedure. Thanks for the real estate, AE

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Stealing another quote from elsewhere on the forum:
Jacob wrote: WL5-6 barrier - stop valuing everything in terms of money.
I've been thinking about this a lot the past few days because I think the combination of WL5 mindset/salaryman mindset is holding me back. Valuing things in terms of money is something I do all the time and it leads to suboptimal outcomes. Examples:

"Oh I'll just play this video game because video games are cheap!" -> Yeah but you have to value your time more than the cost of the video game, plus video game requires various equipment type items that could be holding you down or creating holes in your system design.

"This takeout coffee costs $5 and I make like way too much money to worry about that" -> Caffeine addiction, plastic cups creating environment waste, etc

Anyway I'm trying to notice when I'm doing this and make more active substitutions. One problem I've had for years now is that I'm very good at just not spending money but then I don't really add anything back in. It's like just eliminating stuff from your life until you have nothing and then you're not doing anything, which is obviously not ideal. This is one reason I don't know if I'm quite ready for a buy-nothing challenge because what I really need is an "AE leave your house and go do things" challenge.

Energy
More and more I'm finding my biggest limiting factor is energy/exhaustion. I get tired very easily, which is made worse by things like work taking my already limit energy and not really being what I want to do with my time. I think this is honestly a product of the depression and being in an under-stimulating environment, but I'm not so sure how to fix this.

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by ertyu »

Another one: "this diy isn't worth it, it would cost you [very little] / [the same] to just buy the finished product" with the corrolary "only diys that save you a sufficient amount are worth engaging in"

mountainFrugal
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by mountainFrugal »

You might be able to come up with a new metric for yourself. For example, you could have a consumption/creation metric for how you are spending your time not spending money. Writing in your journal is creating. Playing video games is likely just consumption. They both do not require money necessarily, but one is more consumption focused and the other is creative focused.

AxelHeyst
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by AxelHeyst »

Hi AE, I'm babysitting renders all day and I wrote you a book of pure unsolicited advice. To preface it: I don't *know* if what I'm recommending is the right thing for you. Maybe it's garbage advice for who you are. Most people only give reasonable advice, and I see one of my roles around here as on of the folks who gives unreasonable advice to bring some Balance to the Force.

The rest of this post is written as if I'm some life coach who actually knows you, just because I'm too lazy to go back and edit it to be more obsequious. I don't actually presume to know what's best for you... you know what I mean.

--

In that post of mine you quoted, I wrote it as if the process was linear. I don't think it needs to be and I definitely don't think it "should" be. The point there was just to not neglect the fundamentals -- don't think you can jump to WL7 and skip the step where you figure out how to clothe yourself for less than $1,000/year. I don't think you have to have all your fundamentals dialed in order to do work on figuring out your Freedom-To motivation though.

If figuring out what your freedom-to is is your current primary goal, farting around with figuring out how to force yourself to go to the gym/do kb swings in your living room might be a distraction, AND figuring out your freedom-to motivation might actually be the shortest path to a healthy, consistent exercise practice, as well as all the rest of it.

The thing that comes to my mind when catching up on your journal is the notion of environment design. Certain environments make certain actions/lifestyles easy, and others harder. If you live above a donut shop in Indiana, it's going to be massively difficult to curb your sweet tooth. If you live in an ashram, it'd going to be massively difficult to *not* meditate several hours a day. If you have a really comfortable computer setup in your house with enterprise class internet, it's going to be really difficult to not spend a lot of time on your computer. Particularly if you've been in a "computers: it's what we do" groove for years.

When I read what fundamentals your trying to work on, I see patterns of actions that are in alignment with your environment. You spend a lot of time on screens because you have a dope setup with fast internet in your home, and your work is screen-centric. Etc etc. Also, it seems like you've been doing the same basic thing for a long time. You're probably bored AF. I think you're dead on about being conditioned to do things that suck - I absolutely was as well. In fact I took pride in it, being the guy who could handle more suffering than anyone else. Gets old after a while, doesn't it?

My recommendation is to significantly change your environment. It sounds like a big lift, but it's just one decision, and then your actions will come into alignment with that one decision-environment change. Instead of fighting against the current of your present environment with a dozen different little bits and bobs of lifestyle tweaks and improvements. I often feel that doing some big-seeming thing is way easier than doing a hundred small things in the same old environment.

The environment-as-design-factor idea is one thing, and then there's this thing:
Range by David Epstein: wrote: When she compiled her findings, the central premise was at once simple and profound: we learn who we are only by living, and not before. Ibarra concluded that we maximize match quality throughout life by sampling activities, social groups, contexts, jobs, careers, and then reflecting and adjusting our personal narratives. And repeat. If that sounds facile, consider that it is precisely the opposite of a vast marketing crusade that assures customers they can alight on their perfect matches via introspection alone.
Probably you have some idea what you want to do, some vague sense of direction. Or maybe you just have some obvious "no's". Either way, combining the environmental design notion with the "we learn who we are by living" notion, my recommendation is this:

Change your environment to something different, but do it in a way that you're not locked in to it. Do it for 3-6 months. Then do something else, a different environment. Learn as you go. Don't worry too much about getting it "right" on the first guess - in fact, expect not to. Go for breadth. You'll learn a ton about yourself in a short amount of time, and your guesses will get better. At the beginning you'll mostly learn all kinds of things you never want to do again, but that's part of the process. Your life is art, and you've only done like three or four sketches so far. You need to produce more stuff to get good at it.

Some nuts and bolts considerations:
Your net worth is half a million, and iirc you own your house/apt outright. Quit your job/close out your active projects, rent out your house/apt, leave, and take a "gap year". You can come back to work if you want to later. Or see if you can get a long leave of absence, if the idea of quitting fills you with enough horror to prevent you from actually doing it.
Change your environment drastically. If you have any notions of anything that sounds cool, do that. If you don't, have a good friend pick something for you. Or we can. Or make a script where you enter a bunch of ideas into a database and it gives you one at random. Have a "my next adventure" party with a colored smoke flare thingy (don't set your state on fire though, please).

I can't possibly tell you what you ought to change your environment *to*, but the key is it has to be different. Don't just move to an apartment in some other city and set up a dope computer rig there and keep doing the same thing. Four walls is four walls.

Google "james altucher ten ideas a day", the tl;dr is write down ten ideas a day, even crazy ideas, just get 'em on paper. But write down ten ideas for how you can change your environment drastically. Do this for a week you have 70 ideas. You'll probably start to see some patterns.

Making the call to quit/take a gap year is hard. I actually wouldn't know exactly how hard it is because I never pulled it off. I had to wait around to get laid off, the coward's way out. Sounds like you're actually a valuable employee so you can't count on that method. Don't be like me; pull the trigger yourself.

Here's 10 ideas for what you could do from me: they're probably all terrible. Crank out 100 ideas, though, and a few might get into your brain and in four months later you're there.

1. WWOOF somewhere else. No/few screens, the work is exercise, and you meet cool people who are into healthy stuff.
2. Go vanlife. Don't build out your own - just buy a used van already kitted out, try not to trash it, and then sell it for basically what you paid for it in a few months.
3. Buy/rent a little shack out in the New Mexico desert like Mike whatshisface, and read books and walk around.
4. Sign up for a training session for something you've always wanted to do or maybe just been a little curious about - motorcycle riding, western pistol shooting, skydiving instructing, rafting, ice climbing, horsie riding, archery, gardening, welding, woodworking, sculpture, weaving, whatever, and then set up your environment so you ONLY DO THAT THING. Get a motorcycle and ride around North America. Sign up for the wester pistol shooting tournament series. Get a job at a dude ranch. Go live in an urban garden/some homesteaders land. Sweep the floor of a makerspace in exchange for shop access and sleep in the loft. The training helps you a) not be such a damned noob for so long, which is painful, b) gets you invested in the thing, and c) gets you connections in that world that you can leverage for the rest of your thing.
5. Volunteer at an ashram.
6. Get a job as a pastry chef.
7. Get a job - any job, front desk person is fine - at a gym.
8. Come up with some kind of strange quest (Chris Guillabo, the happiness of pursuit) and just get after that.
9. Volunteer for organizations that you're into - homeless shelter, trailwork, etc.
10. Throw a dart at a map and walk or bicycle there. You don't need to train for long journeys, you just need to start, go slow, and you're in shape by the third week or so. "To Shake the Sleeping Self" is a solid read along those lines, as well as Alastair Humphreys.
11. For any of the ideas that don't involve shelter, but involve staying in one place, make sure the shelter you set up is different than what you're used to. Move into a housing coop, group house, ecovillage, squat, or at least a place with roommates, the weirder the better (i.e. DONT move in with a bunch of techies. Find some people growing weed in the basement and playing in funkpop bands at night, rollerderby people, starving artists, hippiepunks, anything but people you're used to).

My list was a little dirtbag centric because, well, that's just the sort of stuff that floats around my head. I don't mean to imply that only dirtbaggy or "out there" ideas are what you *should* do - do whatever you want, as long as you're getting a big environment change.

I don't recall if you consider yourself FI or not. It's possible that your gap year / environment change / living as learning experiments, if it results in you figuring out what your freedom-to actually is, will show that your freedom-to costs like $400/mo, or even is some kind of activity that people actually pay you for. In either case, bam, you're FI. If you figure out that you actually need a bit more money to pull off your freedom-to, fine, go back to work and crank it out - but now you've got your motivation properly set.

7Wannabe5
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Another common exercise towards “stoke” or “purpose” is to consider the activities, people or things you loved when you were a child. For instance, I can remember feeling sorry for good books which nobody except me checked out from the library when I was a child, and that same feeling fueled my “stoke” for dealing in rare books. I also liked playing “witch” in “the woods” and that fuels my stoke for permaculture, etc etc

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by ertyu »

For completeness, to anyone else who is reading this thread in search of stoke, "I could do anything if I only knew what it was" by Barbara Sher is a very good book. It's written for people who are searching for a well-fitting career, but the lines of thought and principles still apply to a general search for meaningful activity in life.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 5 - Finding Freedom To

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

@AxelHeyst - The book of pure unsolicited advice is much appreciated and helpful. It got me thinking about all the things I could be doing instead of what I'm doing now. The fact is, I have half a million dollars, no kids, and no spouse, so I can literally do whatever I want at the drop of the dime. I have nothing holding me back here but my own fears and mindset.

As an experiment, I called in sick from work one day this week and decided to try a day of "not being a salaryman." What I ended up doing was writing an entire 21 page script to the first issue of a new comic book series I've had planned for awhile. I also reached out to some of my artist friends and found one of them who needed someone to do the interior colors/letters in a potential indie comic. They wanted me to be the color/letter artist for that issue, and they're willing to pay me the industry standard rate for this (which is ~$40/page, and given that it takes me about two hours to color a page, this is ~$15-$20 an hour).

And while I hardly think this means I have an illustrious future in the comic book industry, what it does show is that I'm capable of more than I think I am, and that I probably have a lot of skills other than Corporate Software Engineer that could make me money. It did show me too that I'm perfectly capable of avoiding digital distractions when I'm doing something I care about. (ie, trying to write)

There are a lot of lessons I can learn from my freelance artist friends. They are constantly looking for work, and because they get paid per job, they're not incentivized to sit there and rot away in the same way a salaryman is. These people are much better at networking and selling themselves than your average salaryman is, which are both skills I could stand to learn.

Your post also got me thinking about if I sold everything I owned and tried living in a van or an RV for a year. I could easily rent out the condo, and living in such a small space forces you to be diligent about what you own and the systems you use. I might make this a goal I work toward because even if I fail to get there, it's a very clear and obvious way to start doing the things I've been wanting/needing to do anyway.

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