RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Where are you and where are you going?
Western Red Cedar
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by Western Red Cedar »

I'd also recommend Shawn Achor's Ted Talk if you haven't seen it. He's a psychologist from Harvard who studies the relationship between success and happiness. I read his book, The Happiness Advantage, which is great, but he hits all of the main points in his talk:

https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_t ... n#t-672772

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Thanks for your insights regarding transitioning back to a conventional lifestyle. I'm still planning to begin implementing "Dirtbag ERE" in the next 3-9 months, depending on how things roll out at home with work opportunities and money.

I have done slowtravel before; I believe I have some journal entries referring to my post-high school hobo adventures. I'm definitely aware of the Grass is Greener Syndrome - long-term solo travel can be difficult and isolating. That said, every path contains some degree of suffering, and I think I prefer the suffering contained in this path. I also plan to do a lot of serious meditation training as a part of my dirtbaggery, which in my experience allows for a certain happiness independent of conditions.

I'd love to find paid opportunities, but we'll see what happens. I've already taught a lot of English and want to make sure my time fits into my ERE Web of Goals. Teaching more English might earn me more money, but if I'm not actively developing the skills that allow me to spend less there may be a tradeoff between resiliency and ability to reach long-term goals.

I also want to make sure I am not just dirtbagging for my own benefit, but that however I live my life is in service to others.

------------------------

Just watched the TED Talk! Excellent talk, he is a great speaker and hilarious!

Thank you for your insights; best of luck on your journey!

AxelHeyst
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by AxelHeyst »

I think you alluded to this in a recent message, but: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is more people who are doing what makes them come alive.” ([someone/everyone])

So yeah - certainly try to avoid being a useless self indulgent piece of shit. But something I’m working with at the moment is to not go overboard on self-annihilation in the search to produce more value to the world than I capture. What *you* want and what benefits you should not be discounted in the search for meaningful occupation in the service of something greater than yourself.
Last edited by AxelHeyst on Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ertyu
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by ertyu »

If you care about active skill development some combination of volunteering/woofing etc might indeed be best.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Good quote. It's one of those that I have seen attributed from everyone to the Buddha to Abraham Lincoln to Elvis.

I definitely want a relative degree of competency in permaculture, cooking, bike repair, etc, in the event that shit hits the fan and we live through the apocalypse. Though the extent of mastery I want is debateable.

My cooking is getting a lot better. I can usually improvise something based on the available ingredients, but recently I have been working through a cookbook and cooking skills book to hone my skills and understanding of various ingredients.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Jobs, Plans, and the Next 3-6 Months

I've decided I'm going to accept the offer with the housing restoration guys. After having several conversations, there is still a small sketch factor, but I'm willing to dive in and find out what's going on. I will be earning a flat fee of $150 per contract signed, plus 7% commission. After 10 contracts, the commission rises to 10%. The guy says he believes I can reasonably secure 2 contracts per week and earn $10,000 in the first 10 contracts. We would only be working from 4-7 pm each day. There are also three days of training, which I'll exclude from the calculation. If we say I can be expected to earn $10,000 in 5 weeks, working three hours a day Monday-Friday, that's $10,000 in 125 hours, which comes out at $80/hour.

Here's where the potential sketch factor comes in: That's a lot of fucking money for someone with no experience in this field. So it is very possible that they're exaggerating about how easy it is to pull contracts. Also, there is no hourly wage and 100% of my earnings are tied up in contract income, so I could come out of this whole thing without having made any money off of it. This is either just a remarkably good opportunity that has fallen into my lap, or there's still something a bit fishy about what they're telling me. I am willing to dive in, and just be ready to pull the plug if I haven't made any money after 2-3 weeks. What I am risking here is my time and the opportunity cost, but I'm willing to proceed, be wary, and see what happens.

I still have my nonprofit gig, which is sending me a $240 check every week, and my online class, which are my main responsibilities right now. I will spend the next 2-3 weeks figuring out whether this construction gig is legit, then make some decisions for the rest of the year. The Vipassana invitation is still open for October, but I may see if I can push it to December depending on circumstances. As for spring, I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I will have two classes left to finish my associate degree, both of them easy humanities classes. I would like to get the associate's done just to have some feeling of completion with the whole college thing, though I'm not really looking forward to another semester of taking classes just 'cause. Depending on circumstances, I may be able to crank the construction job for 3-6 months, save up cash, and have a large FU stash to pursue my Mexico/India adventures by the time the semester is over. Alternatively, I could take the classes online and find a warm permaculture farm to volunteer on.

Having decided to accept this additional responsibility, I can really see how my mindset shifts depending on how much is on my plate. I now feel a lot more focused and organized, similar to how I did when I was taking nursing classes full-time earlier this year. It seems that I really do need external pressure to perform my best and stay focused on a couple of tasks; I believe C_L has commented on this. Perhaps this is yet another indication that my long-term goal should really be semi-ERE at a high level instead of full FI. (Only taking jobs that I really like?)

Skill Building, The Renaissance Ideal, and Jack-of-All-Trades Syndrome

It has occurred to me that by more directly pursuing semi-ERE/dirtbaggery in my 20s instead of being a patient salaryman and hitting FI at 30, I risk becoming a dilettante rather than a Renaissance Man. I am by nature very curious and always wanting to learn about everything (which is part of the appeal of ERE), so I have consistently found that in order to grow, I have to consciously choose to focus on one thing and cut out all the fluff. I believe in earlier parts of my journal I have referred to this as "becoming a generalist one specialization at a time."

We live in a world with infinite potential learning but only a finite lifespan, so one must make decisions about what things they don't really give a shit about. Reflection upon mortality allows one's priorities to percolate to the top of one's consciousness. So I must ask myself what things are really worth learning and what is better to replace with social capital, or another way of covering up my incompetence.

Skills I Give a Shit About:
Meditation
Foreign Languages
Cooking
Permaculture
Music (Piano and Voice)
Dancing
Writing

Skills I Don't Give a Shit About:
Computer Programming
Math
Guitar

That's my list for now. It may change in the future. The main purpose of this exercise is to eliminate less interesting things from my consciousness. I almost feel bad excluding computer programming, guitar, and math, as I have enjoyed all of those, but if I had the option of being a piano virtuoso or a genius mathematician I think I would choose the former. As life is finite, I can't be expected to master every field.

The problem of where to focus one's energy is compounded by the vast ignorance possessed by an individual human. For example, two years ago I took a 10 day silent Vipassana course on a whim. It was one of the most powerful and profound experiences of my life, and I can now hardly understand how people survive without it. Where else does my ignorance blind me to the gems of the universe? The only thing resembling an answer I have is to explore, take risks, be curious and adventurous, and hope you get lucky.

Wheaton Levels and Upgrading the ERE Consciousness

I have had some communication with @AxelHeyst recently discussing the Wheaton levels and their relevance as a guide to ERE. From what I understand, Jacob created them with the intention of using them as a communication tool, a way of figuring out where someone's understanding of personal finance was at and guiding them towards appropriate resources. As such, it may not be useful for me to look at them and use them as a sign of where I need to go next. Particularly as someone who discovered ERE at age 19, my path will not match someone who has been a salaryman for 10 years and finds ERE afterward. So they may hold no relevance to me at all.

In my more enlightened moments I find myself starting to understand the systems theory stuff behind ERE, but these are rare and the extent to which I have fully grokked ERE has really just resulted in me focusing more on fixing my own shit and cooking for myself. I've gotten a lot better at DIY stuff over the past year, but I feel a bit stuck. @jacob, could you comment on this or recommend a book that would be relevant to me at my current stage of development? Does anyone else have any insights?

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the update.

Peaceably,
RF

AxelHeyst
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by AxelHeyst »

Well I don't know that the WL has *no* relevance for you, just that it'd probably be a mistake to view it as the One Ladder you must ascend.

DIY is... a mindset. It's thinking "pff, I don't need to buy that, I bet I could make it myself, and it'd be cooler..." to an annoyingly thorough degree. To the degree that you cultivate that mindset, the rest takes care of itself.

How are you stuck? Are you trying DIY projects, and screwing them up and getting frustrated? Are you having a hard time thinking up stuff to DIY?

Find DIY'ers on youtube and follow their channels. There's all sorts of inspiration on there, from the Mythbusters guys, to vanbuild conversions, I'm sure a lot of permaculture focused skills videos are essentially DIY (How to Build a raised bed, how to construct a Hugelkulture). The creativity of the people with successful channels always inspires me.

Also, a really great way to learn DIY skills is this: a) Decide you need a thing (like a bike), and then intentionally b) Get a broken thing, forcing you to fix the thing in order to actually use it. Or, if the thing you need can be thought of as an assembly (a bunch of parts stuck together somehow), seek to gather the parts yourself and assemble them. Example: I need saddlebags for my motorcycle for some trips. Moto bags are heinously expensive (like $600!!). So I bought some military surplus duffel bags, and a roll of nylon webbing, and a spare parts baggie of plastic webbing clips, all for maybe $20, and fiddled around for 30 minutes, and now have perfectly functional saddlebags on my moto.

So I would say think small, and build up. Make a list of some stuff you need or want soon, and think of ways to DIY that stuff instead (post the list up here and we can chime in). Instead of thinking "skills, skills, I gotta get some skills, hey man you got some skills I can learn??" just incept your thought process with "how can I rig this up myself instead?"

ETA: your hobbies are "speaking" (languages) and "sitting quietly with your eyes closed", and all your stuff can be piled on to one dresser. That's not a lot of material to work with in the DIY angle of things. So, you might be stuck because you just don't have anything to DIY!

AxelHeyst
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by AxelHeyst »

Oh also: what’s your motivation for DIY? It’s different for everyone:

.are you a cheap bastard and get a thrill out of bodging something for $2.30 that costs $4,000 on the market?
.have super specific requirements that no commercial product fulfills? (This is also called “inventing”)
.for the love of it? Meaning, fixing and making stuff is essentially a form of personal creative expression/art?
.because a book said you should? ;)

Being honest about your motivation will help guide you towards appropriate projects.

ertyu
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by ertyu »

Can you write more about your experiences with meditation and how you progressed along? Would be interesting. Thanks.

horsewoman
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by horsewoman »

Either I misunderstood you or you are contradicting yourself in the "skill building" paragrap... On the one hand you are afraid of becoming an unfocused dilettante, on the other hand you mention that you had one of the most profound experiences in your life while following a whim.

In my mind that's a contradiction.
But then again, I love being a dilettante in countless areas! Most of the things I'm reasonably good at where discovered on a whim and I often got told that its not profitable to pursue this or that new interest. Or that I'm wasting my time... At 40 I see that this was well-meaning but unsound advice I was given in my younger years.

Another thing to chew on - what might look like dilettantism to you or to a pro in any given field looks very different to someone who knows nothing about this thing.
One example - most people I encounter in my office work are in awe of my photoshop skills, but I know that objectively, they are laughably small. But still, I look terribly skilled to my office clerc and social worker coworkers when I whip up smart business cards for our team in 15 minutes.

You never know how any given skill will be profitable to you some day. Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) calls it his "talent stack" and he writes a lot about how his unique set of skills made his success possible, even though he was a terrible artist in the beginning. He went a little bit off the rails in the last few years but his career is fascinating from a renaissance point of view.
his books are very entertaining and I've taken lots of inspiration from them over the years.

TLDR, don't scoff on being a dilettante! It's not a bad way to live :)

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

@AxelHeyst: I don't feel particularly stuck in the skill development realm of things; rather, I have not started to intuitively grok all of the systems theory stuff. I've gotten a little better at fixing my bike and a hell of a lot better at cooking, but I feel "stuck" in the sense that my deep, intuitive understanding of ERE is mostly "DIY shit and try not to spend money" rather than the system of interrelated parts that Jacob talks about.

My motivation for the cooking stuff is because it significantly increases my quality of life. Other DIY stuff is mostly to save money, and dammit, because a book told me to :lol:. You got me there.

@ertyu I can talk for literally hours about meditation. A summary is that I went to a 10 day Vipassana retreat on a whim. Total silence, expected to meditate for about 11 hours a day. It's hard to describe exactly what happened because it mostly has to do with understanding consciousness and perception - like trying to describe an LSD trip to someone that's never done any drugs. It was EXTREMELY difficult, but I learned a ton. I have now kept up the practice for two years, and am a significantly happier, more compassionate, and more in tune with my emotions as a result.

@horsewoman Fair point about the contradiction. Though I think the paradox exists externally, it's not something I'm inventing. I need is a better heuristic for when to explore something based on pure whim or interest and when to focus and really work at becoming good at something. I by nature am drawn to go broad, so if I ever want to make progress at something I really have to buckle down to get it done.

AxelHeyst
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by AxelHeyst »

OH - my bad, I thought "stuck" modified "DIY skills", but I see it modified "internalized ERE mindset". Well disregard my while DIY rant then!

My only insight with respect to that is this:
.Re-read the book often (I get something new out of it every time)
.Study the Wheaton and Yields and Flows threads, and the other threads linked from those.
.Study all the peripheral books mentioned (systems theory books)
.Try experiments to force new behavior, such as Buy-Nothing Months/Years, or eating for $100 for one month, etc. These experiments force insights in non-obvious ways, which is the real point (not the behavior).
.Be patient and put in the time. Internalized understanding of anything is a function of consistent effort over time. The best book to read on internalizing ERE is... the book Jacob wrote a decade ago, obviously. But "words only get you to the foot of the path" (Musashi)

"Stuck" can be an indication that you are enduring a 'long step' - a period of time where you feel like no progress is being made, and then 'all of a sudden' you level up. I liken it to the phase change process between, for example, a liquid and a gas. You add heat to water to get it to 212F, and then you keep adding heat, but it keeps being 212F liquid water. Keep adding heat, keep adding heat... BAM it's steam.

horsewoman
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by horsewoman »

RoamingFrancis wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:20 am
I by nature am drawn to go broad, so if I ever want to make progress at something I really have to buckle down to get it done.
I know what you mean with being "broad by nature" - I like to say about myself that I draw with a wide brush.
When I was twenty-ish I struggled a lot with this, because our society is so heavily in favor of specialists. And there was me, never being able to stay with anything longer than 2 years before getting bored out of my mind and switching gears (again). My family worried about me because I "never finished anything", heck - I worried a lot about myself and my family reinforced that worry.

The thing is however, there are people - some terms/concepts that helped me embrace my personality are "Scanner personalities" or "mulitpotentials" - who are simply wired this way. I don't know if you are one of them, but I often wished I knew sooner about that. Would have saved me a lot of second guessing myself!

These days I see it like this - changing gears and learning new stuff (on a "good enough" level") is MY specialty. This is progress in itself, because I never stop learning. I'm also pretty good/fast at learning by now, because I learn new stuff all the time - a valuable skill.
With this broad approach you might never be the best piano player there is, but you may be a musician who can sing in quite a few languages while playing piano. There are precious little instrumentalists who dare to sing at all while playing, so being able to do so in multiple languages (without sounding stupid because you only learned the words without understanding them or have good pronunciation - you should hear me sing in Spanish, it's terrible!) will make you pretty unique - I have such a friend, and she's pretty successful.

What I'm trying to say - if this "buckling down" - thing does not work for you in the long run, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Give it an honest try but keep in mind, it is not for everyone.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Had the first day of the new job. Seems like a good gig, but I would mostly be using it as a launchpad to accumulate enough money to jump off and have the time/energy to develop other modules of my ERE system.

@AxelHeyst The experiments to force new behavior is a great idea. I think I will try something like this to force a level-up in my cooking skills - maybe forcing myself to use unfamiliar ingredients or spend a certain amount of money on food. I classify myself as an intermediate cook, but want to get good. I have Samin Nosrat's book on hold at the public library. Cooking is definitely one of the skills that has significantly increased my quality of life. Does anyone have advice for getting to more advanced levels of cooking? Would it be worth it to try to get a gig cooking in a restaurant, or is that totally different from home cooking?

@horsewoman "Multipotentials" sounds 100% like me; it seems we're wired the same way. In my wiser moments, I like to say my specialty is the "art of living." You have described me perfectly - I am at best a mediocre guitar player, but I'm definitely the most multilingual folk singer I've ever met XD

As for the buckling down, I'd like to finish the associate's because I'm so close and just want to get a sense of completion with the whole college thing. Afterwards I'll fuck off and do whatever I want.

AxelHeyst
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by AxelHeyst »

JnG just started a thread on leveling up cooking skills.

Sometimes I think "multipotentials" are just *honest* normal people. I know this isn't completely true, but I have a number of "multipotential" friends and it seems they're just honest when they get bored, stop, and do something else. Whereas me, I'll just keep doing the same thing over and over again even though it's like making paint dry by blowing on it. My point is, a lot of people who "stick with" things aren't actually getting deeper, they're just doing the same thing over and over again. Jacob talks about this in the book, there being a difference between "gaining 5 years of experience" in a field, and "learning something in 5 days, and doing that over and over again for 5 years". It'd be much better to "bounce around" and learn a ton of different things to the 5-day level, than stick with one thing for years but only learn it to the 5 day level.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Good point. The sigmoid curve and diminishing returns on additional effort is worth considering here as well.

classical_Liberal
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by classical_Liberal »

I think this goes back to the depth and breadth idea. It's best to choose from one of those options in a given realm based on preference, talents, or whatever floats your boat.

If I decide to be a "runner", am I going to sprint, marathon, or interval train for a sport? Now, you can "do all" in the sense that there is overlap in the training and conditioning. You can become a good overall runner with breadth. However, if you want to make a great marathon time, you need to focus on that specific depth of training. If you do that though, you probably won't have the explosive speed needed to be a great soccer player or sprinter.

I don't think you need to know the answer of depth or breadth going into an activity. I think, once you try something you get a feel for what you like and what you're good at, that's the time to pick your route.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Here's some updates:

I'm going all in on the opportunity with the housing restoration. I've finished training and will start actual work tomorrow. Only time will tell how ripe the market actually is, but my gut is telling me it's a good opportunity. I'm one of the first people on board a new company, am being mentored by a guy in his 60s, and they're willing to give me December off to go to a Vipassana center and focus on my meditation practice. With this job I'll hopefully be able to move out of the house soon.

Miscellaneous note: I sometimes envy the INTJs on this forum for their ability to churn through books and master high-level concepts quickly. I have to keep in mind that I can be just as smart, but my optimal learning style is different :)

I realize I haven't reported my spending in quite a while. Here's my August numbers:

$250 rent
$31 Workaway subscription
$12.99 LingQ subscription
$5 to support a podcast I like
$5 for a sandwich

The LingQ subscription and the sandwich were unnecessary.

wolf
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by wolf »

What's your optimal learning style?

Western Red Cedar
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Re: RoamingFrancis' Path to ERE

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@RF

Congratulations on the new housing gig. I suspect you'll learn a lot any way it turns out. I'm not sure if you ever found any resolution to your question/concerns about the moral or ethical aspect of investing in equities. I have a couple of family members who don't invest for those reasons. I had the same reservations for many years as well.

I was actually going to recommend you look into housing or development as an alternative investment strategy. This can be profitable and highly beneficial to communities. Developers often get a bad reputation (and many deservedly so), but I think there is a dramatic need for small-scale local investors and developers to work in local communities. These aren't the major players doing hundreds or thousands of lots on greenfields. These are the locals bootstrapping it and rehabilitating historic buildings, buying single family homes or small multifamily units and renovating them, building accessory dwelling units, or developing a house or two on a vacant land in the city that isn't profitable enough for large developers to look at. Traditional financing makes this type of development pretty challenging, but if you have some insider knowledge on how the development process works you could be quite successful. A really good opportunity for someone to flex some ERE skills.

The Incremental Development Alliance has more information, and I've seen a couple of webinars with the founder which were really interesting:

https://www.incrementaldevelopment.org/

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