Axel Heyst's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I've been thinking about L5 the past few days. I was struggling with conceptualizing L6 solidly, and finally took that as a sign that I'm not ready - I'm consciously incompetent at it, because every time I try to explain it to myself, I find myself contradicting myself and not really understanding why. I took that, and noticing recently some probably pretty rookie shit going on in my expenses game, as a sign that I needed to step back from L6.

So I turned my attention to L5, and immediately felt like I was having a "meatier" experience working with the concepts. I also found some myself pulling in concepts from other fields, which I took as an encouraging sign.


Skippable Preamble
I've read the Wheaton Scale thread and the Yields and Flows threads a number of times by now. Some standout points: the Wheaton ERE scale is not intended as a "lesson plan" or a set of incremental instructions. It is intended as a tool to be able to approximately locate people where they are at in terms of Focus (the most salient column) or mindset, so that others can gauge at what level to communicate with that person. It is not intended as a "this is the way to ERE mastery" road map, necessarily.

It's also not intended as a karate belt system. The analogy that suits best is that of swordmasters: the clues and indices of one's mastery of swordcraft can be subtle and counter-intuitive, and it is not straightforward to categorize individuals (especially as more advanced swordsmasters delve in to behaviors that seem to break the "rules" of beginner/intermediate practice).

Also, I'm developing understanding as I work through this stuff, so I'm mostly just parroting things people said in those threads in my own words. I'm probably still using the table incorrectly.

Focus
Okay, the guiding statement of what distinguishes an L5 individual is that they are focused on "Pareto optimization of expenses for maximum life enjoyment".

From a web-of-goals perspective, an L5 is focused on financial optimization of nodes (whereas L6 is focused on yields/flows of non-financial assets, and L7 is focused on a consilient overall web structure).

I actually misunderstood "nodes" for a while, because I was getting "nodes" and "effects/goals" confused. At one point I had listed "shelter", "Transportation", "Adventure", "social" as nodes. But I think that's wrong. "Nodes" are "specific sets of actions", from the book. "Adventure" isn't an action, adventure is an *effect* of a specific set of actions (e.g. climbing up the side of a mountain). And in ERE slang, effect=goal.

So, "climbing" is a node/module with an effect/goal of "adventure", also "health", also "social", as is "owning my truck" (effect/goal = transportation, also adventure, also shelter), "Owning Serenity" (effect/goal=shelter, adventure, minimalism), etc. However, I think diving deep in to those effects/goals, or rather being focused on them, is starting to stray in to L6 territory. Which I might be getting wrong. I'll leave that alone for now.

The main point is that L5 is still quite focused on financial optimization - how much money is flowing in to and out of the nodes of one's life.

Breaking down the focus statement
Pareto Optimization. I'm no economist, so my understanding of Pareto optimization comes from spending an hour with the wikipedia article. The gist is:
wikipedia wrote:Pareto efficiency or Pareto optimality is a situation where no individual or preference criterion can be better off without making at least one individual or preference criterion worse off.
I initially got hung up on the definition of pareto efficiency as "a new situation where some agents will gain, and no agents will lose", paired with the criticism of the principle as limited in that it did not address whole-society welfare or equality, which I thought might be thought of as the overall goals of my self. Because the "nodes" being optimized aren't agents - they're specific behaviors or sets of actions that, together, form the gestalt of "what I do, and thus what I get, out of life" -- it seemed like Pareto efficiency wasn't the right model to use in lifestyle design.

But I dug a little deeper, and between focusing on optimizing "preference criterion" and "multi-objective optimization", it's back to making sense. This definition in particular:
wikipedia wrote:A solution is called nondominated, Pareto optimal, Pareto efficient or noninferior, if none of the objective functions can be improved in value without degrading some of the other objective values.

Without additional subjective preference information, all Pareto optimal solutions are considered equally good. Researchers study multi-objective optimization problems from different viewpoints and, thus, there exist different solution philosophies and goals when setting and solving them. The goal may be to find a representative set of Pareto optimal solutions, and/or quantify the trade-offs in satisfying the different objectives, and/or finding a single solution that satisfies the subjective preferences of a human decision maker (DM).

In short, Pareto Optimization as applied in engineering fields (aka to a single product, process, or system, that has some set of objectives) rather than economics (aka optimizing resource allocation to 'agents'/citizens) makes sense to me.

I found comfort in the statement that "...there usually exist multiple Pareto optimal solutions for multi-objective optimization problems", I think called a "Pareto Front" or "Pareto Frontier". The article discusses using numerical methods to identify the Pareto Front, and then handing that set of solutions of to a human decision-maker for subjective selection processes. The comfort comes from the notion that for any set of objective values, there might exist multiple equally-good solutions. Perhaps a potential lifestyle approach to a Pareto Front is to move between different Pareto-optimal lifestyle designs, purely for the novelty of it.

So - Pareto Optimization is a process of making as financially efficient as possible some set of actions that result in some desired output (life enjoyment, but we're getting ahead of ourselves here).

Expenses: At L5, this means simply the expense of actual money. Time has to be a factor in L5 thinking as well, even though it's not explicitly called out in the table. So I'm going to include "the expense of money and/or time" in this word.

Maximum life enjoyment:
Okay, this is obviously a huge huge concept. What is enjoyment? happiness? Fulfillment? Joy? A life worth living? It's an easy mistake to see the word "enjoyment" and think only "okay I'm going to do stuff that makes me happy". Probably not the best first step actually! So let's just say that for now:

Life Enjoyment = Feeling Good - Feeling Bad.

This is similar in form to Net Worth = Income - Expenses, and so, since this is frugality central, we all understand the power of lowering expenses vs. increasing income. It's the same in designed an off-grid electric system: you start with decreasing demand, and then design the solar panels and batteries.

So the first step in maximizing life enjoyment should be minimizing the genesis of "Feeling Bad" in your life. AE technically has a lot of options in his life right now, but seeking professional help for depression is the low-hanging fruit in his Life Enjoyment equation. The 'Feeling Bad' value is so high that spending any (non-existent because depression) energy on "Feeling Good" is totally wasted. (Rooting for you AE!)

An exercise I've done yearly is to do a "Pareto Analysis" on my past year, and by that I mean an 80/20 analysis. What 20% of activities caused 80% of my frustration/anger/sadness/irritation/stress/Feeling Bad? Make a list of those activities, and seek to remove/mitigation those sources of bad feeling for the next year. Some examples from past year: Time spent with [person]; every hour of work spent after 8 hours; looking at my phone shortly after waking up; every drink after 2 drinks; every hour sitting after 2/day; every second spent in traffic after second zero; etc.

The other way to reduce Feeling Bad is the stoic concept of apathia, better understood to modern readers as equanimity. Steadfastness in the face of adverse circumstances; resoluteness; grit; calmness no matter what; the ability to observe 'negative' circumstances almost as an observer; internalization of the phrase "nothing is good nor bad, but thinking makes it so".

I think "health" goes here. Preventative maintenance in terms of physical health. It also belongs in Feeling Good, though, which I suppose just underscores how important it is to life enjoyment.

I also think "risk management" belongs here, as it is the pro-active form of eliminating Feeling Bad. Implementing behaviors and systems in your life that reduce your exposure to risk of significant consequence is going to a) reduce your time spent in adverse circumstances, obviously, but also b) reduce your time spent *worrying* about spending time in adverse circumstances. I submit as evidence all the threads here around March-ish of everyone being like "COVID, yeah, shitty, but my life hasn't changed that much, my NW is still fine, I'm basically good" while the rest of the world are facing having to sell low just to cover expenses, seeing their retirements wiped out, evictions, job loss, etc etc.

If overall life enjoyment is the average over time of current subjective psychological state, then taking steps to reduce time spent Feeling Bad is going to bump the average up.

Until the low-hanging fruit of Feeling Bad are plucked, I feel it's not even worth it to spend too much time on Feeling Good. But once done....

Feeling Good is a tough nut to crack. I'm thinking of research done on helping others, feeling a sense of Purpose and positive movement/momentum towards that purpose, the importance of appropriate social interactions/relationships, feeling loved and seen, being well regarded, creative self-expression, health (physical and mental), the pursuit of a spiritual path, devotion to something grander than one's self, etc.

Health and risk management both belong here, the flip side of the coin from Feeling Bad, I think. Endorphins, the feeling of looking good with your shirt off, the satisfaction of being able to lift heavy stuff/kids/grandkids, the pleasure of accomplishing arbitrary but difficult things (lifting weights, sports competitions, hitting PRs). The flip side of risk management might be better termed "exposure to opportunities and serendipity". In Feeling Bad, you cap your downsides. In Feeling Good, you maximize your potential upsides. Then wait.

Okay, so coming back to the statement "Pareto Optimization of expenses for maximum life enjoyment", and if we add the "nodes" language in there, I think we can say "Pareto-optimizing nodes with respect to expenses for maximum life enjoyment", what we're saying is something like this:

My focus is how to pay as little actual money as possible for as much Life Enjoyment as I can get out of it. Some no-brainer steps are to stop doing things that make me Feel Bad, but also I'm pretty focused on doing the things I like for as little money as possible. If someone says "hey wanna hang out? We should catch up! Let's go to that new restaurant." I'm going to think/say something like "Bro! I super want to catch up. I actually have been meaning to try this new recipe and test out my new homebrew batch, whaddaya say you come over and we'll cook and drink and play frisbee or some shit?"

A decision tree might look something like this:
Image

The Trap
The Trap is where "maximize life enjoyment" and "achieve FI" become conflated, and all decisions are evaluated on whether or not they will help the individual reach FI sooner or later. If someone hates their job, and sees the only solution as "not working the job", then FI becomes the sole promise of life enjoyment, and thus all actions and decisions are based not on a nuanced understanding of life enjoyment, but rather on the simplistic aim of "hitting FI".

Stories of people hitting FI and then going "oh, wait, I have ZERO clue what to actually do with my life", and maybe becoming hypercompetitive PF/FI bloggers and then burning out hardcore, is a great example of The Trap.

So this is where I bring up a topic near and dear to my heart:

Dirtbags.
Dirtbags, I submit, are Wheaton L5 to the core. Often more so than many sophisticated PF investors with half a mill+ to their NW.

The definition of a dirtbag is someone who is willing to forgo standard "necessities" / luxuries / comforts / norms in order to pursue that which they really want to spend time doing. Dirtbags, in other words, are crystal fucking clear on what "maximize life enjoyment" looks and means to them. Hours spent on the sharp end; miles of river paddled; days on the trail; number of nights sleeping under the stars; days spent perma/slowtraveling; whatever their specific jam is, the dirtbag knows exactly what it is they want.

And, they know exactly what it is they're willing to give up. Normal careers, the accumulation of material goods, the consumption of First Class commodities, hygiene norms, - it's all a very easy decision.

Frugality is a core ethic in dirtbag culture, practically an art form. And here's why it's L5 AF: most dirtbags will be able to relate their expenses to their life enjoyment with extreme precision. If they can live on $10/day vs. $20/day, that means their stash will last them *twice as many days* until they have to go scrape up some more cash. Ten dollars spent isn't ten dollars, it's a whole fucking day *not* spent on the crag, in the backcountry, on the river. If they can stretch their climbing season to the winter, then get a job as a liftie and get a free season pass, they can ski all winter while stashing enough to make it straight through another climbing season once the snow melts...

There are many varieties and flavors to the dirtbag, of course. I've just described the "standard" dirtbag. There are dirtbag rich, who maybe had a career and saved up a more sizeable FU stash, or simply have some means of making money somewhat efficiently. I fall under this category. That's not really important right now.

Dirtbags are simply L5 semi-ERE'rs with an exquisitely defined vision of life enjoyment.

In Summary
I think where I'm going with this is that dirtbaggery can provide a model for thinking about ERE, specifically the adoption of a clear vision of what life enjoyment looks like, and avoiding The Trap of equating FI with life enjoyment. I'm not saying that dirtbaggery or even semiERE is the right choice for everyone, rather, I think just about anyone already interested in ERE/FIRE can glean some value from considering the dirtbag lifestyle.

This was a useful exercise for me to run through. Feedback highly welcome, in particular if I've misunderstood anything here. Does that decision tree look legit? Have I missed anything critical?

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

An Update on my thinking about Shelter and Life Enjoyment
In another thread, I wrote a little about how Serenity (my cargo trailer conversion) actually wound up being an example of bad design. I designed Serenity very specifically to suit the lifestyle of a *single*, 40hr/wk, digital nomad dirtbag. Within two weeks of her maiden voyage, I met my now very serious GF who I have adopted the forum-slang of calling DW. Serenity does *not* suit the lifestyle of a romantic couple, one of whom is a creative visual artist and needs studio space, and both of whom have rather different sleeping patterns. My Serenity design was very narrow - tightly coupled to one specific lifestyle design, which I've since essentially abandoned.

We're now in Michigan. DW's dad has more house and land than he uses, and so DW has set up her art studio in a lovely space, we've got free reign of the master suite, DW's vanagon is parked off to the side, and we've pitched the BFT out in the woods mostly for fun. Serenity is 2,300 miles away in dry dock; I didn't want to tow her all this way, as she's also not designed for high humidity, flying insects, or extreme winters. And we've got plenty of space.

Our loose plan is essentially to establish a home base here in Michigan. We'll base here at her Dad's at least through winter and spring. DW has no desire to "hit the road" #vanperson style anytime soon; she needs/wants stability to build her business, and she just doesn't enjoy or tolerate constant change as much as I do.

And I am now semiERE. I work eight hours a week, which covers my living expenses and then some. I have a little freelance work at the moment, but once I've wrapped that up I won't actively pursue any more for a while so I can focus on defining "maximum life enjoyment" more clearly for myself. I'm planning a 30-45 day trip back west in October/November on my motorcycle, to visit friends and climb.

Staying in FIL's spare space isn't an attractive long-term solution to me - it's great, but I'll feel like a mooch/loser after too long. That said, I have zero interest in buying my own normal house, or god forbid renting one. Part of this is that I really don't like the idea of staying in any one place for very long - I love being on the road, climbing, dirtbagging around. I'm not wealthy enough to buy a bunch of second homes all over the place, and I don't want to tow Serenity back and forth across the country.

But...

I am friend-wealthy and skill-wealthy and just-enough-money-wealthy to build a smattering of tiny/micro homes in a variety of locations on friend's land, and potentially cheap country land I purchase for myself, and travel lightly between them as I like.

In fact, now that I don't need to hold down a full-time 3d animation job, I don't need Serenity when I dirtbag around. My truck or my motorcycle is just fine; Serenity is overkill. So owning my 18mpg truck is overkill as well - I'm starting to think through selling it and getting a vehicle that fits my non-towing lifestyle better.

There's still a massive amount of potential inefficiencies built in to a life split between so many locations, and such distances. But - this is where the calculus of maximum life enjoyment comes in.

I've still got a lot of thinking and experimentation to do, but a vision for how this can come together is starting to firm up in my mind.

jacob
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by jacob »

There's some flexibility in picking names/concepts for the nodes (stocks) and goals (flows). One naming convention is that nodes/stocks are nouns and goals/flows are verbs, but you can do it either way. It helps if it's consistent though. You can think of the choice as whether you want to optimize "being" or "doing".

http://earlyretirementextreme.com/do-i- ... o-you.html

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Really interesting, a lot of this is applicable to my situation. I'm going to let my subconscious mull it over for a while and see if I can come up with any helpful ideas.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

@AH
Yeah, I can feel where you're at here. I'm in the exact situation with my GF of the same personality. She enjoys a good adventure here and there, but really, really has the desire to set up some social roots and a bit of nesting instinct as well. I will admit, since we've been living in the same place an entire year now, there are a lot of positives that come from having a local social network, and some more permanent space to play around with stuff oriented projects. For example, my hallway closet is currently under use for fermenting gallon jugs of wine, a corner of my kitchen is a bike repair shop, I get free veggies from the combo of a city garden and my friends garden plot, and the owner of a local "bar"cade I frequent just offered me a PT bartending job in one of our normal casual conversations. This is the type of stuff a constantly mobile lifestyle just doesn't really allow for as easily.

Still, I get semi-frequent urges to get away, and the weather in my chosen town sucks in the winter. So, we won't be around in January of February in years to come and that'll satisfy my long term travel urges.

There really aren't a ton of people here(ERE) who choose a homebase plus travel option. Mostly I believe, it's because it's harder to optimize from a WL5 standpoint (ie operational inefficiencies as you put it). From the higher levels though I think this type of lifestyle shows a lot promise. Honestly, the hardest part was choosing a place I really enjoy spending most of my time and that had other semi-ERE prereqs, like affordable housing options, interesting people, and a decent local economy for potentially interesting work.

The idea of having two or three different home bases for the varying seasons is really appealing too, and may be something we eventually develop into. As one could have the benefits of a good network of people and things in multiple places. That makes everything even more resilient, IMO. This takes more time and effort though, plus requires the hard upfront challenge of finding those places you want to be and finding housing solutions.

The real problem here is falling into the trap of picking a homebase that doesn't fulfill many aspects of your prefered life nearby. Because it's cheap or convenient or something. Then you're just gonna want to keep temp traveling. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if something vital is missing and you just keep getting the urge to drive across country every weekend to go climbing or something, what's the point?

mooretrees
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by mooretrees »

I liked the flow chart you came up with. As I was walking home from work the other day, I was thinking that now our thought process (with reduced income on the horizon) needs to shift from getting a good deal on something, to having DH make it (if he can).

Also, this potential idea of traveling and helping folks in exchange for board, sorta reminds me of 7W5's idea of being a lentil baby. I think C40 did something similar-lived with friends rent free by helping out a lot.

When you talk about a home base, do you dream of your own land? Or continuing to use both of your parent's? It seems pretty unique that you can bounce between properties owned by family members.

It's going to be fun to see what you come up with!

Also, what is the dirtbag book you're reading?

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

jacob wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:18 pm
There's some flexibility in picking names/concepts for the nodes (stocks) and goals (flows). One naming convention is that nodes/stocks are nouns and goals/flows are verbs, but you can do it either way. It helps if it's consistent though. You can think of the choice as whether you want to optimize "being" or "doing".

http://earlyretirementextreme.com/do-i- ... o-you.html
Ah, that unstuck some cognitive walls/blind spots I hadn't noticed. Thanks, I'll work through that.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 5:49 pm
...
Yeah, I feel like there's a lot to work with here. I think the "homebase + travel" option isn't likely to work out well for us, so it's the "multiple home bases" option that offers most promise. This could look like a Midwest spot that's good for summer and fall, and a West location that's good for Winter and Spring. Both locations have adequate space for DW to operate her business and me to build random stuff. One is proximate to "her people" and the other is proximate to "my people". One is proximate to "my primary activities" (climbing, actual mountains, etc) and another is proximate to "her primary activities" (lake beaches, lush forests, etc). In one, I focus more on internal activities - building, yoga, drawing, etc - and she does vice versa.

That solves for the trap you mentioned, which I think you're dead on about. I'm enjoying my time here, but the lakes and forests don't make my heart sing like the desolate wasteland of the Mojave or the east side of the sierras. If I "lived here", I'd almost certainly build up resentment and want to travel back and forth more... which would *likely* be an operational inefficiency for sure (unless I decide I also love the time spent traveling and determine a way to do so that isn't massively inefficient, like making the drive on a 75mpg moto or a homebrewed biodiesel Mercedes 300d).

I only mentioned two spots for the ease of discussion, I could see three or four "home bases", at varying levels of size and accomodations, quite likely.

I also feel fortunate that I already have a number of relationships and options to work with - I don't need to go out and start "finding" places, as we have three solid options here in the Midwest and two+ in the West. It's just a matter of investing the time and resources in to building them out in such a way that they work for us. A positive effect (/goal) of this whole strategy as well is it's an opportunity to cultivate/nurture my existing relationships with these amazing people I know. It's not like I'm looking through my contacts going "okay, which one of these bastards has some extra land I could sweet-talk them in to letting me mooch...", it's very much a "oh man, Jorge just offered the opportunity to build whatever I want on his land and stay there whenever. God that'd be cool! Jorge is such a good person, I'd love to spend more time with him, and his spot is pretty sweet as well, I'd love to just be involved in his whole project..."

Another dimension to this is that the effort of building out our shelter solutions is an opportunity for income, either by having developed the skill to build cool tinyhomes and selling them, and/or by renting out "our" shelter when we're not there.

A final issue is optimizing time spent with/apart from DW. Most couples take as a given that they have to spend 98% of their time physically proximate (along with other assumptions, like they should/ought to sleep in the same bed every night they're together, which is an assumption we've already dispensed with). It's quite possible that our relationship will tolerate or even be improved by time spent apart doing our own thing. I'm going to be testing this assumption this Fall, when I take a month+ long solo dirtbag trip back west. I'm treating it a little bit like an information-gathering experiment.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

mooretrees wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:06 am
...Also, what is the dirtbag book you're reading?
The Dirtbag's Guide to Life by Tim Mathis - I think I got the kindle version for a couple bucks.

Actually, to be honest, our parent's land is something we're very grateful for and has been great, but the locations we're more interested/excited to set up basecamps happen to be with good friends' land. My ego just wanted to make that clear, that my proposed ideal solution isn't "stay with Mom and Dad/FIL long term" :roll: The parent's land thing is easiest to fall in to now; making it work with friends will require a bit more investment in time/effort. You are right that it's unique to be in a situation where both of our parents' land works: mine have >50 acres, hers has 4+ acres, and we all get along more or less and have enough space to carve out our own little personal safe zones. We're both very grateful for this.

I'm more excited about developing something awesome with friends than I am in getting my own land. All our friends are pretty in to the idea of building or working on "community", at various scales of the word - anything from using a friend's farm as a host site for workshops and music festivals, all the way up to an actual eco-village kind of deal. Most of them are already actually doing this in some form or another.

So the vision is ultimately more than just a sort of in-law unit in the backyard - it has to do with nurturing relationships with people who share similar visions, and working with them to develop that vision. In particular because I have more free time now, I'm absolutely stoked at the idea of putting in sweat equity and creative self-expression in to this vision of building out infrastructures and institutions that bring people together in beautiful ways.

That said, I have always had a dream of buying a chunk of extra-desolateand remote desert (think the desert south of Las Vegas, or Wadi Rum, etc) and building a Fortress of Solitude on it. That's more of a personal art project than an approach to fulfilling shelter requirements, though.

mooretrees
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by mooretrees »

Ha, totally get the 'not using my parent's land' etc. The farm where we're in discussion about parking our bus has prompted very similar ideas about helping on the farm and potential collaboration/community building that are really exciting. Plus, not being solely responsible for paying the bills, or making all the calls about x,y, and z project are also exciting. I bet there are examples of people traveling around doing just this, but it's so outside the main stream that I don't know any.
In practice this idea, I imagine like you said, they'll be some investment of time/effort that should be pretty fun. Maybe you need a new moniker, some thing like the 'fun Uncle' who dashes in, plays and works hard, then takes off? Since you're childfree, the role of uncle to many different families seems natural-if you find that interesting, that is!

Edited to add: As a parent, I'm thinking that eventually getting our own plot of land to continuously woo our son back to might be a smart strategy :lol: .

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Very perceptive! I am in fact "Uncle Axel" to more than one family. I actually have friends who are merely *planning* on having kids soon who have already started calling me that haha. And DW loves children and as a nanny of 15 years is like the kid whisperer.

--ha! With the way things are going, there might be a reversal in trends by the time he's 18-ish and sticking around the Family Land might be the more attractive option to him by then.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Some DIY stuff:
I needed to build another stand for my moto so I can replace the fork seals and do some other maintenence on it. Basic moto stands go for $80. I build this out of scrap wood and $3 in screws.
Image

DW and I decided to buy a couple of kayaks (a local rental place was having a crazy sale via craigslist), and a friend asked us to pick one up for her. I resisted, because kayaks have always seemed like dumb purchases, but the realization that I could probably sell them for the same amount I bought them + the fact that there are lakes every 1.5 miles here, convinced me to go for it. The night before we went to pick them up, I realized I needed a solution to carry three 12' kayaks in my truck safely. I threw this together in about an hour. Total cost: maybe $1.50. I shudder to think what a normal Thule kayak rack MSRP's for.
Image
Coda: we got to the place ten minutes before they opened... and they were sold out. People had started arriving at 0600 throwing cash at the owner, and they sold out of all 40 kayaks before they even technically opened. Outdoor gear is impossible to get now because of Covid.

So I'm going to post this rack on craigslist for $75, and use that money to buy a couple truck inner tubes, lash some boards to them, and float on the lakes and make fun of the hyper-competitive assholes who are dropping cash like crazy to buy plastic crap they'll only use twice before winter. Sour grapes and all that.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

mooretrees wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:51 am
As a parent, I'm thinking that eventually getting our own plot of land to continuously woo our son back to might be a smart strategy :lol: .
In the upper midwest this is called "the cabin". "The cabin" is really just some piece of relatively rural property near a lake(which is almost all rural property in the upper midwest), that may or may not actually have a structure or maybe a trailer on it. Families that have a cabin (like the famous grandpa's cabin) all seem to get together over big summer holidays, and use/maintain it varyingly through the year. This requires communication and contact that otherwise might not happen between siblings and cousins that grow apart as they have families of their own. It's great to keep families together and I think is the single best legacy an average person can leave for their kids.
AxelHeyst wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:19 am
Yeah, I feel like there's a lot to work with here. I think the "homebase + travel" option isn't likely to work out well for us, so it's the "multiple home bases" option that offers most promise.
I really think this is possible, but the more you stretch it, the more elbow grease will be needed to get it up and running AND to keep it functional. Just like anything, you can only have so many good things to maintain before one starts to become ignored.

Now, maybe this isn't a bad thing because the one being most ignored will probably be the part of the experiment that is providing you the least satisfaction. However, this will mean some lost effort or $$ operationally in the lifestyle as a whole. IOW, home base and traveler are two distinct things. The ROI on home base requires a reasonable amount of depth, whereas traveler requires a reasonable amount of breadth. If you stretch yourself too thin, then eventually you'll run into the hard constraint of life energy and end up choosing between breadth or depth. Or just burn yourself out.
AxelHeyst wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:19 am
I also feel fortunate that I already have a number of relationships and options to work with - I don't need to go out and start "finding" places, as we have three solid options here in the Midwest and two+ in the West.
Just having locations available doesn't mean they are a good fit. I'd love to live more rural, but I know over the long term I need some urban type activities to keep my external c_L happy in day-to-day life. Otherwise I will just constantly go off on "trips" to satisfy that need. Having many homebases solves for this problem, but again, how much depth can you really established in 4, 5 or 6 of these homebases? Particularly if you have the urge to run off to the next one a few weeks after arriving. At what point are you really just a traveler and would function best out of Serenity and the Tacoma? (ie focus on breadth). I think there is an optimal number here, I and I think the best way to reduce that number is picking the "right" places. Hence allowing for more depth focus in the places you do have.

EDIT:
I'm not trying to tell you what to do, just offering my experience and thought process progression in the matter, given that I was basically in the exact same circumstance 18 months ago. It may be better to focus on a smaller number of bases initially, try to add what you need by focusing on depth in those places. If you find it impossible, then consider adding another, or maybe replacing one for another. If you just end up finding you need lots of places, maybe the focus should be shifted back to breadth. In my case, I've found one home base to be pretty fulfilling and close enough to everything I need for 7-9 months a year. Now I need to add #2 to fill in those time gaps, or maybe just shift back into breadth for those time periods, or maybe there's a single, better place I haven't found yet.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I find your thoughts on this very helpful cL. Two seems the minimum viable number of home bases for us, and I could see putting in the time to get those two up and running and feeling it out and realizing that that's plenty. Anywhere else we want to go can be on a "travel" scheme (camping, renting/housesitting, crashing with friends, Serenity, etc).

I think the only real mistake here would be to assume that I needed, e.g., three home bases, and just start dumping time and energy in to building three at once, only to realize that that's too much and I'm overexerting myself. I'm a big fan of the guess and check method: take an educated guess, put in effort to get to the next milestone, stop and evaluate if I should keep going or not.

The concept of being a perfectionist vs. being a satisficer seems relevant here as well.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Also ask yourself... Are you the type of person that'd rather have one partner and work on that relationship to become "good" in many realms, or rather have several people you are dating, each satisfying different aspects for each other. Would you rather have a half dozen close friends that you could live with, or 40 acquaintances that would offer you a couch for a week if needed. Would you rather hyper-focus on one project at a time or do 10 different things each day.

I don't think there is a right answer to these questions. I think both preferences are equally viable and robust.

Of course these are all false dichotomies. It's just that the skill sets, and how time and energy is spent for each is very different. There are different friction points for each preference. "Do both" is only viable to the extent that you have the energy to do both and can minimize the friction (wasted energy, $$, etc). Hence of you want to do some of both, the balance is critical.

Edit again: :P
The critical failure point in this spectrum is either not really knowing your preferences (which is pretty common in today's world) or knowing them and choosing to work against your nature. Either way you can easily spend a bunch of time/energy/$$ building the wrong system to handle the wrong friction points, pushing the wrong lever points. See your recent realization with the Serenity rig and FT work. The "not knowing" was certainly part of my issue before semi-ERE and having the time to learn about myself in nonobstructed day-to-day life. Although there is a part of me that likes variety and travel, I fall closer to the depth end of this spectrum, but didn't really know it until recently. Most of my urge to travel were really attempts to find the right places and people, with the right values, to work on depth.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

End of Week 7 of semiERE: Codependency and ERE

Wow, semiERE is *not* going the way I thought it would at all. I suppose this is a theme we're working on here: a plan and a prediction about my future getting totally blown out of the water by reality. This is not a bad thing: I'm not having negative emotions around the realization that my idea of how this would go were wrong. The way it's going is deeper, richer, and better than I thought. Also: harder, more painful, less instagram-worthy (like I GAF).

tl;dr: semiERE is giving me the time and space to slow down, reflect, wander around the nooks and crannies of my mind, stumble across the closet door, start dusting off all my old psychological skeletons, and realize "oh, right... I never actually dealt with this shit. I just stuffed it in a box in this closet and nailed the door shut because I was too busy with FT work and my bonkers ex-GFs to give it the time it needed. Huh."

Okay here's what I've been digging up this week. I've had issues with "boundaries" my whole adult life. I have codependent tendencies, of the "caretaker" variety, meaning, I apparently have an emotional need to be needed, because I lack the ability to self-validate. This manifests in two ways:

a) I'm helpful AF. Anyone and anything around me, I'll cheerfully take on any tasks or projects they or I can think of. Bonus if I can get in to a relationship with someone who is a basket case and clearly "needs" my competence, level-headedness, and ability to take on an enormous amount of work.

b) it's nearly impossible for me to ask for help or state my own needs/desires, mostly because I haven't the first clue wtf those are, and even if I did, asking for them would upset the balance of needing to be needed. That validation hit of being needed is what I need, which is why "what do you want?" never made much sense to me. "I want you to tell me what you want/need, so I can help you with it, so I can feel needed" is the true answer.

This is relevant to ERE/FI, hang in there.

Companies, by the way, love codependent people. Probably my deepest and most codependent relationship has been with the company I work for. It's relatively easy for a basically competent person to drop in to just about any company and think to themselves "perfect, this place is a total shitshow, I'll be needed for EVER here putting out fires all day long". And that organization loves these kind of people, because the key thing about codependents is that they can't handle the object of their caretaking to get better. Because then they wouldn't be needed any more. Which would remove the only form of validation unrecovered codependents are capable of experiencing. So why would a codependent leave the company after the twelfth time he needed to pull an all-nighter? That shit's crack to a codep. And the company doesn't have to get their shit together and actually become a highly functional organization, because they have a critical number of codep's running around doing heroic things making sure the whole thing creaks along without going down in flames. Win-fucking-win.

I dug in to this stuff at the end of my last relationship, and all these realizations helped me to exit it. I somewhat naively assumed that that victory was the war, rather than just a (major) battle, and so I set "the work" down and focused on other things. I also assumed having gone 100% remote had solved my unhealthy work habits.

This past week I dug back in to all this stuff, and realized yeah, I'm definitely not out of the woods yet on this one. My boundary setting is way better than it was in my 20s, but that's not saying much. I've basically done the "tips n tricks" pass at self-treating my codependency, and that blunted some immediate pain, but I've yet to get to the YMOYL/ERE/high-level strategic thinking/deep understanding phase of it.

A fundamental commonality to all mental health issues (according to psychtoday :roll: ) is a lack of / low self-esteem. Story checks out: if I had a strong internally-generated sense of "I am enough", I wouldn't need to be running around helping people with shit I had no actual interest in all the time just to feel like I was halfway worth the oxygen I was breathing. (Oh, huh. I have an extreme aversion to being in the way. In public spaces, I'm always hyper-aware of if I'm blocking a hallway / taking up space that I ought not to be, etc. Seems relevant.)

So I went hunting around in my memories to identify why in the world I might not have a healthy self-esteem. I didn't have a rough childhood or anything, no obvious traumas, etc. I seem to remember being pretty healthy about myself up to 10/12 years old. Long story short, I think I identified a probable cause of at least the majority of self-esteem destruction, between the ages of 15-18. One of those "oh, well there was that one thing... oh I mean I guess that went on for a while... for years... and like every single day... and it more or less consumed my mental world, and OH SHIT that's why I don't think I'm worthy of love, yep that makes total sense."

Dude, Axel, go rant on some shoegazey emo reddit sub, this is an ERE board, wtf. Yeah yeah: This is relevant because, per my small book of a post a few up, the Focus segment of Wheaton L5 is "Pareto optimization of expenses for maximum life enjoyment." This is relevant to figuring out htf to enjoy life. Because I can tell you, running around rescuing other people/small companies isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when you layer burnout on top of it so you don't have the energy to even approach it with your normal level of energy and stoke.

If you can't even approach the question "What do you actually want? What do you enjoy?" without honest confusion (it's not a trick fucking question dude!!) and if it's literally impossible for you to ask other people for help, of any sort, because your brain can't even formulate a thought in the "ask-for-help" pattern, then you got some shit to work out before you can start to live *your* actual life, instead of someone else's.

And, as I've discovered, it's going to be difficult for you to hold your boundaries around things like spending money on stuff, because a) you don't actually have a solid "I want semiERE/FI/freedom/whatever" vision, and b) if spending some money seems like it'll help someone out, you'll do that instead even if it's against your ERE frugality ethic, because the validation hit you get from helping/caretaking someone is stronger than the self-validation hit you get from doing your own thing, executing your own vision.

I figured I can't be the only person with codependent tendencies reading this board, so I thought it might help someone else to post this up.








[See what I did there?]

ertyu
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by ertyu »

oof, this entire post has been a call-out. did you have to?? did you really :lol: lmao

there is also something about that sweet, sweet drama - both with jobs and with relationships.

back to psychology, navel-gazing, and ERE: I actually don't think you can separate them. For instance, the drama-codependency on the job thing leads to throwing yourself into that drama way too hard, burning out, etc. So there is a direct relationship there between your codependency and your career progression and earning ability over your lifetime. Organizations may love codeps in the present, but not in the long run: codeps burn out quickly, and there's always more where those ones came from. So organizations (and particular bosses) may love codeps in the short run, but it's actually the non-codeps that are the better long-term employees who have greater quality of life while accumulating their stash/FU cash. It's the non-codeps that actually form healthier networking relationships and can take advantage of serendipity because they're not busy being embroiled in the latest job or relationship drama. When it comes to ERE, it's useful to remind ourselves what the goal is: self-mastery, not being tightly coupled. that pesky maximum life enjoyment you wrote about. Sorting out the psychological shit is essential to the ere project.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

First of all, I extend my compassion to you. I practice metta (lovingkindness) meditation and will do a bit of it focused just on you :) Maybe a bit dorky, but I think it's a good practice. I'm not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV, so I'll refrain from pretending I'm wise and giving advice.

Your observations about organizations and codependency are very astute.

In my opinion, the whole point of ERE is to gain the time and space to figure out the whole happiness question. FI, by itself, does not guarantee freedom from suffering. Remember the Buddha started his life as a prince, but that didn't answer his deeper question: why the fuck is there so much suffering? I see ERE as an excellent way to gain "freedom from" hindrances that impede happiness (e.g. soul-crushing jobs, environmentally destructive lifestyles, the illusion that consumption will lead to lasting happiness), but does not guarantee "freedom to" live a good life. ERE gives you autonomy with the brush and the canvas, but you still have to paint the damn thing yourself.

I admire your vulnerability, and I think it's a good thing that semi-ERE has revealed these epiphanies, even if they're painful at the moment. Best of luck brother, the real journey now begins.

Vaikeasti
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Vaikeasti »

I'm so glad you AxelHeyst and ertyu (and many others of course!) are here.

I was just thinking about this same conundrum, but in a less cohesive way.

I think it's really hard to come to terms that even if I would have failed in everything I have tried in life, I'd still be as worthy as a human being as I am today. Society and the GDP might disagree but the opinions of others can't change my value.

PS. I see what you did there. It's okay. And thank you.
Last edited by Vaikeasti on Sun Aug 23, 2020 5:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

horsewoman
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by horsewoman »

Actually, I can relate to a lot in your last post. I'd like to say however that semi-ERE/ERE is a very good therapy for that (after a while, you are still in transition most likely).
- Setting up your systems automatically turns your attention and focus on you and your immediate surroundings, giving you less opportunity to shoulder other peoples problems. Also, being aware of this tendency is the first step to recovery! A few years ago a osteopath (who was treating me) told me that I "obviously carry the weight of the world on my shoulders". This and meditation taught me (among other things), that I pull my shoulders up and get tense whenever I take on too much responsibility, it is my tell. So now whenever I get an inkling that I'm doing it again + tense shoulders is my sign to take a step back from the situation. It's a long process, but it gets better.

- Work related drama - I think that right now you are running still on residue from full time work. It takes a while but with less time spend at work/in the workplace the drama shifts away from you since you are not there all the time to take part. We have major drama right now at my office but I can pretty easily disconnect from it all once I leave the office (since I'm only there 15 hours a week!).

So I guess it all developed naturally, even if it feels uncomfortable right now. No pain no gain! :)

disk_poet
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by disk_poet »

Thanks for sharing this @AxelHeyst. I'm new to the forum and am making my ways through the Journals and some of what you wrote really hits home for me.

I think the combination of the psychological with lifestyle with finance is what is really interesting to me. It's all connected.

I also feel like introspection is super important because the one constant that shows up in all the equations of my life is "me". Funnily enough I used to not see it that way for most of my life. I only looked at the other factors but didn't really appreciate the impact of "me". I feel a bit stupid not being able to formulate it earlier and I am sure it's been beaten to death on the internet but it took a loong time to really click for me and I am probably still not there most of the time. I spend a lot of time cultivating habits and skills improving the outside but not enough dealing with myself even though it is the one constant that scales everything up. Describing it that way is the mental trick that I use to get over the you're not worth it, don't waste time on yourself inner voice that sometimes comes up. It also forced me to take therapy serious. I don't know if that makes any sense.

I personally found CBT a great tool to work through these issues. It's very practical and analytical and gives you tools do deal with things in a very methodical way. Not sure if that is your cup of tea but it is really helping me. The "Feeling Good" podcast is a good free resource there.

Re setting boundaries: I am a but burned out by work because I never set boundaries too. Funnily enough this finally led to a kind of "don't care' attitude which in turn led to me setting firmer boundaries by accident which then in turn actually commended more respect and a healthier work/life balance from my colleagues and clients. +1 on setting boundaries not only being good for yourself but also for others. The climate at work really changed. Maybe being more independent through ERE can make it easier to set boundaries because you feel less pressured. Again.. I feel it's this complex interconnected web and deciding which node to start working on is probably hugely dependent on personality, situation, etc. but I find working on it hugely satisfying. Which I never thought I would.

Anyway I am only talking so much about my own issues because I didn't want to be presumptuous. I am super impressed by what you've accomplished and your thought processes and it seems like you're on a great path forward and are doing deep thinking and introspection. I hope working through these things moves things forward for you. I wish you the best - some random guy on the internet ;)

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