If you think of ERE as a way to escape your job rather than running towards something on your ERE journey, you will
suffer once you do retire. You see, there is one little tiny, but rather important thing, your job has in common with The Good Life as FI.
Viktor K commented on this:
Viktor K wrote: ↑
Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:18 am
However! Work-life balance is nice to have, but you have to do something with the “life” half of it...
Incidentally liberty started a topic on Oct. 14 2018 about a similar kind of problem.
What will I do with my day?
Inconspicuous, right? It even looks a bit like Benjamin Franklin's famous quote. An innocent question on the surface, a devil in the deep if you ask me.
For those who are still working like their hair was on fire, this question probably signals pure bliss. The mere thought of waking up in the morning and asking that hallowed question sweeps aside all other considerations. Man... the freedom that entails! And after all, freedom was the entire reason you joined ranks with the FI movement right? If you're already wondering how the fuck a pretentious douche on an internet forum for extreme cheap skates could potentially problematize the thing so many of us yearn for, then I don't blame you.
I've had ample time to experience this myself. I was on sick leave from Dec. 2016 until July 2018. That's a year and a half of thinking time, experiencing what it's like to putter about at home with no outside stucture to your days other than what you demand of yourself and with plenty of money coming in. In some regards it felt very much like being FI.
And with that intro we begin today's admonition, starting with introducing willpower management.
Willpower works like a muscle. You exercise it and it gets stronger. If you use it too much you'll fatigue and won't be able to function normally while you recover. If you let it atrophy, those first times you do need to use it will damn well near kill you (and in the long run, atrophied willpower will sap your life of quality). On the surface that seems simple enough, but my experience tell me that when you're at home with all the time in the world, willpower can easily become the primary resource you have to manage on a daily basis. Not time, not money; willpower. If you don't set boundaries around your daily doing you will end up expending willpower on a large amount of completely trivial stuff throughout the day.
Your daily allotment of willpower drains whenever you have to make a decision. Any decision! As time goes on, your ability to think long-term gets ground down and you become more and more myopic in your decisions. Incidentally, anything that confuses the senses make the toll on your willpower even worse, that is why Abercrombie & Fitch stores are badly lit, heavily perfumed, and plays f******* loud music.
The downward spiral goes like this:
What will I do with my day? What should I wear? What's for breakfast? What shall I read? Where do I want to take a stroll today? What's for supper? Oh right, I have to go shopping. I'd better make a shopping list. When should I schedule exercise today? What do I feel like doing for exercise today, how many sets/reps? How long should I meditate for? Does someone have time to go fishing? I wonder what's on Netflix. I'll get another cup of cofffe. Man lounging on the sofa is amazing. I wonder if TopHatFox has started 7 more topics in the Lifestyle section; I'll check it out...
A clatter of keys and rustling of clothes at the front door.
"Honey, I'm home."
Suddenly the whole day has gone by, and I've still got stubble on my chin.
As an isolated occurence losing a single day to loafing about isn't bad but, if there is nothing that lights a fire under your ass every morning, this will probably happen more and more often. And slowly, but inexorably, you slide towards a life of idling about.
Here lies FBeyer; he idled a lot.
Now, the point I'm slowly getting at isn't one of productivity, but of purpose and of proper use of willpower. I'm not going to delve into the findings of Positive Psychology to highlight what really makes people happy in the long run (it turns out hardship is actually one of the bigger keys to that picture) but to help you overcome feelings of inadequacy or wasted life once you realize that you're not doing with your life what you intended to do.
:::It's not a long holiday, it's your life now:::
I'll iterate in case the headline wasn't sufficient: You're not on a holiday, this is actually what you life looks like now. You're managing other kinds of resources, you've got other options, and you should expect other results from your days when evening rolls around and you get to look back and what you've done this particular day.
Another thing happens: you find yourself with responsibilities you never really had before and so you not only have to balance out your expenditure of willpower, you also have to prioritize like you'd normally have to do in the workplace, or your life will once again be swallowed up by pseudo important shit that doesn't actually contribute to what you truly wanted out of life.
When you become FI, you have to enact a strict regime of action that ensures that whatever purpose you've chosen for yourself will have set times, set results, and set ways of getting done, or someone else will yet again find the time to take that time from you.
You will need a plan, habits, schedules, and appointments *with yourself* to make certain your life doesn't slip you by. You do not expend willpower when you know when to do what. You do not expend willpower getting closer to your current ideals when there is structure in place to make certain it happens, and that will leave you with the willpower necessary to prioritize properly once outside forces impede on your time.
Those dreaded cubicle jobs provide structure to an almost suffocating level, and like it or not, you will have to enact something less crass, but equally efficient, if you want to make certain you neither wear yourself out with inane decisions, or end up misliving like you would have done in the cubicle.
Don't wake up and ask yourself what good you should do today, write that shit down before you even go to bed! And write down when and where you're going to do it! Do it even if you intend to write: Netflix, 9 AM to 9 PM. You'll know at the end of the day that lounging was exactly what you intended to do.