akratic's ERE journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Smashter
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Smashter »

Congrats! Like Felipe, I also binged your journal the past few days. Really inspiring and thought provoking. Loved it.

The pursuit of wisdom thing sounds really cool. I will be curious to see how that changes your world view. I'm sorry if I missed it somewhere, but do you also talk to a therapist? Do you think you would find value in that? I wonder how that one on one interaction compares to the emotional literacy circle. I've never heard of those, and now I want to look into them.

akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic »

Well the big news is that we have a healthy and terrific 4 month old son. Becoming a parent has been a tough adjustment, and I plan to write more about that later.

The other big news is that I quit the startup right before he was born, although I guess the writing for that was already on the wall in my last post.

The thing that I most want to talk about is that I'm thinking recently about getting a 9-5 again.

When I look back at my initial decision to pursue FI, both my head and my heart were fully bought into the decision. My head loved the spreadsheets and the lifestyle growth and recognized the natural compatibility between the task and my frugal and extreme and goal oriented natures. As for my heart, I think the feeling that I had while pursing ERE looked something like this: "if I can remove money and work from my day to day concerns -- and I can -- then my life will become freaking awesome, and I will do great things with the extra time".

While I was right that I could amass the assets and lower the expenses, I'd say I was on the whole wrong about my ability to use my freedom as a springboard to do great things. I certainly do have some fond memories of the last five years, mainly times in the thick of things traveling the world, hiking the Appalachian Trail, becoming a ski bum, or early days at startups where we were full of hope for them taking off. However, these highlights were separated by funks and by long stretches of time where about all I did was play video games, watch TV, and browse the internet.

Now this is tricky to explain, because I do remember a time where my life was routine and busy, where both the adventures and the downtime would have been all I could ask for. But too much of them doesn't seem to work for me either.

Adventure for me was always an opportunity for learning and growth and mastery, to push myself and see how I would act and adapt in new situations, whereas the true adventurers around me seemed to be doing the stuff just to be doing it. Well the problem here is that the learning runs out and gets used up. It's not like I can just do thru-hikes every few years, because I already learned 90%+ of what there is to learn from doing the first one.

As for the downtime activities of video games, TV, movies, reading, and browsing the internet: I can't seem to avoid them for long stretches of time, mainly whenever 1) I have no other goals or 2) I'm recently burnt out and need to recover. I enjoy these activities while I do them, but long periods of them leave me feeling empty and useless.

Maybe another way to say this is that on my own, I seem to oscillate between:
a) 0 hours/week of work while feeling bad about myself
b) 100 hours/week of work while getting burnt out and frustrated

This is just so much worse than the ~40 hours/week of 9-5 land or school.

So, I hear you asking, why not just be productive 40 hours/week on your own. And my answer is simply that I can't. When I'm feeling tired and lazy -- and there's nothing to motivate me to work like a boss or coworkers or the need for money -- then I'm helpless, truly helpless, against the call of my laptop. Similarly, when I'm engaged in a new pursuit -- and there's nothing to reign me in, no coasting coworkers getting paid about my same salary, no finite amounts of homework that is eventually all finished, etc -- then I seem to burn so bright as to run my energy reserves all the way past zero, all the way to a place where I'm frustrated with those around me (who can't keep up) and I need months of relaxation to recover.

There is debilitating bipolar in my family. For most of my life I believed that I dodged that genetic bullet, as I navigated unscathed some situations that most people find stressful -- like MIT. But the truth is that stuff like MIT played exclusively to my strengths in math, analysis, etc while constantly doling out achievable and measurable goals and projects at the perfect rate: fast enough to keep me engaged but slow enough to not burn out. In contrast, for the most part my FI life has played to my weaknesses. I struggle with balance. I struggle to regulate my effort level and output. I struggle with the ugly side of humanity on display by cornered, stressed, and desperate co-founders of failing companies. I struggle to do anything at all while depressed, and I struggle to go less than 100 mph while manic.

This is not to say I'm full on bipolar and need serious drugs like lithium. Rather, if we see bipolar as a spectrum, then certainly I'm at least a litle bit on it. And FI has made it worse. The long funks look an awful lot like depression, and the bursts of incredible energy and productivity look an awful lot like mania.

I wanted to become financially independent because I thought the money and freedom would serve me, but recently it feels quite the opposite. And it's not just a self diagnosis of mild bipolar that has me thinking this way. I also believe becoming FI has made it increasingly difficult to relate to the average person.

As an example, my wife and I sometimes attend a New Parents Group, where kids aged 0-12 months play in a circle while parents talk about the highs and lows of the past week. A typical mom might rant about how her husband is working 70 hours a week to make money for the family, but the apartment is still too small for the three of them, and neither the exhausted mom who has been with a newborn all day nor the exhausted dad who has been working all day has the strength to make it through another sleepless night of crying from their daughter. Meanwhile here's my wife and I *both* attending an optional activity from 1pm - 2:30pm on a weekday. One or both of us have been to this weekly group about 12 times now, and while there are some stay at home dads, not once has both parents of another kid shown up together.

Although my family and close friends know that I'm financially independent, I rarely evangelize or get into it with strangers. Strangers and acquaintances (like at the New Parents Group) sometimes pry, however, and in doing so seem to just about bend over backwards to assume the worst. I can almost see the gears spinning in their head while they conclude that I have some hidden trust fund or income stream from my parents or the government, or that my wife is supporting me, or just about any explanation other than that I earned my freedom myself. I can see the story they are spinning to themselves through the questions they ask, but they almost never come right out with it, and I find these exchanges exhausting.

My freedom seems almost impossible to accept for others, which is I guess part of the relating problem, but my struggles are also so strange. While a typical parent might have time or money problems, my problems are more like this: "I spent the last 21 days straight literally doing nothing but hanging out with my wife or baby or playing video games or watching TV, and I'm feeling really unproductive about that (but I can't seem to stop, so I'm thinking about programming a custom wifi router that intelligently controls my internet access)". This is too outrageous for me to share with a typical stressed out parent, so I say almost nothing. Meanwhile I can't relate to their money or being busy problems either.

It's not like having a job that I don't need is going to overnight fix all this stuff. But it is starting to seem preferable, at least to my head, who can see how the external structure benefits me, or the easy feelings of productivity, and at least appearing on the surface to be a little more like a normal person with a job and a boss and all that. My hope for myself if I do go back to a 9-5 world is that I do it with a little more appreciation for the side benefits of having a job: for getting doled out challenging enough to be interesting yet tractable enough to be solvable problems to solve, for being surrounded by a community of smart people that I didn't need to assemble myself, and for the push towards working just the right amount each week: neither so extreme that I burn out, nor so lazy that I feel unproductive and alienated.

fips
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by fips »

Thank you very much for sharing!
Awesome and elaborate post as ususal.
Congrats on the newborn!

Right off the bat, I see at least three aspects:

1) Lack of healthy moderation
2) Lack of structure (daily schedule with balance)
3) Lack of a relatable group of people ("I spent the last 21 days straight literally doing nothing but hanging out with my wife or baby or playing video games or watching TV, and I'm feeling really unproductive about that (but I can't seem to stop, so I'm thinking about programming a custom wifi router that intelligently controls my internet access)" :lol: and :| )

When considering to pick up another 9-5, you could explore other avenues besides "regular" jobs that fit your capabilities:
- [as a choice of job:] doing research at 50% / 75% / 100% at university or other institutes
- [as a choice of job:] finding an engaging way for you to support others
- [not necessarily as a job, but could be:] becoming top 1%/5% in a discipline you like

PS: By the way, this was your 666th post. Coincidence? I think not :twisted: ;)
Last edited by fips on Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

wolf
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by wolf »

Also congratulations to your newborn! And thank you for sharing those FI related thoughts and feelings.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by SavingWithBabies »

I can relate to your post particularly in moderation and schedules. I'd also congratulate you on the newborn. For me, with our first child, I had a long period of sleep deprivation. It resulted in me acting on my logical thoughts much more than I would normally do so. I actually ended up getting fired from a job. I don't think I was in the wrong. It was a really silly situation. But it was interesting to go through and I have no regrets about any of it. I was right but if I had been less sleep deprived, I would have exited more gracefully as being right didn't matter.

But the bigger thing about a newborn is that they need schedules. At first, it doesn't seem like it. But they really do. And when they start sleeping through the night, that whole bedtime routine becomes really important. I still struggle with all of this. My wife definitely leads the charge and I sometimes find myself not being fully helpful (and then feeling bad about that).

The moderation aspect is really interesting to me.

I too struggle with wasting too much time on recreational reading or distracting websites. I blocked them in my hosts file for a while and I found that really effective. Now I have them blocked on my main computer most of the time and a laptop I can go use that doesn't have anything blocked (or an iPad).

When I got my current side business off the ground, I spent 6 months going at it full time (I wasn't working a day job). While that was a good way to get it bootstrapped into existing, it's sometimes been hard to work on it since then in small increments. I'd say for the most part I've done a good job but sometimes I can't work on it for weeks or months.

But when I do work on it, I have a hard time putting in X hours instead of getting feature Y done. So I'll push myself to stay up late working on something that I could more productively accomplish if I just put in X hours for N days instead of one long day and then having to recover from it for a couple of days afterwards. And having disrupted my schedule which overflows to not aligning well with my families schedule.

So you might think about the future schedule of your family and how that might impact you. Maybe it will be helpful? Kids without good schedules, particularly bedtime routines, can become poor sleepers which can really make your life miserable. So you might find a schedule forced upon you via children.

One thought on working -- you might consider working for a consulting company. Ideally one where your engagements with a client would be on the shorter term (like say 2-9 months). If you haven't done that kind of work, it can help round off caring about a lot of things that ultimately you can't do anything about and shouldn't really care about (like the examples of inefficiencies you mentioned -- slackers/not being paid as much/etc).

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by jacob »

akratic wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:15 am
Adventure for me was always an opportunity for learning and growth and mastery, to push myself and see how I would act and adapt in new situations, whereas the true adventurers around me seemed to be doing the stuff just to be doing it. Well the problem here is that the learning runs out and gets used up. It's not like I can just do thru-hikes every few years, because I already learned 90%+ of what there is to learn from doing the first one.
That's the problem with doing vs learning. Most people are in the doing-camp and the world seems to have been designed with the doing-camp in mind. Those are the ones who are conveniently comfortably doing the same couple of things for a lifetime. Maybe physics and playing the piano. I'm also in the learning camp, so I usually take a clockwise spin, starting with arousal at the top and then moving around until I hit boredom.

Image

Of all the things I've tried, I've found no exceptions to the spin-rule. FI is crucial here, because it allows an exit before ending up in apathy which is a depressing place to be.

I think it's possible (for many) to remain at the top, somewhere between anxiety and control by regular promotion. The problem with this is that the only type of promotion often available [in the real world] is into management. Many people like management, but I do not. In the school system, you got promoted to the next grade, from 101 to 202, but that kind of promotion gets used up in the real world because you max out. There's nothing beyond a doctorate, just more of the same, unless you switch into sales or management.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

5 hours of reading and I made it through all 26 pages.....what an incredible story with an outcome (thus far) that is far from what I expected to read.

Hoping the future updates are more frequent than once a year ;)

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C40
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by C40 »

Hi Akratic. I appreciate your self-reflection and sharing.

What kind of job are you thinking about getting?

halfmoon
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by halfmoon »

Selfishly, I'm posting on akratic's journal to try bumping it. This was one of the first journals to which I became addicted. Understood that people move on, but I can hope.

McTrex
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by McTrex »

Seconded. How are things going for you, Akratic?

akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic »

Hi friends,

Gosh, it's been a while, huh? Every time I come back after a long hiatus I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that the forums are gonna be gone or dead, and it'll serve me right for not contributing anything to them for the past two years... but then here they are! Thanks everyone for keeping this place going.

So let's start with big updates:

We now have a two month old daughter to go with our 2.5 year old son. They are healthy and happy and full of joy and exhausting and draining and all-consuming.

We bought a house in a nice part of Boston with a yard and good schools and a nice kitchen and still close enough to work to bike there. The house cost so much money that an individual who had it paid off and sold it would have enough money to be FI for the rest of their lives in most parts of the world. But still, it's actually below the median price for our town, and our town is cheaper than all adjacent towns.

I have a 9-5 job as a senior software engineer that I've somehow been at for almost two years despite it only being an okay job. It pays a lot and is meaningful and has some great individual coworkers, but is also a stressful, grindy place where all teams have more work than they can handle, and we collectively don't have a shot in hell of hitting our company deadlines/aspirations. Every time I start thinking I should leave one of the senior leaders notices and makes my particular role even cushier to entice me to stay, so I've been kind of stuck. That said, they can't actually fix the underlying stressful/toxic parts of the company, they just insulate me more from it. Not sure how much longer this'll last, but I've been saying that for a while.

The recent coronavirus hasn't affected us much. It's enabled me to 100% WFH, which I like so far. And my wife was already part-time WFH combined with watching the kids. The big shock to our system is we've lost our daycare and all baby sitters, so the kids are becoming a bit much.

In terms of ERE lifestyle, some parts are on autopilot and others have decidedly slipped.

Our wins:
- Cooking is automatic - for years we've had our eating out / take out expenses down to just a few times a year when family/friends visit. And my wife's mastery over food just continues to grow. We eat healthy, cheap, hearty food, tweaked exactly to our spice preferences. It's awesome.
- I biked to work 70% of the year. I love it -- exercise built into the day, outside, no gas used, and half of it is on a bike trail with no cars.
- Car purchase - Our family car is a Prius we bought used but just two years old and almost no miles on it. This is basically the most practical car around and meets all our needs.
- House purchase - Our realtor assumed we were buying a "starter home" because it's only 1600 sqft and we pre-qual'd for twice as expensive of a house. But actually the house is perfect for us, has exactly as much space as we need for our family of four, and is walkable to so many outdoor things, which we regularly take advantage of. (That said, gosh is it expensive.)
- Right now income is high and the portfolio has always been diversified so I'm sure the numbers are good (although I haven't checked them).
- Every two weeks in the nice part of the year I go on a 3 mile hike from my door with a friend who is FI and 40 lbs on my back (son + backpack).
- I had a challenging time coming to terms with my dad's lack of interest in my kids, but I found a great win-win solution: when he comes to visit he and I do house projects together and leave my step-mom with the kids. So far we've done some major projects: adding a closet to a room, cutting a hole in the house and adding a sliding door, and ripping out a wood burning fireplace insert. He feels productive and involved and not guilty this way, I'm learning a lot, and our house is getting better and better.
- We found a Massachusetts gov't program that pays 75% of the bill for all insulation added to the house -- we added $3k of insulation, weather sealing, etc., for $750 cost to us that should pay back pretty quickly in reduced heating bills.
- We've spent less than $100 on clothes and toys for our two kids so far. So many hand-me-downs.
- My cousin does about 6 hours/week of childcare for our kids for free (we hook her up though), and she loves it, and it's such an amazing break for us. (But she's unavailable during the coronavirus thing.)

Our losses:
- The electric bill is high, $80/mo, and I don't know why. I even have a Kill-a-Watt that I can measure individual device usage and I haven't bothered.
- When we bought the new used Prius, we didn't deal with our old compact Prius, so now we have two cars. The compact one only sells for $6k and we figured I might want it to drive to my next job, but... but this means right now we're a two car family! And we're paying excise tax and insurance and all that on two friggin cars.
- I haven't looked at our numbers in years. I haven't tracked expenses. I haven't tracked net worth. I haven't rebalanced assets to match target asset allocation. I have no idea where my money is going and if my spending is still aligned with my values.
- Day care is expensive. Living in a nice town with good public schools is expensive. It feels like our ability to beat the system is dramatically reduced by having kids.
- We're becoming normal. Especially from the outside.
- Our house is unorganized, especially the garage.
- When I do get a chance to try a new activity like a board game night, there's so much pressure on it being "worth it". I know it's my only shot for weeks, I know my wife has to watch both kids to make it possible, etc.
- I am at the high end of my body weight: ~200 lbs. I want to lose the fat but have been unable to do so.
- I haven't made a new close friend since my son was born.
- It feels like my total amount of life energy is down... or rather, so much of it is going to kids and also work that not enough is left. This was my greatest fear as a teenager, that I would grow up and become a zombie that only worked and came home and watched TV, repeat forever. And my current life isn't that... but it's not 0% that either.

Upcoming plans:
- We want to build a garden in the backyard. We will start by building a raised bed.
- Maybe buy my first ever nice bicycle and home gym.
- More ERE forums
- Pay off the mortgage on the house, save enough for kids college, and become FI again. Right now, I can support myself passively with current assets but not my family.
- Get more life energy (how?!)
- Fix the entire above losses list.

One thing I loved about ERE was delaying gratification in pursuit of a better future. The stage we're at with kids right now feels similar: these early years of diapers and tantrums and sleep deprivation and non-stop supervision will hopefully pay off with smart, kind, curious people that we get to play games with and go hiking with and have deep conversation and incredible connection while we all navigate lifes ups and downs. We'll see though.

theanimal
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by theanimal »

Congratulations on your daughter! And glad to have you back around.

How does your life energy feel when you're working from home? Have you ever done or considered doing a martial art like jiu jitsu or something like boxing? It'd help with the health component, give you access to meeting more people and give you a practical skill. I started 6 months ago and really enjoy it. Unfortunately, it's not something that can be done easily in pandemic times but maybe something to consider once things open back up?

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C40
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by C40 »

akratic wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:42 pm
- It feels like my total amount of life energy is down... or rather, so much of it is going to kids and also work that not enough is left. This was my greatest fear as a teenager, that I would grow up and become a zombie that only worked and came home and watched TV, repeat forever. And my current life isn't that... but it's not 0% that either.
....
.....
Get more life energy (how?!)
If that was a serious question, here's how:
- Draft out your life values
- Create some goals that support them (along with your wife)
- Also decide what regular habits/activities you want to change or start. Track them in some REALLY easy way. Or just find tricks to make yourself do them
- Keep track of your progress on your goals, at some frequency (doesn't have to be all that often, as long as you have some way of not forgetting them). This is so you manage - and importantly - recognize the improvement you're making and feel accomplishment.
- Exercise every day. (YES, build that home gym. They make it SO MUCH easier and better to work out. Do Some strength training, and some cardiovascular stuff. Include short duration (30-60 seconds) and really high effort exertions (this last part is important)
- Sleep as well as you can. Meditate before bed. Do some of the normal pre-sleep routine things if they help
- Focus on maintaining and building whatever kind of dynamic you have/had with your wife that is energizing or inspiring. Whether sexual, intellectual, whatever. (The book "Way of the Superior Man" might be useful for you on that)
- Eat a lot of vegetables and meat, and little grain/rice/corn/tubers/sugar
- Reduce your bodyfat
- Get rid of your TV or do something so you rarely consider it an option. Same with mindless stuff on the computer (god, I'm doing so much of this recently myself)

(A good deal of items on this list will increase your testosterone. If you're feeling super lazy and want an easy button in the American style of throwing money at problems and fixing things with pills, go to the doctor and check your testosterone, and when you see it's kind of low, get a prescription. Personally I don't think you should do this without doing the things above, but it's an option. The way you feel is 100% natural for how you (and most of us) live. As you get up near 40 years old, this is always what happens - low life energy. You can do the things listed above and get a lot more energy, potentially for another 20-30 years.. and you can also push that easy button to get a boost. There are trade-offs that you should research before supplementing - related to the impact on your your body's own testosterone production.)

akratic
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by akratic »

@theanimal

WFH helps for sure. I've never been drawn to martial arts, but I could see it as something to try later.

@C40

It's a good list. I'll probably tackle it slowly, starting with home gym. (Not interested in easy button solution though.) I do notice that many of these life energy giving activities also cost a lot of life energy. More on this in the time section below.

------

I suspect I have three long term projects and one short term one:
long-term #1) pay off house
long-term #2) create a plan to pay for college for our kids
long-term #3) make more efficient use of my time (at work, with kids, and free time)
short-term) check in on net worth, asset allocation, and expenses

== house ==

When we bought our house last year rather than wipe out my FI fund to pay cash we put 20% down and have a mortgage for the remaining 80%. The mortgage is a 7/1 ARM which acts like a 30yr fixed loan for 7 years and then the interest rate floats for the remaining 23 years. I hope to pay it off in full before the floating starts. In particular, my plan for my income is to fully fund retirement accounts and then put everything else into the house (rather than accumulate more taxable investments).

I know that many people believe having equity in a house is a waste because it could be invested in the market and earning a higher rate of return. I personally think it only seems that way because of the rampant prosperity for the last 100 years. I look forward to the emotional and diversification benefits of a paid off primary residence, especially one customized to our needs and wants.

I will be creating a plan for paying off the house and some charts and all that. One thing I'm currently confused about is how to track numbers with the house involved. The mortgage is more than all my other expenses put together, and it seems wrong to base my long term spending on this number that will go away. Also once the house is paid off it would be double counting to both count the equity as positive net worth and also get the bonus of lower expenses because no rent. I'm sure someone has figured this out already but I'll need to as well.

== college ==

We have two kids now and have say a 30% chance of having a third later. We need a plan to help them with college, both to decide how much help we will give them and also to set aside that amount of assets. First of all, let me say that I don't think college is for everyone, and I will strongly encourage something like tradeschool or apprenticeship instead if it's better suited to the particular kid. Also, I kind of think the college bubble will burst in the next 16 years before my son starts applying. But still, it's not too early to be thinking about it, and I'm not sure I can consider myself FI without both the college plan and house sorted out.

My first thought here is to game the college financial aid system. I believe the following assets are exempt from consideration in FAFSA:
- retirement accounts
- primary residence
- small business owned and controlled by the family.

At first glance, this seems pretty beatable to me by moving all assets into the above three buckets and having a low income. I have some personal experience here. By happenstance, after paying full tuition my first year at MIT my dad lost his job the next two years and the university gave me grants (aka free money) for 75% of tuition.

As I looked into it more I found that some colleges do look at home equity and business ownership in their own private formula, but not all of them.

Let me also note that this path could be immoral. I will have to think more about that. One early thought is that the places with the most generous policies like Harvard, MIT and Stanford are also the places with ultra-mega-sized endowments.

There is some follow on work here:
- find someone who has been down this path intentionally and learn from them
- research ways to move taxable investments into retirement accounts more aggressively (would be nice for other reasons too)
- alternatively, look into small businesses that are low risk and passive

== time ==

Right now my time is split into these buckets: work, family time with kids and/or wife, sleep, and free time. Free time can be further divided into maintenance tasks like showering and eating; "low value" choices like TV, video games, and easy books; and "high value" choices like journaling, working out, working on projects, hard books, and connecting with friends. Specifically what I would like is to spend a greater percent of my free time in "high value" choices.

This is more complicated than it sounds though. You might think I could simply choose to spend my free time on "high value" tasks instead of "low value" ones, but you'd be wrong. This lifelong struggle is in fact at the root of my username that I've had for half my life.

The best model I currently have of my behavior is as follows: imagine a battery that is drained by work and family time (and some other stuff). In free time "high value" choices are net positive for the battery but cannot be chosen when the battery is low. In fact, when the battery is low only "low value" choices are available to recharge it.

I'm not saying this model fits all people. For example, my wife has little use for the "low value" bucket and will seemingly happily spend all her free time in "high value". I suspect she is simply more high functioning than I am in a way I cannot learn. Instead, my approach will be as follows:
- become more efficient at work in the following way: find ways to drain the battery less during work time while still meeting expectations. (Is this the Loser strategy from the Gervais Principle?)
- become more efficient at family time in the following way: find ways to drain the battery less during family time less while still being present and engaged with my family
- gain greater awareness and insight into the battery units gained and lost through the day (how? first pass answer is meditation but I personally find little development of awareness and insight on that path)
- I'm going to put this one on the list to make the list exhaustive, but I currently do not believe it works: learn to recharge the battery faster by becoming more efficient at "low value" recharge -- or skipping it altogether and going straight to "high value".

I will note that having two young kids (2.5yr & 2.5mo) along with a high-powered job means this is probably the most challenging year of my life, in a way that, forgive me, is kind of impossible to explain to non-parents. That said, even with this handicap, it's still worth working towards more efficient use of time.

== check in ==

I plan to collect some numbers and make some charts on net worth, assest allocation, and expenses, just to make sure things are generally on track.

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RFS
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by RFS »

Hey Akratic, I'm glad you're journaling again :P I have really enjoyed your journal.

I am not a parent, and I can't imagine how exhausting that is. Nonetheless, I think there are immense benefits from some of the "high value" activities you listed (especially vigorous exercise), even if you do them for an incredibly small amount of time.

For example, exercising can be 90 minutes lifting weights, or it can be a 5-10 minute run. I have noticed that, once you get your heart rate up and are feeling particularly strenuous for a couple of minutes, there's not a massive difference in how much better you feel. Maybe it would help to ask yourself "what is the absolute minimum viable version of a high-value activity I can do right now?" when your battery is low.

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C40
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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by C40 »

There's a book you might find useful, called "Essentialism". My mom (and I think my brother) read it and said it helped her a lot with work - like sorting out what things she really needs to work hard on, and what things to just let go. I'd guess that the advice in the book would be useful outside of work too.

I never read the book because I felt like it was explaining things that I was already telling my mom and brother to do. So I'm not sure whether it's just obvious suggestions, or more in-depth stuff.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by jacob »

@akratic - IIRC, there's some ideas for accounting for home ownership in viewtopic.php?t=7870 ... There was no general agreement on the right way as everybody seemed to favor a method that didn't make their own choices look bad. The most fair to me is to count home equity as a 3-4% expense, since technically that could have been invested if one hadn't bought the home.

You're probably the one individual I've ever met that I think is most temperamentally aligned with my own. In terms of energy buckets, I can totally relate. Exercise may work as an energy booster, but I've generally found the opposite effect. It's true that some forms of exercise can provide stress relief IFF it takes the mind off the stressor. For example, for me, hockey or shinkendo is good while swimming or running is bad. However, in terms of energy levels I find them to be higher when I take a long break (weeks) from exercising. It simply costs both time and physical energy. OTOH, not exercising ever also has its costs. Perhaps the solution is "light exercise"... I've only done enough of that to finally understand what people mean when they say they feel good (endorphins) after working out. So maybe pick something light and "game-like" instead of an actual workout, like a pick-up game. Didn't you use to play soccer?

Also ... the energy thing is real. Look into eneagram type 5 descriptions which pretty much cover the INT* character. The so-called avarice manifests when stressed and will generally seek to hoard time and [life-]energy by trying to cut away things (minimalism) or frantically optimize inefficiencies away. This can lead to a bad spiral as the preserved energy gains are funneled directly back into trying to preserve even more energy resulting in no net gain. I'm not sure exactly what the solution is or rather what a practical solution is. Sabbaticals are a popular outlet in academia. Historical gurus (Musashi) run off into the mountains and hide there. These methods are not super practical from a modern/everyman perspective.

Add: I mostly blame it on the increasing amounts of tasks/responsibilities, especially maintenance stuff, taken on as one gets older or further along. Like stuff, they just seem to accrete slowly until there's little left. That's a big reason what Zuckerberg had his "no one older than 30yrs"-guideline. I think the "Simple Living" movement was an attempt at a solution. I'm not sure how well it works in practice.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

akratic wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 9:35 pm
The best model I currently have of my behavior is as follows: imagine a battery that is drained by work and family time (and some other stuff). In free time "high value" choices are net positive for the battery but cannot be chosen when the battery is low. In fact, when the battery is low only "low value" choices are available to recharge it.

I'm not saying this model fits all people.
This model fits me really well and is better than any explanation I've come up with. When my energy is run down I have no trouble continuing with manual labor type work but I have a hard time thinking. I can think when I am not feeling like it but it is difficult.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Tyler9000 »

akratic wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 9:35 pm
Right now my time is split into these buckets: work, family time with kids and/or wife, sleep, and free time. Free time can be further divided into maintenance tasks like showering and eating; "low value" choices like TV, video games, and easy books; and "high value" choices like journaling, working out, working on projects, hard books, and connecting with friends. Specifically what I would like is to spend a greater percent of my free time in "high value" choices.

This is more complicated than it sounds though. You might think I could simply choose to spend my free time on "high value" tasks instead of "low value" ones, but you'd be wrong. This lifelong struggle is in fact at the root of my username that I've had for half my life.

The best model I currently have of my behavior is as follows: imagine a battery that is drained by work and family time (and some other stuff). In free time "high value" choices are net positive for the battery but cannot be chosen when the battery is low. In fact, when the battery is low only "low value" choices are available to recharge it.
I totally relate.

Even though high-value activities may be net positive for the battery, they usually have high startup costs. That's why they're impossible to do while the battery is low and you have nothing left to give. For example, journaling and hard books require focus you may not have, while projects and connecting with friends also require inspiration and setup that may be lacking.

One trick I've found is to cut yourself some slack and focus on simple incremental steps when your battery is low. Instead of journaling, just write down a list of topics you can journal about later. And instead of working on projects, just take a few minutes to set aside the tools and materials for easy access. Focus on the little things when the battery is low, and it reduces the startup costs for when the battery recovers a bit. That will make it easier to get back into the high value activities later on with less friction.

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Re: akratic's ERE journal

Post by Fiddle »

Hey Akratic, just chiming in here as I've 3 children similar ages as yours.
I find having a pull up bar in the door way of my utility room helps, no matter what is happening I can slip away a minute several times a day and feel better doing pull ups getting stronger and see the improvement.
I went part time at work and that helped big time with my time and energy but I did have to take the cut in money, status power etc but I feel valued there so was a good call for me.
Looking forward to reading how you progress things.

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