m741's ERE Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
DutchGirl
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:14 am

Nice plans for your finances in 2019. I also like simplifying. I've simplified my finances some, and now I try to keep things simple; and for example not open new accounts.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 6:56 pm

January 2019

An interesting month - the first (and only, for now) month without working, traveling, or moving. It still ended up being pretty busy, picking up lots of different furniture on craigslist, and so on. But we've basically filled out the entire house and I don't anticipate any more furniture purchases, unless we do a "swap" and buy/trade something to replace something crappy we got initially got. We're also stocked up with a lot of Costco bulk food, spices, toiletries, etc. The house is very cozy now and I'd estimate that we spent a total of about $10,000 on the move, the only expensive purchases of which were the car ($5500), mattress ($250), and sofa ($700).

Finance

I now have two consecutive months of actual net worth (rather than interpolations). With the market recovery, I've seen my net worth increase by 4%. This is more than half the dip since July, and it's a relief. That said, more than the dip/gain, what is weirdest at this level of savings is that you don't really have "X amount" saved, since the market fluctuates so much. There's no baseline. Tiny changes also dwarf any kind of expenses or (most) income.

Although I have as clear a picture as possible of net worth, I'm not in a good position to understand my expenses right now. February I will be tracking all expenses, and hope to continue that for March and April at least. This should give me a baseline for "Seattle expenses". It's also an opportunity to trim out unnecessary expenses. My lack of understanding expenses makes me fundamentally nervous.

Probably the biggest thing of all, was that I sat down with my girlfriend and we had a very open, honest and productive discussion of finances. I'd put this off for so long, with lots of excuses both valid and not, but now we're 100% of the same page. I really should have done this 2+ years ago, but she's fully up to speed on the FIRE community and everything.

Finally, I will begin work in mid-February. I'm both looking forward to it and dreading it. Maybe a little more of the latter.

Goals

I'll run through the goals I listed in my megapost, and my progress:

* I've spent 28 hours playing guitar, 8 hours more than necessary. This is with a goal of 200 hours per year.
* I created 6 "creative works," 4 less than my goal. More on this later.
* I studied Spanish for 35 hours, when my goal was 30. These hours were not nearly as structured as I'd like, but I feel like I have a good routine.
* I ran 29 miles, when my target was 40. I'm OK letting this lag a little, since I plan on running to/from work most days once I start working.
* Embarrassingly, I've done only 220 pushups from a goal of 1320. This is weird, because they're so quick to do, but I was able to procrastinate an awful lot.
* My weight is basically unchanged. I think my diet is getting healthier though, I've begun intermittent fasting (for a week now), I drink lots of water and I take vitamins. I'm going to slowly cut quantity of food eaten, but I expect to see progress catch up to my habits in February.
* I read 6 graphic novels when my target was 2. This is way ahead of the curve. I've actually read a lot more than this, since a few of the longer series I'm reading are almost complete.
* I watched 4 influential movies (Battleship Potemkin, Nosferatu, Duck Soup, Bicycle Thieves), when my goal was 5.
* I completed 3 video games (Sniper Elite 4, Brothers, Pyre) when my target was 1.5.
* I am ahead on my Kiva loans.

These are all my tracked goals. I think I will be altering a few of them. I realized that (A) I'm spreading myself too thin, and (B) I need to have concrete things to aspire to. To that end, I wrote out some of the things I'd like to do this year. These include: record a blues album (nothing fancy, but I'd like to have 5-8 songs recorded and mixed at the end of the year); write a (bad) novel (during NaNoWriMo); weigh 160 pounds; take and (hopefully) pass the DELE B2 exam for Spanish; run a 45 minute 10k; donate/loan/save various amounts of money; publish an Android app; complete 2x Ludum Dares (game hackathons). If at the end of the year I've done all that I'll be pretty proud of myself.

With this in mind, I will not be pushing myself on woodworking or the art stuff and cutting the "Creative Works" goal. Guitar (and programming) is my primary creative focus right now. Trying to get better at visual arts and woodworking basically triples the amount of disciplines I need to study.

Thoughts

With all this stuff going on, I've actually been very lazy. I'm a bit lethargic and unmotived many days though I sometimes power through. I asked in another thread about personal mission, something that becomes a noticeable void when you stop working. My fundamental problem is one of meaninglessness - I'm not driven to complete any particular project, and as a result my days don't feel urgent and I don't really want to do a whole lot. I'm still thinking about how to deal with this. I think it comes down to two things: first, I didn't have concrete goals. Now that I think about playing guitar in order to record an album, I have some motivation. I'm happy with my goals for guitar, Spanish, weight, NaNoWriMo, Android and my financial goals. I've had these formulated for 2 weeks to a month. But I've been blocked by the next step, which is that I'm *so far* from accomplishing my goals. I'm plunking away at guitar, but don't have a clear map to follow; the same goes for basically every goal except for NaNoWriMo and the financial goals. I don't have a clear picture of what to study for Spanish; I don't know how to publish an Android app; and I haven't made progress on my weight. So immediately in the next 2-3 days I *need* to figure out what the next few months look like.

That's about it. I won't list out monthly goals for February since I haven't figured them out (beyond those generated automatically, like the bullets above).

suomalainen
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by suomalainen » Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:22 pm

Not sure if the meaninglessness question is basically mooted by your going back to work. Work provides a nice outlet for a number of things that trip human good feelings - sociability, accomplishment, approval, etc. (which are the same feelings that "meaning" produces?). Maybe when you stop working again, you can search for something (new) meaningful to fill the time. But don't go getting preggers in a search for meaning. That's a very long-term solution to what I see as a short-term problem of what am I going to do today (or for the foreseeable future)?

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:17 am

@Suomalainen - Yes, I expect that the sense of meaninglessness will recede once I go to work - work provided a way to dodge such questions historically: it won't be as pressing. And I certainly don't intend to have a kid simply to address this question (or really for any reason connected to this), though I do think I'd like to have a kid. I don't think that kids are an actual "solution" to this existential problem, so while a kid may become my top priority he/she would not resolve the underlying existential issue.

----

I did have a compelling realization today as I was doing the dishes, if you'll bear with me on the psychology here. As a kid I was always told I was very smart. Incidentally, this is advised against in parenting books these days, since it encourages a "fixed" mindset, and I've noticed the exact posited pathology in myself... It wasn't until I was embarrassingly old (really, maybe 6 years ago) that I realized how huge a population of "very smart" people there are. And there's of course an even bigger population of people who my not even be smart, but who are sufficiently motivated, who do very impressive things such as starting businesses or writing a book - things that I would consider very successful which require more gumption, vision, focus than brainpower.

I've noticed over the past year or so that my mindset, for as as long I can remember, has been one which believes that 99.9% of people are not living "meaningful" lives. That's not due to spite; I grouped myself into that category. I think now there's something quite sick about this mindset. But what I realized is that my mindset was akin to the old quote about the American public as "temporarily embarrassed millionaires." I think I've always viewed myself, subconsciously, as a "temporarily embarrassed genius." And this has both motivated me and in all honesty driven me in directions that are probably unhealthy - a need to prove myself, to at least be a footnote in history or deliver something of lasting substantial value. This top-down thinking seems both increasingly unrealistic, as well as unproductive framing.

I'm curious to hear if other people had similar experiences, came to a similar realization, have learned even more than this, etc.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:48 am

m741 wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:17 am
I'm curious to hear if other people had similar experiences, came to a similar realization, have learned even more than this, etc.
I'm not sure how old your are, journal started "in early 20's", so I have a rough guess. I think this type of realization, ie I probably wont change the world, or be the next [insert hero here], is a normal transition in late 20's. At least it was for me, and many in my social network. Reality, wrt how the world actually is, begins to set in.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by herp » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:18 am

m741 wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 6:56 pm
I'm happy with my goals for guitar, Spanish, weight, NaNoWriMo, Android and my financial goals. I've had these formulated for 2 weeks to a month. But I've been blocked by the next step, which is that I'm *so far* from accomplishing my goals. I'm plunking away at guitar, but don't have a clear map to follow; the same goes for basically every goal except for NaNoWriMo and the financial goals. I don't have a clear picture of what to study for Spanish; I don't know how to publish an Android app; and I haven't made progress on my weight.
I think perhaps trying to break down your goals further could be helpful. Think of it like programming - what is the next function I'll need to write? What class should I make now? Having recently finished moving as well (although over a tiny distance), this mindset really helped me get through everything in a state where my mental health still isn't great, but slowly improving. I set goals on a day to day basis.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:42 am

m741 wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:17 am
I'm curious to hear if other people had similar experiences, came to a similar realization, have learned even more than this, etc.
Dante famously had this realization at mid-life, about the age of 35, FWIW. “In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost.”

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by jacob » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:20 pm

Confucius said: "At fifteen my heart was set on learning(*); at thirty I stood firm(**); at forty I had no more doubts(***); at fifty I knew the will of heaven(****); at sixty my ear was obedient(*****); at seventy I could follow my heart's desire without overstepping the boundaries of what was right(******)."

(*) Conscious intellectual incompetence.
(**) Conscious intellectual competence.
(***) Unconscious intellectual competence (& unconscious moral incompetence).
(****) Conscious moral incompetence.
(*****) Conscious moral competence.
(******) Unconscious moral competence.

Add: Read intellectual as what has to do with thinking (T) and moral as what has to do with feeling (F).

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Smashter » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:22 pm

classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:48 am
I think this type of realization, ie I probably wont change the world, or be the next [insert hero here], is a normal transition in late 20's.
Same. It definitely hasn't been easy for me, as anyone who read the dark ramblings in my journal can attest. I'm slowly doing better with it all, though.

Also, I love that Dante quote, I'm surprised I've never heard it before.

suomalainen
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by suomalainen » Fri Feb 01, 2019 3:23 pm

Same. Mid 30s for me. I was a special snowflake until I got hit by a car. Surprise, the world didn't stop. No one (but a very select few) gave a shit whether I lived or died.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by anesde » Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:58 am

First off, just want to say how much I’ve enjoyed your journal. I blasted through it about a year ago when you were preparing to leave work and embark on your journey.

I gather we’re around the same age (I’m 30) and I can attest to your “realization”. I suppose you can go the pure nihilist way (a la brute) and decide that nothing really matters. However, I personally don’t find that to be very beneficial. After all, even if you won’t change the world, or leave your mark in some significant way you still have many more years left on this planet.

Personally I reframed my view such that whilst I may not be a “genius”, I am quite competent and confident that I can achieve whatever I want. Perhaps not as great as others, perhaps not to a level that’s “life changing”, but “enough” for me.

Combine that with FI and you get the freedom to chase whatever it is you want to. You may never be Jimmy Hendricks but publishing an album or even just playing good music for family and friends is “enough”. You worked hard for it and can share the fruits of your labor with those that you love.

For example - I know I’ll never be the fastest or strongest guy but I still get up at 6am to work out. Not to win a competition but because it makes me feel better and pushes me closer to the man I perceive (aspire?) myself to be.

No one will remember your name 50-70 years after you’re dead. That can scare you or you can realize that you’ll be dead anyway so what does it matter? What I think matters is how did you live your life while you were alive? Did you live up to what you aspired to be? Note I don’t mean that your aspirations should be based on external validations (like if your name is in the history books) but rather your own internal drive.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:24 pm

jacob wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:20 pm
Confucius said: "At fifteen my heart was set on learning; at thirty I stood firm; at forty I had no more doubts; at fifty I knew the will of heaven
Confucius was quite the braggart, wasn't he?

As for the Spanish learning... would it help to find someone local to practise your Spanish with? In return you could perhaps help them with English.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by jacob » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:27 pm

While it sounds arrogant, I don't think it's conceited.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Jason » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:44 pm

Personally, I think Confucius was full of shit, but I admire his firmness of belief.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by suomalainen » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:36 am

@jace Dunning-Kruger, etc

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Jason » Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:24 am

Yeah, I know. Everyone tells me I have it.

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