Financial independence (FI) is an interesting phenomenon. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are money-rich, but you are definitely time-rich (if you retire) because you no longer have to trade your precious time and labor for a monthly paycheck.
People usually know how to spend money right? But believe me, they have a much harder time figuring out how to spend their time.
Once you reach financial independence, you have a lot of time. Shit loads of it. More than ever before. Again, your pockets may not be overflowing with money. So spending time by spending money – 24/7 – is not an option. So what do you do?!
I haven’t reached FIRE (financial independence – retire early) just yet. But in this post I will share some personal musing about what my life will be like once I get there.
#1 Do Nothing, Stand Still
Doing absolutely nothing is greatly underestimated in my view.
These days there is a constant pressure that we need to be in control, positive, responsible. That we must take things in our own hands, be flexible, pursue personal growth and happiness – always – and never should stop moving and striving to develop our skills to fully unlock our inner potential. And there are plenty of ‘experts’ who can help with their books, blogs and seminars.
If you feel unhappy and have no energy, it must be your own fault. If you do not want to develop new skills and don’t want to be on the move, there is something wrong with you.
I subscribe to the ideas of Svend Brinkmann, a Danish psychology professor and leader of the anti-self-help movement. He wrote the book “Stand firm: Resisting the self-improvement craze”. You can buy it on Amazon in case you are interested.
One of the things he says:
It is exactly what society wants you to do. It is exactly what consumer society wants you to do: to be constantly on the move, constantly adaptable, flexible and changing all the time, to put it simply, so they can sell you new products; you should never be content, you should never be satisfied, you should always look for more.
Once I reach FIRE, I plan on standing still. Do nothing but reflect. Read novels maybe. Definitely not self-help books.
#2 Start the day at my favorite coffee shop. Each morning.
And read a real newspaper, get ink on my fingers and fold it up under my arm on my way out.
Before I leave, I’ll drink my favorite coffee blend, which they start preparing the moment I walk in. They know me. I come there every day. I will also check my investments and see if anything needs adjusting. But it won’t be long before I will continue reading the novel I am reading.
Every now and then I will pause and look at the people entering and leaving. Many are in a hurry. On their way to work. Dressed to the nines. Quite a contrast with my cheap but functional outfit.
After an hour or two, I will leave. On my way out the girl at the counter says: ‘See you tomorrow, mr. earlyretirement’. I touch the tip of my hat and enter the cold morning. Or is it afternoon already?
#3 Collect meaningful experiences
This can be anything really. From spending more time with friends and family to go hiking on your own or go for a stroll in your home town, which you should know so well but don’t really know that well at all. You were much too busy to notice the little streets, corners and shops.
Experiences live on. You will carry them with you until you leave the planet. Quite a contrast with that new shiny car that’s not even yours, but the bank’s.
I have a younger brother. For a long time we didn’t talk much. Saw each other even less. Not because we didn’t want to, but because were too busy. You know how it goes, right? However, in recent years we started to team up for at least one annual trip. Road and city trips. The kind of excursions where the journey is more important than the destination. Where nature’s sights and sounds or a city’s noise and imposing buildings are not the purpose, but the backdrop of us hanging out together. Of our conversations.
We’ll continue this new tradition. But once I reach FIRE, we’ll definitely do this more than once each year. And not just for a few days at a time. But weeks on end (he’s on the way to FIRE as well).
If you have so much time, I think it is fair to give some of it away. It doesn’t require a state of FIRE to start doing that obviously, but once you’re financially independent and quit your job, you can consider giving more.
Be a volunteer. Give something or someone a bit of your time. You will not change the world. But you might change someone.
I am not trying to moralize. What I mean is that if you have time, you can invest more in relationships. It is going to give an entirely different kind of return.
Well, this is one of my musings at least.
For myself mainly.
I can’t speak for others, but if there is one thing that needs some work it is understanding my true self. Who exactly am I? I might be able to close in on the answer by simply doing what I wrote before.
I want a clearer vision of my own unique identity and what’s next in life. I have had a tendency to please others and got a bit lost in the process. You know, life is somewhat of a roller coaster ride. You get in and before you know it you’re just a passenger being thrown back and forth.
Once I reach FIRE, I will be out of the roller coaster. I will be able to breathe and slowly zoom in on myself again. Maybe I will start with thinking about what I loved doing as a kid.
Then I will take it from there…
#6 Your turn
Are there things you would do once you have (more) time? Would love to hear them!
Enjoy your journey to financial independence and don’t forget to subscribe!