SavingNinja published another inspiring thought experiment. I participated in all of them thus far and once again I couldn’t help to pour a glass of whiskey, fire up my laptop, light a cigar (okay not the cigar thing, but try to imagine it) and turn my thoughts into a rambling blog post. Not only are these thought experiments interesting and amusing, they’re also a lifeline for my blog. If I lack the inspiration for posts, SavingNinja always comes to the rescue 🙂
Life is good. You finally did it! You pulled the plug on your day job after reaching financial independence. You never have to work for money ever again. But, you’re bored. You need something to do… You need a project! You grab a piece of paper and a pen and start thinking. Now that you’re financially free, what projects do you want to complete? However ambitious, however small, you now have the time to pursue anything that you like, what will you accomplish?
I had done it.
For the last ten years I had a dream. To reach the point where I didn’t have to trade my time and labor for money anymore. In other words, my dream was FIRE. Financial independence, retire early. Before turning 60.
For the last 10 years I had invested a big share of my income. In stocks. In crowd lending schemes. Real estate. I had optimized my savings rate whenever I could. Suffered near nervous breakdowns when the markets were down again, but found comfort in drinking whiskey. It was a time with ups and downs, but more ups than downs considering I had reached my goal at the youngish age of 57 (beating full pension age by a respectable 11 years).
But after the initial feeling of euphoria where I had done exactly what I had planned – visit coffee shops, practice ‘la dolce far niente‘, read books, did some traveling, contemplate, (try to) find myself, be a philanthropist (donating time rather than money), smile to people – things started to get boring. I became restless.
To be honest, I seriously doubt I will get restless, but for the sake of this thought experiment I assume this is exactly how I feel.
So, I had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. Now what?
There is something that is called post-Olympic depression syndrome. Many athletes train for years, reach the apex of their careers during the Olympics and then they crash.
Was I suffering from something similar?
Anyway, it was time to sit down and think. If doing the things I had dreamed of weren’t doing it for me. Then what would?
There are plenty of examples of athletes who didn’t know when to stop. Or they announced they’d leave the sport only to return again. That’s only very rarely a good idea.
I hereby pledge I will not return. I will not aim for a fatter FIRE. More money to burn, for a longer time. Granted, the journey to FIRE did give me a sense of direction, but I will need to find alternatives.
If not more FIRE, then what?
Go back to work to fight the boredom? Never.
Music maybe? I always loved making music. Electronic music, using a simple laptop and sequencer software. I was mediocre at best, but compensated with a good dose of enthusiasm. There is no age limit as far as making music is concerned and I would love to invest time and money to work on my DJ skills. Maybe I could even play sets in clubs. I know I am old, but if Mick Jagger can do it, I can too. Right?
An (old) analogue guy in a digital world…. the title of Martin Roth’s little masterpiece.
What about drawing and painting? That has also been one of my passions. I was mediocre at best (this starts to become the main theme), but that didn’t stop me from trying.
And what about writing? It’s the mother of all my passions. I have never written (finished writing) a book, but deep down I believe I am an author. Writing a novel would absolutely shadow me reaching early retirement. It would be a much greater achievement. Now that I have all the time in the world, writing a book is the obvious thing to do. It could become a long and hard struggle, but that shouldn’t put me off.
You know what? I will do all of the above. To be honest, I don’t think I’d be able not to make music, draw and write.
But is this it? Is this the answer? Will this be the definitive defeat of boredom? What if I have written that book? Painted that beautiful landscape? Composed an awesome tune?
The psychology of accomplishments tells me that when you reach your goal you lose your motivation. In extreme cases you may sink into a depression.
I am never afraid of that.
Actually, you shouldn’t underestimate boredom. It doesn’t have to be defeated. Boredom and its counterpart states (excitement, interest, enjoyment, pleasure) are companions. Without one you can’t have the other. I know people who think being bored is the worst thing that can happen to them. Something needs to be going on. All the time. 24/7.
I’m not one of them. Boredom has its place in my life. Maybe even more so now that I have reached FIRE (which I have according to the thought experiment).
My brother and I have been on road trips every single year since 2013. Are we done with that? Absolutely not. Now that we both have reached FIRE (indeed, he has been pursuing exactly the same thing…I think he even started before I did), we’ll only travel more.
But traveling in and of itself is not even our goal. Our goal is to relax, enjoy life, do nothing, practice ‘la dolce far niente‘. We’ll find lovely, sun drenched cafes, we’ll drink coffee and beer. And we’ll watch people who didn’t step off the conveyor belt like we did. People in a rush, people who spill coffee on their shirts because they carry laptops and papers and coffee and try to answer an important call, people who check their watches every second minute. God forbid they’ll miss their next meeting. What a contrast to our ‘boring’ lives…. and what a beautiful reminder we chose the right path.
Trust me, we’ll never be able to get enough of that. And who knows, maybe we’ll venture to far and remote places again, like we did when we crossed the Arctic circle.
Enough rambling. I will stop now and bore myself a bit.
But not to death.