Yesterday was Sunday. Like millions of people in the UK, I spent it doing whatever-the-hell I wanted. That turned out to be a visit to an antique fair, a mooch around an art gallery, a blast through a supermarket, a trip through our fields to the river and, finally, a movie.
Today is Monday. Unlike millions of people in the UK, I am spending it doing whatever-the-hell I want. That turns out to be some adjustments to my investments, a workout, a trip through our fields to the river, the formulation and writing of this blog post and, finally, a movie.
Tomorrow is Tuesday. Unlike millions of people in the UK, I will spend it doing whatever-the-hell I want. That will be a visit to a Buddhist monastery, a walk around Ulverston in the Lake District, a walk around Derwentwater in the Lake District and, finally, a movie.
I don’t write the above to brag. Far from it. The idea for this blog came about whilst I was down by the river, soaking up the sounds, the sunshine, and flipping over rocks in the attempt to find a fossil (I failed!). It occurred to me what a wonderful life I have engineered for myself.
To me, the ultimate goal in life is freedom. Freedom to do what I want, when I want, how I want (within reason). I have never held down a “proper” job. In all honesty, I don’t understand how anyone can, unless they absolutely love doing it. I apologise if such a flippant remark annoys you; I appreciate that the reason most people have a “proper” job is to earn money to live. However, from what I can see most then become a slave to that very lifestyle, unable to quit their job as it could mean the loss of their house, the inability to buy a new car or the latest big screen TV.
The thing is, all we need is a roof over our heads and enough money to be able to feed and clothe ourselves and any dependants. I have spent virtually all of my adult life in that state, rarely having a surplus of cash often wondering where the rent was going to come from. But how many people who work a full-time job for an unappreciative corporation are in the same boat, wondering how they will manage month on month?
Over time, people get promoted up the corporate ladder so they can earn more money to spend on crap no-one really needs to make up for the fact that even more of their precious life will now be devoted to an entity that would replace them within a week if they suddenly dropped down dead.
If you have read my book, you will know that I inhereted some cash a few years ago. Not enough to, say, buy a house with, but enough where – with prudent investing – Vikki and I will be able to one day move to a foreign land to start a new adventure. Having received this windfall relatively late in life, I was already so used to being skint that I really didn’t have a clue what to do with it. I thought about buying stuff – a more modern car, gadgets, tech etc – but couldn’t work out how that would enrich my life.
In fact, I have been carrying out an experiment of sorts, making multiple purchases a month of things I think I want only to send back about 95% of those items. Once the initial excitement of receiving and opening the new purchases has waned (usually within minutes), I realise that I actually don’t want this thing so exploit Amazon’s return policy to my best advantage. It’s been a bit of an eye-opener.
The point I am trying to make is that being able to buy pretty much whatever I want does nothing to increase my happiness. What does and what will is continuing to do whatever-the-hell I want.
“Yeah, it’s alright for you, you have that money”. I can hear the comments already but, in case I wasn’t clear before, the way I live my life right now is exactly the same as they way I lived my life before having a little nest egg. Additionally, none of that money contributes to our day-to-day living and, if you own a house, you have way more assets than I do.
Life is short. Really, really short. Even if you lived to be 100 years old, that time is basically meaningless. It’s the equivalent of a penny among trillions of pounds: it contributes little and doesn’t matter. So why do so many people spend up to 1/3rd of their lives doing something they would rather not do? I can’t imagine anyone wishing they had worked more when lying on their death bed.
Currently, Vikki and I work smart, not hard. We have done hard: we started a business at the same time as a band (the former funding the latter) and ran both side-by-side for over ten years. Once the band was over, I found myself filling my time with multiple projects, making stuff up to do as I felt I needed to be busy, needed to be working. But what did that effort contribute to my life? I’ll tell you: NOTHING! All it did was stress me out and make me miserable. So now I do the bare minimum to get by. Most of the work we do is a total waste of time. A 100% increase in my productivity would not produce a 100% increase in my income, so why bother putting the effort in? I would rather do something-less-boring-instead. This leaves me more time to enjoy life, explore life and chase the projects and ambitions that are actually important to me.
I hope this post gives you some food-for-thought. I am not saying it would be easy or responsible to, for instance, quit your job, sell up and live in a tipi. What I am asking you is this:
Is there a way you could work less to do more of the things you love, before it’s too late?