“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin
Seth’s quote pops up every once in awhile and I ponder it for a moment before moving to the day’s to-do list. I did copy his quote into a Google Doc, figuring I’ll write about the subject in the future.
Well, months have passed and I kept plugging away at the day-to-day without much consideration…that was until winter rolled around. Winter is a great time for self-reflection, especially this winter since we had about six months of meh weather during which we could confront several challenges in our personal and professional lives.
FIRE Reflection #1: Revisiting Our Dreamline
At the last job I left before focusing on our business, I started a little library with books we were getting rid of in the course of downsizing to our “tiny” house. Someone else decided to add books to the library and s/he put The Four Hour Workweek (FHWW) in the little library, which I took home and devoured quickly.
Before FHWW, I was a desk jockey focused on maximizing vacation days to get away from work. I dreaded going to work because of the inevitable boredom from not having enough (challenging) work to do.
After FHWW, I thought a lot about what I offer the world and the ability to craft a new reality without the need for a regular job because of the skills I have.
After FHWW, Garrett and I made changes necessary to achieve our goal to be debt free, but we haven’t made progress on the mini-retirement front — we’re location bound because of Garrett’s W-2, which offers a steady income and health benefits to help us deal with the highs and lows of our new biz.
Hypothetically speaking, if we achieved FIRE today, what would we do differently?
- Grow the business together
- Volunteer in national parks
- Travel the world
We’re already doing the first one and I KNOW we can make the other two happen when Garrett leaves his job.
FIRE Reflection #2: What Our Dreamline Costs
While we’re debt free, we aren’t financially independent. We just started dividend investing earlier this year to generate passive income for the future.
Thus, our business will be what sustains us while we’re traveling and volunteering, so we need to identify another bare bones budget for the purposes of travel as well as biz revenue streams that will sustain us.
With volunteer work, we can offset our personal “on the road” expenses, which are about $17,000 a year on the low end. Reality check, right? Not exactly a lot of revenue we need to make to make this happen.
Additionally, our business allows us the ability to work from anywhere, any time zone — that’ll make it easy to juggle our volunteer shifts with our business. With our Chrysler Town & Country vanlife van, we have the ability to haul whatever we need, wherever we want to go.
FIRE Reflection #3: FIRE vs. Entrepreneurship
Despite the highs and lows related to revenue, running a business is incredibly fun, so much fun that it’s hard to stop working at the end of the day. Garrett gets to design and manage projects (after he gets back from work), which leverage his strengths. I get to network and speak with lots of different folks, which I love.
What would we do with our time if our biz sustained us financially, freeing up time for meaningful work?
What if the focus was on our quality of life today instead of life after FIRE?
Instead of musing over the possibilities for our future, how about we take bigger steps today in the direction of our dreams?
Instead of coasting for the next few years while Garrett is handcuffed to his job, we could grow the biz together to fund our dreamline and maybe even FIRE.
FIRE Reflection #4: Abandoning the Pursuit of FIRE
Before this life of entrepreneurship, I struggled to fit in the regular 8-5 gigs.
Before this life of entrepreneurship, Garrett assumed he’d work the W-2 until he could retire.
As entrepreneurs, we are challenged daily. There’s PLENTY of meaningful work to do, too.
Being an entrepreneur also combats the brain atrophy that accompanies retirement when people quit work all together. Reading through these scientific studies, I anticipate we’ll always have meaningful, challenging work together. Think Warren Buffett.
Warren Buffett still works and runs his business. Why? How?
Because he does work he loves that continues to be a challenge. I love that. I want to be Warren Buffett when I grow up.
Seriously, I think there’s a lesson here.
We love our biz and we can fund our dreamline, so why would we quit simply because we have passive income when we finally found something we love to do?
Should we hit “pause” on the pursuit of FIRE and hit “play” on the pursuit of our dreamline?
FIRE Reflection #5: Pushing the Button
I’m starting to think that the pursuit of financial independence/early retirement might be a waste of time.
I don’t want us to keep living this life purely for financial reasons. I don’t want us to get to 40, 50, or 60 and have a bunch of regrets about not taking the leap to live life differently, even if we don’t have the passive income we need to sustain ourselves.
I don’t want us to stay in our 500 sq ft small house when our tiny teardrop camper and vanlife van are calling for us.
I don’t want us to keep Garrett’s W-2 simply because of the political situation surrounding healthcare. We might die before we see universal healthcare.
I don’t want us to waste time when a little creativity and a lot of frugality can power our next adventure.
I want us to live life differently now, to live fully in a life that aligns with our values, goals, dreams, and interests…not simply to save/invest some multiple of our expenses.
We’ll see what happens next.