How close is your current lifestyle to your idealized lifestyle?
Exhibit A: Current
Wake up at 7am to an alarm, shower, eat a quick breakfast and jump in the car. Fight traffic for 45 minutes. Arrive at work, slog it out for 9 hours in the cubicle. Buy a cheeseburger at the cafeteria for lunch. Attend 1 mind-numbing meeting and 1 meeting that skyrockets your blood pressure. Fight traffic 45 minutes and get home at 6pm. Cook dinner and clean the kitchen. Melt into the couch, watch some TV. Surf the internet. Get on the playstation till midnight. Repeat.
Exhibit B: Improved
Wake up at 7:30 am naturally. Shower, eat breakfast and pack a healthy lunch. Bike 15 minutes into work on the bikepath, arriving by 8:30. Start on the project you’ve designed and are enthused about. Attend a meeting you have planned for and have a defined goal and approach for. Skip the meeting you were able to solve before it happened. Eat lunch and go for a 30 minute walk on your favorite route near your job. Work on your project in the afternoon until 5 pm (8 hours). Bike home, arriving at 5:15. Cook dinner and clean the kitchen. Head out for your softball game.
Exhibit C: Idealized
Wake up at 7:30 am naturally on your home in the mountains. Have a coffee and breakfast on your deck in total peace and quiet, read your favorite blogs. Do a 30 minute rowing workout and then head up to your home office by 9am. Start working on your business. At noon go for a 1.5 hour mountain bike ride. During the ride you have some new ideas to grow your business. Shower and go back to your home office at 2 pm and execute your new ideas till 5:15 pm. Cook dinner and clean the kitchen. Head out for your softball game.
Step 1. Going from current to improved
Define your improved lifestyle. The above examples are just to get you thinking about what an improved/idealized lifestyle might look like for you. What immediate feasible changes would improve your lifestyle? This is highly individualized, but below are some examples:
- Find a rental near a bike path that goes to your current job
- Set up a diverse lunch meal schedule and make sure you get the ingredients in your shopping list every week
- Identify a workout schedule that will work for you
- Motivate yourself at work, whatever your job. Don’t rely on others to motivate you. Become a linchpin. If you can’t do this, consider if you are a good fit for your job
- Organize your tasks at work and be efficient. An employer should see value in a motivated 8 hour day, versus an unmotivated 9 hour day. If they don’t, you may need a different employer
- Try to utilize your creativity at work. You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. Plumbers can use creativity to solve a problem. Find out if you can drive your own project
- Find a peaceful walking route at your job to take a break during the day
- Start an activity like softball, soccer, book club, band that you look forward to break things up
- Reduce passive activities like TV, video games
Step 2. Going from improved to idealized
Again it’s important to define your ideal lifestyle.
- Financial Independence plays a major role in this. If you are FI, then your choices open up. You can move where you want. Get started by identifying an investment strategy, reducing recurring expenses, and minimizing investment costs. Then move on to setting up your FI strategy.
- Think about how to get closer to idealized on your way to FI. Maybe you can find a job that will allow you to move closer to an idealized lifestyle and leave the rat race. This can be a 2, 5, or 10 year plan.
- Continue to educate yourself. There are so many good podcasts and blogs.
In school your path is determined. But rather than letting life happen randomly, it’s better to mold it. The first step is to determine what an improved lifestyle would look like, then an idealized one. If things change, no problem, just change your plan. But have a plan.