I have now been on a leave of absence from work for 51 days! Yikes, that’s extremely hard for me to believe, and it honestly doesn’t feel like all that much time has passed by already… Wow, in the blink of an eye, almost! Strange, that’s the exact feeling I used to get when I was working the grind 5 days a week as well…
At this point, I wish I could say that “early FI” has been everything I hoped it would be… Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely LOVING my time off from work, and in many aspects I feel that early FI is still extremely underrated. But there’s a catch…
Here are some of the things I’ve observed so far:
It is unbelievably easy for me to stay busy and keep my days jam packed. I really can’t for the life of me understand how retirees ever feel bored, because if anything, I feel like my days are even more busy now than when I was working! Often times, I find myself wondering, “How would I even be able to juggle all these tasks if I was still chained to the office cubicle?”
For instance, right now I’m handling a rehab on Rental Property SH #3. Everyday, this involves me driving around town, looking at different products/materials, and searching for the best prices. I guess if I was still working, I wouldn’t have the luxury of debating any real decisions, so I would instead simply purchase the first item I found at a reasonable price. Right now, I’m able to scrutinize things a bit more and spend more time educating myself. Yesterday, I was at the kitchen and bathroom remodel shop and spent a few hours browsing all the options. I was researching the differences between: quartz, marble, and granite. Ultimately, in the end, I left the store and purchased nothing…
Further, I’m able to take my health by the horns and watch carefully what I’m putting into my body. I go grocery shopping a few times a week, and am buying a lot more produce and green veggies than I ever did before in the past. With fresh foods, they spoil easy, so it’s much more difficult to buy these items in bulk. Also, I’m finding myself spending an inordinate amount of time cooking in the kitchen. For a guy who used to call a bowl of cereal or top ramen a “meal”, times have changed!
With the extra time, I’m also now exercising and meditating everyday. This is something that is not only undeniably beneficial to good health, but something the majority of workers neglect due to their busy schedules. And that’s a real shame… I have to confess, it’s a most liberating feeling to be able to put on some sweat pants, my iPod, some running/hiking shoes, and go visit a trail for some fresh air whenever I want.
Even with all the items mentioned above, I’m still finding lots of free time to socialize and meet up with friends and other investors. I will routinely join some good buddies for lunch, or afternoon snack, and we will kick back and chill for a few hours. Typically, they will have to take off and rush back to some unknown destination, while I stick around, people watch, and just take life slow… Definitely, this is something I enjoy greatly, especially on a nice, warm spring afternoon.
So, these days, I’m: running side projects, eating right, exercising and meditating, socializing, and all together enjoying life… I only wish that I had even more free time, if you can believe that! I still haven’t gotten around to: reading more books, playing guitar, starting new hobbies, and just learning more things, in general…
Even with my Adrenal Fatigue problem, I still feel like I’m sitting on top of the world right now. The body is still massively screwed up, unfortunately, so I’m always stuck in “fight-or-flight” mode. Despite that, I’m almost forgetting what stress even is… The thing that was hurting me most and causing me so much anguish is now slowly being forgotten by my body!
And it’s making a huge difference in my day-to-day life. You really can’t put a price on peace of mind and being able to live freely on your own terms. There’s no more looking over my shoulder, worrying about forgetting an important meeting, or racking my brain to no end trying to figure out why the hell something doesn’t work in the lab…
That’s all gone and not missed at all! No more weekly status reports, no more putting on fronts and false appearances because “important people” are in the room, etc. These days, I get to be my genuine self… Life feels so much more REAL now without all the BS.
My life right now is arguably even better than it will be once I declare early FI, from a financials point-of-view. The reason? Right now, not only am I living a fully independent life, but I’m still collecting full paychecks, in addition to my passive income. So, in essence, I’m working, without… working.
Granted, this is a result of a serious health condition, and something that won’t last indefinitely, but if I’m going to look on the bright side of things, then getting paid to not work is definitely one of them.
On the journey to early FI, most people hope and pray that they will one day earn enough passive income to basically replace their earned income from a W-2 job. Well, what it would it feel like if you could earn even more than that? Let’s say 1.5x, or 2x your working salary? That’s where I’m at right now, and yes, I’ll admit, it can do wonders for giving you peace of mind. I was extremely conscientious of my spending early on because I thought my work paychecks would be frozen, but because they aren’t, I’m able to operate with a lot more breathing room. This means I don’t have to dip into emergency savings, I get to buy more stocks, and just eliminate another potential stress element from my life.
To make this work in “real FI”, again, I will most likely have to leave the Bay Area and find a cheaper place to live. Early FI and pinching every last penny doesn’t exactly resonate as a smashing good time in my eyes…
We are all people with hopes and dreams. Due to the hustle and bustle of everyday work life, a lot of us tend to lose our identities over time. I know that I most certainly did. With early FI, you get the opportunity and blessing to rediscover yourself. These days, I’m having more internal conversations and monologues than ever before…
What’s the meaning of life? What can I do to better myself today? How am I making a difference in this world? What really matters to me? How can I achieve it?
Those questions above are ones that I would never give more than a passing thought when I was working; I was simply too busy using up all my time trying to make someone else rich… After a day’s work, a broken down and tired version of myself was all that I would have left to work with… Those thoughts wouldn’t cross my mind because all I could ever think about was crashing on the sofa, trying to unwind and decompress after another long, draining day…
The people who I have spoken to during my “sabbatical” have all told me that I look different… There’s an extra bounce to my step, and a lot more happiness in my voice. My doctor even said that our second encounter last week was night-and-day different from our first meeting at the beginning of my treatment. He said I was a lot more cognizant and sharper with my thoughts… And it’s only been about two months… Imagine what the results would be like after 2-3 years? I might become an entirely new person…
That thought not only intrigues me, but excites me to no end…
Debunking the Naysayers
The early FI aspect of my time off is going even better than I could have possibly imagined. No, my health isn’t perfect yet, and I’m still working judiciously to fix that, but otherwise, things are absolutely splendid right now.
To all the naysayers out there who claim that early FI isn’t all that it’s hyped up to be… I don’t even know where to begin… If you’re bored with early FI, then you are bored with life… Or just a boring person! 😉
I’m having the time of my life! And I haven’t even gone out and done anything CRAZY yet… I’m still in the Bay Area, living a most “mundane” life. No, I haven’t traveled or backpacked through Europe yet… So, it’s definitely not the allure of something new and shiny that’s giving me all this excitement.
Everyday life can be so beautiful if you just let it all soak in. Detach yourself from greed, desire, and all the other ills as much as you possibly can… And you will be free… You will be able to appreciate all the simple blessings that make life so magnificent. Just being able to go hiking after lunch on a beautiful day fills me with immense joy… Getting out of the office and lab? Therapeutic. I despise drama and BS more than anything….I don’t need rules and regulations. I don’t need a boss.
I am someone who has quite frankly just always desired freedom and control of my own time. When it comes down to it, “some birds just aren’t meant to be caged… Their feathers are too bright…” If the rat race doesn’t resonate with you, and if it never has, then it just never will. If you are that type of individual, then you’ll also find early FI to be the most liberating thing possible for your health and soul.
Yes, I’m still planning on returning to work… But I will be dreading that day!
- I love life without stress.
- I love the slooooooooow pace of life.
- I love being able to control my time and destiny.
- I love lazy days where you accomplish nothing but happiness.
- I love sleeping in and taking mid-afternoon naps.
- I love being able to exercise multiple times everyday.
- I love being able to meditate and connect to a higher power spiritually.
- I love eating right and nurturing my body.
- I love being able to more meticulously manage my side hustle projects.
- I love being able to hang out with friends and not have to stare at my watch.
Life is wonderful. I’m loving it… I’ve gotten my sneak peak and now I want infinitely more of it…
At this point, I wish I could say that “early FI” has been everything I hoped it would be… I was wrong and miscalculated… It’s even better than I could have ever imagined!
Early FI can’t get here soon enough! 🙂