I hope you had a great 4th of July. Independence Day is my favorite holiday of the year and we enjoyed it thoroughly. For the holiday weekend, we took it easy and didn’t do too much. The Blues Festival was held only a few blocks away and great music wafted through our open windows for 5 days. It was the perfect time to hit the pool to cool off. RB40Jr’s friend came over for a swim and joined us for BBQ ribs & sides. After our late lunch, the kids played and the adults enjoyed some local beverages while catching up. Lastly, we savored the spectacular fireworks show from our balcony to close out the festival. Ahhh… life couldn’t get any better than this.
The holidays couldn’t last forever, though. On July 5th, Mrs. RB40 had to return to work, RB40Jr headed to a day camp at the zoo, and I took my mom to see the optometrist. Mrs. RB40 drew the short straw on this one. It’s always hard to get motivated after a holiday. I had a rough time getting back to blogging as well. The optometrist trip took way longer than I expected and I couldn’t get into the blogging mood. Hence, this post is out on Friday instead of the usual Thursday. It’s always tough to concentrate in the summer because the weather is so nice and there are so many things going on.
Enjoy The Journey
“Life is a Journey, not a destination” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Whatever your destination is, it’s important to enjoy the journey. That’s not always an easy thing to do when financial independence is the goal. Basically, financial independence is the ability to enjoy your lifestyle without a job. We can turn this into a math problem and set a very specific goal. For many in the FI community, this means having 25x your annual expense. As soon as I made financial independence my goal, I became obsessed with it and lost sight of the journey. The destination was everything and I pushed as hard as I could to get there ASAP. I cut back on spending and invested every penny. Work sucked, but I just put my head down and kept going. This shortened the time to FI, but subjectively, those last few years at my old engineering job felt like forever.
The job was stressful already and I made it much harder by putting more pressure on myself. I became depressed and loathed going to work. In retrospective, that’s exactly the wrong way to do it. Instead of putting my head down and pushing through it, I should have considered other options. The last few years of my journey to financial independence would have been much more enjoyable if I found a job I could tolerate. However, there weren’t many employment opportunities locally and we didn’t want to move. That put a big constraint on it. I really should have expanded my options and looked for a position elsewhere. Changing jobs probably would have delayed my early retirement, but the time would have been much more enjoyable.
So that was the big mistake on my journey to FI. We did well financially, but it was a very stressful time in our lives. Money really isn’t everything. It all worked out, though. I didn’t get a heart attack, and I retired from full time work in 2012. Life is really good now and it’s much easier to enjoy the journey when I don’t have to go to a job I hate. I have time to enjoy the summer with our kid. Working on the blog a few hours per day is just about perfect as well.
Mrs. RB40’s turn
Now it’s Mrs. RB40’s turn to push through the last few years before she can retire. Personally, I think she can retire now, but she doesn’t feel secure enough yet. The healthcare policy is in flux and she’d like to get that figured out before she calls it quit. We all have some kind of health issue and we need good health insurance. Anyway, Mrs. RB40 is starting to feel retirementitus. Or whatever you call the equivalent of senioritus. That’s the anxious feeling you get when you really want to quit, but just can’t do it yet for whatever reason.
I could see the change come over her recently. She complains about her job a bit more. Her commute to work seems harder and it’s tougher to leave the house in the morning. She makes excuses like having to wash the breakfast dishes rather than leaving the house on time. Every evening, her shoulders and back muscles have deep knots in them. I can feel that she is somewhat restless and unsatisfied. At least, she doesn’t need to see a psychiatrist yet. If it ever comes to that, I’ll put my foot down and make her take a year off or something.
At this point, all I can do is try to make her journey a bit more enjoyable. I try to minimize stress at home and cook delicious meals for her. We have some relaxing vacations coming up and they should help. I’m also keeping my mouth shut when she splurges a bit. Her last few years will still be tough, but I won’t let her get to that dark place where I was.
Here are a few things that anyone can do to make life a little more enjoyable when work is a slog.
- Go on mini vacations to get a little distance from work.
- Minimize stress outside of work.
- Exercise and meditation will alleviate stress.
- Get a massage to help you relax, even a short one is very nice.
- Spending some money is okay.
- Date nights will help couples stay connected.
- Say I love you more frequently and make sure your partner feels appreciated.
Lastly, I’ll work on increasing my blogging income so she can feel financially secure enough to retire early.
I’d love to have some input here. What else can I do to make my wife’s journey to financial independence more enjoyable?