Whenever we take time off from work I like to think that we are practicing our FI life. What is our ideal lifestyle if work becomes optional for us? What is the right balance of activities that makes everyone in the family happiest and feeling fulfilled?
I know I’m not the only one doing this as I recall an older post from my friend Purple on testing her early retirement schedule in which she writes:
“The schedule of a full-time job and its demands on my energy and curiosity make it incompatible with my ideal life. I wasn’t sure if my ideal was possible or would make me a happier version of myself, but I can now report it definitely does.”
Trying out our FI from home
We had the opportunity to spend 4 weeks in Mexico this year (and amazing luck in our timing as this happened back in January) and practice our FI life in a paradise-like setting. While this was truly lovely, I do like the moments when we get to practice right from our home just like we got to do these last 2 weeks.
With kids and some of our other priorities, I know that a large part of our life as financially independent will be more set around our current location. Especially with the changes we’ve seen these last few months, while we would love to add travel in our future, I just don’t know when this will be possible in the ways we would like.
Viewing these last 2 weeks off from work as dedicated to practicing our FI life helps me figure out what this freedom would look like right from home. Things were obviously a bit different considering the pandemic, yet we mostly got to do a lot of the things we had in mind.
So many activities
We camped, hiked in the nearby national park, went out on our sailboat often to sail and anchor to swim in the river. We rode our bikes, had picnics, took plenty of naps and played in our yard a lot. I spent time in our garden, we cooked delicious things and built things out of legos with the kids on rainy days.
While my focus during those 2 weeks was more on family, I still spent time working on my blog and coaching business, dedicating a set amount of time to it. I’ve realized that this is an important part of my world in the sense that it challenges me while bringing me a sense of fulfilment.
Adjusting our rhythm & expectations
One thing that we did differently during this time off versus the last summer vacation is that we adjusted our rhythm & expectations to have less things going on.
During our 4 weeks trip to Mexico, we realized that what we enjoyed the most was the last week when we kept the amount of planned activities at a minimal level. We had more time for recovery activities like naps, reading and plenty of free play for the kiddoes.
In the last 2 weeks, we planned very little official things, which was very lovely and allowed for going with the flow of the weather and the mood of the four of us. As for the stuff we did plan, we aimed for less in terms of expectations.
For example, instead of spending 2 nights sleeping on the boat, we decided to anchor closer to the marina and only spend one overnight. We felt a lot less drained from managing the kids energy in this enclosed space for only a 24 hour period.
It’s quite insightful to consider the time off from work as practicing our FI life, rather than as a type of “escaping everyday life” perspective. As I work to find happiness on the journey towards FI, I realize that some of the habits that bring me lots of it are directly tied to my work schedule, such as doing yoga before I open my work laptop in the morning and meditating during my lunch break.
This change in perspective helps me find out if there are some habits I can work on being better integrated in my daily life, even if work becomes optional once we reach FI.
For example, this time off seemed to completely throw off the workout habits I had been putting in place these last few months. While it has not been difficult to get back to healthier ways with a more regular routine tied to my day job, I do know that this is something I can work on planning ahead for our next period of time off.
What have you learned from time off of your job on the path to FI?
P.s: Since the blog is heading in a more semi-anonymous direction, I now send a newsletter on a regular-ish basis for some more personal content.