I initially began the summer with the idea of wanting to work about 10 hours per week on the blog and my business. As such, the first couple of days I created a pretty detailed schedule with the kiddoes of how we would spend most of our time.
I felt like I needed to find the right balance to make the most of this time with the kids, while still keeping my business active and not waste a second of this precious time. This would be a guiltless summer of doing all the things that matter most to me!
The first few weeks went along those lines. By the second week of July though, I was starting to dread the blocks of time I had set aside to write and work on my business. Aside from the hours I was prepping for coaching calls or doing actual coaching, which totally energise me, I simply did not feel like creating content.
Sometimes the weather was just right to do something else, other times the kids were just not in the mood to spend an hour of quiet time at that specific scheduled time or my plan to have them visit their vaccinated grand-parents fell through.
I told myself that luckily with Mr.Mod’s 5 weeks off starting in mid-July, my dedicated business hours would feel easier and be more productive. Still, when that time came around, despite added child-free periods, I found myself procrastinating on any content creation.
Turns out that my plans for a guiltless summer had backfired. Guilt was very present for me during those weeks. There was guilt for not creating content and more guilt for wasting that time instead of spending it with my family.
It felt like I was sailing upwind, struggling to adjust the sails to get to a point I had set in my mind. It’s not that it was impossible to get there, it’s just that the conditions weren’t exactly ideal to get there comfortably at that exact moment and season in my life.
Making the most of our flexibility
By the end of July, I gave up any pressure I was putting on myself to write or to stick to the extensive summer schedule I had built for the kids and I. I started to just go with the flow of the day. That felt right. Despite how much of a planner I am, that’s what my mind and body needed: unplanned time to enjoy the days with my family. A true guiltless summer.
This was the longest time ever that we were all four of us home together with barely any external obligations. We made the most of having this precious extra time and flexibility.
When the kids got the sniffles right before going on a camping trip with extended family, we simply rescheduled the trip and isolated as we awaited covid test results and for symptoms to disappear. Another trip was rescheduled simply due to bad weather. An overnight sailing trip was quickly organized on a whim when the conditions would be perfect to watch the Perseids meteor shower.
Releasing the productivity guilt
When we began our journey towards financial independence, I had set the objective that we would take breaks to make the journey more enjoyable and to connect with our kids while they are growing up.
Yet, it seems that years of working hard towards that goal conditioned me to “have” to be productive and not be “lazy” – and that, even about my recovery or rest time. As if having some rest time needed to be optimized in some weird ironic way.
I’m sure there was some added pressure with the recent change in my plans of taking a sabbatical to test out Coast FI and wanting to cover a portion of my cost of living with my business. However, when I made the decision of taking my sabbatical, I did so knowing full well that the first few years of what would be my Coast FI life might actually look more like semi-retirement as I invest more into myself & grow my business. In fact, before taking the leap, I put together conservative projections showing I could still reach FIRE by 45 even if I pull out 2% of my stash until then.
Back in my first month of sabbatical update, I wrote about productivity guilt and how I wanted to keep working towards overcoming this. Seems I still had work to do on this. Honestly, I think this will always be something I will have to be mindful about.
The right moment
This summer’s experiment also nailed into my mind the idea that different periods in my life and throughout the year are more prone for me to find fulfillment through creative endeavors. Other moments can be about other things that are important to me like connecting with family, living according to the season and making the most of moments when others in my life have more free time.
Of course there will be moments when I try to juggle all of this, because this is life and things aren’t just black and white. However, I can learn from my experiences and try to adapt my plans to make space for changing priorities according to the season or period of the year. I can do my best to figure out the right moments for the right priorities in my life. I’m also learning that there is a right moment for living a less planned life on a day to day basis.
Now that my kids have been back in school for a week, I’m feeling motivated to start creating again. As I write this now I feel thankful to have this quiet time of focus and my writing is flowing with ease. I’ve actually felt like getting back to this over the last three weeks though my focus was on back to school preparation and enjoying the remaining time off with my family.
As you can see, this sabbatical continues to be a precious learning experiment. It’s giving me a lot of information about how I might like to design my ideal life going forward. As my kids are just beginning their schooling, I can visualize myself having motivation to create during the 10 months of school and taking more concrete time off during the summer.
This also reaffirms that it’s important for me to allow space to reflect on how I feel about my plans and to be open to taking detours if this opens up a more comfortable path. I mean pursuing FI was all about having more freedom and flexibility, it makes sense to make good use of that flexibility for a more enjoyable journey!
When I had a full time job, I’m not sure if I even had the time to pay attention to how I truly and deeply felt about the plans I had for my FI life. It’s quite different to concretely experiment with how that feels on a day to day basis. I’m incredibly grateful to have gotten to a point where I can experiment through this sabbatical and for managing to find a balance that genuinely felt like a guiltless summer.
P.s: I’m a Plutus nominee! Thank you thank you!!!
On a final note, despite my lack of new content over the summer, one amazingly pleasant surprise that happened at the end of August was that I was nominated for a Plutus award! For those who have no idea what that is, it’s basically the Oscars for financial literacy content creators.
It is a true honor to have been nominated for the Best Canadian Finance Content award! Thank you to the readers who have kindly chosen to nominate my blog for this award and to the Panel who chose Modest Millionaires among the top 5 blogs in this category! Kind of goes to show that dialing back on the productivity pedal this summer didn’t undo all the hard work that came before! After my short summer break, I’m now very excited to get back to creating content.
How was your summer?