At the crux of it, the FIRE movement is not about becoming Financially Independent or Retiring Early…it is about living the life you want to live.
And that is also why you see so many early retirees blogging, running real estate business, launching a startup, or even…wait for it…working.
It was never, ever, ever about retiring early.
FIRE Has Always Been About Crafting the Life You Really Want
Perhaps it was the 2 year anniversary of leaving my CEO gig, or simply the normal ebb and flow of life, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can continue to craft the best life for me.
After all, that was a primary driver for me to leave my job.
I wanted to take the time to turn inwards and the time to rediscover myself.
But most of all, I wanted to craft the life I truly wanted.
But what did I want?
After achieving the “success” I’d dreamed of, after selling the company that I so proudly built, and after nearly achieving my Financial Independence, I still felt that I was missing something.
But what was I missing? I wasn’t sure.
I have an amazing life.
I love my wife and my kids with all my heart – every fiber of my being.
I live in an amazing house, in a great town, with a great dog, and all the comforts of the 21st century.
Yet, there was a nagging feeling, that I was off the path that I truly wanted to be on.
I had already won the game, but was continuing to play it. So I opted out.
And now I’ve spent the last two years exploring how to craft a life of true meaning, great enjoyment, and lots and lots of love.
Crafting the Life You Really Want is NOT Easy
Even today, two years later, I am still trying to figure this all out.
Because it’s not easy.
What brings you joy?
What brings you sustained happiness?
What is the meaning of life?
What do you want out of life?
Over the past two years, I have pondered these questions.
And it turned out, that one of the most enlightening ways to tap into what I really wanted, was to start from a much later date. So that is why I wrote a letter from my 80 year old self to my present self.
Here is what 80 year old me wanted:
- To take more risks
- To do more things NOW
- To make my marriage the best it can be
- To put in time to be a great dad
- To take good care of my body
- To improve as a person
- To continue to learn
- To simplify my life
- To give back to the world
- To full ass everything, and half ass nothing
- To not get caught in the weeds.
But wanting these things, and living these things – they are much different.
I want to be able to look back on my life and know that I’ve done everything I can to live up to that letter.
Crafting the Life You Want is Daily Work.
Life crafting is daily work.
It is tweaking and optimizing what is working and not working.
Crafting the life you want means
- tracking your happiness
- making lists of your favorite things
- reading a variety of books
- writing down your feelings
- taking 24 hour phone breaks
- and anything else you can think of.
Ultimately, life crafting is about making sure that you are true to yourself.
So if this is my sort of annual check in, to see if I am truly crafting the life I want with early retirement. Am I? Let’s take a look:
Have I taken more risks?
In the last year, I’ve taken some risk by buying a cash flowing website.
I’ve worked hard to learn new things and powered the website back from the brink after a Google Algorithm change.
Have I done more things in the NOW?
Yes and no.
I’ve played less golf, gone on less hikes, but we have traveled more, and we’ve done more as a family.
Is my marriage the best it can be?
Always a work in progress, but I do think that my wife and I are generally closer than ever and are resolving our conflicts faster.
We have a deeper love for each other based in understanding and a firm commitment.
Am I a great dad?
Only time will tell with this one. Because of the amount of time I have spent with kids, I am more tired than I’ve ever been. But I play with my kids every day.
I’ve coached my oldest’s basketball team, and my wife and I have started to implement “date days” with our kids to spend time with each of them individually.
Have I taken good care of my body?
I’ve certainly upped my step count, but I wouldn’t say I am the epitome of physical fitness.
I certainly would like to lose a few pounds and make sure that I am fitter. More work to do here.
Have I improved as a person?
Dang this is hard. I certainly hope so. But what measuring stick do I use here?
Have I simplified my life?
Not truly. While I continue with my automatic no’s, my life is probably more complicated now than it was a year ago. So…some work to do here.
Have I given back to the world?
Not in the way I was envisioning. I certainly have donated money to causes and organizations I believe in, but I wouldn’t say I’ve found my path here yet.
Am I containing to learn?
Yes. Every day, I continue to learn something new, be it in running my website or through life’s every day interactions. Learning experiences abound.
Am I full assing everything?
I think there are many places I full ass everything, but I can always do better, be better, be more committed. A work in progress here. I can full ass more. I’m sure of it.
Have I been too caught in the weeds?
I am pretty good at thinking bigger picture, but there are of course times that I continue to get caught in the weeds.
So work in progress here.
At the end of the day, I have always been crafting the life I’ve wanted.
You don’t have to FIRE to do it.
I’ve set big goals, and I’ve reached them.
I’ve taken calculated risks, and they have paid off.
I’ve committed to being the best husband and father that I can be.
Leaving my job was simply the next logical step in my life crafting journey.
Crafting the life you want starts with brutal honestly. It continues with daily, weekly, monthly check ins.
But life crafting is always a work in progress: tweaking, optimizing, starting, quitting, working hard, and hardly working. It is all of those things and more.
You don’t need early retirement to craft your best life…but it certainly doesn’t hurt.