Writing doesn’t come easily. Here is how it usually works:
- Inspiration!: I come up with a very basic idea for a post. Most of the time, the spark arrives comes when I’m doing something completely unrelated to the blog. I record the idea in a notebook so that I don’t forget it. I spend a lot of time seeking inspiration.
- Start writing: When I’m back in front of the Macbook, I start translating my notes into a post. It’s at this time that I usually realize there isn’t enough substance to the initial idea. I rarely complete a post on the first try.
- Find the missing pieces: I think about the rough idea when I’m walking, driving and ahem, in the bathroom. Sometimes, I find the missing pieces in a random conversation or observation when going about my daily routine. As more words come, I modify and revise. I spend a lot of time here.
- Revise infinitely: I repeat step 3 over and over. I’ve revised a post 100 times. This process can take hours, days, months or even years. There are posts I started in 2013 that I still work on occasionally.
- Publish: When I feel the post is passable (Note: not done, it’s never really done), I schedule a time to publish.
While the process may sound laborious, I enjoy it. Writing forces my mind to go to places it has never gone before. I love the challenge.
And sometimes, I’ll come up with a missing piece after the post is published that seems so obvious, I can’t believe I didn’t think about it when I was composing. Last week’s post about life hacks was one of those times.
I’m a Big Dummy
When I was writing about life hacks, I tried to come up with examples from my own life. The ones I wrote about were weak, but passable. I was frustrated, but scheduled the post anyway and went to bed.
After the post went live, lots of life hacks started magically floating into my head. I was mad at myself for not thinking of them:
- Clothes: I wear almost the same thing every day so I don’t have to think about getting dressed. I’m not wearing the same shirt, just an identical copy of it. This keeps life simple. Why didn’t I think of this?
- Electric bike: I move around town faster on my custom electric bike than when I’m in a car. It’s an awesome substitute for burning dinosaur juice.
- Creativity: Walking is an incredible tool to get the neurons firing. I take walks daily. How did I forget this?
And then something else occurred to me. It was big and completely obvious:
You’ve been writing about the best life hack of all since 2013, financial independence /early retirement (FIER)! Why didn’t you think of that one Big Dummy?
I looked down, shook my head, sighed and uttered a colorful metaphor.
A FIERy Life is a Good Life
The purpose of a life hack is to live more efficiently. When we optimize, we conserve precious resources. And by resources, I mean money and time. Time is far more important. We can make more money, but time isn’t so easy. This is how I felt working full-time:
FIER, which is nothing more than an aggregate of smaller life hacks, is the ultimate optimization of time and money.
Live frugally and with a small footprint to save money:
Maximize income and optimize investments to generate more money:
The final step is using that surplus money to buy freedom. With some hard work and money wizardry, it’s not difficult to exit the workforce long before 50.
Some of the benefits of FIER are obvious. Who wants to sit around in a cube for 40 hours per week, decade after decade?
However, there is another, often overlooked component to FIER. This is the efficient life that becomes possible when you have the luxury of time freedom. Never forget the life hacks that FIER enables:
- No crowds: Have you ever been to Home Depot on a Saturday morning in spring? It sucks because half of the world is there. If you don’t have a job, go there on Tuesday at 10am instead. ***crickets***
- Slow travel: My vacations as a full-time employee were one-week blurs of chaos. We ran from place to place trying to cram too many activities in. Forced fun is not relaxing or enjoyable. If you don’t have a job to worry about, why not immerse yourself in a place for a month and really explore? At the same time, enjoy the view and feel free to sit around and do nothing for an afternoon.
- One car or no car: No need to have two vehicles just so one spouse can go to work and the other can haul the kids around. Keep one. Or none. And don’t forget to ask for a low mileage discount on insurance since you won’t be driving that much.
- Geographic freedom: Isn’t it nice not having to live in Big City for work? You don’t have to live in the middle of nowhere, but one of the greatest benefits of FIER is that you’re not geographically confined. Hell, I like the idea of jumping in an RV and living wherever I want.
The Greatest Life Hack of All
Mrs. 1500 and I don’t always agree. We argue over pizza toppings, the thermostat setting and her aversion to putting gas in the car (“Why is the gas light always on after you’ve driven the car??!!!”). She also didn’t agree with me when I told her about this post, quickly declaring:
Early retirement isn’t a life hack.
I disagree. A FIERy life is an optimized life. We optimize money so that we can optimize time. And never forget that the underlying hack and goal is always happiness. At the core, a FIERy life is a happy life. FIER is the greatest life hack of them all.
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