Colorado summers are pretty great. The climate is dry, so the humidity doesn’t overwhelm you. The other thing I enjoy are the huge temperature swings. Even if the mercury climbs to 100 on a cloudless afternoon in mid-July, it isn’t unusual for the temperature to swing back down into the 50s at night. I love this:
- I hate heat. If it was hot all of the time, I would go nuts. The cool mornings and evenings provide a pleasant respite from sweating profusely.
- Despite my hatred of the heat, we hardly have to run the air conditioning. We open the windows at night and suck in the cool air with one of the greatest inventions ever, the whole-house fan. The house cools down enough in the morning that unless the weather is really hot, it stays pleasant throughout the day.
- Back to the heat: Really, I cannot stand it. Hot, sunny days suck the energy right out of me. Working outside is misery. I love jumping on my bike, but I’m even more pathetic in the heat. I’m that guy going just fast enough to stay upright as I climb the mountain road (Hello 5 mph!).
The problem with my life now is that I start work at 6am. At the best time to be on a bike, I’m in front of computer screens typing away. This will all change soon…
Life After Work (L.A.W.)
Last October, I was talking to another blogger. We were discussing Financial Independence (again, I hate the term “early retirement”) when he mentioned that a friend had achieved FI, quit his job and now was bored off his ass.
I don’t share my FI dreams with many because it usually results in blank stares. Might as well be talking about quantum physics or object-oriented programming. When I don’t get the blank stare, I usually get an argument. The most common one is also the “you’ll be bored” line. Here are some others that I’ve received:
You’ll die soon after. Your life will be devoid of meaning. Your mind and body will give up.
You’ll miss the accomplishments of work. Work is gratifying.
I don’t know if the people who recite these lines really believe what they’re saying or they’re just jealous. Perhaps they don’t even know. Or maybe they just don’t understand.
I’ve probably spent more time thinking about L.A.W. than anyone on Earth. I think about it: Every. Single. Day. One-third of the reason is because I don’t want to end up like my parents whose retirement is quickly killing them. Two-thirds of the reason is excitement. I have a long list of activities waiting to fill my day that I can’t wait to get to.
FI Dreamin’: A typical L.A.W. summer day
During the summer, the girls will be out of school, so many of my activities will revolve around them.
Exercise! I’m an early riser, so every day, I’ll wake up at about 5:30am when the temperatures are still cool. Instead of trudging up to the home office to start work, I’ll jump on my bicycle for a 50-75 mile into the mountains before the heat sets in.
After the ride, I’ll have breakfast with the family. We’ll discuss our plans for the day over Cheerios or breakfast burritos (Hello Tabasco!).
Family time: After breakfast, we’ll all go on a family hike or bike ride. We may just walk to the river by our house or the library. Or maybe we’ll head for more distant destinations like Rocky Mountain National Park.
I want my girls to be successful. I want them to be creative makers. I want them to be entrepreneurial. We’ll work on their business; making bird and bat houses (more on that later). We’ll also talk about science and math (with a little Voltaire thrown in) as we explore our surroundings.
I want to read. I could live in the library. I’d give up TV and movies in a second before giving up books. There are hundreds on my list. I’ll know all of the librarians by name.
We will travel. Our first trip will probably be to the Northeast. I hope that the Frugalwoods’ Homestead needs some work because I’d love help Mr. FW build some stuff (Mr. FW, my nailguns would love nothing better than a trip to Vermont). In between building, we’ll see Maine, New Hampshire, New York and wherever else the road takes us. The second summer of FI, we’ll probably head up to the Pacific Northwest.
I want to experiment with food. We were a meat and potatoes family growing up. As an adult, I’ve discovered the joys of Thai (shout out to green curry!), sushi and Indian food. I can’t wait to experiment with other dishes of all sorts.
During the non-summer months, the girls will be in school, so I’ll have more time to myself.
I will finish work on our home. It is almost done, but no single room is 100% finished. Having 8 hours of free time every day will allow me to get the house done in no time flat.
After the house, I have lots of other projects lined up and the first one will be an electric bike (inspired by MMM). I’ve always loved anything on two wheels, especially very fast motorcycles. However, I don’t want to deal with the ongoing expenses like insurance and registration. Also, I don’t want to deal with the upkeep that comes with an internal combustion engine. An electric bike will give me speed on two wheels without the hassle. I hope the technology has advanced so that I can build something even faster than MMM’s. My dream bike would be able to do 50mph.
Other projects include:
- Coding: Yep, I’m a software developer in my work life too and I’ll continue to do it in L.A.W. However, I’ll be able to work on projects I really love with a technology stack that interests me (Hello Microbrewery App! Hello Ruby on Rails, good-bye C#!). I also won’t have to deal with any of the management crap that goes with a normal job.
- Welding: I’ve always wanted to learn how to weld. In L.A.W., I’ll finally have the time to learn.
- Woodworking: I have a long list of stuff I want to build. Adirondack chairs for our expansive porch. Yep. A trellis for our yard. Yes. Something with dinosaurs. Absolutely. (Mrs. 1500 note: Oh boy. I can’t wait to see what a wooden dinosaur looks like…)
Why quitting work may not be for you
You can’t just quit your job and expect the world to come to you. Not having a plan is a recipe for disaster. Here are some tips to make L.A.W. successful:
- Have a rich life outside of work: If your life outside of work involves watching TV, going out to eat and then watching more TV, your time is better spent at the office. When my parents retired, all of that work time was replaced with TV. At least going to work kept their minds and bodies somewhat active. On the other hand, if you have passions that you daydream about while you’re sitting in your cubicle, perhaps an FI life is one for you. Allow me a little diversion. Sing with me (to the tune of Disney’s A Pirate’s Life):
Yo ho, yo ho, an FI life for me!
We bike, we read, we play and travel,
Invest up my saver, yo ho!
We build and plot and don’t have to work.
Save up my frugaler, yo ho!
Yo ho, yo ho, an FI life for me!
Enough of that nonsense. Back to your regularly scheduled post.
- Like your job, but don’t love it: At my first job, there were a lot of younger folks in surrounding cubes. The company had all kinds of extracurricular activities including softball teams and weekend trips. I quickly noticed that many of my co-workers’ lives completely revolved around work. The same people who worked together would cling to each other after work and on weekends. I alway kept this stuff at arm’s length. I enjoy the people I work with, but I’m not going to shed tears when I don’t interact with them every day.
- Find other ways to validate yourself: My dad’s self-worth was tied up in his job and his ability to provide money for the household. While this attitude is noble, it isn’t healthy. When the Great Recession happened and construction jobs tanked, he was laid off, never to work again. He was devastated and sunk into a deep depression which probably came close to killing him. I’ve never seen a person stay in bed for 20 hours a day. Luckily, he got help and is now doing better. Still too much TV, but not as much time in bed.
The Birds are Calling
I have absolutely nothing to complain about now. I have a great life. I have a fine family. We live in a fine home in a fine neighborhood in a fine country. We have financial security. We are all healthy.
However, my life still has one small compromise; I have to march up to my office every morning at 6am.
There is an open window right next to me. As the Sun starts its ascent, I feel the cool morning breeze blowing in. I hear the birds singing. Out of the corner of my eye, the sky turns from black to orange to blue. The world is beautiful on the other side of that window.
I’d rather be out there than in here. I’d much rather be out there.
And I will never get bored.
We couldn’t wait to get outside,
The world was wide… Adam’s Song, Blink 182
Only you can set you free. Cult of Personality, Living Colour
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