There was something wrong!
After several months of being (sort of/kind of/mostly) financially independent, I wasn’t any happier than I was before. In some ways, I was actually more unhappy.
What’s going on?
My Financial Independence Fantasies
I kept on saying to myself that once I reached FI, I would be happy. That my problems would go away. That I wouldn’t be beholden to the whims of an employer for the basic necessities of life and so life would be great.
I could then relax and have all the time in the world to do what I wanted.
I wanted to study philosophy. Start a business. Travel the world. Build community.
But I didn’t do these things. Or, at most, I only did these things half-heartedly.
Now, I’m not quite at FI but I’m close enough to start dipping my toes in.
Study Philosophy. During the last several months of my job, I scoured used book stores for the works of Greek Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. I even got the Audible audiobooks. I got through most of part of Epictetus’ Discourses, but I mainly listen to Seneca’s Letters as a lullaby for me to fall asleep to. FAIL!
Start a business. After separating from my company, I started this blog as a business but it’s no where near the level I want it to be. I think I’ve accrued $0.02 in revenue so far, so I’m definitely not going to even break even anytime soon! FAIL!
Travel the world. My wife and I just made one international trip (to Vietnam) and a visited friends in Texas, California, and Hawaii. So definitely not the world. FAIL!
Build Community. I made some tentative steps toward community involvement at my church and certain meetup groups. But I didn’t follow through. It just seemed like too much commitment and too much inconvenience. Totally my fault. FAIL!
The Hedonic Treadmill of Financial Independence
What I discovered was that the hedonic treadmill still applies to financial independence. Ironic, indeed.
I became accustomed to the lifestyle. Every day, I still woke up early (7:15am on weekdays), without having to exchange my time for money. But the joy of having all these options open to me began to fade.
There’s a saying that work is like a gas – it will fill up all the space you will allow it to. The same is true for any type of joyless task. And so the eternal To Do List (whether they are random tasks or important to do’s) will do the same.
Now don’t get me wrong – some of these To Do’s are very important. Even mission critical.
But they don’t give me joy. At best, they give me relief that a potential problem is solved.
So if I don’t plan for very specific, personally meaningful experiences designed to bring me joy, then I become numb to all the possibilities. Then all I’m doing is checking off boxes on my To Do List.
A New Hope, A New Joy: Back to Work?
I had (and sometimes still have) some unhealthy lifestyle choices: lack of exercise, bad diet, no motivation to meet new people.
I also had some unhealthy mental habits: prioritizing safety and comfort above all, a lack of confidence, constant worst-case scenario planning.
Financial independence won’t make you happy. But it can give you the means to figure out what will.
Now that I’ve slipped into this funk, I realize that it’s time for me to start being more purposeful in my life.
I think it’s time for me to focus on my original purpose for this blog:
To document my journey to financial independence through side hustles and underemployment!
How about you?
Do any of you have any side hustles and part-time (hopefully low stress) jobs that you’d like to talk about?