My Termination 2 Month Anniversary – The 80/20 Principle for My Schedule

Feeling like I’m still on the clock…

It’s now been 2 months since my termination from my company. I was actually not sure what to expect once the frenzied paperwork subsided. (Please see my post on my 1 Month Anniversary which was a roller coaster of emotions.)

I even took a pleasant vacation with my wife, which was fun and a lot of work planning and organizing. But since my 1 month anniversary, I’ve been settling in and thinking of the future.

Settling Into a Routine

I’ve discovered that, despite having the flexibility to do nearly anything at any time, adopting a certain routine helps my mind and body adjust.

What you do (or don’t do) when free of constraints is a better measure of your character than when you have such constraints.

I still wake up around 7:15 AM on weekdays. I still meditate for roughly 30 mins at 8:00 AM. And I still open my laptop at home or at my coworking space to look at my schedule and task list. Then I go out and execute on these tasks and update my schedule. And, I still try to schedule in yoga/stretching, cardio, and weight training.

What I have not done, unlike many others, is fall into the anomie of sleeping in till 12 noon and binge watching Netflix. Nor do I play video games all night.

And Trying to Break Out of A Routine

Not that that anomie is necessarily bad or, at least, not always bad. But it shows my character, my base-line nature.

In fact, I do see the value of breaking out of my self-created structure. Especially a structure which, admittedly, resembles a normal work day.

For this purpose, I’ve dedicated certain days to be Terminal Days*, during which I either try to keep my schedule completely open and/or plan a special event. If I keep my schedule completely open, then I look forward to random events and take advantage of them. If I plan a special event, it is something that I’ve always wanted to do but just never got around to yet.

The 80/20 Rule For My Schedule

Not just applicable to office work, the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule also applies to living an enjoyable life. At work, we spend 80% of our time just checking off boxes, following procedure, etc. It’s only 20% of the time when we are actually doing something meaningful.

Applying the 80/20 rule to my life, 80% of my enjoyment will come from 20% of my activities. And I’m guessing that 20% will be from the unstructured activities, including Terminal Days, where new ideas or thoughts can occur. It probably won’t be from the routine structure of my life.

It will be the thoughts that will suddenly synthesize in my mind while meditating. Or while meandering in Manhattan, or while browsing in Barnes and Nobles. It will come from a random conversation with an ex-coworker or a new friend from the FIRE community.

The Vast Sea of Time Before Me

A sea of endless possibilities!

It’s only been 2 months since I’ve settled into (and broken out of) my routine, but I have come to some conclusions:

  • More money or being FIRE does not solve personal problems. In fact, it forces you to confront your problems because you don’t  have the excuse of not having enough time or money.
  • We are all driven by something, looking for something. It takes time and effort to figure out what that really is. Most people don’t even get to try because they are distracted by either their jobs or what society tells them they should be doing.
  • Community is important. Given today’s prevailing society’s values, pursuing FIRE is often a lonely path. Actually achieving FIRE (or something close to it) can be even lonelier. You need to share the struggles and the accomplishments to encourage each other.

* This is from a Tim Ferriss podcast episode with Ricardo Semler, who is a successful Brazilian business man and author of books about new ways to manage both people and work. Semler set aside his own Terminal Days to do things that he would have wanted to do if he were diagnosed with a terminal illness and had limited time left.

For those who have achieved some level of financial freedom (not necessarily full FIRE), do you have the same experience?

Separately, do you think that you need to spend the time and energy on the 80% in order for the 20% to be possible?

2 Replies to “My Termination 2 Month Anniversary – The 80/20 Principle for My Schedule”

  1. Hi Adrian, I too have a schedule in my early retirement and also enjoy free days. I agree that the structure helps.
    Your last three bullet points really resonated with me. I started to journal to work through some of the personal problems that came up in my early retirement. And it really has been a great time to reflect on my life.
    Once the pressures and to-dos of the workplace are stripped away, things are really different, huh? I’ve had to constantly remind myself to be patient in my early retirement–after working for so long, I had my teaching skills honed, but early retirement requires some new skills.
    I didn’t come into retirement with huge expectations of making new friends immediately (or at all), but to my surprise, I have made some friends in places I never would have expected to. And it’s really been lovely.
    Cheers, Dragon Gal

    1. Thanks for the comment DragonGal! I heard you and DragonGuy on the What’s Up Next Podcast a while ago and your story was deeply moving.

      My wife and I are in a unique situation at the moment and so expanding our friendship circle is pretty difficult. But hopefully we can work on that in the next couple of years.

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