The technological revolution marked the transformation of the way of life for most of the Earth’s human inhabitants from agricultural to industrial. It finalized our migration away from the simple life and into a world of electrical devices and antidepressants. Instead of growing our own food, we slave our lives away in factories in order to earn money for which we buy food doped up with growth hormones and shelf life extending agents.
An introduction of technology into our lives came with a promise of easier living that would afford us “more free time”. And many modern technological devices truly delivered. Take washing machine for example – getting 5 kg of clothes properly washed by hand would take at least an hour of arduous labor. But now that we have washing machines and electricity, all one needs is a few short minutes to load the machine up, add laundry detergent and press a button or two. While your laundry is being washed, you are free to do whatever you want because washing machines take care of business automatically, without wearing your back and knuckles out.
However if you take a look at our technological advances as a whole, you’ll notice that while they do make our lives easier and buy us free time by turning otherwise arduous and lengthy chores into a stint of pressing a few buttons, they also seem to speed the time in which we live up, leaving us feeling pressured, like there never are enough hours in our days to catch up with our lives. We have all these devices that save us time by doing work for us, yet there’s constantly so much more to do we feel overloaded and stressed out. We have indeed become the tools of our tools.
The complexity of our lives as of late, despite all these gadgets that are supposed to make them easier, has become rather dizzying. So what gives? What went wrong that we have to work our lives toward simple now? Is way back – a rewind, so to speak – fathomable? Cause I already have an answer to whether it’s doable. I’m just unsure whether general, dumbed down public that’s so addicted to filtered reality still has the wits to understand that the path I’m undertaking, the path that takes me back to the basics, back to the time when human identity was defined by what one does, and not by what one owns (Jimmy Carter, anyone?), is a path that’ll free me from the life I’ve planned, so I can have the life I’m meant to live.
The beginning of every unwritten book starts today. As Socrates suggested, many are the thyrsus bearers, but few are the mystics. There will always be ill wishers, there will always be someone who’ll tell you that the path you are taking is wrong. The trick is in finding courage to not give in to the temptation to believe it. Walk with confidence towards the star that shines the brightest for you. Simple life simplifies the universal laws by which we live. Simplify your life and the universe will respond in kind. And as you return to the simple life, you’ll realize that the more things you live without, the richer you are.
My friend recently told me that she thinks the real reason why I never created a Facebook account even though just about everybody in the world has one, was that just about everybody in the world has a Facebook account. She thought my strong individuality and unwillingness to become a sheep even if it means going head on against the rest of the world was the sole reason for me not to join the sheep. While I can’t deny there’s a pretty solid merit to the assumption, it’s far from complete truth.
I realized the risks of joining Facebook long before its momentum made it the most popular social networking site in the world. People who were members back then were already zombies. They were constantly saying things like:
“Let me take a picture so I can post it on my Facebook.”
Or “This will be an awesome Facebook update…”
Facebook members seemed to live their lives always thinking of their next update on Facebook. They are only half present, like friends you have invited to your birthday party only to have them spend the whole time on their cell phones texting back and forth with who knows whom. They can’t wait to publish their next update because they fear having actual life would make their half friends on the other side of the line forget about them.
Facebook addicts say that Facebook is like a drug. I say they are just weak and unworthy. Wasting their lives away posting comments in an effort to impress people they haven’t even met is the surest sign of weakness. They are weak because they are afraid to present their real self so they mask their weakness by making their virtual selves a reflection of who they wish they were. Their Facebook updates are a collection of thoughts and ideas they want others to see them as. The good (or so they think) gets exaggerated, the bad (or so they think) gets left out or is only partially presented.
I can easily tell whether the person who left a comment on any of my post is a Facebook user or not. Facebook users are used to twisted reality and facts upset them. When Pied Piper plays, Facebookers follow.
Internet power users who don’t have a Facebook account are strong personalities. They are not easy to manipulate and have a brain they’re not afraid to use. They do not need to spend their days reading updates of hundreds of virtual friends to not feel empty.
Facebook and Travelers
I’ve been traveling a lot those past two years and that also means that I frequently meet other travelers. They are physically present in a foreign country, but their mind is on Facebook. Even when they are off line, they always think of their network of Facebook surrogates and plot in their mind what update to astonish them with next. You go with one of them zombies for a beer and they’ll spend that time mentally visualizing the Facebook update about what glass their beer was served in so they can post it on their wall as soon as they make it back home.
The more I meet the travelers with Facebook accounts, the prouder I am to not never have had one. Though I must admit that dumb looks on the faces of Facebook zombies are beyond priceless when they ask me for my Facebook and I tell them that I’ve never had one and never will.
It was when I first took a trip to Cuba when I first experienced life without the internet since it’s become an integral part of my day to day life. By that time I was already involved with webmastering for 8 years and used it to earn a living for 5. There was not a day in the 5 years preceding my trip to Cuba during which I would not spend at least a few hours on the internet. As a matter of fact, there was not a day during which I would not spend most of it on the internet. I worked on the internet during my office hours and then during my off duty time when I was at home, I got right back on the internet to continue developing and strengthening my online presence.
I knew that leaving for 2 weeks during which I would not lay my eyes on a computer screen was bound to leave me feeling helpless. The fear of not responding in time to an important business email or loosing readers because they haven’t gotten any updates for a while would surely follow me around every step of the way. And it could only get worse – there are a million and one ways my sites could go off line and if I’m not around to fix it, it could negatively affect everything I’ve worked for for 5 years.
Regardless, I told myself that I’m gonna take this trip and will enjoy it to the fullest, totally ignoring any potential of poop hitting the fan while I’m away. I decided that this was gonna be my time to enjoy myself and that even if there was an emergency that’d absolutely require my attention, the world would have to put off falling apart because I will not care and will do nothing about it until my trip is finished.
And the World Kept Turning
The plane that brought me back to Canada after my incredibly amazing trip through north Cuba landed in my home town late at night. My luggage never showed up on a conveyor belt so I had to spend two extra hours at the airport dealing with filing lost luggage claims. By the time I got home, it was 2.30 am.
I was beyond tired after a long flight and totally worn out by the disappointing end to an otherwise amazing trip (lost luggage can really mess you up), yet despite work duties I had scheduled for the following day, instead of heading straight to bed to get some rest, I fired off my computer to see what I have missed out on.
I discovered a truly shocking thing: without me… the world has gotten on just fine. It truly kept on turning even though I was not returning any phone calls and did not respond to any emails for 2 weeks. So if the world doesn’t fall apart if I disconnect from it, is there any merit to fearing that my life would collapse because I disconnected from the world? In this particular case, I truly fared well because I made a deal with myself prior to disconnecting, but could I do it again in the future?
Seemingly Urgent Demands
Technology made our lives easier, but it also created new seemingly urgent demands that keep us so distracted, we dedicate unholy amounts of time dealing with them. Prior to the introduction of the internet into our lives, none of us would be bothered by a comment made by some stranger from half way across the world on a forum, but now that we have the internet, responding to that comment seems so important, we put everything else aside in order to respond to it.
These seemingly urgent demands only exist because we allowed the tool which we should be using to make our lives easier, to keep us distracted by the above mentioned seemingly urgent demands. Do we still own our own time if it belongs to something else? Do we still own it if we allow it to pass us by as we get more and more enslaved by the tool that should be serving us?
My Life Without the Internet
As Murphy’s Law would have it, poop did in fact hit the fan while I was in Cuba. One of my most important sites went off line and remained inaccessible for 6 days before I was able to address it. It severely affected my member base and search engine rankings. It took the site 2 years to recover from damage those 6 days caused.
Had I not gone to Cuba to stay around so I can spend most of each day on the internet like I had before, I would have taken care of the issue quickly, minimizing the downtime and avoiding long term consequences. It would be pretty much the same if I went to Cuba and instead of enjoying myself and having a good time, I’d spend the entire trip in internet cafes, monitoring my websites for potential problems.
So much work I did went down the drain because I wasn’t on the internet to fix it in time, yet it didn’t really bother me. For when I lay on my death bed, I will have memories of an amazing time I had in Cuba to think of, of all the people I met and had many adventures with, of the beautiful places I explored and the foods I tried, of bathing in waterfalls, of hiking in jungles, of fighting with turkey vultures for the rite of passage through the marshland…
When I lay on my death bed, the relationships I established with random internet acquaintances will mean nothing, as will the shiny things I would have bought for the money I would have earned. For when one’s on their death bed, their internet acquaintances will not stand by them to hold their hand during the last moments of their life, as will not any of those big screen TVs, shiny new cars, designer clothes, mahogany furniture, Swiss made watches or flashy iPhones. Does it make sense spending more of your precious time on Earth playing with your computer, texting on your cell phone or staring at big screen than spending it with your family and friends gaining pleasant memories that will stay with you forever?
Conclusion to Life Without the Internet
There is a very solid reason why I titled this post “Life Without the Internet”. For without the internet, one has a life. Depriving oneself of walks in the sun, of frolics with their children, of dinners with their friends in favour of spending their time on the internet, one merely exists. They do not live.
Our life is an endless sequence of undying efforts we put forth in a struggle to please others. In other words – much of what we do, we do to please others. We modify our behavior to subconsciously please our friends and relatives, we also do it to please those we don’t know (nor do they know us) but come across in our day to day lives, and we also perpetually strive to please those we haven’t even (nor ever will) come into contact with:
we struggle to pay our bills on time to please credit rating agencies
we struggle to eat healthy so we can improve our physique because then we will be perceived as more attractive by others
we struggle to earn good money so we can live in a house, drive in a car, wear latest fashion that will make the heads of others turn
we struggle to write interesting blog posts, twitter updates, facebook profiles because we want others to subscribe, comment, follow, brown-nose, circle-jerk, or otherwise become parts of our network of admirers
Here’s the kicker – most people are so obsessed with pleasing others, they find little time to please themselves (and I’m not referring to sexual self-gratification). Dedication to pleasing others seems to have become the life’s mission of the many of us. It’s become an obsession, a purpose, a meaning of life. We are judged by and gain social status based on how many people we impress throughout our journeys through life. The “what would people say?” is the very question that, whether consciously or subconsciously, pops into our minds and becomes the determining factor of the course of our actions.
I could also put it this way: we live our lives by responding to external demands in an anticipation of external rewards, such as acceptance, status or security, all the while sacrificing our internal needs. Instead of striving to be the best we can be, we act in response to seemingly urgent demands from external sources. The time, that precious commodity we have only a limited supply of is thus taken away from us to belong to somebody else by our own doing.
I set myself free from the clutches of corporate slavery and started to roam the Earth a free man. But the journey didn’t end there. As I found out soon after, there was more to self realization than freedom from corporate lifestyle. A major next step in my personal growth came to be with a realization that I was a slave to gadgets. What is freedom from one set of shackles good for if you slip into a different set right after? The outcome is the same – you are a slave – only this time your shackles have cute paintings on them. The knowledge I have gained from this experience was – if it dictates your life – you’re enslaved to it, even if it’s something you enjoy and would voluntarily go for.
It was the same type of feeling I felt when I started hating photography even though I loved it my whole life. When surviving as a professional photographer became tough and I had to take gigs I did not enjoy, it was taking the fun away from the whole thing and I hated every minute of it. But as soon as I left pro photography and started taking pictures as a hobby, capturing only what I had genuine passion for, the love and joy for photography came instantly back.
3 – It Gets Worse
Then came the challenge from hell. I was able to set myself free from corporate slavery and gadget entrapment, but having gotten this far – further than most people do – I couldn’t just stop there. I had to poke where it really hurt. There was still one set of shackles and this set holds grip so tight and snug, its existence is not admitted to, not even by the most self realized individuals. It’s the internet.
We the generation of today are so addicted to the internet, it’s not an addiction anymore. It’s part of our daily lives. Everything is on the web, is controlled by the web and is determined by the web. It only gets worse if you’re a person like me who makes his living on the internet. When you’re at that point, then internet gets to decide your every next step. Running an online based business requires one to be constantly on line. Monitoring traffic, responding to online requests, moderating comments, looking for security holes, patching security holes, analyzing server logs, tweaking server settings to improve performance, optimizing database structures, upgrading to stay on top and writing fresh content are just a few of the daily tasks a webmaster has to go through on the daily basis. And that only scratches the surface. It’s the tip of the iceberg the highly competitive world of webmastering represents.
Because of that, despite my apparent freedom from corporate slavery and gadget entrapment, I could not consider freeing myself from the internet as my whole life depended on it. Worse yet, the idea that the internet could be a set of shackles I have not identified yet was not even admitted in my mind. Afterall, how could internet, a tool that makes our lives what they are, be ever considered a tool of enslavement?
Yet that is exactly what it is. For example – while on my tour through Asia, I could not consider a trip to Myanmar because of scarce availability of the internet and heavy censorship throughout the country. If I found myself unable to access any of my sites, I would be unable to monitor them. As a result, if there was a malicious activity on any of the sites, I would be unable to respond before it wreaked complete havoc on the server. And the stress of living with the possibility that there could be something undesired going on with my sites while I’m unable to check and see whether my concerns are founded or not would drive me insane. Hence, a trip to Myanmar was a no option.
Willing to admit to it or not, considering how far I got with my journey of self awareness, it was only a question of time before the shackles the internet represented were identified and ultimately admitted to as such. I’m still not free from this set, but success to every mission begins with giving the problem a name, calling it for what it really is, admitting that it is in fact a problem regardless of how difficult this admission is to make, and if you’re able to do just that, you’re off to a good start. The rest is about putting thoughts into actions but action is what would never come to be unless you square up with it on the mental level first.
The Curse of Pleasing Others
It took me two years to thoroughly identify and admit to each of these sets of shackles. Two I was able to successfully shake off, third I’m still dealing with and as the struggle rages on, I came to understand what really was behind all this. It’s the struggle to please others. It’s the very thing I mentioned right at the beginning of this article. This constant struggle to please others so we can feel relevant is what makes us so selfish. It’s what destroyed true community spirits and replaced them with faux community life we know today.
One would have to visit remote tribes that live far away from civilization to see what community spirits mean. Elsewhere it has long been dead. When you see the hunters leaving the village for a day to hunt, gatherers leaving for a different part of the forest to gather wild edibles, those who are sick or injured staying in the village along with those who look after the fire, bake bread or weave baskets that would be traded off with other tribes. At the end of the day, each bit of food the village as a whole produced is put together so everybody can eat. Hunters don’t just hunt for themselves and their families. They hunt for the village. Bakers don’t just bake for themselves and their families, they bake for the village. Everything is shared – work and food. And when whole village is fed, they gather round to celebrate another day of good life together – as a community.
In cases like these, where real community spirits still exist, people don’t do things to please others. Hunters don’t go hunting to show off that the buck they took down was bigger than one their neighbor got. They don’t put fragrant aftershave on to appeal to women late at night. They don’t need to build their house taller than their neighbors’ – because they are a community. They don’t do things to please others, they do it to survive. Their way of life may seem savage to us, but when you get past this narrowminded point of view (most people never get there in their whole lives), you’ll see that they make far more sense than us.
Granted, one could bring up an argument that without the struggle to please others, we would not have progressed as a civilization. And it is true. People train to be good at sports to show off, and they invent things for the same very purpose. If it wasn’t for this insatiable greed and selfishness, people would retain the community spirit and with it, would lose the desire to get more admiration than their neighbor. Nothing pisses an individual off more than success of their neighbor. The hatred this feeling evokes drives a desire to steal that spotlight off for themselves. Some do it by getting more creative, some by backstabbing, but they all have the same common denominators – zero community spirit with surplus of greed.
It is also important to distinguish between a real community spirit and fake community involvement as we see in modern societies today. People get rewards for their “community involvement” – you could even find lawyers who offer legal advice “pro bono” yet the real reason why these people got involved in the community in the first place was… out of selfish greed. It’s because they knew people were watching and they knew it would be noticed, hence they did it. It was once again a case of doing things to please others. In other words, it’s an engagement in activities one would not do if there was absolutely nobody to see them.
Are You Living to Please Others?
Imagine a scenario from a cataclysmic movie comes true and whole civilization is wiped out with you being the sole survivor. Imagine you look out of the window and there is absolutely nobody out there. You walk outside and keep walking for days on end and there is no one but you. Would you bother putting a make up on and dying your hair before heading out? How about this scenario:
Being a girl and the only survivor of a major cataclysmic event you stumble across a chest. You are happy to have found it cause you could use some clothes and shoes before cold of the night takes over and blisters on your feet get too painful. In one of the compartments you find really sexy high heels, shiny latex miniskirt and ripped up tank top held together with safety pins. In another you find manly looking coveralls, rubber boots and checkered flannel work shirt. Which set would you take to keep fed and hydrated? Which set would you take if no catastrophic event took place and there would be people out there the same way they are now?
One more time with the catastrophic event scenario – if you found a notepad and a pen and decided to keep a journal, would your journal entries be the same as your facebook updates today? Go back to your facebook, twitter, blog or whatever else you use and read the last 5 entries you’ve made. Read them now after you have just read my article about the curse of pleasing other and see if you can reflect on yourself and find yourself in it. Have you written them in a way so as to earn extra brownie points from your peers you anticipated to read it? It takes a strong person to see forest for the trees. Are you her or him?
Do not confuse genuine compassion of one human being towards another with selfish desire to drive up one’s ego by pleasing others. They are not the same thing. They are only parts of the same spectrum, but are at exact opposites of it.
We, the men and women of the 21st century grow up completely disconnected from our inner selves. We have lost the ability to speak to our souls and understand what dwells within us. Instead of looking for our place on the planet Earth, we look for attention. Instead of discovering our purpose in life, we live to show off. We dedicate more time and effort establishing our social status than we do anything else. What we choose to wear, what we choose to say, what we choose to write about, where we choose to go or what we choose to do – we do it, admittedly or not, with foremost interest in boosting our own image in the eyes of others.
It is all about the struggle to please the society, because we have come to believe that the society will reward us by recognizing our “contribution” to it. We want admirers, we want fans, we want our name to be in a newspaper or on a TV screen. We want people to talk about us and most of all – we want them to envy us. We are not interested in things that may advance us independently, on a personal level, unless we get a chance to show it off and gain media coverage while we’re at it.
You don’t see people retracting to the wilderness to live as hermits in order to gain closeness with nature and a better understanding of their place in the awareness. You only sometimes hear about them because if they do something like that, they do it as an attempt to gain fame. To them, albeit claimed as a primary reason of their move, the potential of inner personal development by taking the step is secondary to the social status a “sacrifice” of this type would reward them with.
Finding someone who wouldn’t desire the public to gasp for the air when they hear their story is nigh impossible in this day and age. Those who take steps that appear to have been taken with intentions to grow as individuals take them with loud announcements to the world via internet or other media. I truly find it hard to accept that a person who keeps posting Twitter updates once every hour about his journey to self discovery is merely interested in finding his place in life.
To rephrase – all we seem to care about is our social status. We do things to please others and want everything we do to be seen. Screw inner growth if we can’t brag about what it took us to get where we are and how we struggled to pull it off. We desire nothing more than to be envied. We want it so much we determine the steps we take based on the likelihood and the amount of envy we get in return. We want a job others will envy, we want to drive a car others will envy, we want to have a body others will envy, we want to have done something others would wish to have done before us. It’s falsehood in disguise. We think we are advancing in lives, but all we’re doing is pleasing others. By doing so, we’re letting others to dictate our lives as the directions we choose, we choose based on what social status they would reward us with. We have lost touch with our inner selves and become, in simple terms, strangers to our own souls.
9 out of 10 people don’t like where they are in their lives at this moment, or would put themselves in someone else’s place if they could. Are you one of them? If you are – don’t worry. For one, you’re not the only one who’s desperate for a change and secondly, if you knew of the hardships others are going through, you would likely want to keep the lifestyle you currently have, regardless of how much you think it stinks. Many people desire a change and they should. Life is meant to be abundant and enjoyable. However, lamenting will not deliver change you desire. It will only make matters worse. Change requires action. Action on your part. You be the change you want to see in yourself. Be the change you want your life to fall into. Be the change you’ve been dreaming off and it will come to be. For there is no greater power in the universe than the power of yourself. Help yourself and the powers of the universe will re-arrange to help you too. The change starts with you.
Change begins with clearly defined goals. Unless you know exactly and undisputedly what you want, how can you expect to get it? If your life right now doesn’t seem fulfilling, take a minute for yourself and go through your goals. Take a note that you are the master of your own life. Whatever has happened in your life so far is in the past. The past is the time that’s gone forever. A new day has started and it could be the best day of your life if you let it. Don’t hold back, don’t fear change and don’t be afraid to take risks. Better life is just around the corner. Believe in miracles. No matter how good or bad current situation may seem, it will change. It always changes. Change is a constant. You can start your change by getting rid of everything that isn’t useful, cheerful or pleasing. Don’t waste your time succumbing to envy. Let THEM envy you the lifestyle you are embarking on.
This is about what you love in life so don’t take “NO” for an answer. The seduction of money and prosperity may be difficult to overcome, but not impossible. Ask the right questions to get the right answers and know it is not the money you want. It is the lifestyle you were falsely lead to believe could only be had if you had a lot of money. If you dig into it a little bit deeper, you’ll easily learn that the cost of lifestyle you covet is oftentimes lower than the cost of your current lifestyle, the lifestyle you are trying to change. To be laying in a hammock on a private island, clipping your fingernails off while cool ocean breeze washes off the sweat after an endless walk along a tranquil beach doesn’t require you to be a millionaire. You can have the lifestyle you desire by changing your focus from making money to ensuring positive cash flow.
Society today conditions its members to spending. Why do people who are in debt continue buying? So much useless junk in their houses already yet they keep spending. And those are not isolated incidents – I used to be one of them myself. And that’s why I can relate. Advertising, media, soap operas – all the biggest junk of modern cultures condition you to buying new gadgets you don’t really need, but are brainwashed to believe it is the way of the world so you follow. Set yourself free from conditional spending, set yourself free from possessions that are not essential for your day to day life and breathe the free air again.
Designer clothes, expensive homes or flashy cars are not signs of wealth. They are merely a sign of a great deal of money spent. Don’t feed your ego. No one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time showing off with expensive gadgets. Furthermore – feeding one’s ego is a losing fight. No matter how much of your hard earned money you spend to get the biggest rig on the road, one day you will stumble across someone whose ego made him buy an even bigger a toy. The satisfaction you experience after acquisition of ego fueled merchandise doesn’t last long. It will just increase the demands laid upon your spending by your own ego. There is so much of it out there, that no matter how much you keep buying, you will always want something else. This is a sure fire way to becoming a rat racing champion.
Change your life by being the change you want to see. You have all you need to do it, you just need courage to put it in motion. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, learn from them and use them to your advantage. Never dwell on them. Past is gone and it’s not coming back. Enjoy the present and look forward to the future. Today is the best day of your life. Stand up high and see yourself for a magnificent being that you are. You deserve the change for the better and it will come your way if you let it. Everyone who got where they are had to begin where they were. Every hour you save for yourself, to spend it the way you enjoy, is like an hour added to your life. So grab at it and become its leader for life is like a dogsled. Unless you are a leading dog, the scenery never changes (quote by Lewis Grizzard). The clock is ticking. Are you gonna watch it tick away or use it to your benefit?
Most people associate retirement with money and want to retire rich. And I can’t blame them. Before I embarked on my journey to early retirement, I used to think that in order for someone to retire, they must have certain amount of money or else their retirement will stink. Back then, the rat race through life was all about retiring rich, all about this coveted life that’s supposed to come one day in the future. Questions about retiring rich and how to achieve that goal seemed perfectly valid, but it only lasted until I realized the importance of asking the right questions. “How Much Money Do I Need to Retire” is a fundamentally wrong question because as most wrong questions it implies that possession of something (in this case “money”) is necessary in order to retire. But that’s something I have already covered in my How Much Money Do I Need to Retire Early article. So why am I coming back to the same topic you ask? Because I believe it is important to realize that retiring rich should not be the goal, otherwise it will lead to the rat race. Hunt for the riches can cost you a lot of time, the commodity you only have the limited supply of. If you waste your time trying to get rich, trying to achieve a goal that you believe will bring benefits in the future, by the time you are a baby boomer you will be so short on the time left, that even if you have accumulated riches, you will have little time to enjoy them to the fullest. And that doesn’t even take into account worsened health you will have developed by the time you have reached that age.
Retiring rich should not be the goal, retiring soon, preferably now should be. If you make retiring rich your goal, you will set yourself on a long path using the best years of your life working like a slave. Whereas if you make retiring now your goal, you will look towards the ways to establishing a cashflow that will set you free from shackles of corporate slavery and send you on your way to enjoy life.
Forbes Magazine has a list of Rich People. According to their definition, a rich person is someone with annual income of at least $1 Million. This is Forbes’ definition of “Rich” – their understanding of “Rich” has everything to do with the amount of money. My definition of “Rich” would be vastly different as what Forbes considers rich people are simply people with a lot of money to me. Just because they have heaps of money, it doesn’t necessarily mean they live rich and fulfilling lives. But that’s not the point at this time.
Given Forbes’ definition of rich, if you wanted to retire rich, you would be aiming at gathering at least one million dollars before you retire. If you happen to score a good paying job, let’s say one that pays $60,000 a year, you might be able to put away $2,500 each month towards your goal of retiring rich. If everything goes without obstacles and you remain diligent and never fail at putting away $2,500 a month, it will take you 33 years and 4 months to reach your goal and retire rich.
Now – if you take into account that you won’t score a job that pays $60,000 a year right off the college, you may not be able to start with such savings until let’s say – the age of 27. This means that my the time you have saved enough to retire rich, you will have been 60 year old. Great – you’re an old vegetable. How does it feel to retire rich?
Why would you want to make retiring rich your goal? It could condemn you to lifetime of servitude as corporate slave, wasting the best years of your life in a cubicle or wherever your workplace may be so you can have the retirement you desire when you are 60? Let me remind you of the fact that to live it up as though you have retired rich, you do not need much money in your bank account. As matter of fact, you don’t need any money in your bank account and still be able to embark on a journey of a lifetime. What do I base such bold statement on? I base it on a fact that I personally know a guy who retired in his 30’s just like that – myself.
Not only did I not have any money when I retired, I was actually $30,000 plus interest in debt. Yet I’ve wasted no time and set out on my merry way to early retirement and never looked back. How could I do that? Cashflow and belief that I can do it. That is all you need to retire young. Or simply retire at any age. If I could do it, anyone can. Get rid of the notion that you need money in order to retire and quit focusing on the size of your bank account. Because if you keep asking yourself how much money you need to retire, you will be putting your retirement off into the future. And what you put off once, will be put off again. There will always be obstacles, challenges and changes in your life. At one point it will be more money that you need to retire, then completion of the project you are working on, then fill in the blank. If you see it in the future, it will always be in the future. Future is the destination, but that’s not where happiness lies. Happiness is the journey.
Let me recapitulate again why the idea of working yourself to exhaustion so you can save enough money to retire rich is a silly one and why working to save money for the future is a fundamental loss:
Being employed provides you with security of a steady paycheck, but at the same time it is the type of income that’s taxed more than anything else and offers little control over how big a chunk of your hard earned money is taken off as tax
Employment doesn’t come with significant fluctuation of money earned. In order to earn more, you’d have to either work more (take overtimes or second job) or work harder
Employment has little or no residual value. You get paid for work performed and/or time spent at the workplace. In order to get paid again, you need to do work and/or spend time at the workplace again
Does the idea of spending your whole life being a corporate slave with the goal that one day you may retire rich still sound appealing to you? Being an employee is to be the most underprivileged member of society. You will be taxed near 50% of your income and you will only have the after-tax left overs to pay your rent with. But the worst thing is that you will spend the days of your life while you are able bodied doing anything but what you want to do. Days you have only so many of before your time is up. If you are going to invest it towards securing your retirement, don’t do it with the goal of retiring rich. Invest it into getting some cashflow happening for yourself so you can retire now, whatever your age and start spending your precious time doing things that matter to you, things that excite you, things that fulfil you. This way, when your time comes and Grim Reaper knocks at your door to end your journey on Earth, you will feel rich. Not Forbes rich, but content with the way you have led your life. You’ll leave this world happy and fulfilled.
I came to realize that the key to abundant life is to have the best day of your life every day. The best day of your life is the day you will never forget. If it instantly pops in your mind, then you know that truly was the best day of your life, if it doesn’t, if you have to think about it, then perhaps you have yet to have the best day of your life. If that’s the case, ask yourself this instead: “What was the best day of my life so far?”
I noticed that when I shared my intentions to quit work so I can travel with my friends, they mostly nodded in agreement and wished me the best of luck in my future endeavours, but the way they said it implied that they thought I must have gone insane. I was so excited about my future and so adamant about leaving work to travel that they have collectively showed support but their body language suggested otherwise. Their doubts were put to an end when I made a point by asking them to tell me what the best day of their life was.
Not surprisingly, the answers to the “the best day of your life” question usually revolve around particular experiences not related to workplace or possessions. It could have been when you went swimming with sharks, it could have been when you got a chance to hang out with your favorite band back stage, it could have been when you had your first parachute jump from a plane, it could have been… fill in the blank. People have the best days of their lives – days they will never forget when they are on a vacation or in their time off work engaging in their hobbies or spending time with the loved ones. This formula could be looked at from the opposite angle and we’d come to conclusion that safest way to ensure that today will NOT be the best day of your life is by going to work.
Life is supposed to be enjoyable and one should strive to gear towards enjoyment if it isn’t. Even if your past experiences make it seem as though the Lucky Fairy took a day off when you were born, you have all it takes to set yourself free from the shackles of employment. You only have so many days to live on this planet – doesn’t it make perfect sense that if at the end of the day you don’t feel like this was one phenomenal day with exiting new experiences and unforgettable adventures, that you have just wasted one of the limited number of days available to you doing something that doesn’t bring you enjoyment?
It matters not whether you are employed or your own boss. If you have to go to work because some potentially important client is expecting something or something otherwise essential requires your attention, then you are enslaved by your own work and your life is dictated by it. You don’t do what you want to do, you do what you must do. What would you rather be doing right now? Ask yourself that. If there is absolutely nothing you can think of that would bring you any more excitement that going to your workplace to deal with today’s workload and clients, then perhaps you are one of those cases who find spending their days at work more fulfilling than anything else.
Today should be a best day of your life, because you are getting ready to do something that you can’t wait to engage in. You are so excited you can hardly contain yourself, your adrenaline is through the roof and every cell of your body is in ecstasy. If you do not feel this way, then ask yourself what you would rather be doing right now. Think over the fact that your journey on this planet will come to an end whether you like it or not. You don’t know when, but it’s as clear as the sky that you only have so many days before it’s over. Every day at the end of which you don’t feel like this was the best day of your life should be a signal that the path you are currently following in life may not be the best for you. All of the unaccomplished things that will pass before your eyes as your life comes to an end will have been unaccomplished because you spend the time, time you have only limited supply of, chasing false dreams.
A false dream could be that house that’s in a good neighborhood and is currently for a good price. You put yourself in lifelong debt that will keep you enslaved at work, but you believe it’s a step up on your path through life. House, just as anything material is a possession. Just as it is with all material possessions, there will always be a chance to have a replacement. But you will never be able to get the time you have wasted chasing it back. Every second is there only once in your life. Once spent, it will never ever be back. The best days of your life will not be associated with possessions your have acquired. Just as employment or entrepreneurship will not make your day the best day of your life, acquisition of possessions provides false sense of achievement that’s supposed to enhance your life, but it just distracts you from what you really want .
Human psyche is an astounding thing and sellers of things know that. Advertisements are specifically crafted to mess with your mind and make you buy it. They make you believe you need that latest DVD player with Blue Ray technology because that’s the way of the world right now. I used to fall for it myself and ended up with so much stuff it was sickening. My life was about spending the best days of my life at work so I can buy these things and with each new purchase, I felt like I was moving further with my life. Was I in for rude awakening!
I quit chasing false dreams and instead of doing what I have to do today, I do what I want to do today. I understand that it’s not all about money. What would be the use of being a millionaire if the business that is making me rich requires me to attend to it every day to a point that I don’t even have time to unwind and enjoy myself. Think about the best day of your life. Think about what you should do tomorrow to make tomorrow another best day of your life. Make every day count. It’s your life and you only have so much time.
Throughout my life so far it’s always seemed as though I’ve never had enough time to do the things I am supposed to do, let alone things I want to do? The dreaded “wasting my life away” quote was at the back of my head as I was sitting in my cubicle browsing through pictures of people photographing themselves having the time of their lives at places I’ve never been to. All I could do at the time was say “maybe one of these days” to myself. After all, I have to go to work every day which leaves me with little time for traveling and money is tight so I’ll just have to bite the bullet and hope something comes my way. It didn’t.
Actually, it did but in a whole different form than I would have imagined. As part of my spiritual awakening I started to see things differently and realized how precious a commodity time is. It was already clear to me that spending the best years of my life working so one day when I retire I can enjoy myself made no sense, but when I realized the value of time, things took whole new turn. “Maybe” must be replaced with “May Be”.
I had tens of thousands of dollars worth of stuff sitting in my livingroom and I’ve dumped it all in the bin. I have primarily done it to liberate myself from chains these possessions kept me in, but as I was done, a realization of one far more important aspect of this act came to me. By dumping all these in the bin, I have also saved myself a lot of time. The other option was to list all these items for sale on classified ads sites. Had I followed this option, I may have added few nice bucks in my pocket but at what cost?
I’d have to take each item, take picture of it, get pictures ready for use on the net, write up a reasonable description of the item otherwise it may not attract attention of potential buyers and go through steps of publishing it on the websites. Subsequently, I’d have to deal with potential buyers who would be hitting me up with supplemental questions about each item and requests to drop the price (aka negotiations). I’d be spending my evenings responding to emails, bouncing them back and forth in hopes that someone will bite.
If I got lucky and found a buyer willing to shell out for these second hand things with expired warranty previously owned by a person they don’t know, I’d have to let it go for a price that’s way below reasonable value, because that’s how it goes with classified ad sales. So yes, in theory, I’d eventually make some money on it, but amount of time I’d have to invest into it could grow exponentially. Postings and repostings of ads that didn’t attract any bites, continuous questions from enquiring minds who’ll be trying to lowball me ad nauseum… would time invested really be worth it?
Bingo – that was the million dollar question. If it’s money you want, perhaps one would be better off spending this time focusing on something that could bring more in. As I was digging deeper into it, I came to realize the real value of time. Yes, time is your most precious commodity, because there is no money in the world that could buy it. Those things I had dumped – if such need arises, I can buy any of those back. But time – that’s one thing you can never buy back. Nothing in this world is more precious than time.
Time is so precious, everything revolves around it. Every regret you have is directly or indirectly affiliated with time. If you lose someone you love, you will be devastated. It’s after they are gone that you realize that so many things were left unsaid, so many undone. And now they will remain unsaid and undone forever. And it’s all because you have not spent as much time as you should have with that person. Perhaps it’s because you spent your days going to work and after work you were too tired. Perhaps it’s because you spent last two weeks re-visiting that car dealership and spent every evening there trying to get that new SUV for $10,000 less than advertised. To make or save money, you spent your time – the most precious commodity you have – by doing everything, except from what truly matters to you.
You are not the only one who makes this very mistake. I spent near a decade of my life – the best years of my life – going to work every day, working for money so I can exchange it for things that I then had to store in boxes and haul them around each time I moved. I did not do things I wanted to do and it went on for near 10 years. I will never be able to get those 10 years back. I can get back any of the items I threw in garbage as described above, but my years I spent going to work are irrevocably gone. During those years I haven’t done anything I really want to do. I simply went to work every day with a vision, that one day, sometime in the future I will retire and then I will be able to do what I want to do. As this premise became clearly ridiculous, I realized the value of time and started acting accordingly.
Keep this in mind – time is your most precious commodity. This day, this particular day on which you are reading this post will be there only once in your lifetime. Seize it. Seize the day! Wise people have been telling us that for millennia and I can’t believe it took me this long to realize it. There is a world of infinite possibilities out there. Live your dreams now, not in 20 or 30 years. Time does not discriminate. There are 1,440 minutes in a week and every single person out there gets this exact amount. It’s how you choose to use those minutes that makes the difference between those who live life to the fullest and those who don’t.