Everyone should have one…
I am not talking about how to get out of a building if it’s on fire, I am talking about a radical shift in lifestyle that you are working towards. Some call it retirement, and wait until they are near the end of their life to start living the way they always dreamed. Others don’t look that far forward, they stay head down and focus on getting by day-by-day. Then there are a few who’ve had their eye on this prize for a while.
My wife and I talk about our future quite a bit; what our hopes and dreams are, what each of us would consider an ideal lifestyle. These discussions have a lot of overlap, as they ideally should. This goes back to choosing the right partner from the start, someone who’s life’s ambitions mirror your own. If one of you is a world traveler and the other is a homebody, you’re gonna run into issues real quick. Get on the same page from the start and your life will be better for it.
We both have a desire to be free. It is not retirement that we seek, but rather the financial freedom to do as we wish. Personally, I think an awful lot of people get those things mixed up. They THINK they want to not work ever again, but that is (likely) because what they currently do for work does not fulfill them in any way. I believe that most people want what I want, which is the ability to do as you please in most cases. To have a job that pays the bills and also makes you feel like you are doing something that is beneficial in some way to someone other than just your boss’s bank account.
For me and my wife, we want the ability to be mobile. As a nurse, she can take a traveling nurse assignment in another city and make literally twice as much money as she could in a static role at a local hospital. For me, I already work remotely and I am not going back to an office setting any time soon. I LOVE the freedom and flexibility to live the way I currently do and do not foresee that changing any time soon. If things fell apart at my current job I would look for another remote based job to allow us to continue towards our escape plan.
We have both decided that our time in a big city is coming to a close. My in-laws moved north to a small town and love it. They both still work and do so remotely. They found a home on a golf course in a gated community and have set up camp there, likely as the last move they ever do. We visit frequently and we also love it. The vibe is totally different and we are both ready for that. Living in Phoenix, we are residing in the fifth largest city in the US. If the world were in a more stable place, I maybe would feel differently, but based on the current status, I am looking to get out. The freeways are busier than ever, anything that is a “public gathering” feels like it is overcrowded. Maybe it is just me, or a year and a half of living very differently due to the COVID pandemic, but things don’t feel the same to me anymore.
So, we have made a decision:
We are hitting the escape button.
We have been systematically working towards this for a while. Once we got out of debt aside from our mortgage, things opened up for us in a big way. We have buckled down and got really focused on clearing out the debt I had accumulated, and now we are in the rare position of having no debt other than the house payment. That in and of itself is a great position to be in, but we are aiming higher. With dual incomes and no debt to suck away our money, we are looking at the world very differently. We see things we can afford that were never on the radar before. It has been an exercise to learn to see things in a new way, in particular about money. I recently listened to the Tim Ferriss podcast with Ramit Sethi, author of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”, and it seems that I am not the only one who has struggled to see money differently now that the game has changed for me. It was eye-opening to say the least and I highly recommend you give it a listen. You can find the podcast here.
For most of my life I never really thought I would be able to own a house or be living debt free. It seemed that some of the errors that almost everyone else does I was guilty of too. I didn’t see that I had the capacity to make enough money to elevate out of the status I lived most of my life in. Until I met my wife, I didn’t see a lot of things differently from my perpetual bachelor lifestyle of sparse furnishings and renting. To be fair to myself, I also didn’t take a traditional path in life and I have not been focused on making good money in my profession of choice. I was always willing to trade time for money to facilitate the lifestyle I want to live. This may sound contradictory, but I like to fly fish as my primary hobby. It doesn’t take much to be able to do a trip or two out of state a year, and then fish here in AZ a weekend or two a month. But I did not consider, really consider and pursue with intent, that I could live in an RV for a month in Montana and fly fish in some of the world class destinations nearby.
Now I see that as a real possibility. With my current job humming along nicely and working remotely deeply engrained in my lifestyle, I can see it. I could see me sitting in an RV campsite with my laptop on a table and me conducting my presentations with a real forest as my actual background. Not a screen shot, not something to daydream about, but literally sitting in a forest and working from there. I would stack my meetings and presentations up for early morning and be done by two o’clock. I’d be on the river fly fishing by 2:15 until dark. I’d come back to build a campfire and make dinner for the two of us. We’d sleep the sleep of people content and happy with their lives far outside the definition of “normal”. It will be glorious…
So my question to you is this: What do you want your escape lifestyle to be? Not everyone likes to fish, so I certainly don’t think that my plan is a one size fits all. But the point of sharing MY ideal lifestyle is to get you thinking about yours. WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR YOURSELF? Reverse engineer the plan; figure out where you want to end up and work backwards from there. Figure out a step by step plan to get you where you want to go. If you don’t start planning now, you will never get there. Trust me on this, I am aware of just how much time I wasted going through the motions for so long. Lack of foresight added to the time it took to get here, and subtracted from the time I get to spend living the dream. It is my penalty to bear, but at least I wised up in time to still take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.
Get to work, because your life (just like everyone else’s) is passing you by, day by day. You gonna do what I did, which is wake up one day and realize that you are 50 and you have been doing the same things for a really long time. Sacrifices need to be made, changes are afoot. But think of the pay off if (when) you are able to make things come together. And even if you fall a little bit short for the big goal, you are still breathing rarified air that most only dream of. Start planning out your exit from the norm, and I wish you luck in your own escape.
See you on the other side…