Five years ago, my life was a series of items on a complex to-do list that never seemed to end. And I changed that by simplifying my life. And now I work when and where I wish and I love what I do. The picture shows you where I was working for the past two weeks. How sweet it is….calm, breezy with a view!
It has been 9 months since I left work and I have never looked back. I make about 70% of what I would have made at work this year. The other 30% is made up of happiness, no stress, and freedom. I switched my suits for shorts and t-shirts. No mileage on my car and my clients actually like to hear from me now.
5 years ago I was wanting a change but I did not know how to do it. How could I leave a high paying job and take the risk of not being able to find work or pay the bills? How could I leave a job that I had been doing for a very long time to go to something that was totally untested? I was very nervous about making the leap, and it took 5 years to plan for this time, but I took the leap and I landed softly. Lucky me.
Travelling was a high priority as there seemed to be so little time before, to see all the things that I wanted to see. I think that a lot of people retire later and then are too limited physically to travel in an adventuresome way. So I made a decision to retire early, before my full pension, so that I could travel. In in the past 9 months I have travelled to several amazing places.
Simplifying my life made it easier to enjoy this new lifestyle. There are several things that I did to make it possible and none of them really affected my quality of life. And simplicity feels good to me. Less stuff, fewer bills, fewer chores….hard not to like that.
The first thing that I did was to sell my big house with the pool and move to a townhouse. It is a reasonable size and beautiful inside. I have decorated in a way that makes me feel zen-like when I come in. The outside work is done and I do the inside work. I have a garage and a basement and a storage room full of stuff that I need to filter through and get rid of but I am quite excited how freeing it will be to be without all that stuff. I have everything I need in the house now and it makes me wonder what is in all those boxes…
Secondly, I changed the way I viewed travel. I followed several travel blogs over the five years when I was planning my departure. They showed me that real travel did not have to be as expensive as my previous method of travel. Five and six star resorts for 7 days and then back to work. I just returned from 3 weeks in Greece with no real agenda and it turned out amazing. I stayed in hostels which turned out to be better in so many ways, clean and comfortable and very inexpensive.
The third thing I did was to take on freelance writing where I write blogs and columns for other people. I am also writing a book for a company in California. It is stimulating work and provides just the right structure in my day without adding stress. It provides a reasonable income on top of my pension and savings and it is fun!
The fourth change happened quite accidentally. I finished my basement just to make it more comfortable and saleable. And then a friend of mine had a friend who was looking for a place to live. So now I have rental income from that basement.
Lastly, I reduced my unnecessary expenses. I just stopped buying all the little things that add up to a big number. VISA calls it smallenfreuden where you use your card for small purchases (and then you end up with a big balance to pay at month end.) It helps that my mind is set to reduce the junk in my house, and so buying things goes against that mandate as well. So I don’t buy random stuff and it makes a huge difference.
A series of serendipitous events adding up to a great life.
So I still drink great wine, I still meet friends for dinner, I still wear fun clothes, I still belong to a great gym. Life feels the same so far… except I am excited about the new day, every day.