Breaking free for me means to make more time and space for the things that really matter: to do meaningful work helping others, spend time with people we love, care for our bodies and souls, play outside, gently push ourselves into discomfort to constantly grow and learn.
For some, this is possible within the confines of a 9-5 job. Others simply feel that their work is a means to an end, which buys them the freedom to take vacations and enjoy the finer things in life. However, many others, including me, feel trapped in what seems like an inescapable cycle. We spend such a large amount of time at work that does not inspire us, produces a lot of stress and ultimately leaves us unfulfilled. We seek moments of release on the weekends, often by drinking, binge watching TV, or going on some exotic vacation in order to escape the dread of the week ahead and the week behind us.
Some people call this working hard and playing hard, while patting themselves on the back for being able to endure all of these self-created struggles. For a long time I thought this too…I’m being too soft! I just need to suck it up and make the best out of it! Focus on the positive! Every job has its good and bad sides! Besides, I have expenses, and what else am I going to do?
And there is a lot of truth in that. The attitude and things we focus on can make a big difference in how we perceive our day and nobody likes a complainer, including ourselves. Also, we cannot simply run away from our responsibilities. However, to quote Elon Musk: “life has to be about more than just solving one miserable problem after another!” Life should have a sense of adventure about it! And while we can never totally eliminate drudge-work, if we believe our work has meaning, we are more willing to stick it out with a smile. But to simply work a job in order to pay for the things that allow us to continue working that job makes no sense. That is the rat race. That is fight club’s storyline of working a job we hate, to buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like!
So I stumbled upon people who had different ideas. I heard and read about minimalist lifestyles, geo-arbitrage, digital nomads, the tiny house movement and people taking risks to take the road less travelled. I read Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour-Workweek and heard of many other inspiring stories. I would talk to people about these ideas for a long time…in a way trying to convince myself that it was the right thing to. However, as much as I wanted to escape this cycle, I was also very comfortable with this situation. Life was easy and the problems familiar. Especially from the outside it looked like I shouldn’t have anything to complain about.
However, without ever actually taking any of these steps I remember my wise 5-year old nephew calling me out when he was outraged that I told him to jump into the cold pool while I was lounging on a comfortable chair in the sun: “Uncle, that’s not fair! You can’t ask other people to do something that you won’t do yourself!”
So finally I decided to actually walk the walk and start this journey.
I cleared out my apartment, sold my car, and got rid of many of my possessions.
To further make a big dent in the monthly expenses that keep us stuck in the cycle, I decided to leave the big city and build my own cabin in Tennessee/North Carolina. This will allow me to live rent-free and drastically reduce expenses. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty associated with this. Won’t I be bored and lonely away from the big city? Am I getting in over my head with the construction? Will wild boars attack me? As scary as those things are, I know not trying it would only lead to regret and that is even scarier.
As I take these steps to simplify my life and refocus on what matters, I want to share what I learn through this blog, because I feel so grateful for those who did the same and gave me encouragement.