“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” -Confucius
Everyone wants to be paid to do what they love. If you could do something you loved doing to earn money, something you would do even if you were not paid, that would effectively be a 0 hour work week. That is much better than the 4 hour work week that has developed quite a cult following. Tim Ferriss, please don’t sue me.
Unfortunately, most people don’t enjoy what they do for money and feel trapped in a job they hate. I want to help free you from this. I have experienced this firsthand, and hated it. I have since taken some major steps in my life and now I live largely on my own terms. I have been living a leisurely life, doing what I want. I barely ever work anymore, and eventually I will stop working forever. This guide is my way of helping you do the same.
This is not a guide to Financial Independence. I am sharing another tactic with you. Even Financial Independence – the core idea behind many of my favorite blogs – is almost irrelevant if you could do something you loved to earn money. People are driven to reach financial independence by the idea of never having to work again. But that is only a good idea in the mind of people who equate work with doing something they don’t like. In other words, financial independence is only really a draw to people who don’t like their jobs, otherwise you wouldn’t fantasize about, and work so hard to ‘never work again’. They want to quit their soul-sucking jobs and spend their time doing whatever they want; they would do the things they are passionate about, and live a more leisurely life. The strategy, essentially, is to work far more than you need to (i.e. 40+ hours per week) for 5-15 years, and save the huge surplus of money instead of spending it on frivolous purchases. Combine this with simple living, anti-consumerism, and diy ethics (become a producer and not a consumer), and you have a very robust method that can work for anyone. This is a great route to take when compared to working 40+ years to retire when you are a ripe old age – just so you can keep up with the Joneses, or have always have the newest gadgets. Great blogs such as Early Retirement Extreme, Mr. Money Mustache, Mad Fientist, and Brave New Life contain everything you need to go down this route and retire in your 30s or earlier.
But, as you have seen with my own plan for financial independence, by the time you’ve reached this point you have spent a large portion of your life doing something you didn’t like.
I was drawn to financial independence because I didn’t want to waste most of my life working for some boss always telling me what to do and how to do it. Our life is precious [and limited] and my motivation behind financial independence was to make the most of it. I wanted to do what I loved, and financial independence seemed to be the key. Most people striving for financial independence are similarly motivated. As a result, the rare breed of people who are driven enough to achieve financial independence very rarely ‘do nothing’ once they’ve achieved it. A retirement on their terms. They typically use their free time to pursue their passion projects, and live a leisurely life focused on what is important to them. Very often, they inadvertently end up earning money without needing it. It is just a side effect of becoming skilled at what you love. I feel I have the intrinsic motivation necessary for this as well. If you’re reading this, you probably do too.
If you really value your life and have realized its fleeting nature, even the short 5-15 years to financial independence may be too much to barter with. I don’t want to spend even 5 years doing a job I don’t like. I don’t want to spend ANY time doing that. Every day I was in an office, I had repeated urges to just stand up and walk out forever. Hearing about all the people who seemed to be living life on their terms – ‘working’, but on things they loved, and thus feeling like they are never actually working, makes it hard to ‘bite the bullet’ and push towards this plan. I wanted to be like them, and reserve all my years for doing things I love.
So I asked myself, “Why wait until you are financially independent to do what you want?”
Why not do what I love, right now? Why not live as if I am financially independent, but without the security of the passive income, and let everything else fall into place? Take a leap of faith, and make ends meet while pursuing things I love. Eventually, what I love will generate money. Why waste time doing what I hate, no matter how much it pays? Just imagine your life after you’ve transitioned into doing work you love!
“If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time.” -Billy Joel
Well, I am walking the talk. I’ve quit all the stuff I hate. I am doing this for myself, and I want to help you do it. My plans for financial independence are on hold, as my savings rate has dropped drastically. But, my life has never been better. I am transitioning to a life where well-earning passion projects surround me, then I will resume my financial independence plans.
I have split this transition into 3 phases, and I want to briefly share them with you so that you can begin to transition with me.
Phase 1: Slavery
Good news! I know the title of this phase makes it sound like it will suck. And, well, it does. But don’t worry, you’re likely already in this phase, and the goal is to leave it as soon as you can. This is called the slave phase for a reason – you are a slave for money and your captors are your bills and consumer purchases which have a tight grip on you. If you didn’t spend money all the time, you wouldn’t need to earn money all the time. Fortunately, it is voluntary slavery, and you can free yourself! If only all slaves had that luxury.
Transitioning from phase 1 to phase 2 is as simple as quitting your job.
However, the more preparation you can do in phase 1, the smoother this transition will be. You’ll thank yourself a hundred times over in phase 2 for any preparation you do now. You basically have to do one thing in preparation: sock away as much cash as you can. You’re going to want cash in phase 2. Cash will make you feel secure and allow you to remain in the phase until you’re ready to leave it. Everything else you’re worrying about can just be figured out in phase 2 (though it wouldn’t hurt to start now).
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, or are in debt, you might be stuck in this phase for a little longer. I would advise staying in phase 1 until you are out of debt. Just do whatever you can to pay off that debt as soon as possible. There are other options for you but that is for another time.
If your job is bearable, it may help relieve some anxiety in phase 2 if you keep ties with it. Is doing the same thing you do now, but as a freelancer or consultant, an option? That way you can reduce your hours and work on your own time. Branch out to other companies and offer your services to them as well. If you’re going to do work you don’t like, at least make sure it is on your own terms.
If you REALLY hate your job, give your notice to your boss today. You’ll probably have 2-4 weeks of work after giving your notice, and you can use this time to prepare for phase 2. Don’t invest any more time into things you hate. You’ll stress and resent yourself, and the money is not worth it. Your work should be an expression of who you are, especially given how much time you spend doing it.
Reduce your bills. Save as much as you can from every paycheck. Downsize your stuff. Have a car? Sell it. Buy a bicycle. Have a garage full of stuff? Get your camera, and start posting to Kijiji and Craigslist. Would you rather have this stuff, or a high paying passion project? If you must, buy that stuff back when you’re earning money doing something you love so that you’re not condemned to work more for the job you hate because you can’t give up your consumer goods. For the really determined, sell pretty much everything you own. Buy a RV and live in it. Thomas Backlund took a leap of faith by quitting his job to live in a tent and write code until his startup was ready. Anything is better than wasting time in a job you hate. This is your life and passion we are talking about! Go all in! One to two years of expenses saved is recommended, but not needed. That is $24,000 if you spend $1,000/mo.
Being in this phase is like having a life-sucking leech attached to every vital body part you have. Get out of it as fast as you can using whatever means necessary. You can recuperate in phases 2 and 3.
Phase 2: Do what you want
This phase is, to say the least, so liberating. You are now likely the wealthiest you’ve been in a while. You have all the time in the world, and no commitments. You can do what you want with your time. That is definitely better than having all the money in the world. At least to me. Nap more. Spend more time with your family. Have more sex. Most of all, ENJOY LIFE!
I am in this phase right now, so the advice I offer is advice I am attempting to follow myself. I entered this phase with 20k invested.
The goal of this phase is to start earning money doing something you love. When you are earning money, you can move on to phase 3. You need to make this phase last until that point, so you need to make sure your savings last as long as they can.
You could very well live entirely without money during this period. Daniel Suelo has lived without money for over 14 years and has very good reasons. He really makes you question the way things are. This could be worth your time to look into. He does it. So do others. So can you.
If you do remain tied to commercial civilization, you should work as little as possible. I haven’t done paid work in three weeks, but I plan to do some work next week so that I can pay for a few things like rent. I’ve used those three weeks to work on my personal development and life philosophy. I’ve done more work on things I enjoy, and a lot of time spent leisurely enjoying life. I’m finding out a lot about myself, and the nature of life. I haven’t earned any money doing what I love yet, but I have been really happy lately.
You need to create fertile grounds for ideas. Become an idea machine. Cultivate your happiness and creativity. Treat yourself better than you ever have, and you will notice it will be reflected in everything you do. This phase can be damning if you’re hard on yourself, and blissful if you let it be. Be kind and loving to yourself. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with yourself, so become someone you want to spend a lot of time with. You probably haven’t experienced this much freedom since the 2 month summer break of grade 4. Embrace it with open arms. You now get to do things by choice, not because you need to. Much like true financial independence. You now have what I call “Financial Freedom’.
Take work that can help you improve your skills and generate income. You get more skilled at the things you do – and you spent enough time in phase 1 getting more skilled at something you didn’t like. Focus on things you like and get more skilled at them instead. Want to learn how to build? Take on construction jobs. Don’t allow yourself to do work solely for money anymore. Do work for happiness, and let the money follow.
Ask yourself: “Would I do this even if I knew it would never earn me money?” and if the answer is no, then don’t give it anymore attention. Money is definitely nice – but sacrificing your time for money is silly. There are many ways to earn money AND contribute inherent value to your life that makes it worth it to you even if you weren’t being paid. Remember, these are just odd-jobs for some income for this phase. If you have savings coming from phase 1, the odd jobs are less important as you can ride things out with your savings – but the odd jobs can can slow the depletion of your savings. Having those savings is really helpful though, because it can allow you to focus on what will make you happy instead of making money. Ideally, you can move on to phase 3 with your savings in tact. I have managed to avoid spending my savings so far because of income from freelancing. That means I can live like this indefinitely.
You can buy and sell appliances, or anything else. Be a freelancer. Post a ton of hourlies/gigs on PeoplePerHour/Fiverr. Look at what other people are posting for some ideas. Virtual assistant, web development, content writing, graphic design, the list goes on. There are tons of freelancing sites. Make a Kickstarter project. Make a cool website or app. Buy an internet business. Do paid speaking. Teach English abroad. Make crafts and sell them on Etsy. Teach yourself skills you can use to make money anywhere and anytime. Programming is a good one. You can learn anything using Google and YouTube. You could also try Khan Academy, Coursera.
Reduce your costs for shelter and food, funneling your time and money towards passion projects. Travel around the world as a vagabond. Live in a tent, or without money. Housesit. WWOOF. Work in hostels. Buy an RV or van. Rent garden plots nearby. Grow most of your food. You can pretty much live for free with these methods. Spend months with nothing but free time and your laptop. Don’t return until you’re ready. Let your imagine run wild. Discover your innermost desires. Meditate daily. Everything you need is in your brain. You just need to give yourself the time and permission to work on your passion projects. A solid year or two of leisure is ample time to get your head in order and your passion project off the ground and running.
This phase has it’s up and downs, but it is a mental game that I now play better than I used to. I focused far too much on the money earning side projects when I first entered, but I am now focusing on things I love more. I am currently working on this post underneath a giant willow tree near the lake shore, and life is good. I never had this kind of view in my cubicle.
This phase can be frustrating – you can often feel like you’re not doing the right thing, or earning enough money, or that you can’t make it doing things you love – but let me tell you, (and I keep reminding myself of this too) that there is a light shining brightly at the end of the tunnel, and this is a tunnel worth getting through. At the end of this tunnel is a life designed by you. A life where you get to do what you love, and earn a pretty penny doing it. A life on your terms awaits you.
Phase 3: The Good Life
You are ready for phase 3 once your passion projects are making money. You are knee-deep in your passion projects, and couldn’t think of a better way to spend time. You’re flourishing!
You can now earn money doing what you love, and can use that money as a tool to design your life the way you want. Money has diminishing returns though, so be careful and don’t get caught up in earning money for the sake of money.
Grow your income as much as you’d like with your passion projects. Use money as a tool to make the life you want. You can work towards financial independence by increasing your savings rate, or increase your standard of living depending on how spartan you lived during phase 2 to reach this phase.
Spending money is no longer the cardinal sin that it is for someone focused on achieving financial independence or in a job they don’t like. Since you can now earn money by just living your life and doing what you want, you can spend more freely. Spending money no longer means you have to work that job you don’t like. You’re a good person though, so you should always think about how your choices affect you, others and the environment – so I wouldn’t recommend going to buy an SUV for a cross-country road trip. You can, however, splurge a little more and don’t need to worry if you savings rate is a mere 50% instead of 80%. The urgency of attaining financial independence is not as extreme when you are living a leisurely life and working on things you love.
Since not all passion projects are suited to earning money, phase 3 can be used to develop your income-generating passion projects to a passive income stage, and leveraged for more free time. Use that free time and income to pursue your other passions.
You can eventually outsource some of the aspects of the money earning that you don’t like, such as marketing and customer support. It is easy to hire virtual assistants and all sorts of freelancers these days. That will let you focus even more on just the aspects you really love. Until then, there may be aspects of the money-making that you will have to grunt through. If you earn your ‘true financial independence’ and not have to do ANYTHING for money – meaning you really can pick and choose aspects you are interested in and leave the rest alone.
You really don’t need much more advice from me in this area anymore. You’re doing things you love. You probably can’t even tell the difference between your work and your play anymore. Do what you can to make this everlasting (or simply keep yourself on your toes and adaptable).
Now that your job, which is typically energy draining, is something that actually makes you feel even more alive, you’ll have a lot energy to focus on other aspects. Once I am in phase 3 I will reevaluate my life. It will be easy to make more than I spend while doing work I love. I see myself continuing on my financial independence path, for all the benefits that a large amount of cash can bring. And then I can devote all my time to non-earning activities. Maybe I’ll join Toastmasters and finally conquer public speaking. Maybe I’ll awaken my kundalini or reach enlightenment. Maybe I’ll devote lots of time to charities. Maybe I’ll travel around to gain a broader perspective of people in different cultures around the world – and maybe, that will lead to falling in love with a certain place which will end up becoming my permanent residence and the place I settle with a family of my own. Then I can focus on raising my children, and doing everything I can to make sure they never get soul-sucking jobs. I’d also like enough money to make some purchases I have in mind (looking to buy a piece of land and start a homestead with an organic food forest).
If this post is something people are interested in, I will write a bite-sized eBook that will elaborate on this post in quite some detail. I have a lot more to say about it, but this post would have been quite lengthy. I would likely freely give it away to e-mail subscribers of this blog. It would be the first ‘book’ I’ve ever written, so it would be an interesting experience. Feel free to subscribe right now using the sidebar.
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