I hope this post finds you all doing well and living life to the fullest while aggressively pursuing financial independence. But, let me tell you a little bit about the past few days.
About a week ago, I was reading this post by Retire29 regarding the quote "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." by John Lennon. The post first struck me as incredibly well written but after the jealousy wore off, I found myself questioning my life.
Am I embracing my life? Am I living my life to the fullest right now? Am I taking the time out of each day to appreciate the little things? Or, am I taking my life and luxuries for granted?
I have reread that post quite a few times and I think everyone should read it. And reread it about once a month. Then ask yourselves the same questions I posted above. Follow that up by looking around, taking a deep breath when in a stressful situation, step outside for a break, take a new way to work, change up your routine... just do anything to open you senses and appreciate the life you are living. I have done that this past week and I can only hope all the following weeks will be the same.
Now for the details...
I work an incredible amount of hours as it stands right now. On any given day, 10 hours is usually a minimum on the weekdays. A few hours on the weekends, and it starts all over the next week. I get home from a long day of work and the rest of the night is spent relaxing on the couch, spending just a few short hours with my wife catching up on the day, before falling asleep.
This is the part where most people say... "But this week was different" ... however if I said that, I'd be lying to you. After you read someone say those words, the next sentence begins... "I took off 2 days, or I left work early a few days" or something of the sort. My thought is that you can only do that so many times before your boss or your income or your job security takes a hit. You cannot continue to take time off unless you are at the point of retiring so instead, I still worked 10 hours a day, but my eyes were "open" each hour of each day. I looked at every hour with appreciation for the life I was living. By doing this, I was able to slow time down and enjoy an incredibly relaxing and gratifying week.
The week started just like any other. I woke up, worked out for about 15-20 minutes and left for work around 7:15am every day. Instead of taking the usual way to work, I decided to go a different direction every day. There are only 3 different ways to really get to my work but each day I went a different route. Mixing it up allowed me to truly enjoy the sunrise every day. The different angle of the sun, the way it shines through the trees or the openness while driving down the highway all opened my eyes to the beauty of the world around me. Traffic lights were no longer viewed as torture when I just missed a green light. Instead, I was tuned into my surroundings, watching people sing in their cars to the morning radio was a true delight. The smell of fresh cut grass as I was stopped at those lights or the smell of rain after it had stormed the night before was incredibly soothing.
Once at work, I usually get a cup of coffee before starting the day. The coffee is free, so why go to a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts before hand right? My company has a Keurig type coffee maker and I love the french vanilla flavor. But this week, I tried a different flavor every morning. This is something that I will definitely continue into the future. Caffeine is supposed to make you more awake and alert. However, I think that if you drink the same flavor coffee with caffeine every day that your body becomes immune to the stimulating affect of the caffeine. Some mornings I would have a cup of coffee only to be just as tired as before drinking it. This week was different. My body was more alert because the flavor I was tasting was constantly different. My taste buds were on full alert and every cup I savored to the last drop. It was delightful.
The rest of the week was much of the same. I tried to eat something for different for lunch every day instead of the usual lunch meat sandwich. I mixed up the meat, the bread, the chips, everything. I went for a slow walk around the building, going down hallways where I've never been. Said hello to employees that I've never seen before. But to top it all off...
On Friday, I took the long way to work, I pulled up in the parking lot 15 min late and there it was... A baby deer chilling in the middle of the parking lot. I have been parking in the same lot every day for 5 years and never have I seen a deer in the parking lot. It might not be all that big a deal to many of you out there, but had I not slept in or taken the long way to work, this moment would have been missed. It was like a sign from above that I need to be living my life like this every day. It was an amazing ending to the week.
And this is why we are striving for financial independence. Little changes to a daily routine and your week slows down. The past week felt longer than the past month before when I was just going through the motions. The idea that every day can be different once retirement hits is a driving force within me now. I will strive to continue to mix things up and enjoy the beauty around me. You only get one life so why not enjoy every minute of it!
So, I encourage you all to change up your routine over the next week. Stop going through the motions. Embrace the subtleties throughout your day. Appreciate the little things like a different sunrise every morning, a new flavor of coffee, sleep in a few extra minutes and maybe you'll see nature in a different way. Once you open up all your senses you'll find that the minutes seem like hours and the amount of enjoyment in your life will surely increase.
I can only hope that your stories will be like mine. Live in the moment and as my younger brother says "YOLO"!!