My life has been a series of events which I have tried to speed up. Normal speed just has never cut it. First example I remember was with making money. When I was too young to have a traditional job, I enlisted my Mom to ask her network if they needed babysitting services for their kids. The day I turned 15, I went around town and figured out who would employ a 15 year-old (with actual W2 income). High school came, and college co-op and AP classes took up my time. Then college came and I wanted to get into the real world, making an adult income as soon as possible, so I graduated in three years.
In my first job out of college I thought I should have been promoted after two years, but I was passed over. So I went out and got another job offer, at which point my employer said “if you stay we’ll beat your new salary and promote you now.” I turned them down, and didn’t look back. I didn’t have time for employers who couldn’t keep up with my pace.
After two years at my new job, things were moving too slowly for me in New England. So, I applied internally for a new job, got it, and they moved me to Manhattan for the new role.
As soon as I got to Manhattan, I discovered financial independence and went 0 to 100 real quick. I had already sold my car when I moved, so I had to find other ways to lower expenses. All subscription services – canned. All the eating out turned to finding the best grocery store options. 401k maxed. Roth IRA maxed. HSA maxed. Figuring out how to engineer my life so that I could get to FI sooner was a frequent mission.
After two years in Manhattan and a life of always speeding things up (and a city that never sleeps), I decided to slow things down. I was now in a long term, long distance relationship. I had to make some choices. While my friends were all buying new cars, new houses, and having kids, I moved to the Midwest, bought a bicycle, and continue to rent.
A few weeks ago I took a week off of work and flew to New England to stay at my parents’ and catch up with family and friends. Whenever I come home, I enjoy the slower pace of life in a rural town with less than 3,000 residents. Walks in the woods. Dinners with family at my childhood home. All good stuff and a nice escape from work where hours rarely keep to 40 a week. When I was in New England, I did some thinking about how things had changed in the past year, and for the better, and boy have they.
The most obvious one to me was that I have made a conscious effort to be more deliberate with my time. Time is one of the only things that can’t be purchased. Nowadays, the things most important to me get a time slot no matter how busy life and work become. Weeks of my PTO are now set aside for visits to family and friends. Sixty to ninety minutes, four times a week are slotted for my gym routine. An hour a couple nights a week set aside for Netflix dates. Non-fiction books on topics that interest me over random cable TV shows. Dinners together are now made a priority rather than fit in around work. Getting around town now requires extra time since I try to do it on my bike as much as possible.
It turned out slowing life down is not a bad thing. It has actually IMPROVED my life. I’ve been very happy to see some folks in the financial independence community starting to float around new mantras, such as “building the life you want to live, now” and not waiting until you have a million dollars in Vanguard index funds to live the life you want. Life (and financial independence) isn’t a race. It’s okay to take the path less traveled, even if it means it’ll take longer to reach your end goal. Enjoying the journey is just as important as reaching the end goal.
Have you made a conscious effort to slow things down? Or are you more of a “life in the fast lane” type?