Slowing Things Down

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?

24 thoughts on “Slowing Things Down

  1. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies

    I always take on too much. I thought being pregnant would force me to slow down, and it has in some ways. But in other ways, I want to try to do even more now in anticipation of taking time off in the fall. I’m tutoring a TON. That will naturally taper off as the school year winds down, but I never really imagined myself five months pregnant and picking up new clients.

    I’m trying to slow down in other ways, though. I used to be really guilty of “wishing my life away” – that’s what my mom called it. I always wanted it to be Friday, or the next big holiday, or whatever. Now, I try to make myself enjoy Mondays just as much as Fridays. It’s something I’m having to teach myself. It does NOT come naturally to me 🙂
    Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies recently posted…$1000 of Busted Budgets and Spent SavingsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      I can definitely relate to the “wishing my life away” part. It’s hard for me to live in the moment at times. But I’m definitely working on. And you’re pregnant! Slow down 🙂

      Reply
  2. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Great idea with living slow. 🙂 I’ve also tried to implement this. It’s so hard when you’re a naturally Type-A, anxious person like me, but I’m giving it a go. I’m focusing on depth rather than breadth. I might not accomplish EVERYTHING on my to-do list, but I get things done efficiently and well, and that’s what matters.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend!My Profile

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  3. Mr Crazy Kicks

    We went through phases of concentrating too much on just saving money. We would end up spending more after we realized it wasn’t worth suffering it out just for more money. The important thing is to cultivate an early retirement lifestyle that you enjoy while saving money. Nobody should grind through the best years of their life thinking something huge will change when they quit their job. My lifestyle didn’t change much since quitting my job, I just have a lot more free time to do the things that used to be confined to weekends 🙂

    Make sure you enjoy the journey, it flies by when you do!

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve enjoyed stopping and smelling the roses so far!

      Reply
  4. Leigh

    I’ve been thinking about this so much lately. What is enough? How much am I willing to live on for discretionary spending? How much buffer do I want to have? This year is a great experiment for that! I’m curious to see how it ends up going. Going to the gym in the morning, getting an early morning walk in, enjoying the daylight, and meal planning sufficiently seem to be far more key to my happiness than a particular salary…

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Couldn’t agree more with your last sentence. It’s the freedom that trumps all.

      Reply
  5. Matt @ The Resume Gap

    I relate to all of this. It can feel like accepting defeat to walk away from the track of endless academic and career accomplishments. I know people who are kind of miserable day-to-day, but they keep going because they’re in high-prestige roles and trying to prove something — to whom, I’m not sure. Like Leigh said above, stepping away has been so helpful for me in figuring out the importance of a particular salary in my life. I thought I valued time above work and money (which is why FIRE appealed so much to me in the first place), but I had no idea how much more I value it. Makes me wonder how I would do things differently if I were 18 years old again.
    Matt @ The Resume Gap recently posted…Stock Tip of the Month: Vitiai Corp.My Profile

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      The people you know sound like my coworkers. I’m looking forward to the time when I can do some reflecting like you are 🙂

      Reply
  6. Norm

    My college was halfway in between NYC and Albany, and I made a decision soon after graduating college not to work in the city and go in the other direction, towards Albany where it’s more affordable, less competitive, less stressful, and surrounded by natural landscapes. I think if I was in the NY metro area, I wouldn’t be very happy, and if I had to work anything even resembling overtime, I would be ready to murder someone. Luckily I knew that about myself then and got a union job that pays well with no overtime necessary, or even really possible.
    Norm recently posted…Ridinkulous Quarterly Expenses – Q1 2017My Profile

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Sounds like our careers are polar opposites. Sometimes I daydream of a career more like yours, but I know the grass isn’t always greener. I give you props for knowing yourself at 22 years old and making the right choice for yourself.

      Reply
  7. Team CF

    What wise words FF, and so recognizable! The same has sunk in with me a couple years back and it’s slowly going through my system. Hope that the pinnacle will come next year when I’m going to give up on my traditional daytime job and really will focus on the slow good life!

    Reply
  8. Sean Murray

    I’m definitely a life in the fast lane kinda guy. I always get interested in something and just fully commit.
    I have always been interested in personal finance and reaching financial independence but have really become engrossed in the topic since starting my own blog focused on my college finance and budgeting journey.

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      As you get older you may feel the need to slow down, as I’ve learned. Great job getting a head start on your finances at such a young age!

      Reply
  9. DC @ Young Adult Money

    I really haven’t made an effort to slow things down. I have chosen to slow various aspects of my life down, though, but honestly the only reason I do it is to make capacity for other areas. So if I slow down my career and/or not go the extra mile, it’s so that my side businesses can get more time and attention, and vice versa. I think as long as I”m working a 9-5 and trying to find the “right” business to go all-in on and quite my corporate job I’ll be forced to not slow down.

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      It’s definitely similar but a little bit different. You’re prioritizing more than slowing down. Slowing down the things that aren’t your current goals/passion.

      Reply
  10. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure

    I wouldn’t say I ever lived a fast life. But I’ve been trying to consciously craft a new life for ourselves while also not losing what we already enjoy about the life we have. It’s a hard balance! I’m so glad you’ve found it!

    Reply
    1. Fervent Finance Post author

      Life in the fast lane, sure to make you lose your mind 🙂 It is definitely a hard balance for sure.

      Reply

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