In fact, most days won’t even make it to the editing room.
In an age of instant gratification, social media, one-upping and a general sense of entitlement and almost limitless opportunity, I find it very hard to spend a day enjoying the simpler things in life despite often craving exactly that – the simple life.
It almost feels like by slowing down, I am missing out. Whether that is FOMO or guilt or the pressure of making the most of the time I have here on earth, I seem to struggle with spending a day doing not much at all.
Take Saturday the 5th Jan, the first weekend after my first couple of days at my new 9-5 job.
Bee had a sore leg after playing an awesome but ridiculous game requiring extreme flexibility on NYE. We were a bit skint after blowing most of our monthly spending budget over the Xmas/NY week and we were just a little bit knackered after our first few days back at work.
We decided on a quiet day spent chilling together instead of actively finding something new and novel to do.
We spent a full day together, walking, food shopping, reading, doing yoga, drinking our oat milk coffees at our favourite cafe etc. Still, despite just relaxing and spending a whole day just enjoying each other’s company I couldn’t shake the feeling that we could be doing something like exploring a new part of town or I don’t know… SOMETHING!!
Is this how I will feel after FI? If so, I’ve got some real work to do between now and then.
At the end of the day, I’m trying to break through so many years, decades, and centuries of cultural and societal programming.
I’m trying to break through the chains of over consumption of not just physical items but also experiences.
As Yuval Noah Harari speaks about in his amazing book Sapiens;
“Romanticism, which encourages variety, meshes perfectly with consumerism. Their marriage has given birth to the infinite ‘market of experiences’, on which the modern tourism industry is founded. The tourism industry does not sell flight tickets and hotel bedrooms. It sells experiences.”
This is the part that I struggle with the most. Reading Sapiens has helped me recognise that I have been born into a world where so much more is accessible and available in the way of experiences than in previous generations and just because I can experience something doesn’t mean I must.
But therein lies another problem with this whole charade. I need only open one of this same generations social media apps on my phone to see all of the things I am missing out on!
One friend is sitting on the beach in Thailand. A colleague is buying a new house. My old boss is sky diving. A friends wife’s bridesmaid is white water rafting. Someone’s is eating brunch at cafe. Another person had wine and a stunning charcuterie board at a winery yesterday and some fitness model is having a sponsored dinner at a rotating restaurant in Sweden.
And here I am making a homemade coffee about to do a walk through the park and then read my book.
And that’s where the work comes in to play. Reminding myself that not every day is a highlight and, in fact, reminding myself how much I really love these things.
Most days (at least while on the journey to FI) are about putting my nose to the grindstone to bring home a little bit of bacon – and that’s okay! It’s perfectly okay for most of my days to be routine, instagram-UNworthy, days where I basically just exist. These are my ‘grindstone‘ days
It is in these grindstone days however where I have the most cumulative opportunity to either make the most of or squander. Am I actually using the grindstone to sharpen myself in one way or another, or is the day just a mindless blur of distraction and sloth?
On days where I am not doing anything Instagram-worthy, am I living like a mindless drone or am I living mindfully? Am I bringing the things I see myself doing in my post-FIRE life into my pre-FIRE life?
Here are the kinds of days I am trying to avoid;
Wake up/check phone. Shit/scroll phone. Shower. Eat/scroll phone. Catch bus to work/scroll phone. Work. Eat lunch/scroll phone. Work. Catch bus home/scroll phone. Get home. Pour a wine. Turn on TV. Scroll phone. Eat quick dinner. Watch TV. Jump on bed. Watch TV/scroll phone. Stay up too late. Brush teeth. Jump IN bed. Turn off light. Scroll phone. Fall asleep.
Fuck me, it’s a sad state of affairs a day wasted away like this.
Look, I’m all for ‘nothing days’ where I just chill out and achieve not much – but if this becomes my norm I may as well not even be alive!
So what does a good ‘grindstone’ day look like for me then?
Wake up at 6am. Get up, don’t snooze. Drink water. Walk to gym. Do 45 minute workout. Walk home. Eat breakfast and read for 15 mins. Shit, shave, shower. Cycle to work. Work. Eat lunch and read. Work. Cycle home. Blog for 30 mins. Make and eat dinner. Play board games. Do yoga session. Read in bed. Lights out at 10pm.
Now that day sure as fuck isn’t a highlight, but it is a day where I’ve shaped myself in a few positive ways.
Gym. Cycling. Reading. Yoga. Board games. Regular sleeping and waking times.
All good things I can be doing instead of spending time mindlessly scrolling through my phone and looking at other peoples highlights.
TLDR (to myself); Jay, not every day will be novel and full of new experiences, but most days spent on the journey to FI should be used to move your personal needle forward in one or more areas.