It’s not often I start an article with a proclamation in bold, but that’s exactly what life is for me right now.
I’ve been writing full-time for more than six months now after quitting my job as a service advisor at a luxury car dealership back in May 2014 just after my 32nd birthday. Eight years in the brutal and stressful car industry was enough. I had come to the end of the road and it was time to seek a new path.
The path I’m now on is really the one I’ve been looking for since late 2009. I’m now living the life that I’d largely be living if my dividend income completely covered my expenses. I’m writing a bit more than I probably would, but it’s otherwise everything I had expected and wanted it to be.
At some point, I wanted to write an article about what everyday life is like as a full-time blogger, which, for me, is somewhat similar to that of a life of a financially independent Jason. With more than six months under my belt, I have a pretty good idea of how I spend my time and I’m going to share that with you guys today.
I’ve been completely open throughout this process. At times, too open. But I want to show what the journey to financial independence looks like, for better or worse.
I hope this post serves as some inspiration to those of you out there still in the grind and looking for a more relaxed pace of life.
The Inner Night Owl Released
Waking up at 6:15 a.m. to quickly get ready, eat, and march down to the dealership to deal with screaming customers was not my ideal way to start a day. First off, I feel like if the sun isn’t up, I shouldn’t be. The sun’s job is to give life, light, and heat to the entire world. It’s job is way more important than mine ever was. If it’s not ready to get rolling, then I’m staying in bed.
I generally go to bed around 2 a.m. these days. That’s probably late for most people, but I’m often most creative around that time of the morning. I would say that I end up doing about 20% to 30% of my writing between midnight and 2. Where some people find sunrise and birds chirping as beautiful and inspirational, I find a quiet and interesting solitude in late nights/early mornings that allows me to just think. It’s obviously a different 1 a.m. being at the bar than it is being engrossed in a book or an article at home.
Usually, I’m up by 10:30 in the morning. I don’t have an exact time. Sometimes it’s earlier, sometimes a bit later. Depends on when I went to bed. I’ll sometimes end up reading something until 2:30 before having to drag myself to bed. I will say that I wish I could tell you that I threw away the alarm clock, but it’s not so. If I don’t set my alarm for 10, I’ll sleep right through the entire morning. It’s my opinion that I drain myself through all my constant thinking, planning, wondering, and number crunching. But it could just be that my body likes 10 hours of sleep.
I’ve always been a night owl, so it’s interesting that I ended up in a job that required a rather early start. But such is life. I knew I had to make as much money as possible to execute my plan, and that’s exactly what I did. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work incredibly hard and put myself in this position, but I’m also glad to be out of it.
That’s just my schedule. But what you can see here is the juxtaposition between these two lifestyles. And once you’re financially independent or otherwise able to create your own lifestyle, your schedule can be whatever you want it to be. And that, in my mind, is probably the greatest reward of this entire journey. I truly own my own time right now. I get up when I want. Work on the things I want. Go to sleep when I want. And this is waiting for you as well.
Weekdays = Weekends
As a general rule of thumb, weekdays and weekends are fairly blurred for me now. Monday is just like Saturday and Tuesday is just like Sunday. Another way of saying that is like the bumper sticker: Every day is Saturday!
Other than deadlines I have to meet for freelance writing during the week, I don’t really differentiate between weekdays and weekends anymore. It’s odd in that I don’t really look forward to weekends much any more, but the fact that Claudia still has a more traditional work schedule means I do appreciate our extra time together during the weekends. So in that regard, I have a lot more free time during the weekends than I do during the weeks. It’s rare that I write or read at all on a Saturday, and Sundays can be pretty light as well.
The Routine Isn’t Routine
So what do I do every day?
It’s interesting in that it’s tough for me to answer that in a straightforward manner. It depends on the day, how productive I feel, how creative I feel, the weather, my energy level, and whether or not I plan on exercising.
Generally, I take some time over breakfast to think about what I want to accomplish for the day. Sometimes I’ll throw on the local news. Often, I eat in silence, left to my own thoughts.
From there, I usually fire up the laptop. I start with emails, which tend to number somewhere around 100 or so. So I’ll go through these, first eliminating the ones that are mostly updates on my portfolio. Then I’ll read and respond to submissions made through the contact form. Depending on how many I go through, this takes up around 30 minutes or so.
Then it’s on to responding to comments here on the blog. That can take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than two hours of my time, as I respond to every comment here on the blog in the most thoughtful, informational, and in-depth manner I reasonably can. But it’s something I probably enjoy the most of all.
This is where the routine can change, depending on the day. I personally like a lot of unstructured free time. Some people love schedules to keep order in their life. I’m not one of those people. I probably have anywhere from four to six hours of unstructured free time built into every single day. Sometimes I’ll take some of that time around lunch, sometimes not.
On days I don’t work out, I usually write after lunch. I can’t stay on it for more than 2-3 hours at a time, as my brain starts to turn to mush. But I can get a lot done in that time frame if I’m feeling extremely creative and motivated. However, I do want to note that I don’t think human beings are meant to operate at peak productivity/creativity for eight hours straight, like employers would like to have it. Like most other people, I go through ebbs and flows throughout the day. But the advantage to being your own employer is that you can take a break whenever you feel the need.
I usually read a lot during the late afternoon hours and into the early evening. Claudia gets home at 5:30 or so, which is when I start to shut operations down so that I have time to talk about her day and prepare/eat dinner together. I try to get back to things around 8 p.m., where my creative juices start to get flowing again. Sometimes I’ll do a good chunk of writing at night (like right now). Other times I just read countless articles, reports, and/or books. If I’m ahead of schedule in terms of production for some of my freelance writing, I’ll just veg out in front of a movie around midnight. Grabbing some chips and watching a movie on a Tuesday night is just awesome!
I think the key to succeeding at self-employment or being happy in financial independence is being hungry.
If you want to become financially independent just to sit around all day, I think you’ll be sadly disappointed after the first month or so. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy unstructured free time, sleeping in, and reading. But I’m also incredibly driven to to create. Inspiring others through the discussion of time, money, dividends, frugality, and financial independence is something I enjoy immensely. And I’m motivated to do as much of it as possible. The moment I get out of bed, I’m extremely energized to get the day going and start working on things. And that’s necessary to succeed at this. You have to want it and go after it with everything you’ve got.
If you’re not motivated to do something, it’ll be difficult to even get out of bed. And that’s when depression sometimes sets in. So discover what you enjoy in life and put yourself in a position to do as much of it as possible. Even better if you can figure a way to monetize your interest(s).
I’ve been lucky in that my passion for writing can be monetized, which has made it possible to cross over into self-employment whereby I write for a living. If you have interests that can be turned into some sort of substantial income, all the better. However, it’s not necessary. Work hard, become financially independent as soon as possible, and that will allow you all the time in the world to do what interests you without worry as to how you’ll pay the bills. But do have that “something” or many “somethings”. Figure out who you are and be that version of you as much as possible. Align your passions and lifestyle as early and often as possible.
If you’re able to monetize your interests in a similar manner to the way I’ve done, then it’s even more imperative to stay hungry. It’s easy to run a very relaxed schedule, get a little behind, and lose track of your projects, time, and your life. Some people need that constant direction that traditional employment and the hierarchy of management offers. An early retirement isn’t for everyone. But if you’re driven and enterprising enough to shoot for and/or achieve financial independence, it’s highly likely that you’ll be driven enough to work on your own projects with enough gusto and time management to be exceedingly efficient and successful.
But what’s the point of all this if we can’t have fun?!
I’m also lucky in that I’m an introvert. So it doesn’t take a big group of people or a constant barrage of in-person conversation to stimulate me. In fact, that kind of activity can drain me. So lots of writing, reading, exercise, and unstructured free time isn’t only cheap entertainment, it’s the kind of entertainment that works for me regardless of how much money I may or may not have.
However, even I require more than interesting articles to keep a full life. The great thing about setting your own schedule is that you can pretty much do whatever you want whenever you want, as long as you also get done what you need to get done. A couple of weeks ago I took an entire Friday off and walked around downtown Sarasota. I grabbed an iced coffee, enjoyed beautiful weather, people watched, and listened to some music. I’m also building time into my schedule so as to be able to visit the beach in the middle of the week in the middle of the day, precisely when almost nobody else is there. Imagine having the entire Gulf of Mexico and a sandy white beach almost all to yourself? I also occasionally pop in a video game during the middle of the day as a guilty pleasure, most often when I feel like I have nothing creative to offer. Hey, why not?
Of course, Claudia has her weekends off. And we have our together time then, which is always fun. We’ll go to the beach, or hit the farmer’s market, maybe grab something to eat, take a walk, or hit whatever event is going on/in season. My weekends in terms of activities are pretty similar to when I was working, except for one big difference: I have energy! No longer do I feel like a zombie on Saturdays because I’m completely tapped out from the brutal schedule of working for 50 hours straight at the dealership, blogging full-time, and fitting in exercise. I actually have energy to make the most of our time. And it’s fantastic.
But that’s me. What I’m really trying to show here is that life can be whatever you want it to be once you’re financially independent or if you’re able to work for yourself. You can spend time on your passions, create your schedule to your specifications, wake up when you want, work on projects that mean something to you, and be the person you want to be. I honestly don’t know how anyone couldn’t find the value in that proposition.
So this gives you all a great idea as to what I do from day to day. I have created the life that I’ve always wanted. It almost makes me tear up when I write this, but I sometimes can’t believe I’ve overcome growing up in a house in Detroit filled with drugs and drama, my father leaving me at eight years old, the suicide of my mother at 21, a wasted inheritance, and a large amount of student loan debt to now not only being well on the road to financial independence by 40 years old, but also basically enjoying the destination as if the journey were already over. It’s almost unbelievable.
But it is believable because I’ve worked incredibly hard. I’ve been consistent and persistent all the way through. I envisioned financial independence in my mind as if it had already happened. I created a plan and set out to do whatever necessary to turn an idea into reality…my reality.
And you can too. You can create your own schedule. Be the you you want to be. Own your time. Work on hobbies and passions that bring joy and value to your life. Change the world. Leave a legacy. But it all starts with today. And tomorrow. And the day after. Live below your means, invest the excess capital into high-quality assets that provide growing income, and stay with it.
What would your perfect schedule look like? Are you doing everything possible to make it happen?
Thanks for reading.
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