Some quiet mornings, when I’m alone drinking coffee, I listen to my music and reflect on all the ideas that have been floating through my mind over the last couple days. The people I’ve talked to, the podcasts I’ve listened to, the articles and books I’ve read, and most importantly, the lessons I’ve learned with my hands and feet. It never ceases to amaze me how much mental “stuff” I consume over the course of just a few days. I love these mornings. I feel inspired. It can be overwhelming.
The more I learn about permaculture, I am drawn to the life design element. This is the idea that we have the power to create a life that aligns with our goals, values, and beliefs. A lifestyle can be actively designed to meet all these existential/ intellectual needs, and this lifestyle can be functional, efficient, and fulfilling. This differs from the traditional view that there’s a designated path we must follow – go to school, get a job, have a family, go to the gym three times a week, take vacations, retire at 65. Cue Fitter Happier.
Having the power to design my own life isn’t what drew me to the early retirement community, but it is the idea that flung me full force into the path of financial independence. The FIRE community talks a lot about anti-consumption and retirement as the ultimate freedom – things that are core parts of my being – but I feel that holistic life design is often missing from the conversation. It’s so enticing to fixate on the idea of retiring early that you get caught up in the work hard, save hard mentality and don’t take the time to consider the life you are currently living. I’m guilty of this – I often feel that I am head down, grinding through the days to save that money and get where I want to be. But I have at least 10 years left until early retirement, and I don’t want to spend those 10 years in this miserable, unfulfilling grind.