If you’ve been working towards financial independence/debt freedom for a few years, you might be familiar with the middle years saving slog. You know, that large chunk between being super-exited because you’ve found this amazing new way to live, and actually getting there.
It can be five, ten, fifteen, twenty years between hearing about financial independence and getting there. Especially if you have dependents or disability jacking up your expenses and decreasing your savings rate.
Tanja over at Our Next Life has written some excellent posts about getting through the middle saving year slog. It is a fantastic post, and great if you have a meaningful job you enjoy. If not, of course there is power in saving money so you might be able to change that.
But if you’re like me, maybe you have a job that is perfectly all right, but with somethings you could be without. It’s not your dream job, but you are intending to stay until your savings look healthier. Perhaps you’re trying to start a sidehustle or two on the side, and you’re starting to feel burnt out.
Both Mr. Frugasaurus and myself are prone to seasonal depression in the time around late winter-early spring. Yes, we’ve tried everything from daily D-vitamins, exercise, yoga, smoothies and meditation. We have come to the point where we just accept that certain months of the year we will have less energy and feel a bit less motivated.
So, much like the bear, we accept it instead of fighting it. Rather than force ourselves to sit in front of the screen and drag out some sidehustle project that won’t even do well because we are not feeling it, we let ourselves rest.
The last few weeks, I have enjoyed reading some completely non-self-development books. You know, urban fantasy series by Patricia Briggs about shapeshifters, werewolves, vampires and witches and the likes. It has been glorious. I get to hibernate from life by living through other people. I get a lot more emotionally invested in books than I get with most TV-series, and I have thoroughly enjoyed binging on the adventures of Mercedes Thompson.
It has been something I have looked forward to coming home to. So much so that I have been tempted to bring the book to work once or twice. Rather than feeling like my workday has not ended when I step through the door after a long day at my day job, it has been a more than welcome respite.
Just yesterday, I found a useless iphone game called “Plant Tycoon”, and even Mr. Frugasaurus downloaded and played next to me. It is one of those games with little purpose apart from growing plants, discovering new species and selling them. It is gloriously mindless. That is what I mean by hibernate. Letting the hours fly by without trying to make something productive out of most of them.
Sometimes it is great to just relax, and we are not always that good at it.
I suppose in a perfect world, I would manage to balance between work, sidehustles and relaxation. The reality though is that there will be weeks where I am bursting with energy and just can’t set a project aside, and there are other weeks where I just want to finish my obligations and curl up.
There is nothing inherently wrong with either of them. Feeling guilty about not having the energy to do everything at once does not help, quite the opposite.
When I realized that I wanted to do a career 180 and pursue organic farming in a more organized manner, I also knew it was a long way away. Hyper-focusing on how much I want to go to the Norwegian organic farming school (amazing though it is), would just make me miserable.
The time will pass anyway, but I find that time passes faster when I allow myself to relax if I am depressed. That was one of the reasons I was a WoW addict back in the day. Gaming was an excellent way to make the hours figuratively fly by! Exactly what I wanted when life was tough and I just wanted to go to sleep. Reading and growing pixel flowers, are relatively innocuous habits by comparison, but they serve the same function.
They let the hours pass by in an enjoyable manner. Sometimes, that is all we need. To get by until the depression wears off (if it doesn’t, please see someone professional), or until the next paycheck gets in, or just because you had a shit day and don’t feel like working that sidehustle tonight.
There is value in resting withing building skills or having a goal. In our productivity-obsessed world, we tend to forget that.
These days, self-care is all over most personal blogs and sales channels. Do this, do that, buy this, it’ll all make you feel better!
After hygge was appropriated by the self-care industry, everything seemed to take off. It’s as if they are trying to tell us you even have to relax in the right way. Well, phooey to that.
I have mentioned reading and playing silly games as some of my favorite ways to unwind. Writing stories I never intend to publish works too. I wish I could say watercolor painting did, but I’m not that good and I don’t pull out the colors that often. Still, it’s fun and doing it makes me smile.
I have friends who go for runs, play video games, make jewelry or cook. There are tons of things I haven’t mentioned, but the biggest take-home message I’m trying to relay is that there is no right or wrong way to relax. If embroidery makes your hours fly by after a long day, go you, and go that. We don’t all have to be productive and efficient all the time. Sometimes we take a bath just because we want a bath.
Taking the day off completely and ignoring the dust bunnies in the corners has gotten an unfair reputation of being lazy. Why is it lazy to listen to yourself and take a breather when you need it? A day, a week, or even a month. Where you allow yourself to just fulfil your core obligations, such as going to work, hoovering and taking the dishes. No extra sidehustles, no extra tasks or errands.
It is not as if you’re going back to yourself before you knew about FI. You are still saving, still working towards that goal. The time is still passing.
You’re just taking a break instead of running in with guns blazing all the time.