Allow yourself to hibernate on the long slog to financial independence

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.

Hibernate guilt-free

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.

Finding balance

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.

Tools for self-care

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.

Allow yourself to hibernate on the road to financial independence

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.

16 Comments on “Allow yourself to hibernate on the long slog to financial independence

  1. I love it all! This winter I finally think I accepted this fact too, and embraced whole weekends of doing nothing more exciting than reading a book. It’s luxurious really. And “phooey to that” made me LOL 🙂

    • Haha, always happy to make other people laugh!

      And yes! Reading weekends are super luxurious and seriously underrated. I love them fiercely!

  2. I think this is part of why I have a reading goal this year. I’m generally reading two books at once – one completely mindless fiction and one still very intriguing (but requiring of more brain power) nonfiction. I’m not so good at sitting and doing “nothing” pretty much ever, but I’m well accustomed to “wasting” hours reading.

    • That sounds like a nice way to do it! I don’t set reading goals myself, because then I’d feel pressured to read, but maybe I should start keeping track just to see ho many books I’m getting through! I’m pretty sure I’m close to or over last year already!

  3. I’ve never heard of the “midde years savings slog” before but it makes total sense.

    I’m addicted to self-improvement books and I’m glad I have kids in my life to slow me down and help me appreciate all the other great literature out there.

    I agree there is no right or wrong way to relax! As far as “productivity” goes I’ve walked my dog for so long now, it seems “unproductive” to walk anywhere without him. That’s messed up! I needed to year your post today. Thanks.

    • Little humans and pets definitely help shifting ones focus! And I agree, even if dogs love walks, it is allowed to go for walks without them too! It is definitely a practice thing, and we are by no stretch experts. 🙂

  4. Great article!

    There was a period where I was thinking of all sorts of side hustle ideas; side hustles were (are?) all the rage on blogs. Not saying it isn’t a good idea but eventually it occurred to me that there was nothing wrong with NOT filling your time with extra money making endeavors, if you didn’t want to. I work in an intense job, that can have long hours where I’m ‘on’ all the time. I don’t want to have more ‘work’.

    Winter tends to be my natural hibernation period. Relaxing, sleeping extra, reading, painting, really I do my hobbies when I feel like it. Spring/summer/fall I want to do ALL THE THINGS before it gets cold again.

    • Thank you!

      I agree completely, winters are just not as energetic. It’s more a time for handiwork without having to think too hard (like darning, reading, painting, crafts in general…).

      Intense jobs require ample downtime!

    • I was reading a ton of the Patricia Briggs books around the same time as you, it looks like 🙂 I enjoy parts of it but am squicked out by parts of the dominance thing she’s written into the social structure.

      I needed to read this this week – I’ve been wondering what’s lacking in me that I can’t seem to do everything for everyone AND grow as a person in new and interesting ways. I find myself kicking the path a bit as I trudge on yet another walk with the dogs feeling adrift because I just don’t have the time or energy to squeeze in another thing. Most days I’m kind to myself but some days I wonder if I’m just not enough. It occurs to me that perhaps it’s hibernation season for that part of me right now as we raise our family and I’ll find my spark again when I’m actually ready for it. Sure as anything, I’m not going to get anywhere trying to force myself to experience inspiration.

      • Oh, I agree! The huge focus on the dominance structure was the one thing that annoyed me as well. But I really liked the main character’s guts and personality, and most people were written as 3D personalities, which was refreshing.

        It really does sound like it’s hibernation season for you to! I’d just allow it to happen as you are doing. Sometimes our bodies and minds need a good rest. 🙂

  5. Solid advice and particularly important when it settles in just how long the road to FI really is for most people. The idea that we can sprint to the finish line is just not realistic under most of our incomes. It’s more like hiking the AT. Tend to your aches, make sure there are no pebbles in your boots, and rest when needed.

    • Absolutely. Just like the old cliche “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. I’m surprised to see how much this resonated with people, but very happy that people are trying to listen to their bodies!

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