I spend a lot of my life dealing with really small details. My entire work life is spent analyzing and reviewing numbers and coming to conclusions which I report on and defend to my employer. I enjoy this kind of detailed work, which I feel achieves something at the end of the day, solving number puzzles and coming to conclusions based on the evidence I reviewed. My financial plan is much less detailed, but still entails (at least the planning level) quite a bit of minor details.
This past week, I spent 4 days in the bush with 8 other guys. Over these 4 days, I was up to 40 kilometers away from civilization, only reachable by canoes and leg power. I love these trips, which I’ve taken almost every year for the last decade. I seem to always come back to “the world” completely exhausted, but with a much different view on life.
In the bush, everything the 9 of us need for the period we’re in the wilderness, we need to carry on our backs, whether it’s water filtration systems, food, first-aid supplies, or shelter. We hauled seven 70 pound backpacks and 4 canoes on treks between lakes, around waterfalls, and over beaver dams to ensure we could survive in a comfortable manner. This kind of trip forces a focus on the daily event ahead, rather than planning too far into the future, which is the reason I think I love the trip so much. There’s no way I can be overly worried about work, or house stuff, or whether what I’m doing with my money is the best thing I could be doing. All that really matters at the moment, is pulling water with the paddle, or moving the pack with my feet.
I’m sure everyone would benefit from some level of rough living, to provide a bit of change of perspective from their everyday life. I live fairly sparsely, when compared to most people in my North American demographic. There is a realization when you have none of that “stuff” around you, or even any use for the vast majority of your worldly possessions that these things you’ve purchased are nothing more than “for fun”. This kind of realization allows for more appreciation of what I do have, and makes me think more about the “Wants” on my list.
It’s trips like these and the realizations that come from them that allow me to maintain my current path towards early retirement. The realization that I don’t need more stuff, I just need to be able to afford the stuff and activities that are most important to me, along with (more importantly) the time to enjoy them.
Is there anything you do that keeps your financial plan in-line?