To get things started for Freedom 40 in 40 I wanted to discuss my social supports or family and friends. Perhaps a little background is in order here to show you my analysis of the situation. You see regardless if you know it or not, work tends to be the main means that people grow their network of friends. People get tossed together at work and often work on similar interests and as such you tend to have co-workers that change into friends over a period of time. In one book I recall someone calling work the automatic friend making machine, which is a fairly good description of it.
So anyway, what tends to happen when you don’t have a day job that requires you to interact with others… you can easily get lonely, especially if you are an extravert. So the solution to this problem of potentially losing some friends when you leave your job is simple: find friends that aren’t connected to your current job.
I’m personally a strong introvert so I don’t bother keeping a large network of friends, it has never really interested me. I instead tend to form close bonds with just a handful of people. My current problem is very simple I really only have one very close friend that I see regularly who isn’t tied to my current job. Can we say that is a disaster waiting to happen? So to solve the issue I need to make a few more friends out of work and see what develops. I can’t predict who will evolve into a close friends or not, but I can make an effort to get involved in things I’m interested in and allow some friendships external to my work to grow.
To accomplish this I’m going to have to get a bit more involved with people with similar interests like mine. For example, after participating in the National Novel Writing Month in November came to a close someone put out a call to see if people were interested in starting a writers support group. I said I would be interested, since I enjoyed the support from others during the month and it is a good way to meet other writers. I plan to also do this more for other areas of my life to ensure I’m being open to friendships. This isn’t my natural state of existence so I need to work on this for the next 40 months.
Family is a bit of different problem. First off, I’m stuck with them regardless of what I feel, so I have to consider the context of what kind of relationship I want with all of them. In most cases, achieving financial independence can put a big strain on your family relationships because of one major emotion: envy. So to combat this I’ve been actually fairly open to discussing my plans with my parents and brothers to answer questions they have and to ensure when I actually do leave my day job, it comes as less of a shock but more of obvious conclusion. I’ve already been doing this for a number of years, I just have to make sure I don’t let myself get slack as time goes on.
Then lastly there is the cornerstone relationship of my life: my wife. Without her understanding and support of this plan the entire thing will collapse in a flaming heap. So I need to ensure I keep up a good relationship with her. Part of what I plan to do we discovered by accident during our last anniversary. We don’t buy each other gifts, instead we always buy a joint gift together. This year we had a hard time deciding on what until we came up with an idea. We bought 12 bottles of good wine. Why 12? Simple, this select bottles of wine can only be opened on a monthly date night together. We often get so busy with our lives we can take each other for granted, so to ensure we have a monthly date together we bought the wine. We typically considered date night as going out, but have discovered it is also easy to do at home after the kids go to bed. This helps us keep our lines of communication open and makes sure we don’t forgot the most important person in my life. So I need to keep up these date nights and keep talking to my wife about the plan. That way she is also comfortable with what comes next.
Hopefully this should lay the groundwork for a strong social support network for me after leaving my day job. Any questions or ideas?