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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Oh Right, I Also Get Gifts

Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 19, 2014

It was funny to me the other day that it finally occurred to me that I would be getting gifts for Christmas.  You see after writing up an idea list for people I literally stop thinking about getting anything for weeks on end.

It partly occurs because I’m busy doing other things getting ready for the holidays and partly because I just don’t worry about the stuff side of the holidays as much anymore.  I tend to get more enjoyment hanging out with my family and doing winter activities together like skating and sledding.  Also we have a lot of little traditions we do during this time of year like making mulled wine which I also enjoy or hot chocolate with little marshmallows.  All in all they are fairly normal things, but they take on special meaning because we don’t do it all the time.

I have really noticed after all these years by doing something frequently it ceases to be special and loses some appeal.  Like eating a steak once a week would reduce its appeal to me.  So I try to limit some things to just seasonal treats so I actually really enjoy them.  From seasonal baking, activities or even music.

Now that we have gift exchanges on both sides of the family it has reduced the number of gifts I get significantly, which again seems to help.  I actually sort of savour the fact I only get a handful of gifts now.  They have become more special just by being a rarer thing.  So now I get a bit of fun guessing about my gifts under the tree for about five minutes and then I just sit back and enjoy the rest of the experience.

This is why for me, having less really is about enjoying what I have more.  More gifts, more parties, more events doesn’t make me any happier.  Instead having just some of each seems to be the best way for me to enjoy the season. Moderation in all things.

How about you?  Have you done less or bought less this year?  Did it help you get more out your life?

The Little Things

Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 17, 2014

Well I have to say I’m enjoying my time off more than I thought I would.  It’s been nice to relax a fair bit and be more involved with the kids while still getting some things done.

What has really amazed me so far is how effective having a large block of time off is at getting to all those little things you know you should do sometime, but never seem to get around to.  I keep a list of things I should do and try to do one thing per day from that list.  Some are very quick, like pickup some 600 grit sandpaper from the store to polish off a few minor rust spots on my sword (yes I own one…see here) while others took a bit more effort like taking apart our one sink that was draining slow and cleaning it out.  Yet most of the projects are done in under an hour.

Yet the compound effect of all these little things is the fact I’m making my life slowly just a bit better or easier each day and I’m in a much better mood because it.  I actually caught myself humming Christmas carols the other day while doing some cleaning.  You know life is good when even cleaning doesn’t feel like a chore.

Perhaps this is why retirees look so happy a lot of the time.  They can actually get something done and still have time to enjoy life.  For instance they never get torn by the decision to have a nap or fix the sink.  They do both.  Having more free time does seem to work wonders on your stress levels.  Like the fact it is quickly going to be Christmas and I’m not really that stressed at all as all I have left to do if wrap a few gifts and bit up some food (but recall I can shop at 9am on Monday and avoid most of the crowds).

Ok retirees, what else is great about having all that time to do things?  Does it get better as you go along or not?  Why?

Catch the Trade Winds?

Posted by Dave on December 16, 2014

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

This quotation showed up on my daily comics feed on Go Comics*, drawn out by one of my favourite illustrators – “Zen Pencils”. The quotation is attributed to Mark Twain, but may have been written by H. Jackson Brown, Jr (Mark Twain’s Estate can’t source it). For whatever reason, out of the 165+ comics that this illustrator has done, this one seems to apply the most to my life.

I am a cautious individual by nature, I keep my head down and do my cushy government job and don’t stray too far away from what would be considered “the norm”. My retirement plan, although aggressive in comparison to most of the population has been set up to be as conservative as possible in order to ensure that it was do-able – Instead of an “Early Retirement Extreme” plan [link], I have more of an “Moderately Aggressive way of Attaining Financial Independence” plan.

I think the thing that most people really worry about missing out on something. Even being a cautious individual who dislikes significant change in my life, I still wonder once in a while if there is something more rewarding or enjoyable that I could be doing with my time, instead of grinding out a corporate career.

The question I ask myself is how comfortable I would be, making a significant career change that may pay substantially less money but give my day to day life more enjoyment. A different way to look at my current life is how comfortable would I be to trade the possibility of being financially independent at age 45 in order to work a lot less now, in order to have more time to pursue some of my interests right now. Maybe if there was a project that I felt really strongly about, like writing a book or excelling at “beer-league” golf, I would think harder about my current life.

My current financial plan will hopefully allow me to “Explore, Dream, and Discover” some more of my hobbies after age 45, and I am hoping that at that time I don’t have any regrets about how I lived my years of early to mid adulthood.

Are you worried about missing out on anything? Have you made a significant career change and been happy you did it?


*I have read the comics almost every day of my life, since I was able to read – I am more than happy to spend the $12 a year that Go Comics charges in order to support this type of entertainment, which brings 5 minutes of entertainment to me every day.