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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Reading Challenge – Update

Posted by Tim Stobbs on August 19, 2016

So I meant to put up a post on this last month and then got side tracked.  As you may recall in this post, that I’m working on a challenge to read 100 books this year over at the Goodreads site.  Well back at the end of June I got an update email from the website with the following stats.

  • 59/100 books read
  • 18,848 pages read
  • 319 pages per book average

Alright I thought, I’m doing well so far.  Of course that includes some short works and some monster sized books (700 page+) so the average page per book seemed about right to me.  What made me pause was that page count total of 18,848, over half a year that means I was averaging over 100 pages of reading every single day for six months straight.  What the?!?!?  I knew I read a lot but I didn’t realize that I was averaging that sort of pace.

Yet this does point out the power of doing a habit daily.  I read just about every single day, but of course the amount is all over the map.  Some days I manage perhaps only 20 minutes, while others I will spend the evening finishing off a book for three hours.  The time really doesn’t matter, but rather the habit it what helps drive things forward to help meet my goal.

Now if I could only manage do that with a few other things in my life like flossing or writing, oh well, I keep trying to build those daily habits as well.  Good thing I learned the habit of not spending money earlier in life. ;) So what daily habits do you have?

Cherry Day

Posted by Tim Stobbs on August 5, 2016

Happiness is an odd emotion.  Some days you have to go through something painful or unpleasant to arrive at being happy.  Having done several things that take some effort to complete for example National Novel Writing Month, I get that the pain while doing something can often result in something that makes you happy in the long run.

Then of course I also get a reminder of this lesson every year during our annual cherry day.  Cherry day? Yes, cherry day.  At my house I have a sour cherry tree in the backyard that most years gets lots of cherries growing on it and every year we pick the majority of the tree (there are some branches you just can’t reach safely even with a ladder) and then pit several hundred cherries (it could be a thousand, for my sanity I have never counted them).

So you might be asking why on earth anyone would put in about 20 man hours of labour into this annual event?  Well after a very long day, my wife and I put at least four large freezer bags full of cherries in the freezer which later on in the summer or fall I will take out, defrost and then make sour cherry wine.

Now after doing this for about six times now I have managed to produce a very good bottle of wine.  Actually a friend of ours commented it was just as good as a local winery that also makes something similar and that cost around $20/bottle.  So given my raw fruit is free other than our labour and the cost of the sugar and yeast is minor, my costs are around $1 or $2 per bottle.  So technically there is some degree of cost savings to doing this labour every year.

Yet that isn’t the real reason I do it.  In fact, the money savings is sort of secondary.  The fact we go through this labour every year is the satisfaction of making a good bottle of wine from the very fruit that grows in my backyard.  In sort, the results result in enough happiness that both my wife and I agree that we keep doing this every year.  Of course it helps that there is something very enjoyable about opening a bottle that contains the very taste of summer in the middle of December.

Of course this is likely why I can save as much as we have towards our retirement, I fully understand the idea that a bit of work today can go a long way to being happy in the future.

So what do you do that takes some effort that results in something that makes you happy?

What I’m Going to Do With All That Time

Posted by Tim Stobbs on July 22, 2016

Oddly, I’ve noticed that number one question I get from someone when I mention my early retirement plan is: what are you going to do with all that time? Which I find odd, since I would likely ask: how do you make that work?  But anyway, I thought perhaps I should address the first question on what are my plans around my bucket loads of extra time when I no longer have a day job.

To address the issue I’ve considered that a person needs a bit of balance to your life.  You can’t just do one thing and do it all the time.  As I’ve already noticed in my life I go through periods of heavy interest in one thing for a month and then that drops off as I pick up something else for a while.  I tend to cycle through my interests on a regular basis.  So I need a few interests to allow me to cycle through them and so far here is a list of ideas broken out by some rough sections.

House projects – painting, new flooring, refinish kitchen cupboards, minor repair jobs, new front patio, expand the garden plot, replace patio doors with garden doors, new front door…really this doesn’t end.  I also want to look into perhaps designing and building a tiny writing studio in the backyard.

Writing & Reading – My want to read list for books is well endless, I’ve never managed to clear it off.  Then writing wise I, of course, have this blog and about five different novel ideas which I have developed into some general plot planning. Then I would like to do a follow up to Free at 45 book on the actual transition from work to retirement.

Friends and Family -Hanging out more with my own immediate family, since right now it feels like we are just barely managing to squeeze in some time on a weekend to do something together.  I would also like to get better at visiting my friends and extended family or just having more time to help them out with their projects.  But some of them require some long trips to see which I will suddenly have lots of time to do so.  Some of this will overlap with my next point.

Travel – My kids love to camp and I think it would be fun to start of list of places in Western Canada we want to try out and work our way through that list. Not to mention getting back to places we have seen, but want to go back and of course everyone has a list of international locations they want to see.

Gaming – I’ve always loved games (tabletop, or video games), but I don’t have much time to play them currently.  So I have developed a nice stash of ~30 video games I would like play for longer than an hour or two a week. And I won’t mind getting in some more board game time in with friends.

Movies and TV: I have always loved to watch movies, but do you think I have ever gotten close to finishing My List on Netflix..nope.  Then add in my library account holds and well I might catch up…someday (well at least for a day until something else gets my attention).

Learning: I have a serious thing about learning new skills or expanding my own knowledge base.  So given lots of free time I could do more online learning, workshops and other learning options. For example, I have never taken a class on economics, but I would like to learn more.  I would even have time to get a certificate or another degree if I really wanted.

Physical – You know how it is hard to make time for your workout every day.  Well imagine if that isn’t the case? Hello running, yoga, roller blading, swimming and perhaps learn a bit about something fun and out there like sword fighting.

Work – As I have stated more than a few times, I don’t mind work.  I just don’t particularly enjoy full time work.  Some places I plan to look into are: libraries, bookstores, micro breweries, micro distilleries, publishers, an election worker and well just about anything else that catches my interest.  Part time hours and short contracts would actually be ideal.

Then of course I have my current pile of interests: brewing beer and wine at home, cooking, and managing the investments.  Then add in the usual stuff you need to continue to do like cleaning, yard maintenance and guess what I’m more than filled up my 40 hour work week.  If anything, I expect the same problem I have now: too much to do and not enough time.

So what would you do if you didn’t have to do your day job?