I’ve been helping out at New Escapologist for a few months now, so I think it’s time I introduced myself more formally.
My name is Lentus Ambulandus, I live on the west coast of Canada, and I’m leisure-centric. It’s been a year since I last worked. Unless, of course, you count the four days I spent picking grapes at a winery, for which I’ll be paid in Gewürztraminer next spring.
To celebrate my one year anniversary in the post-work era, I’m writing Plan Your Escape, a series that will describe a logical process for examining your life (or any other problem, for that matter).
But first, I’d like to explain how I got here.
I used to fly helicopters, first in Canada’s military and then briefly as a commercial pilot. When I resigned from my job a year ago, I didn’t think of it as the end of my flying career. I simply wanted out of a crappy situation and needed some time off.
Then, a few months ago, I applied for work at a few companies and received an offer very similar to my last job. I declined, and I consider that to be the moment when I officially crossed into the post-work realm.
Why did I decline? First off, the last twelve months have been the best year of my life, bar none. I reconnected with family, improved my health, and spent time on activities that I truly enjoy. I don’t want that to change.
Perhaps more importantly, going back to flying would constitute a betrayal, of sorts. The money was decent, but I’m not particularly money-driven. More to the point, I don’t want to be money-driven. Further, the nature of the work had become unappealing. The type of flying I did was mundane, and required that I be away from home well over half the year. I knew, deep down, that if I accepted the offer, it would be because I lacked the courage to try something else, and was taking the easy way out.
[See also whore (verb) – to debase oneself by doing something for unworthy motives, typically to make money.]
And so here I am. Post-work. My current job description goes something like this:
I get up at seven. Or eight. Certainly no later than nine. I make coffee and breakfast for my wife, shop for groceries, and do laundry. It’s the least I can do, really. Otherwise, I read books, I hike, I cycle, and I think about things. If I’m feeling ambitious, I shower and walk to the centre, where I engage in good old fashioned flânerie.
Clearly, I can’t go on like this forever. Or can I? My job description mentions that I think about things, and indeed, I’ve spent a good portion of the last year doing just that. Mainly, I’ve contemplated how I want to spend the rest of my life, what constitutes a good life, and most importantly, how I can best achieve it. In the process, I’ve asked myself some interesting questions: how much is enough? what do I truly value? what does it mean to be productive? and, does any of this even matter?
In a way, my wife and I have been implicitly contemplating a better life for years, resulting in The Sale Of All Things in 2013, her shift from employment to contract work, and our recent move to the coast. All well and good, but I always felt that our approach was piecemeal. Our overall, long-term intent lurked somewhere just below the surface, but we never explored it in detail, acknowledged it, and adopted it as the basis of decision-making. And our method wasn’t methodical, resulting in unsynchronized and inefficient actions.
What we lacked was a deliberate process, a framework for examining the problem holistically. My post-work status has finally given me the opportunity to do this. Now that I’ve gone through the process, I’d like to share it with you.
The technique I’m using is simple, logical, and effective. Think of it as another tool in your toolkit. If nothing else, it’ll be food for thought. I’ll post an instalment of Plan Your Escape each Wednesday for the next five weeks, as follows:
Part 1: Why Bother? A closer examination of the benefits of planning.
Part 2: Good Intentions. The first step is to identify your overarching intent.
Part 3: So What? How to assess the relevant factors.
Part 4: Which Way To The Good Life? How to compare several possible courses of action and select the one that’s best for you.
Part 5: Putting It All Together. Articulating your plan, and establishing performance metrics to keep you on track.
See you next week.