Today I’m blogging about my ideal life cycles (the freedom series).
Our lives are doomed by cycles: the daily routines, the workweek, the monthly paycheck, the yearly performance review, the summer vacation and so on.
Most of today’s cycles are are driven from outside forces like the Sun (days, years), the Moon (months), the Earth tilted axis (seasons), your job (days, weeks, months, years), your kids’ school (days, weeks, seasons).
Do you like this arrangement? Well, if we exclude the human invented week cycle the other ones are somehow natural and I do like to follow them to some extent. Ok, the month is kinda arbitrary too. I don’t feel impacted too much by the Moon’s relative position around the earth, except when I visit the Itsukushima Shrine in Mihajima isle in Japan, but that’s due to a daily tidal effect 🙂
I do like routines, I do like to follow them and I do like even more to revolutionize them! I don’t like to follow externally driven routines and schedules, but in my ideal future I’d like to keep being organized and feeling productive, whatever that means.
So, how would you design your routines if you had a white canvas and total freedom over your ideal day/week/month/season/year? I got caught by this topic while biking home from Hooli office. I started thinking about it in the 15 minutes it took me to commute. I have to catch it and put it on my blog before it disappears and my imagination flies somewhere else.
So, here is my ideal life structure:
Daily habits / routines are the most important to me.
I care a lot of what I do on a daily basis. Take care of your health? On a daily basis. Spend time with your family? On a daily basis. Work on a project you’re passionate about? On a daily basis.
When I think about a perfect life I don’t imagine a list of countries I’m going to visit but I try to visualize my perfect daily routine.
On a daily basis I’d like to focus on following my purpose in life, getting lost in my passions, feel my body, explore my spirituality, train my creativity and spend time with my family.
So, let’s design an ideal day of my future life:
- I wake up early, trying to maximize sun time. Ideally somewhere between 5 and 6 in the morning.
- Mornings (7am – 12pm) are devoted to body and nature: meditation, outdoor activities, sport, walking, biking, gardening, house chores. I love to take a long walk, ideally in the woods, ideally listening to water noises like a river flowing, ideally listening to animal sounds. In winter days I may do indoor activities like swimming or work out at home.
- Amazing homemade lunch with Miss RIP and (in future) my kids.
- Afternoons (2-6 pm) are devoted to productivity and creativity. Writing, coding, studying, teaching,… I’d probably spend time sitting at a desk and in front of a computer and that’s super ok! Yes, I know, in 20-30 years from now maybe a desktop computer won’t be around and we all will be interacting with a portable device via voice commands. I’m skeptical but… good, more outdoor time! Looking forward!
- Late afternoon and early evening (6-9 pm) are devoted to the emotional sphere. I’d spend time with Miss RIP (and the future kids). Dinner together, watching a movie, playing a game, cuddling, talking, planning the future and other activities that build up the family.
- Late evenings (9-11 pm) are for funny and mentally challenging activities (alone or not). Meeting friends, playing videogames, playing boardgames, reading, chatting with a friend, acting, maybe writing 🙂
- Sleep 7 hours per day (11pm – 6am). I know everyone around sponsors at least 8 hours, but after almost 40 years of experimentation I really know I work better with 7 hours of sleep. Even 6.5.
In the day cycle I care about my body, my passions, my purpose and the people I love the most
The few times I’ve been able to follow this script, I’ve felt incredibly happy. Feeling my body and the nature in the morning, working on projects I love in the early afternoon – maybe after an amazing homemade lunch on my balcony with Miss RIP – and playing boardgames with friends in the evening is the definition of a perfect day. And please notice that the money involved in such a perfect day can be very close to ZERO
This is a typical ideal day of my ideal life. Obviously days are not going to be all equal. There will be days where I won’t put my nose outside the front door, and days where I’ll never see home. So let’s explore next cycles!
No, it’s not a misspell. I wrote weakly on purpose. The weekly cycle is mostly an external one. A society cycle. Schools, shops, jobs, churches, jobs,… they all follow a weekly script.
It doesn’t reflect any natural loop. I don’t think animals follow a weekly schedule. Probably if I’d find myself stranded in a desert island for years I would not follow weekly (or monthly) routines.
Anyway, I live in a society where everyone else has a more or less socially accepted lifestyle and each individual follows weekly activities. It implies that to some extent I need to adapt. That’s why it’s a weakly cycle .
Most of my weekly activities can easily be adapted to biweekly or monthly cycles as well.
- Social events (dinner with friends, gaming). Yes, I know I mentioned them in my daily routine, but I don’t think it’s sustainable to do on a daily basis. In fact in the evening slot there’s room for more activities, mostly solo/family activities (like reading or playing a videogame). I guess friends and events would better fit a weekly cycle.
- Day trips. Daily trips to nearby places or cities, daily hikes, bike trip with a picnic, a visit to parents or relatives or close friends who live not in town. These activities are fun and fulfilling on a weekly basis. Maybe biweekly or monthly though, I’m a lazy person!
- Community activities. I want to be an active member of the society, and I love bottom-up things. Once I fix myself and I’m happy with my family and my close circle of friends, next step is helping my community. Volunteering few hours at the local library, attending local political events, getting to know the neighbors and be kind to them. I’m not a church guy, so I’ll probably won’t join the church based communities (I don’t exclude it though). Minor activities like “go meeting a neighbor” suits well in the weekly schedule, while major ones are best fit in the biweekly or monthly.
In the daily cycle I care about love, passions and purpose. In the weekly cycle I care about social and community aspect of life. I want to be sure I’m present for my friends, relatives, community. I don’t want to be one of the obscure weirdos hidden behind his fences. I do enjoy spending time with people. Few of my ideal paths in life involve being super social every day!
Like the week, the month is another external arbitrary cycle that we are all forced to adapt to, mostly for financial reasons.
Bills, salary, rent, mortgage are examples of monthly entities (at least in Europe). I’d devote months cycle to both dilute some of the weekly activities and to assure finances are in good shape.
- Financial analysis of the current month. Cash Flow & Net Worth. Run some numbers, evaluate expectations, set targets and budget. I’d do this once per month. I don’t want to stress myself more frequently even though I must admit I enjoy playing with numbers 🙂
- House discovery projects. Cleaning the basement, painting a wall, fixing something run through memories, assess our possessions in a specific field (books, boardgames, clothes, bicycles, canned food), run thru possessions in a specific field and decide whether to get rid of something (selling, donating, thrashing), replace something, reuse something. Plan for mindful purchases driven by impulsive-free rules (like the 30 days rule). This whole point is something I’m really missing today. In my never-ending todo list I have items like “take a look at all the books in the bookshelf and organize them / select those to give away / make space for new books“. I’m turbo procrastinating on this because it’s never urgent. But I do value so much spending time on my possessions. I do love the idea of having less of them, but I also love to reuse my stuff infinite times. I’d love to consume (use) them till they wear off. That’s the form of consumerism I like.
In the monthly cycle I care about the sustainability of our life and our choices.
Seasonal (Aka Quarterly)
Finally we landed on another natural cycle! Thanks Earth axis for being so perfectly tilted! I do love the alternation of seasons (but I’d rather have more summer and spring time than winter and fall) so I love to celebrate them by applying some change in my life.
It’s like random genetic mutations that probably lead to nothing, but when one of them works my life improves by a factor of 10!
- Do a Project Jam. A full 48 hours non stop deep dive on a single project. Trying to flow in the “zone” and get a lot of things done. This may be done when kicking off a new project. I’ve done several in the past: few Global Game Jams and a couple of hackathons. Never alone, always in team. They have all been fantastic experiences, where I both connected deeply with people (but I guess it would be fun alone too) and discovered how much could be done by few people over a weekend! The day after a 48 hours nonstop deep dive has always been “wowowowow now I’m coming home and keep working on that amazing project! We’d reach the sky with a couple of extra days!!“… and then falling asleep for 3 consecutive days 🙂 I totally miss that!
- Take 1-2 weeks of vacation. That sums up to 4 nicely sized vacations per year. I don’t now, I have the impression that once I’ll be FIREd I will want to travel either more or less than this average plan. I don’t know yet, so let’s put here something I think is reasonable for now. Vacations would not necessary be weekend-to-weekend but all travel hacks tips would be applied, like flying on weekdays, go couchsurfing, wwoofing or wormshowers. We both love hiking and biking so I see in this category multiday hike or bike trips. More important, I’ll allow the vacations to break my daily cycle.
- Financial analysis and investments rebalancing. Maybe not on a seasonal basis but more twice per year but I don’t want to introduce a cycle just for this. Evaluate my investment strategy and rebalance our portfolio should be done at this frequency. Take a look at your IPS and see if it still reflects your values.
On a seasonal base I care about injecting changes, new projects. Seasons are different for their nature, so daily and weekly routines may need to adapt to seasonal changes.
The year is the quantum of time we all use to indicate our age. Years are use to measure your activities in life: “I’ve been working there for 10 years“, “I’ve married with her since 5 years“, “My daughter is 7 years old“.
We measure time at the largest individual scale with years. It takes 3-4-5 years to take a degree. We get yearly bonuses, we celebrate the venue of the new year.
Years mark achievements in life.
- Evaluate and define goals. I like to have yearly goals, but I do like more to take a look at what I accomplished last year. I do write long letters to myself that finally, thanks to this blog, will become (partially) public. I take time to analyze what was good and what went wrong, trying to learn from mistakes and celebrate successes.
- Take a prolonged month long vacation. Once a year I see myself on a month long amount of time in some location that is not my primary residence. I’d like to think of it not as a vacation but a taste of nomadic life. While seasonal weekly vacations are thought to be special time to do things differently and to break daily routines, during this yearly month long “breaks” I like to think I can keep more or less my planned daily routine. This may change even more: it may leads to a nomadic lifestyle, or 6 months here and 6 months there or whatever in the middle.
On a yearly base I care of achievements. I need to find time to detach and refocus on what really matters.
Well, I liked the name so I put it there. I don’t think there’s much room for multi yearly cycles. Life changes too much, people change, I change a lot with an Olympic frequency. Sometimes I do this exercise: I ask myself “where was I and what was I doing this exact day 5 years ago? 10? 15? 20?…” and I try to go back as much as I can with multiples of 5. It’s fascinating and I have to acknowledge that every RIP I meet in this time travel is a very different person, with different passions, loves and goals in life.
So I expect that there will keep being drastic changes in my personality on such a large timescale, plus I’ll have to face other persons’ life changes, like Miss RIP ones (assuming we’ll still be together), future kids (kids change a lot) and parents entering their old age and eventually passing away. And I’m probably forgetting important issues like my health conditions will change, my physical location will change,…
Anyway, what I do expect on this scale is to live a different life each cycle. I do have too many dreams and I’d like to think I can face one at a time every 4-5 years, time to master one and jump on the other. But who knows? Maybe I’ll get bored earlier of something or I’d devote my entire life to a single project. Who knows?
I think it’s very important that you have an idea what your ideal life would be. You don’t have to be paranoiac like me and have this ridiculous amount of organization though.
But please notice that my scheme is focusing on the how not on the what. I’m not saying “on Monday I’ll read a book, on Tuesday I’d code for my videogame, on January we go to Greece…”. I’m just trying to have a mental scheme of cycles and values, nothing is rigid and untouchable.
As most early retiree say, you don’t know yet how you’re going to react to all these free time. No plans made before FIRE have survived more than 6 months (decompression time) of new life.