It may be interesting if you could document how your personal philosophy has evolved through the years, i.e. from ten years back leading up to now.
So I was thinking... hmm... pretty interesting suggestion. How should I go about doing it without having to go through my whole life story?
It would need to be pretty bite sized and easily understandable and readers should easily be able to see the changes through my 35 years of life.
So I thought... Ok I'll group the periods of my life where things were about the same...
Schooling years up to 18 years old JC
Uni days 21-23 : Clearing the usual hurdles
These days were simple. I didn't think much about life. Life was pretty much planned for me. I lived a textbook life. I was pretty ok with studying so I knew I was going to go through Uni. So one step at a time. I just kept looking at the next benchmark, PSLE, 'O' Levels, 'A' Levels, NS, Uni. So I never thought about what life was about just clear the next hurdle.
Simple right? Just study, exam, break, study, exam, break.
I had this impression that life would work itself out. There would be next steps ready to take and other natural obstacles to clear. It's like... it's so normal to clear each of these obstacles. Everyone does them right. So just keep going.
I was sure that after Uni, I would get a good job, feel happy with the pay and continue working like everyone else. Maybe have kids and all that.
Early working years 24-26 : Is this all there is to life?
And so I got a nice cushy job, relatively high pay for my age and I was happy for a short while.
Life became a routine and then I started thinking... but... there's nothing left here...
There's no next hurdle. I know that I could just farm this role for the years til I'm old. I would get promoted and everything.
At this point, I was thinking, there's really nothing left to do. No next checkpoint.
I was pretty confused. Did this mean that life is just about work, home, work, home?
Same as studying? But different thing?
I had time to play and go holidays but... the main bulk of my time is 70% on work and 30% home?
That's what life is supposed to be?!?! HUH!?!?!
I felt that I was missing something. Maybe I needed more adventure and maybe a new job. Try something new. You know... like those businessmen, so successful, rich, seems like their life is so exciting...
So I thought, ok, I'll quit my job and explore a bit...
First jobless break 27-28 : Life goes on even without a job
And so I did... I quit my job without any plans. I thought that things would work out...
People thought I was mad, dropping a nice job, good pay, absolutely ridiculous.
People wondered what I would be eating, that I would be poor soon.
But you know what... the world didn't come to an end. Life went on as normal. How much money do you really need to eat. I was already frugal at a very young age so I had sufficient savings by this time.
I played video games, exercised, enjoyed my rest time...
And somewhere in between this time, I thought, ok, I need to do something, so I got involved with selling property at ERA and insurance at Prudential...
Fine fine. I'm not a good sales person. I don't like to sweet talk people to say nice things for them to hear. I'm pretty much a direct person so I don't really like to sugar coat stuff...
Obviously I didn't do well in the sales jobs.
So I though ok... I don't really have enough money to keep playing all the time. BUT... I learnt something...
That the world keeps turning. Losing my job doesn't mean anything. Also, I actually like playing around with my life, I like enjoying my life play video games, rest, relax, that's how life should be.
I'm happy living frugally but I want to enjoy my life.
I got involved in shares at an early age, 16 years old, and I studied finance in Uni so I pretty much knew how this was going to work... So I thought... heck... All I need to do is save around $500k and live on 5% dividends. That's about it right?
Then I can play video games all day and relax and enjoy my life.
So... time to go back to work... but now... I know why I'm doing it.
Second working years 29-32 : The quest for money
And somewhere in between my job search, one of my old bosses asks me to go back to the same company cos they had a position...
Wow... back to a cushy job with fairly good pay.
I got all my spreadsheets ready and tracked how much I needed to save and by when and how many years I would take to reach my goal... It was supposed to be 38-40 years old.
And for the next few years I worked... but somewhere down the line, I forgot what it was like to have fun. What I was working for. I was just back to the daily routine after 2 years. And I had the "what the hell" feeling again... It's very easy to lose sight of the goal when you're immersed in the moment. When things are nice and cushy and you think nothing can go wrong.
So I thought, ok, I want a transfer, so I transferred to another department. And this new department was absolutely toxic. And I pretty much regretted it.
I don't really regret leaving the other department, cos I really wanted to move to this new department for a few years already.
But never did I expect this department to function this way... I didn't last long, not cos I couldn't do the work, but the politics and "BS" was just ridiculous. It was absolutely horrible. It's not even a routine job anymore.
There's a difference between a toxic working environment and a boring routine job... I left a boring routine job to transfer to a messed up place...
And then I thought... ok fine... what the hell... I've done this before. Now I have more money than the last time. If I'm not happy, I'll just quit. I can cruise around for a little while enjoy myself for a couple of years like last time and find some simple work again.
Second jobless break (part 1) 33-34 : The search for purpose
So here comes the 2nd job break. And I was once again enjoying myself.
Since it's the second time, I didn't feel as much pressure as the first time. It's like one of those things.
The fear of the unknown. When I first left my job, I was just like everyone else, wondering, what am I going to do with my life, the world will come to an end...
But now... I've done this before right... so chill... relax... life goes on. The sun continues to rise and I am still alive and I just need to find food and enjoy life... isn't that what life should be about???
But this time, I was confused once again. Strange?
You see, at this point, I had more money. More savings. So I could last a lot longer. And I was thinking, ok... there must be a purpose. I want to do more. I want to earn some more money. I can't be not working forever right? And now I have the time to slowly explore, so I was quite stressed in some sense to want to gt something done. To embark on the next phase... but what?
So there was this game I was working on which didn't work out, and I even applied for some jobs again cos I was thinking, heck just farm another 3-4 more years and I'll stock up more savings, then take a break and see how, and maybe farm another few more years after that and then I'd likely be safely financially free.
For a while I was somewhat stressed in a sense. Like I wasn't really contributing to the household.
Although helping out with the household chores, admin, cooking, cleaning, etc... All these are actually my contribution. If I didn't do it, that would mean we would have less time on weekends. Likely spend more on food and going out. So in a sense, I could say that I'm in-sourcing. Instead of working and hiring a helper, I AM the helper.
But psychologically, it doesn't work that way, we live in a money society. So I was always thinking about my contribution to the household in a more financial manner. Instead of how much I saved, I always thought about things as, how much I did not earn.
And really I thought that I would be stuck in that psychological lock for a long time... Until...
Second jobless break (part 2) 35-now : Letting it all go
I encountered freeganism... Ok. So for those who know, I started this sometime end of last year, I think around November.
I got into the grove of things and found a community of freegans. The thing is, this whole idea and mentality allowed me to realize, that there is no meaning in life. Some people work to earn money, some people consume the excess of others. Heck, some of the stuff we pick up from the void deck or dumpsters are better than the stuff I own.
That's when I really let go of things. Why did I work for? If I could already pay off my house, what else is there? Yes there's insurance and stuff. But how much more is there?
Food? Some household stuff... how much can I spend? I'm naturally frugal.
And when food is free and stuff is also free... That's when I felt, there's really nothing left to do, and more importantly, that it's ok that there's nothing left to do.
I'm a realist, some people will say, if everyone does this... blah blah.
Come on, we all know that consumerism isn't going to stop any time soon, it's going to be a long term thing. So living off the excess of society... why not?
If I have 100 friends and I live off 1% of their excess, I get a full 100% of my needs.
If I have 25 friends and I live off 4% of their excess, I also get all of my needs.
I'm not asking someone to pay for my food and clothes. But I'm sure all of us has gotten a shirt which we don't use and it stays in the storeroom or drawer and just doesn't get used at all, maybe we don't like how it feels. And eventually, we find some excuse to throw it away... that is the excess of society, and I'm happy to live off the excess. If someone buys me lunch or dinner, then that just defeats the point.
That's why the community is so important. All of us get stuff in various ways. Some pick from void decks, some get from other friends, some dumpster dive, others get food, some folks get stuff.
And they all give freely. It's not a trade.
Cos it's the understanding that, you want, you come and take. I don't need it. Someday, when I need something, I will take from the community when I need something. That's all.
Maybe it's cos I managed to join a very generous community. Now, make no mistake, it's not something that anyone can just go in and think that they community is going to work for them. It's like a friend, you don't just go in and hope to be best friends. It takes effort, the more you give in terms of time, effort, help, talking to people, communication, giving stuff, taking stuff, etc... Then you get back the same things from the community. If you go in thinking, ok I'm going to farm this community, just take things when I need, else I'll keep quiet. You're likely going to fail.
So maybe it's also cos I have a community that supports me as much as I support them. That I managed to have more confidence is reducing expenses and living freely.
So what does this all mean... well, it really is about letting go of all the stuff that I've learnt throughout the years.
When you keep a pet dog, you will cry for the dog when it dies. Why? The dog didn't do anything in terms of money, you fed the dog, took it to the doctor, maybe the dog bit you... etc...
But the thing is... the dog is just a part of you and your family. And I've become more in tune with that idea to be myself for family. That's not to mean I should be a liability to them. But rather, for my own household, I bring back food, cook, maintain the relationship with the freegan community, etc...
And both my wife and I are happy with this arrangement.
And of course our goals are sufficiently aligned. Now if she wants more, luxurious travel, high class food, then that's a different matter.
There's nothing wrong with atas food, luxury bags, that's just not our life that we have chosen to live, and we're both ok with that.
So I think it's pretty interesting how my life has panned out. I wasn't far from a normal consumer when I started out. But as things progressed, and I learnt more about myself and my own values, I decided to take certain paths in life which resulted in where I am. Now all of us are different, so there's no right or wrong.
I think I learnt a lot about life in general when I left my job both times, the idea that the world just keeps turning, it sounds like such a simple idea and everyone should know it, but it's not as simple as just knowing that the Sun will rise again tomorrow.
One's job really isn't everything, although more often than not, it is seen as such an important thing that one shouldn't be without it.
And as I lived a more carefree life, I further realized that... life is really about enjoying it, as life should be, 80 years to enjoy ourselves. It's like you put a child in a playground for 2 hours, he's going to play for 2 hours, he isn't going to spend 1 hour working and 1 hour playing. And when you play with friends, it's even more fun. Playing at the playground alone is kinda boring sometimes.
So we are all here for 80 years, spend it with the people who make it fun, enjoy yourself. That's how I'm trying to structure my life now.
Of course we can't deny the money part... but that's a different story, one can choose to consume more, desire more... then that's just the trade off with the years of enjoyment.
Once again, I don't deny that there are people who just NEED to work. They are just tuned to working, if they don't work, they will go crazy. Everyone has different mental states and whether they can let go of the other things in life and fill life with other stuff. Some folks just need work. Others enjoy work. And yet... there are those who are absolutely fine with doing "nothing" at all...
And who cares how each of us plays at the playground?
We only answer to ourselves, it's our 80 years... we can choose to do whatever we want with it.
(I think this is a very interesting summary and capture of my thoughts, I will continue to update things as life goes along, it has been added as a link on the top right of this page, I will notify again IF/WHEN I update this.)
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