Jan 312018
 

A few things leapt out at me during a recent interaction:

  • Our business is very dependant on our client’s shut-downs. We typically install and commission during the March-April Easter break and over the December Christmas/New Year period. Oh, and we often do smaller jobs on weekend shutdowns.
  • This company is really good. It’s pensionable age is 65. The previous company I worked for was 60. It gives me a whole further 5 years to save for retirement.

There were many other things said, many other topics discussed and explored, but ultimately these two statements are indicative, I think, of the environment.

The people, I’m sure are personable and friendly, most likely a good team to work with if…. If you buy into their world view, which appears to be – You work your career, full-on, nothing else but work. Then you retire at some arbitrary age in the future and you then live and enjoy life.

It’s always dangerous to jump to conclusions, to make judgements based on a short two-hour meeting with someone, but in many situations it’s all we have and decisions need to be taken based on those short interactions.

What struck me again is the overriding inability of most corporate sheep to even consider that something else is possible. After all, what on earth is normal about accepting that the company takes preference over all your limited weekends and public holidays?

I really don’t think I could go back into this type of environment, irrespective of whatever the offer might be. I know, I just know, I’ll be miserable there. The initial contact was certainly no time to interrogate their attitudes to unpaid leave, flexible working hours, remote-work but I have seen enough of the culture in that one brief meeting to understand that it’s not something they have up until now considered let alone would embrace and allow.

So I pretty much know all of this, even before I went in for the chat. So why do I do this to myself? Why even waste the time?

Well, partly because much of this could actually still be only in my head and I may well be wrong. It’s always good to have a particular stance clearly and directly articulated by the other party rather than assuming what it might be.

The other, less desireable aspect, is that the money [or lack thereof] really does have a serious hold on me. It’s been extremely hard considering a future with no income and there really is this inner concern that I will not be able to replace a standard job/salary by my own efforts. Again, perhaps all in my head and not a current valid concern until I’ve tried and tried again. Unless I’ve tried and repeated failure has proven this point, perhaps I’m imagining things that may not be?

None of this makes it any easier. None of this allows me to easily just say no to one of the very few opportunities that have popped across my path.

Mmm! Living in my head. Not perhaps the best thing to do all the time. Perhaps it’s best if I give the independant, self-earning path a full go before I take the coward’s way out and run back to the coporate?

Jan 012018
 

Depending on the flock you listen to, breaking free from the corporate cubicle to self employment and entrepreneurship is the only viable path to wealth and contentment.

Speaking with those that have done it solicits the common response “It’s hard work but I should have done it years ago. Don’t be afraid. Just do it. you wont be sorry”.

So I’m thinking – I have always been “self employed”. No, not by the Woolly Masses definition, but certainly by my own. Up until 2017.12.31 it has just happened to be “self-employed” within a corporate framework. I have had bosses and customers, just like a consultant or one-man business. Everyone answers to someone whether a boss, a customer, a shareholder. No one escapes that, not if you want people to pay you.

That said, it’s still a major shift in direction that this beautiful first morning of 2018 has brought. From today, I really am “self employed” by everyone’s definition of the word.

Let the Funemployment begin!

Nov 302017
 

Life becomes interesting when theory turns to practice!

It’s one thing to have an FU-Fund, hidden away in a financial institution somewhere, purely represented as numbers on a spreadsheet. It’s quite another to actually be deep into the process of cashing it in, preparing for a period of unemployment sabbatical from January 2018.

I’m doing the calculations over and over and over, cutting back all unnecessary spend, looking into capital gains tax implications, trying to make the best decisions to ensure that the bucket of cash stretches as far as possible without sacrificing any too much quality of life. It’s too late now, the deed is done….

People ask of me “Was this planned?”

Yes and No!

I’ve known for a long time this day was coming but never knew exactly when. To be honest I was only expecting it in 6 years time, at age 55. Also, the plan, if one can so grandly call it that, was always more to gather enough in order to be able to quit permanently.

But, as an old salt knows, plans should always be drawn with a stick in the sand since the tides of life have a habit of washing them away at times.

And so it has come to pass that events at The Office have become too much for me to stomach. “I quit!” is now a reality.

The FU-Fund consists of 2 portions. The first, held in unit trusts and shares, will fund phase-1; 8 to 10 months of living. If, in that time I still haven’t found another suitable and sufficient source of income, then phase-2 will be funded by the corporate pension fund (which will be transferred to a preservation fund on resignation). There’s about another 2 years of living there. If I cannot come up with some income in that timeframe then I’m going to call myself pretty useless!

The problems are few but potentially critical:

  • The FU-Fund is also the emergency fund. And we all know that life has this nasty habit of throwing “emergencies” your way, especially when they’re not needed.
  • In order to stretch the money, all savings and investments are put on hold. This obviously impacts the final FIRE date and needs be addressed asap. It also means that the FI stash is now on its own. No added monthly boosters. Only compound interest.
  • Cashing out the corporate pension should be a last resort. We need this growing towards the final FIRE date. But, there is uncertainty about whether it will be needed or not and that’s why it’s going into a preservation fund. It maintains the benefits there but allows a single transaction to cash out before 55. Just in case!
  • I’m 49, pale and male – living in South Africa. Enough said! This is most likely the end of normal, corporate career – forever.

Not all of these are negative factors. The last is probably the incentive I need to be autonomous, to create and run my own little lifestyle business?

So, while I still have one foot in the door, hoping for some kind of “offer” to keep me working here, deep down I know it’s not worth it. The stress and misery of this particular corporate is killing me. It would be a huge mistake to stay. I need to search for new opportuniies closer to the boat.

And so, for better or worse, the plan has being put into action, not in exactly the same way as envisaged but close enough. Now it’s time to ensure that my free time is not wasted.

Nov 192017
 

What does the future hold?

In many ways, the general trajectory of possible outcomes is known. For example, if you don’t add some kind of value in exchange for cash, chances are good you’ll end up living under a bridge. Or, if you commit a crime, chances are you’ll end up serving time. But, those kind of generalised cause-and-effect scenarios don’t really appease the inate “need” for certainty, the need to know how tomorrow will be.

It’s utter folly of course, on several fronts. If tomorrow were known life would certainly be dull.

I happened upon an svDelos video the other night. They were interviewing the crew of svSaltBreaker (in Cape Town nonetheless). Another boatload of people, taking a chance at living a good life (or so it would seem). It is of course important to always remember, the internet is very, very good at painting a picture-perfect life and very, very bad at showing actual real life. That said, there are definitely people out there living their dreams and who have an appetite for uncertainty that extends far beyond mine.

I perhaps need to exercise that muscle a little. Not just in single huge events like quitting a 30 year career but in everyday life as well.

Oct 222017
 

Markus awakes yet again to the cold sweat of fear.

He finds himself in a long, dark corridor, right at the very end. No matter which way he looks, he can perceive but two options.

Former colleagues, knives out and heads like snakes, block the return to a bright and cheery cubicle hell. Worse still, some advance with malicious intent.

At the dead end, a vast and intimidating fire escape door emblazoned with the words “Exit Only. No Return!”

Unable (or perhaps unwilling) to fight his way back to the light, Markus rests one trembling hand on the door release, sensing full well the turbulent vortex beyond, waiting to suck him out. Its a drastic move he now contemplates, with no turning back once it’s done.

The unknown looms fearfully on the other side. A drop to a grimy sidewalk eleven stories down? A sailboat voyage to tropical paradise? Or something unknown in between?

Uncertain and afraid, Markus pulls the covers up and returns to restless sleep, hoping with all his being the situation might resolve itself, but knowing full well that only he can change things by opening that damn door…….

Dec 212016
 

Living NOW, safely ensconced in the “comfort zone”, the familiar is sometimes ok, sometimes comfortable. Always hard work.  Sometimes a white-knuckle hanging on for dear life.

But NOW never lasts forever. Even NOW needs to be maintained, otherwise you fall off.

And after a while it always gets to the point of “NOW has served it’s purpose”.

When that happens it’s seriously time to start thinking about the leap to the NEXT CHAPTER.

 

Life is like a trapeze

The SAFETY NET is primarily the stash of $$, but not exclusively so. It’s also knowledge, ability, willingness to work hard. The real question is knowing when the SAFETY NET is strong enough? You can work for years, building extra strength into the net, running scenarios, planning, planning, planning and then find you’ve run out of time and opportunities to write the NEXT CHAPTER.

The NEXT CHAPTER can be likened to the strategies shown in the image below.

Climbing the mountain of life

The STRATEGY of working the corporate gig, the NOW, has served it’s purpose. It’s time to take the leap to STRATEGY number two.

And that involves a leap of faith. For a moment there, leaping will mean zero hand-holds, the potential to free-fall to our deaths if the SAFETY NET isn’t strong enough……

The FEAR and questioning of whether the NEXT CHAPTER trapeze will be there when we need it is very real. Leaving the relative comfort of NOW, even if it is a white-knuckle death-grip, is hard. NOW is relatively certain, relatively secure. The NEXT CHAPTER cannot really be seen too clearly through the fog of uncertainty. Will the trapeze be there before we fall to our death below? Will we have the ability to grab it if it is? If we fall, will our safety net bounce us back up to another trapeze that we haven’t even seen in the fog?

Exciting and uncertain times for sure!

Nov 072016
 

The thought did cross Markus’s mind that riding the ‘bike was way more dangerous than battling the south-easter under sail.

Why then, he mused, did the butterflies make their appearance every time he sailed from port and yet they were strangely absent each day he hit the traffic?

Apr 152016
 

Adventure bikes. Once again my brain under the misconception that I don’t “adventure” out because I dont have an “adventure” bike in the stable.

The life one observes out there sometimes seems a lot like that, especially true of me sometimes, but it’s totally bogus. The reason we don’t venture out is because it’s a little bit hard, a little bit uncomfortable. Having some cool (read very expensive) new toys may well propagate an ”adventure” or two in the short term, but once the honeymoon period is over all that normally remains is remorse, bills and clutter.

The ZR7 is not ideal. But then I truly believe all bikes are a compromise, a little like sailboats. There is absolutely no reason I couldn’t do the CT run on the Kawa. No reason at all other than I fear the uncomfortable numbness!

This is a recurring thought pattern in my life, this justifying. Fortunately I’m at a stage where I finally realise the folly of this this pattern. It’s not the adventure bike I’m after but rather the adventure itself. And even then, sometimes I fear it’s not even the adventure that I’m after but rather just on escape from this miserably monotonous daily corporate grind.

The plan just can’t happen soon enough at this stage!

Feb 222016
 

The risk of swimming with dolphins……….drowning, being swept out to sea, shark attack.

So don’t do it dude. Stay on the couch in your little padded cell and live out your years.

Us, we did the swim, survived the sharks (yes they were there) and look back with fondness on a once-in-a-lifetime moment !

Mar 202015
 

The world is full of “rules”, full of agendas, full of unspoken pressure to conform.

A direct “Do things my way” is typically quite confrontational and so most sheep resort to various other means to try and create conformity. A frown, silence, hints and insinuations. Peer pressure is a well used one, the art of conformity.

We don’t like you behaviour, your hair, your jeans. We all wear corporate black trousers, white collared shirts. You want to fit in here? Well read the signs……

Granted, some people will deny this exists. Some people will be better at dismissing all of this as a pure figment of the imagination but let’s not kid ourselves that it doesn’t exist. You leave the sheep pen at 15h30 while the rest of the flock are still slaving away in endless, uncoordinated panic and very soon you’ll feel the disapproving atmosphere. It’ll seldom be directly communicated but will certainly be clear in pointed comments [apparently made in jest], raised eyebrows and misguided dislike.

Which of all this intangible “feeling” is important is up to the individual to decide. Most comes from low-ranking sheep but the top-dogs are also not disinclined to have a go. Almost all of it is insinuated rather than directly communicated with openness, integrity and honesty.

Some theory advocates that humans have this instinctual need for acceptance in the group, a consequence of our caveman past where [so the theory goes] to be ostracised almost certainly meant death. I’m not too sure I totally agree with that. Just as today you find independent individuals I’m pretty certain you found lone cavemen skilled and adapted to living life on their own terms.

I’m pretty sure there was a caveman or two saying “Stop hounding me! Stop telling me what to do! Stop pushing your party agendas on me! Stop, Stop, STOP!!” And when they wouldn’t I’m pretty sure he left the cave for a better life on his terms. Sometimes you just need to stand up and say “Leave me alone!

You can live your life fearlessly and “free” only by choice. If there’s not enough bravery in the flock to communicate desires directly then why should one even consider that they might exist in the first place?

FREEDOM – INTEGRITY – TRANQUILITY