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 042018
 

Who are all those people on the freeway in the mornings? Come to think of it, at any time of the day?

It may be different in your city, but somehow I’d be sceptical if you told me that. People rushing, driving fast, taking stupid risks to gain an ‘advantage’ over their fellow road user. Looking at the behaviour on the roads there are a lot of important, successful people around. They all have to get to their destinations as fast as possible because…

The often-used ‘statistic’ is that 70% of all people are miserable in their jobs. I look at the behaviour on the roads on a weekday morning and I have to disagree. Most people love their jobs so much that they are always rushing to get there. Speeding, tailgating, taking stupid, life-threatening risks all in an effort to get to a place you are miserable at just doen’t make any sense to me.

So, the statistics must be wrong. If people really hated their jobs they wouldn’t risk life and limb rushing to get to them now would they?

One of the best things about this new direction life has taken is my new-found ability to avoid the morning rush.

Bliss!

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!

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…….

Feb 232017
 

I suddenly realise why it is I keep going back to Art of Hookie – it’s for the reminder that jumping off and “living the dream” is a perilous undertaking.

Here is some random dude, supposedly broke, who talks big but, in reality, is struggling with life in general. Just like everyone is. Perhaps more than most is the impression? And yet, he is doggedly pursuing his version of the dream, no appologies, no excuses. That’s inspiring.

It’s a constant reminder to me that it is possible to live a non-mainstream life. Its a reminder to throw yourself at your dreams. It’s also a reminder that if the safety net is not strong (especially the financial one & the health one) life can get pretty miserable, pretty fast.

It’s hard to feel that things aren’t coming to a head at the Big S. What with the old project wounds still fresh and new project politics looming. I’m making ‘friends‘ enemies throughout the global organisation now. Not just locally. Not that I particularly care but, it is unpleasant! And to cap it all I didn’t sleep well. Food poisoning? Stress? Either way, not happy.

The power has been out since shortly after midnight. I write these words to the hissing of my Camping Gaz light. Coffee courtesy of the matching stove. The day ahead is most likely to be filled with friction. Unhappiness over the schedule. Anger about the order cancellation………

I think of the boat, of the Freedom Fund. I’m glad for the upcoming long weekend, a chance to escape for a short while. A chance to clear my thoughts, to potter away on the little tubby yacht that seems to be the only place I’m truly content.

Feb 182017
 

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

– Sterling Hayden, Wanderer

Jun 252016
 

With total financial independence (FI) perhaps the end goal, one needs a strategy to keep you focused and sane on the (long) journey to that end result.

Enter the concept of financial flexibility (FF)

You’ll never reach FI unless you constantly improve and grow your FF.

FF means the ability to make choices, to explore options that perhaps pay less but allow more time, that perhaps sacrifice some income but allow relocation closer to the beach and the boat.

Too often in this world life is portrayed as an all-or-nothing race. You’re either FI or not. And if you’re not (and considering how the end goal is so far off and apparently “unachievable”) then you may as well give up and return to the woolly masses. Extreme sports, celebrity, top-ten business, richest man in the world, blah etc blah – we are inundated constantly by stories of the outliers, the extremists, the top performers – with the implied message “nothing else is worthwhile“.

Not true! Life is always more complex and multi-faceted than the media stories portray. It’s important to remember that. Almost everything you read, almost everything “marketed” to you, shows a selective, out-of-context extract of someone’s life. That aspirational solo-trek to the north pole often doesn’t show the rest of life and the resultant sacrifices made to achieve that one event. The martini and the palm fronds with the sailboat at anchor in the background – that is just a very small part of the story.

So ‘Blue now lies impatiently waiting in her slip in the South Atlantic. There’s an immeasurably long road trip that now separates us and a constant mental tweaking of the budget to figure out how often I can afford to fly out to visit and sail. It’s hopefully just a temporary state of affairs, a stepping stone to something else.

I suppose some people do go for the all-or-nothing approach, selling up everything and moving the whole of life in one big bang. I understand that but for us, right now, the time is not right to do that. Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps never? But in the meantime we are constantly chipping away at the huge boulder that is the present, slowly carving out a life we both keenly desire.

While day-sailing in Table Bay once a month may not be the ultimate, final desire, it sure beats not sailing in the ocean at all. Just like FF, it may end up being all that is possible or, just maybe, a state of total FI one day may enable a season or two at anchor in Baia da Ilha Grande?

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!

Apr 042016
 

Much of the green still clings tenatiously to the branches, unwilling to concede to the coldness of change fast approaching.

The young greens furtively glance across the gap to their withered, yellowing elders who cling desperately to their last remaining moments. They smirk and quickly look away, smug in their youthful arrogance, their mistaken belief in immortality. Their time too is fast approaching.

Some of the yellows are frantically trying to buy more time. They call upon their knowledge, their network of “friends” and their substantial ill-gotten wealth to buy more green – all to no avail!

Still others are resigned to their fate, impatiently waiting for each day to cease its tardiness, to give way to tomorrow so that their eternity in composting may begin.

Many are bitter, cynical and alone, still believing that life owes them something though they know not what.

And yet, despite all this there remain pockets of contented happiness.

A very few are wise enough to realise the shortness of time, the inevitability of life, of change, of death. They choose to make the best of each remaining moment despite the short days and the approaching winter chill. They welcome the beauty of the late autumn sun, the receding aches and pains of the night as his fiery rays pierce the morning gloom. For they know – this moment is all there is.

They too shall inevitably fall, but not yet, not while this moment still lasts.