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 042017
 

Sometimes I’m not so sure of this ”keep a boat” thing. After all, normal life is hard enough. Adding a boat just seems masochistic.

Something is different with the docklines? Closer investigation reveals that the SE’ly has snapped the stern spring. Yes, snapped!

The port-side cleat has also been taking a little strain and is loose, jiggly to the touch. How much more until the main port line securing us to the dock also lets go?

Someone has kindly reattached the pieces to the boat!

Thank you someone!!

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!

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?

May 132016
 

Markus spent some time speaking with an old colleague, one who had spent his career making the climb to the executive suite. Eventually the talk turned to the current management, he of restructuring euphemisms and cost cutting. “A godless man” sighed the old colleague, shrugging his shoulders with tension and totally forgetting his very own godless climb to the top.

Dec 062015
 

Some quotes from “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau

“It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood to-morrow, mere smoke of opinion,”

“Some things are really necessaries of life in some circles, the most helpless and diseased, which in others are luxuries merely, and in others still are entirely unknown.”

“The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?”

I wonder what Thoreau Snr thought of his son?

Although HDT does, at the start of his book, acknowledge that many reading thus far would possibly have “stolen and hour from their creditors” to do so, acknowledges that many cannot afford to source their next meal, one has to wonder would he have thought the same had he not had Daddy’s pencil factory to fall back on, had he not been befriended by Ralph Waldo Emerson and on whose land he lived by Walden Pond for 2 years?

Were he on poverty’s doorstep would he have thought the same?

Besides that, being in a position to critically evaluate, to choose how to live, to have such means – that surely is a blessing and one would surely be criminally negligent were it neglected in favour of the”easy” route of just following the Woolly Masses?

Dec 052015
 

Scapegoats, excuses, justifications.

It seems the world, and indeed South African society in particular, is all about the blame game.

20 years on and it’s still Verwoerd’s fault. It’s still my fault because my skin is white.

I’ve unjustly benefitted because of my “priviledged” background and so I must pay, in spades.

It matters not that the BigMan of the moment and his regime are actually the one’s to blame for the current state of the nation. No. All that matters is that his minions believe it’s still my fault.

This sorry state of affairs goes far wider than just South Africa. Look at America, it’s allies and the Terrorist State. Everywhere one looks there is trauma, bloodshed, self interest and resultant anguish.

Those in power fight their battles and the little people, black, white, yellow – it’s we who are left with the short straw. It’s we who suffer on the ground, live the effects of corruption, of violence, of self-serving corporates and governments.

We live in a world that has always been so – violent, peaceful, beautiful, filthy, corrupt, upstanding,  inspiring, depressing, greedy, benevolent, self-serving, charitable. It’s a world of stark contrast, of vastly differing beliefs and morals, of sublime happiness, of extreme pain.

It’s the way of the world and no matter how we lament the good or the bad of it, it’s ultimately out of our tiny circle of influence – BigMan or Small.

How we experience the world ultimately boils down to how we decide we will.

People generally appear to be self-serving bigots and racists – anything to further their own personal agendas. Some do it on a small scale – one-man-against-the-world style. Others do it on a macro scale – Mr Big and his political party, dictator of the world.

Why are the Wooly Masses so gullible, so blind? Why do they keep the BigMan in power? Why do they tolerate bigotry? Why do they not embrace each other as all part of the same species?

I cannot explain it. I cannot tolerate or change it. The best I can do is try and insulate myself from it. And yet it affects me all the same…..

And, as a result, I’ve resolve to set up my life to be as independant of it as possible. To keep a sea-ready sailboat, an inter-contenental escape-pod, ready to flee….. to flee…….but to where? Somehow I’m starting to identify more and more with Moitessier, despite his faults and lack of personal commitment.

 

Sep 062015
 

A lonely and angry Jo’ burg sky has dominated this day.

A grey and angry Jhb skyline

A grey and angry Jhb skyline

The wood in the fireplace is hissing as it struggles to heat and catch. Finally it’s caught but I need it to heat up quite a bit still considering the sodden state of the larger bits.

I’ve taken a rain-enforced break from building this weekend, spending much of the day snoozing on the couch with the dogs and cats. Its been a decent break but a sense of loneliness and melancholy has descended on the house this late afternoon. Magna Carta’s “Lord of the Ages” is playing on the newly-restored amp and Rusty has made herself cozy by the fire, by now a fully-fledged blaze.

I find myself contemplating Ocean Blue. She’s pretty much been mothballed this last 2 years. On Pinterest I find myself “pinning” custom motorcycles but not sailboats? Why is that? What has happened to the dream, the former burning passion for the yacht and sailing?

Despite the reasoning that it’s only a temporary respite, a necessary hiatus while we work hard at making the move to Glencairn, deep down I have this unreasonable, unsettling foreboding that I am no longer a sailor? And that does not sit well with me.

The reason? I still value the dream. Think it worthy. Damn it. I find myself sinking into some kind of depression.

Aug 172015
 

We humans spend our lives striving for things. We pour ourselves into the quest for more freedom, more autonomy and control, more happiness, more connection with friends family and humanity. We strive to bring the world under our influence and control. We read self-development books and blogs. We take business and soft skills training. The list goes on. And it all seems to be mostly in pursuit of a better image. A better LinkedIn profile, more connections, more ‘friends’, so that we can advance our careers and improve our worldly measures of success – our business titles/status and our level of consumer spending. And we really believe all this BS?

It’s all an illusionary deck of cards, a house of straw on sand foundations. All these things we strive are ultimately always out of our reach ands never achievable.

We don’t control our world and never will. As Seth Godin says ‘The only things we really control are our thoughts and our actions’ and the rest is all but an attempt to influence life to be the way we wish.

Freedom is also a nebulous concept. While some are freer than others, there is never true and unrestricted freedom in this world. There are alweays limits, constraints and boundaries no matter who you are who what you earn and spend. Social limits, physical limits, environmental limits and the big boogeyman we all face – time limits.

We strive for happiness ultimately in everything we do, every action we take. Our downfall though is a terminal short-sightedness, an addiction to instant gratification over long term reward. And so we dull our pain in alcohol, drugs, power, spending and more spending and wonder why things never get any better.

It certainly seems the more we strive, the more we crave these things, the less likely we are to actually achieving them.

None of these are likely to be ours if we focus on trying to bend the world to our will. Our circle of influence ultimately remains only ‘the tiny kingdom in our heads’. We can grow our influence but ultimately all that is ours are our thoughts and our actions.

All of these desires could be ours if we would but only understand the ‘illusion of control’.