We are constantly in the process of checking our preexisting beliefs for accuracy in the light of new information. As we blend the new with the old, the result is either the strengthening of our past beliefs or the broadening of our current philosophy. It is this continual change that makes things so interesting for us.
What determines where we arrive?
It’s fascinating to think about what determines how one’s life turns out. We all start at the same beginning point. We all experience disappointment, despair and heartbreak. Why then, would each of us, in our own individual ship of life, all beginning at the same point, with a similar destination of success in mind, arrive at such drastically different places?
The way that each of us thinks makes the major difference in where each of us arrives. The major difference is not circumstance, the major difference is the set of the sail. Learning to reset the sail with the changing winds rather than permitting ourselves to be blown in a direction we did not purposely choose requires the development of a whole new discipline. It involves going to work on establishing a powerful, personal philosophy that will help to influence in a positive way all that we do and all that we think and decide.
If our destination is largely a factor of our personal philosophy and not one of circumstance as the media, politicians and marketers seem to project, then why not make personal philosophy a regular study?
Where are we now?
Our culture was founded on the idea that maximizing production equals maximizing happiness.
In the past, pursuing this goal was admirable since any increase in production resulted in an increase in well-being: better food, better medicine, better clothing, better housing, better work, and better living. At some point the focus changed from better to more: more food, more medicine, more clothing, more bedrooms, more bathrooms, and more work. But can we honestly say that this still results in better living and greater well-being?
The change from better to more signaled our transition from a producer economy to a consumer economy, and we followed right along with it.
Laying New Groundwork
How will we change?
From extreme savings plans and investment strategies to self watering containers, independence has always been a part of our philosophy. But has our interpretation of independence changed? Jacob Fisker provides an interesting quote:
“Independence is not something one has; rather it is something that one is.” – Jacob Fisker
Independence as something to be saved for retirement, determined by a lifetime of strictly financial accumulation and deferment, is no longer a major tenant of our philosophy. The idea of doing something that you dislike for the most physically capable years of your life just doesn’t make sense given the freedoms that exist in America.
Is there a way to do what we enjoy while at the same time shifting financial independence from an end of life goal to an all of life goal?
I think there is and I think it has a lot to do with redefining our lives from that of a consumer mindset to a producer mindset.
Consumer to Producer
What is our strategy going forward?
Reduce waste and increase efficiency
Debt is our largest inefficiency. At over $163,000 it is the yellow Hummer of our current situation. We are in our third successful month of our goal to be debt free by September 2014. It is not easy, that’s for sure, and it requires an extra $3,400 in principle payments each month.
The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.
What if we embarked on the challenge to live with nearly the same benefits as the rest of society for one-quarter or a half of what the average consumer spends? Own only things we actually use and maintain what we buy. Seek refining experiences rather than status-driven experiences. Substitute consumption for technical skills and creativity.
Invest in businesses
With significantly reduced expenses invest the difference in new businesses. Focus on creating businesses that evolve with our always changing personal interests and also provide increased freedom of time and location. Sounds challenging, and it is. It is difficult to build and run a single small or micro business and make an average income, but it is easier to make a portion of an average income through multiple business income streams.
If given the opportunity why not try to create a valuable product or service, to learn and experiment in the marketplace, and to design an approach in such a way as to foster the freedoms discussed above.
Find something meaningful
I think this is probably the most important part of our philosophy. We won’t always be able to work on something truly meaningful, but a challenge will be to keep looking for activity that is.
Each pillar laid out above reinforces the other two but none of them rely on the others. Money saved from the absence of debt and the unnecessary can be invested, and the knowledge learned building new businesses can be meaningful. Meaningful activity often leads to new business ideas.
Results are the name of the game. Measuring the results and adjusting our actions will be a key component to staying on track. Our usual net worth posts will incorporate these new ideas.
We all have two choices: We can make a living or we can design a life.
As part of our continued site redesign we are working on the creation of a collection of books that are extremely valuable and have shaped our lives in meaningful ways. This attempt to explain our evolving philosophy contains quotes and ideas from several of our favorite texts listed below.