Perhaps this is odd, but I’ve always had a sense of pride on my ability to use my willpower to finish difficult tasks.  For example, I’ve completed writing 50,000 words in a month twice (National Novel Writing Month) and signed up for third time, I will read 100 books in a year (2016), and we have improved our net worth from $66,000 to ~$900,000 in ten years.  None of those are easy, but I got them done.  I feel good when I get a hard goal completed and do feel a bit of pride at my ability to endure.

But perhaps more interesting is asking myself: why did you endure it at all?  Because when I ask that question I am forced to admit I likely have a lot more alternatives than I’m prepared to really examine.  My current one is why am I enduring work at all?  I could just leave tomorrow and be fine for like years and sort things out after the fact.

I think the honest answer is the fact that I’ve turn enduring almost a habit.  Just a bit more to the next goal, just a bit further to the one after that.  I’ve trained myself to a master level of making progress on some things in my life.  I’ve tricked myself into an endless cycle of improvement that I’m not ever sure what the end of it lies sometimes or take the time to appreciate what I’ve accomplished.

This becomes apparent to me when I look at my ability to get things done.  I’m very good at writing out a to do list for home or work and getting most of it done in a set period of time (week or weekend are the most common).  Yet what I’m not good at is relaxing enough some days.  I get so busy in the cycle of life I fail to step back and enjoy the view periodically.  I’m too absorbed in getting the next item done on the to do list that I forgot the point of the list was just to remember things.  Just because it is written down does not mean I need to do it right now.

So a deep concern I have going into retirement is: how will I adjust to all that free time?  As I previous mentioned I could keep very busy if I wanted to, but the broader question is then why did I bother doing all of this if I’m just working as hard as having a full time job.  Where is the payoff for enduring all these years towards a goal to merely replace it with some other goal?

Maybe I need to learn to do nothing.  Sit alone with my thoughts and bask in the moment.  Enjoy now and not look towards tomorrow to be happy.  To exist in the sunny afternoon with not much to achieve but enjoying the sun.  It isn’t that hard to just take a second and realize that you can have a happy moment just about any time of the day.  To do lists don’t have to be complete, it’s okay to disappoint others at times or even yourself after you sign on to a overly hard goals.  There is tomorrow and your to do list will never be done.

4 thoughts on “Enduring”

  1. Make a “to-don’t” list. Every time you complete a thing on your to-do list, you move something else to the don’t list. You aren’t allowed to do anything on the to-don’t list until a week after your to-do list is empty. After that week, your don’t list kicks of your next do list.

  2. Really interesting post, and I can relate. Our society does a great job of creating a rat wheel for us to run in and burn up all of our energy and drive

    This summer, I made a conscious effort to slow down a bit – still work away at things, but at a pace I’m comfortable with so they don’t seem so much like work. And if something doesn’t need to get done, and I’m not in the mood, then I do something else. Overall, it’s really helped.

    One thing I do every year is take a solo wilderness camping trip for a few days. It really helps ground me, and remind myself just how little I need to have, and to do, to be happy.

    I think it’s important to keep accomplishing and doing things in order to keep your self-esteem up, because the feeling of just enduring can be replaced with feelings of depression and uselessness if one take the foot off the gas too far.

    I think the ideal is to find that line that I call ‘creative tension’ – enough to keep the motivation strong, but not so much as to cause stress. That is most easily achieved doing things that one is passionate about.

    Personally, I’m about 1 year out from my FIRE goal as well, having just passed the lean-FIRE point. OMY syndrome, I guess, and I’m just enduring it as well. Trying to figure out what the next steps will be, and it’s like being in high school, attempting to confront the future and what to do for a job – because even though I won’t need to have one anymore, I have many, many options of things I’d like to do, that would hopefully earn some extra spending cash. It’s tough to choose, but I’m trying very hard to leave all options on the table, and go with the one that I feel the most pull towards when the time comes. I tell you, it’s not an easy thing to do for someone who likes to plan ahead, be prepared and has lived via ‘TODO’ lists for the past 15 years.

  3. Get to know yourself better & enjoy your time alone. I spend time volunteering (at the animal shelter & church) & I also love to crochet/knit. I then donate the items I make to the battered womens shelter. I have more time to meet friends for lunch/dinner, and also help out family members who may need help (watching the kids here & there). We also do travel a bit, so I’m just enjoying every day as it unfolds.

  4. I can identify with getting wrapped up in to-do lists. If you really do love a good list, embrace it! Why not make yourself a to-do list for relaxing? My husband and I will occasionally add to the other person’s list some fun things, like “drink beer and eat snacks”, or “watch a good movie”. After all, you gotta do what’s on the list, right? 😉

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