"If you didn't have to work anymore, what would you do with your time?

Thanks for reading last week's article about how I reached financial independence at age 42 by living on $20,000 a year for 20 years. I got a lot of great responses and interesting comments. I decided to follow up with an article about what happens AFTER you reach financial independence.

This weekend, I asked on Facebook: "If you didn't have to work anymore, what would you do with your time?” Assume living at your current standard of living, that you didn't win the lotto or something." You can see what people said here.

It's interesting to note that people don't say that they would do nothing. Independent of needing money, people want work to provide meaning and purpose in their lives. The famous blogger Mr Money Mustasche believes the real purpose of work is to create, that our fundamental desire as human being is not to be lazy but to engage in continual creative effort and learning.  You can see that desire in what people wrote. 

Same with me. When I got laid off 3 years ago, I looked at my finances and realized that I didn't have to work anymore. That's when I founded PUGS. (Actually, I had started PUGS as a side hustle a month before getting laid off, but hadn't intended it to be this big of a project). Here's the interesting thing: once you achieve financial freedom, you have to be honest about what's truly important to you. You don't have anymore excuses for doing what you care about.

My mission in life, one that I wrote in 2000, after my layoff/firing as a intellectual property lawyer in San Francisco, is "I want to help people learn and feel closer to their communities." When I hit financial freedom, I decided to live my life fully that way. That's why I decided to make PUGS. 

That's not to say I do it full time. Again, my health is important to me. So I play soccer 5 times a week. My family and friends are important to me. So I travel about once a month to see them. I also get to teach what I want and when I want. That's the transformation you get when you can make decisions with your life independent of money. 

Most people, when asked what's important to them, say these things:

  • Friendship

  • Family

  • Freedom

  • Health

  • Meaningful work

  • Privacy

  • Community

  • Philosophy of Life

Most people have never been asked to contemplate the question"What do you hope to achieve in your life and what kind of person do you want to be?" If you get a moment, take 15-20 minutes and just write freely, without regard to grammar or spelling. Be concrete: who would you spend more time with? (I go see my parents every few months) How would you live healthier? (I go play soccer every weekday) How much would you sleep? (I take a nap everyday) What places would you see? (This year, I've visited Vancouver, Chicago, Montreal, Spain, Portugal, Berlin, Brussels, and Iceland). The point is not all the cool things I've done. The point is to imagine the life you want, the values you want to live by, and way you want to contribute to this world. It's also the things you get to opt out of: the 40 hour workweek, two weeks of vacation, participating in an economic system you have qualms with. If you do this exercise, you'll see the transformation that's possible for you.

All it takes is financial freedom:


Haha. Leave a question or a comment below if you want me to answer it my next blog post. In it, I'll answer a few more of your financial freedom questions and talk about how to make it all happen. That will happen in the couple of days.