Design a Life You Don’t Need to Escape From

It’s Friday! The workweek has ended and everyone is ready to get out and shop, go out to eat, and celebrate the holiday season. We’re headed to our town’s tree lighting later, as our children finally can stay up past 6:30pm and live to enjoy the next day.

For reference, our children go to bed at 5:30pm (Crab) and 6:30pm (Monkey) during the week, as they get up around 5:30am every day to get ready and we are all out the door by 6:30am!

Friday’s are such an amazing day many working people live for, but when you enjoy your career, Friday’s are just another day in the week.

Loving Your Work

I remember the time when I worked for the first time in a high school library almost a decade ago. I absolutely fell in love with my work and during Christmas Break I actually couldn’t wait to get back to work! I didn’t have my own kids at the time to keep me so busy at home.

During the days off, I missed interacting with students and helping them with their projects. Our library in that school was two floors and it was a bustle of activity all day, every day. We served over 2,500 students and more than 200 staff. It was non-stop and just a great place to be. The ladies I worked with were great, and I learned so much every day and grew into the passionate librarian I am today.

As I’ve thought about my career over the last decade, I feel fortunate that I stumbled into a career path that I absolutely love. I am a librarian, who’s worked in public, school, and academic libraries anywhere from reference service positions to technology positions.

I look at my work no longer as a job, but more as being a steward of the libraries I’ve been put in charge of. I am here to help. I help every single person who walks through my door, whether or not I like their attitude and whether or not their question pertains to what I should help them with (personal questions vs. professional needs). Usually, I can turn them around to a new mood by the end of our interaction.

And any time frustration pops up in my mind, I revert back to thinking, “I am a resource. I am here to help. That is my goal and my focus.”

Every Day is Like a Vacation

I recently heard the song Vacation by the Dirty Heads several times on the radio and it dawned on me how much I love my occupation and it kind of is like being on vacation because I never feel the need to “escape” my work in order to enjoy life. I enjoy it throughout my work day; is that strange?

And… I just realized now that their official video includes Mr. Belding!

Being Frugal Helps

As we’ve become more frugal and completely changed the landscape of our lives, I feel as though we’ve also come to love our work more and more. The pressure has been taken off the day to day and the week to week paychecks, which makes a huge difference. The freedom to know we have some flexibility is huge.

Sure, I would love to just be able to work without worry for financial matters, but sometimes when I think of the long game I wonder if I will retire early even when the possibility becomes an option!

Is Early Retirement the Goal?

Chris loves being a teacher and an educator, and I am very much the same. We both love helping people and I don’t see us stopping in a decade or so when we can stop based on financial plans. It may shift and change, but we’ll always be on the ready to help others.

What I do think about is how to frame our goal so that we’re motivated to continue pushing for it and don’t get sidetracked with shiny objects.

When you hate your job, it’s easy to work hard to get out of it or scrimp to get yourself into a better place. We don’t have that same animosity currently, we do have bad days of course, but for the most part our jobs don’t cause us anguish and mostly bring us joy.

Setup a Life You Don’t Need to Escape From

In the end, my occupation is like being on a vacation and I attribute that to a quote I read by Seth Godin right after I was sadly cut by the budget in 2010 from that high school I loved…

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin

This may be why we haven’t had the tremendous need to go on a vacation in the past 10 years. Though, we finally have plans to go away next year.

I feel as though Chris and I have worked very hard to create a life we don’t need to find an escape from. It wasn’t easy, and there are still days we say… why can’t we just blow all our money on fabulous trips?!

Through that hard work, we no longer spend on things most people use to escape their work life (dining out, expensive vacations, drinking, shopping, cable television, media streaming plans, etc) and from there, we tend to save even more to reach financial goals. It’s like a positive cycle that keeps on giving. Financial Freedom has become the focus, not so much on early retirement.

Focus on Financial Freedom

In the end, I’d love for you to consider what you don’t like in your current occupation (if anything) and start to imagine and design a life you don’t need to find an escape from. The choices may not be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.

You may have to lower your expenditures to get out of an experience you are not happy with. I took a hefty pay-cut of over $7,000 once just to leave a bad situation. Without hard decisions financially prior to that, it would’ve never been an option.

I also ditched social media for quite some time, and yet again completely this fall, and have been all the better for it. I no longer care about other people’s vacations or look-at-me photos… I just bother you here with them.

What in your life do you want to escape from?

“If you don’t like your life, then you should go and change it” – Dirty Heads