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A Formula for an “Out of the Box” Life

I’ve been exploring the options for creating a lifestyle that focuses on ‘working to live’ not ‘living to work’.  One in which you carefully and consciously avoid the bear traps and shackles that provide the seemingly innocuous pleasantries of a modern life but in reality keep you chained to the monthly cycle of working to pay bills for things you can even remember buying anymore.

The big obstacle most people will have in creating a “Out of the Box” lifestyle is restructuring your relationship with objects and changing your definition of ‘home’.  Consumerism is death to a mobile and independent lifestyle.  Rich or Poor, the toys are just more expensive.  Getting ‘lean and mean’, especially with a family, can be VERY TOUGH.  You must break from the image of yourself that looks and acts like everyone else and create a new image that values time and freedom more than a plasma screen TV or shiny new car

We all want those things, we’re human.  But what are we willing to pay for them?  If you understood that a new plasma screen TV meant long term credit card payments, enduring 40+ hours of mind numbing work, and worse, the feeling of being trapped in a job with no sign of change for the future- would you still be excited about buying that TV?  Some would.

The second big obstacle is our need for a ‘safety net’.  Retirement, investments, a pension, call it what you will, but it is the safety net that you can one day fall back one.  As far back as I can remember, the concept called retirement has been warped to represent a time in space in which one can escape their current reality and do nothing.  That’s not the reality for most Americans, nor is it the healthiest way to spend our ‘enlightened’ years.  You want to live a long life?  Keep the mind and body strong, healthy, and ACTIVE.

Instead of relying on your 401k, your pension, your retirement package after the age of 65, start early and invest 10% of every dollar your earn and you’ll have a safety net.  Will you be RICH?  Will you be able to play golf every day?  Will you be able to buy a big house in some exotic location?  No, but you’ll have the luxury of time NOW.  Time while your healthy, active, and able to experience things and go places that will slip from your grasp as you get older.

Time is the one thing you can never get back.

The third obstacle is health insurance.  Insurance, in general, is a bet against yourself.  We, as a society, place almost an absurd degree of importance on insurance.  When you do get sick, the costs are astronomical, but the chances of a major illness are low for the young and get higher as we grow older.  Why let health insurance dictate what kind of job we have or how we live our lives if statistically we are a low risk?  The first answer is people don’t have savings to cover the deductibles for less expensive policies.  The second answer is the fear of the unknown.   Normally most people would wager on their skills.  Not with health care.  Once Americans get out of college, get a decent job, and step into the flow of living the American life, we get indoctrinated into believing a good job with good health insurance is more important than good eating habits and a good exercise plan.

Consider a higher deductible health insurance policy and take care of your body.

What about work?  What about money?

This is the tough one.  Instead of a 40 hour work week, 9 to 5, 50 weeks a year, 2 weeks paid vacation, create a seasonal job.  If you could work 6 months a year, keep your expenses low, save the bulk of your income, could you invest for the future, provide health insurance, and still have enough money to  spend the other 6 moths exploring?  I think you can, but it will be work.

What kind of jobs can you find that are seasonal or contract that give you the luxury of time in the offseason?  Here’s a short list that I’ve been brainstorming:

  1. film/tv crew
  2. fair/festival concession route
  3. contract nursing/engineering
  4. freelance writing/photography
  5. seasonal construction
  6. seasonal maintenance (lawns/landscaping)

I’m sure there TONS more that you can either create or find that will meet your needs.  The key is keeping expenses low and earning as much as you can in your work cycle.

Are you in a great gig right now that’s full time?  Start now working on making it seasonal or contract.  Slowly impress on your employer the advantages.  Remember, the object is to maximize your time, not your pocketbook at the expense of your time.

It’s a great big world out there full of interesting people and places.  The adventure is getting there.

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1 comment to A Formula for an “Out of the Box” Life

  • Jon H.

    I have to say…reading your blog is GREAT!!!
    To find others who believe working your life away is wasting your life is refreshing.

    We are planning to do something similar,except on land,we plan to enjoy LIVING our lives rather than worrying.