I know when most people think of retirement they assume they won’t be doing much. I wrote last week that I was so focused on achieving the goal of early retirement also known as FIRE (financial independence retire early) I rarely spent time visualizing what it might be like to not have to work anymore. When I did stop and think about it, I realized I like working. I want to work all the time. I like working to accomplish something, like a goal. I find a lot of value in accomplishing goals. I get a kick out of every run I take because it just adds to my daily running streak. I sort of enjoy running, but I love the accomplishment of going for a run another day in a row and the net positive results running has on my health. In simple terms: I would rather work than sit. I would rather accomplish something than pass time. It was that realization that made start to rethink my plans. If I like working, it seems stupid to assume I would simply stop when we own x amount of houses. This was during the same time I started to think about what kind of work I love. What type of goals I like accomplishing. What contribution can I make where I smile when I’m done with the project. Those were some of the questions that lead me to think about work in the three buckets I’ve been talking about: designing for the margins in education, rewriting the narrative around our inner cities, and flipiing my neighborhood. I’ve got podcast episodes and blog posts about how those three things are tied together but the logistics around how you spend time is where I struggled.
I was a bit nervous during the first week of semi retirement because my threshold for success is 94%, just a little bit over an A-. My first week was more like 74 than 94. I’ve got this theory that each of us has a number out of 100 that we measure good enough by. For me it’s 94%. I was always ok with getting an A- in a class. Of course I wanted an A, but an A- was a decent consoluation prize. Meg and I talk about this sometimes. If you ask her, she’ll tell you hers is more like a 78%. C’s get degrees, she might even add after telling you her number.
We set expectations constantly in life, some realistic and some not so much. Although I taught math for a very long time and should be good with numbers, I figured I had about 15 hours more in a week to dedicate to my three buckets than is physically possible. Then I got mad at myself for not accomplishing everything. To give week 2 a better shot of getting an A or even an A-, I did what I do when faced with a problem. I made a spreadsheet. I fucking love spreadsheets. The second interation of my tracking sheet, tracks my time in the 6 most common things I do; the different type of work I’ve got. Each of the categores are totaled for the week and then those totals are added up to give them total numbers of worked hours in the week. Version two also has a row for what my ideal version of the week is, so I can see what the consequenes of something enexpected coming up at a rental does to my content creation goal.
With my spreadsheet ready to go, I planned out what I figured I would do during the week, added all of that stuff to my calendar, stuck reasonably close to that schedule (but pivoted when necessary) and I am happy to report this week was a solid A- possibly an A if the teacher likes me and rounds up – you should always round up, right?