This obviously depends on how much money I have.
So, I don’t have to work. Cool. Does that mean I have $10 billion? Or just enough money to cover my basic living expenses?
A common question that’s similar to, but less ambiguous than this one is “What would you do if you had [fill in the blank with some obscene amount of money]?”
If I had more money than I knew what to do with, I’d probably spend my life traveling to the coolest places in the world with my wife, staying at the nicest hotels, eating the best food, and having amazing experiences. I’d also probably fund retirement for family and close friends and pay for them to join us on these adventures.
However, I think a much more interesting question (because it’s more realistic) is “What would you do if you didn’t have to work, but had little to no disposable income?”
In other words, what would you do if you didn’t have to work, but were limited to free or very cheap activities?
Travel is off the table, which bursts the ultimate fantasy bubble for most people.
Now, you’re left with the task of crafting some sort of pleasurable daily routine that costs little to no money.
This is still a great privilege, in my opinion.
In fact, my daydreams about this scenario are much more vivid because they are more tangible
I began thinking about creating this kind of retired minimalist lifestyle when I was in my teens. And I still think about it. Of course, my answers have evolved over the years.
So, here’s what I would do if this happened today:
First, I’d invest a lot more time in my health.
I’ve come a long way in getting healthier in the past few years. But I still think there aren’t many better ways you can spend your time than investing in your health.
Right now, I’m still kind of doing the bare minimum when it comes to meal prep. I think I’d get more into cooking because I love food (remember, basic living expenses, food included, are taken care of).
The main reason I don’t enjoy preparing food now is that I don’t want to do it at 6pm after a full day of work.
I also want to go to bed at a reasonable hour because sleep is important to me and there are other things that are more interesting to me right now that I’d rather do in those precious few hours in the evening.
Of course, with 16 disposable hours in the day instead of 6 or so, time wouldn’t be an issue.
So, I’d probably prepare a multiple course dinner for myself and my wife every day and perfect the art of cooking food that’s delicious and healthy.
I’d also exercise more, especially outdoors. It’s sad how little time office workers get to spend outside.
Instead of cramming in a 20 minute gym session during lunch or a quick 1.8 mile run in the morning before work, I’d take my time and get a full workout or a nice, long, meditative run in each day.
I’d spend a great deal more time reading and writing.
Right now, my writing is limited to about half an hour a day in the morning. My reading time is limited to when I can’t sleep at night.
I’d read a ton more books and really take the time to hone my writing craft.
I really enjoy the time I spend being creative. It’s one of the few activities that puts me into a flow state.
Finally, I would spend more time just being with my wife (assuming, of course, she is also retired).
I’d do more of the things I do with her today. Go for walks. Create t-shirt designs on my computer while she watches her favorite TV shows. And eat proper meals, of course. Just many more hours of it.
Replacing the time spent in my cubicle with time spent with my wife would be a massive upgrade in my quality of life.
What you’ll realize when you think about the free things that you love to do is that you are probably doing many of these things you dream about doing already in some form. Now, it’s just a matter of scaling them so that they fill your entire day with happiness.
These things already enrich your life, so think about how much better your life would be if these things were all you did.
Thinking about waiting until you are a billionaire to retire and do all these cool things that billionaires supposedly do is like getting drunk by yourself. It can be fun in the moment, but after a while it gets a bit depressing because for most of us, it will never happen.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t aspire to be rich and live extravagantly in retirement. I’m working towards this, myself. But it’s comforting knowing that there is another option called “enough” that is much closer in reach.
Once you realize that you can have a very fulfilling life when your basic expenses are covered, it takes a lot of pressure off of becoming super rich.
This is why this is one of my favorite thought exercises – because it’s so liberating.
I encourage you to try it for yourself and share your answers.
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First published on Quora.
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