Live Simply – Explore More

So much to see and only one life to do it…Tetons July 2019

Live Simply – Explore More. Sounds legit! Before we explore that statement any further I want to clarify something. I want to point out that if you are reading this post and interested in changing your lifestyle, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing mindset. I’ve talked to many people who would love to travel and explore but are quick to point out they don’t have the time or finances. That may be true, however there are many ways to live this lifestyle. I know for a fact that almost anyone can at least simplify their life in some way to make more time and save money to explore. It doesn’t have to be a full-time lifestyle to reap the benefits. There is no right or wrong way to travel either. You might prefer to fly everywhere, or travel by truck, car, bus, trailer, van or a boat. You might be super cool and have a Jeep (I might be slightly biased). You might like to stay in hotels or sleep under the stars. There are probably a 100 interesting things to see or do things within an 4 hour drive of where you live. You don’t have to travel 2,000 miles to explore. The point is…there is no right or wrong way.

Live Simply….what does this mean. I think this can encompass a broad range of meanings to each individual. I’m not going to suggest you have to fire sale of all your stuff and sit in a barren one room apartment with no Netflix so you can have more money and time to travel. If you have already done that you can probably stop reading here. What I am going to suggest is that if you truly commit to living a simpler life there are many areas to start and it can have a meaningful impact. I’m going to cover the main areas I started with to cut expenses and make more time to travel. They may be appealing to you or you may think I’m bat shit crazy.

Housing – One of the first things I did was decide I didn’t want a big house anymore. I didn’t want to spend all weekend mowing the lawn, weed-whacking, landscaping or cleaning the house. I didn’t want to pay the mortgage, insurance, taxes and upkeep on a house that was way bigger than I needed. This was relatively easy for me to let go of. I was completely over the amount of the time, money and effort it takes to maintain a large house and property. A small apartment or tiny home is enough for me. I still like a little home base to return to from traveling.

Entertainment – WTF do I need a subscription to 400 channels of Cable in addition to my Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Youtube Premium, Xbox Live, Gamefly, Fortnite, Sunday Ticket, NHL Tonight, Sirius XM, Pandora, Apple Music and don’t forget the High Speed Internet Service to use most of it. Everyone has a separate subscription model now. By themselves each subscription isn’t a lot but when you start adding them up it just gets ridiculous. I didn’t really have all of these but I had more than enough. I got rid of cable straight away and pared down to a couple subscriptions that I use on a regular basis. I also ditched my home phone. No one would ever call me on it anyway…except telemarketers.

Eating Out – This one continues to be tough for me. I do much better than I did, but sometimes I just get lazy. The sad part is I ate out so much I didn’t even really enjoy it anymore. Clearly an easy habit to fall into but the cost can really add up in month. Now I just remember that if I skip all the average shit I usually got eating out, I can afford have something unique and memorable when traveling.

Vices – Drinking, smoking, lottery tickets, etc. Most of us have at least one vice. Some of us have more… It really goes without saying that you can save a lot of money here. That said I really like my beer. Sometimes you don’t want to go too far.

Stuff – We all have too much shit. Our attics, basements, garages, closets, spare bedrooms and anywhere else we can find are filled with copious amounts of useless crap. Seriously look around and if you haven’t used something in the last year do you really need it? Why did you even spend the money on it in the first place? We often buy stuff on a whim or to make us feel happy for a brief period of time. I was definitely guilty of this for many years. I always came up with some justification for why I “needed” it. Now I try to hold off on something I want for a week or so and think about the time value of what I want. We actually buy things with our time, not money. I’ve come to realize money is just the result of our time. Want a $1,000 toy? Making $20 an hour at work you can figure that’s probably 60 hours of your life after taxes. This was a terrifying concept for me to grasp at first. I looked around and thought back over the years and realized how many hours of my life were sitting unused…wasted. More than enough to fund a serious amount of traveling memories.

Work – This is a tough one. There are no free rides. We obviously need money to supply our basic needs. As I mentioned above, money is hours of your life. In reality, how much we have to work really depends on our expenses. Have more expenses and you need to work more. It’s really that simple. Obviously everyone reading this is in different stages of their life. The fact is some people may not be able to work any less at this point, others may be able too if they start to prioritize traveling a little more. It’s a conscious choice. I could go on and on but each person has to decide what’s a priority for themselves. Before I move on to the next topic I would like to point out that most Americans don’t use all their vacation or personal time. I don’t want to quote any exact statistics but the figure is crazy. So if you are in a position where you can’t really work any less but are not using your vacation time, that’s a place where you can start. Even if you don’t feel comfortable leaving for a week. Do a bunch of three day weekends and get out of the house. Use it to unwind, not catch up on work at home. Seriously its never going to be done. Most developed nations outside the United States are way ahead of the curve on this. Especially Europe, they not only have more time off but they actually use it and get this….its not frowned upon! No shit! Imagine that! They have a much better work/life balance. It’s also healthier and numerous studies have shown that you are actually more productive. Working long hours tends to have diminishing returns.

Obligations – This is a tricky one. How many times do we commit to helping someone, going somewhere or just over extending ourselves when we can’t afford to, don’t have the time and most importantly…we don’t want to. We say “YES” to the boss, the kids, our families, schools, churches, local organizations, our friends and so much more. We see it everywhere. People constantly on the go. I enjoy helping people and it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. But balance is the key here. When you commit to so many things that you end up not enjoying any of them…thats a problem. It’s ok to say “NO” sometimes and make more time for yourself. You don’t even have to make excuses as to why. Its difficult at first and your Boss may be a little irritated, your kids may whine and some of your friends may even get mad. At the risk of sounding like a selfish Asshole…It’s ok to not make that pie for the 4th bake sale at school this month, its ok not buying 400 candy bars from your neighbor’s kid for his 8th fundraising event this year, its ok to say no to your friend that needs help moving for the 3rd time in 6 months. Seriously the work will still be there on Monday if you say no to the weekend overtime your boss continually asks you to work. For fuck sake man, just hire another employee. If your friends get mad then they probably are not your friends. It took me a long time to figure all this out and it’s still not easy but finding a balance is important.

My life is much simpler now and a lot less stressful after working on the areas above. It’s still a work in progress and I have to focus on it daily because its easy to fall back into the patterns I was comfortable with for years. It’s clear that many people are feeling the pressure and discontent with the “Rat Race” and “Consumerism” culture that is prevalent now. Just look at the riseof the Minimalist and Tiny House movements in recent years. You also can’t browse the internet for ten minutes without seeing a quit your job and travel the world ad. For most people that’s not realistic and definitely not what I am suggesting. My goal was to share ideas and cognitive thought patterns that can help carve out more time and money. I hope maybe some of the things I mentioned can give you some starting points if the Live Simply – Explore More lifestyle appeals to you.

Jeff

Still Need More Useless Stuff? Check These Out.

How the hell did I get here!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  

– Lao Tzu

My Journey actually began a long time ago. I’m not going to sit here and tell you some sob story about how my whole life has sucked. It really didn’t. My parents were wonderful. I grew up camping, canoeing, hiking and exploring the outdoors. I was loved. I was blessed with opportunities to succeed. I started a family. I eventually owned a small business and I achieved a number of things to be proud of.

However, as the years went by I started to feel like I had stopped growing as a person. Seriously (just ask my exes)….I have a lot of room to grow. I felt as though I had drifted away from my travel and adventure roots. As we grow up and real life begins it’s easy to lose your way. Working to pay for the houses, cars, tv’s, iPhones, endless “stuff” and family obligations can take up most of your time and energy. Carving out time to pursue your passions gets pushed further down on the priority list with each passing year.

I guess growing up I developed some preconceived notion of what it meant to be successful and happy in life. The people I perceived to be the most successful were working hard and didn’t take a lot of time off work. Do this and your efforts will be rewarded with a paid off house, a nice car, a secure retirement and the time to pursue your passions. Looking back I realize that some of those same people where never able to pursue those passions for one reason or another. Not easy to hike a mountain or backpack Europe at 65 years old with a bad hip and a pension that just got cut in half. I realize now there are no guarantees. That said, I’m not saying we all should just throw caution to the wind, quit your job and travel around drinking White Claws yelling YOLO.

I could probably point to a plethora of reasons for the notion of success I developed. Media portrayal of the perfect life to a rampant culture of consumerism come to mind. Point is I got sucked into a vision of a perfect life and all the “stuff” that goes with it. In the end I didn’t own my stuff, my stuff owned me.

I was always pursuing the next goal or milestone. Always saying when I made “X” amount of money, owned “X” or finished “X” I would have enough and could pursue the wanderlust that was always raging inside me. Well live and learn….It turned out to be a never ending cycle and I wasn’t truly “present” for most of it. Always stuck in my head thinking about the next goal. I missed out on a lot of personal growth, love, experiences and memories because of this cognitive clusterfuck in my head.

One particular memory stands out in my head about this. Years ago I was working on the never ending remodel (one of many over the years) at the house I was in at the time. I had been working for days finishing trim in the basement. One day, my young daughter was asked where I worked. She replied “My Dad works in the basement.” At the time it was funny but many years later I have come to realize that I was always somewhere else, physically or mentally for one reason or another.

Fast forward a bit….years actually. In late 2018 things really began to weigh on me. A combination of life events and the fact that I was just spinning my wheels brought everything to a head for me. I decided I absolutely needed to change something. There was no more I have to work harder solutions. I tried that over and over. I needed a change and it all boiled down to….I was spending too much time doing the things I didn’t want to do and not enough time doing the things I did.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Unknown

Now that I had a firm grip on this concept and I wasn’t insane anymore, I wasn’t really sure where to begin. What should I change. I knew I wanted more travel and adventure in my life but what could I do to achieve that. To say I was also terrified of the decisions I would have to make is a gross understatement. But I knew that to start living simply and make time to travel, that sacrifices would have to be made. I’ll cover what living simply means to me in a future post. Well it wasn’t a week later that life would present an opportunity. Life often has a way of showing you a different path if you can get your head out of your ass long enough to notice.

In a totally random event I ended up buying a gold claim in California. Yep, you read that right. A guy from NY bought a gold claim in CA. You can read about that story in the menu above under Gold Claim. It’s fairly entertaining if I do say so myself. What happened when I visited the claim would change me forever. The freedom, excitement and peace I felt in those mountains could never be put back in the box. That experience would shape my life subtlety at first and then drastically over the next year. It not only released that raging wanderlust in me but a mindset was born to value time, experiences and personal growth over financial security and material objects….Except my Jeep I still like cool shit for that.

Honestly, it hasn’t been an easy transition. I still struggle with the sacrifices I’ve had to make. I’m still uncomfortable with some financial aspects of this lifestyle. I have to remind myself to be present multiple times every day. That said, I’m slowly adopting a lifestyle where my main goal is to live simply and explore more. The journey so far has been worth it and its just beginning.

Please feel free to comment below with thoughts, questions or similar experiences. No spam trying to sell me something please. Don’t clog up my comments with that bullshit. Don’t be that guy.

Jeff

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