Off The Grind

Plan Your Escape!

I don’t particularly like planning and scheduling, but I’ve found that without a little bit of it, I’m not able to do what I want, when I want, as much as I like, because I didn’t do the planning needed to keep things under control.

In that spirit, I recently created and downloaded a blank 2014 calendar from ~ a handy resource for that kind of thing ~ so we could plan our “off the grind” editorial year. It won’t be a locked-in-stone plan, but it is nice to have an outline for the business year so we have an idea of where we’re headed.

Speaking of calendars, here is some amaze-your-friends-at-a-party calendar trivia… The first Roman-style calendar, the one the modern calendar is derived from, is thought to have been created by King Romulus around 753 BC. This calendar had a nice feature ~ especially for those of you enduring the recent snow and cold ~ the Romulus calendar only had 10 months… 61 days during winter were left out. I kind of like that. Maybe we’ll switch to a similar system… living off the grind, there’s no reason why you can’t make your own system for keeping time!

Your “will do and won’t do” list for 2014

Calendars are nice and necessary when you need to interface with the on the grind world, but a couple of other documents will prove far more useful to you, the belligerently independent off the grinder.

The first is a “will do, won’t do” list…

When Pam and I first moved to our current location ~ over 20 years ago now ~ I had just sold a business that kept me occupied way more than I would have liked.

So, starting fresh, and several states away, I sat down and wrote a “will do/won’t do” list which contained the activities I would be willing to engage in to support my new lifestyle ~ which was hanging around a 45-acre former farm ~ and which I would avoid.

Some of the avoidance items were jobs, employees, inventory, businesses with locations, and/or regular business hours… basically anything that would tie me down to fixed times and locations.

Since those were the pre-commercial Internet days, building an income stream to those specifications wasn’t an easy task. As a result, there were some very lean “nail biter” years. But sticking to “the list” led to a great success in Pam’s “work when you want to” photography business and our subsequent involvement in various publishing projects. Publishing, by the way, is a near perfect off the grind business model. I have been involved in the industry in one way or another since the early 1980s, and I will have much for you on this subject in the near future.

Now here is why creating a written list of lifestyle-acceptable activities is critically important to keeping you from making big time life-management mistakes…

Thinking through what you will and won’t do to support your chosen lifestyle forces you to create a “code of conduct” for your life. Writing it down helps you commit to it. The natural human tendency for consistency will then cause you to craft your lifestyle and business accordingly. So make your list, sign it, and tuck it away so you can refer back to it when needed. You will have weak moments, and times when you “forgot” what the “rules” were. I have, and every time I’ve broken a rule, I am reminded why it’s on the list!

What’s your number?

While your will do/won’t do list will help keep you on the right off the grind “pathway,” you won’t really know where you’re going ~ and what you need to do to get there ~ unless you know your “number”… the amount of invested money you need to live financially independent.

“The number” is different for everyone, but it is important to know it, so you can create adequate income streams. Here is a quick formula to give you a rough idea if you plan on living off your investments

Traditional investing wisdom says you can draw 4% a year from an investment portfolio without risking running out of money anytime soon. That is based on some assumptions about past performance, but it is a good formula to use for approximating how much money you need to accumulate to cover a particular expense.

For example, if you have a cell phone expense that’s $70-a-month, divide by 4% (.04) x 12 months, and you’ll see that you need $21,000 in investments to cover the expense ~`theoretically ~ for a lifetime. Now, if you’re like me with a $10-a-month Tracfone, you’ll only need $3,000. Which demonstrates why you need to keep track of this number… as your lifestyle costs increase, your “freedom number” increases, which puts more demands on your money machine (your business), and your investments to accommodate the extra load.

The key point is, it’s all controllable and knowing your number and what you’re willing to do to get what you want will help you make the right choices.

So, there you have it, your off the grind “homework” is to make your list and calculate your number.

Most people won’t bother.

That’s why there is a grind, and why a majority of people don’t like what they’re doing. According to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of workers are unhappy in their jobs. That’s an alarming number. Don’t let yourself be one of them, make your list, and start making it happen!