Shaking the Depression Monkey


This is the first time I’ve sat down to write in a few days and in general I’ve been feeling very unmotivated creatively. I’m enjoying my writing projects but have let myself be conquered by “what the hell are you doing this for?” I consider myself a believer in writing for its own sake but the last week hasn’t exactly seen me putting this into action.

I’m fascinated by the concept of Financial Independence and Early Retirement (we’re a little late to add the ‘Extreme’ modifier). The relentless optimism of MMM really supercharged me back in October, so much that I think I honestly went from depression into a form of mania. My brain was buzzing ideas so fast I couldn’t sleep well. In fact, one night I pulled an all-nighter for no reason at all! That’s slowly come back to earth over the past few weeks.

I have to remind myself when reading FI blogs that all of these people started where I was, and many of them started around the same age (late twenties). They’re better off because they’re further along. ‘Financial Independence’ is a snappy descriptor but it’s a long play. Even at high savings rates, it takes years to build up enough assets and skills to walk that path.

So what happens in the interim?

I think the term that helps me work out my frustrations best is lifestyle optimization. The “end goal” of FI is a great one to have, but if that’s the only goal in front of you, that’s like putting a carrot on a really, really long stick – you’ll break trying to be the fulcrum for a lever that long. Or, at least I will. Instead, it’s about simplifying things now with the added bonus that optimization directly leads to FI.

Here’s a few things I’ve managed to do to optimize our lives, thereby reducing stress and our ecological footprint:

  1. Homeschooling
  2. Travel by car less (required #1) and use bike travel whenever possible.
  3. Purchase ingredients, not food from the store (avoiding convenience packaging, pre-processed stuff, etc.)
  4. Use the library far more than we ever did.
  5. Get outside (when it’s not the ice planet Hoth outside).

So far, when I actually sit down and list it out, we’ve actually made a good deal of progress in the past two months. The monkey’s still there but taking the time to reflect lets me ignore it.


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