A fictional Town Hall Q&A session that really happened, and where the Leader of the Opposition, yours truly, delivers FIRE (and some brimstone!) on the importance of grasping the correlation between time & happiness and the type of Life Deal you have personally signed up for.
Interviewer: Lady’s and Gent’s – Please welcome to the stage – the Leader of the Opposition!
– And without further ado, let’s get started with the Q&A shall we!?
In your opinion Mr candidate – that most of us have never heard of – how will you propose to make us wealthier and happier?
Candidate: Great question Mr Interviewer! Let us tackle this question of wealth first, Shall we? My personal take on wealth is that most of us here were in fact born wealthy! But our true wealth is fast diminishing… For this wealth is made of the only natural resource unit that exists within each of us. That is our only true asset from the moment we take our first breath and until our last: Time!
This elusive arrow shooting indefinitely, irreversibly and continuously forward into the future. We are born with a limited finite extremely valuable number of time natural resource units. We use our time resource units, or life energy in our battery if you like, in the pursuit of happiness.
Interviewer: So, you say we all started our journey time wealthy…? Ask around and most will say, it doesn’t often feel that way… The race we find ourselves in, the pressures we are under, there’s never enough time in the day… How exactly do you see this wealth you speak of manifesting itself? Quantify it. Put a number on it!
Candidate: Certainly! Though exactly how many time resource units we’ve each got is one of life’s greatest mysteries! But we can all agree on two principles:
1) We have complete and utter personal responsibility for how we choose to spend our wealth of time resource units.
2) We can rely on stats and averages to quantify our wealth.
So, for example if I’m an average middle aged middle classed 43 years old, and the average guy in our town here lives to say 81 years of age, then I can safely assume this to leave me on average with ca 47% energy left in my battery.
But actually, as 1/3 of our lives is spent asleep, I get left with only 38%.
…And so in fact by now, as you can clearly see, the majority of the wealth that I was born with has already been consumed…!
There is no guarantee of course that my remaining energy supply keeps consistent throughout. In fact, the moment my health will start declining it’s pretty certain that my energy supply will turn less reliable. And so, to be on the safer side, I will focus my math only on what can be reasonably estimated to be both ‘healthy’ and ‘fully awake’ time resource units.
Let’s refer to these here onwards as ‘Peak Energy Supply’ units!
Moving on with the math, I conservatively estimate my health to start declining somewhere around the age of 60. (It’s there or about that my last alpine adventure will probably take place!?)
This leaves me to conclude that as of right this very moment I’ve got ca 14% left in the battery… – sleep time adjusted of course!
Not all of this 14% of peak energy supply is actually mine to spend. Just as many other human beings around me, I chose to sell a portion of my peak energy supply, in return for another valuable resource unit, and namely: money.
And so if on average I sell an additional 1/3 to my employer 9-5, then that leaves me with a total of just 7% peak energy supply (!!)
Well, if only things were actually this simple… Swipe aside any probabilities of possibly nasty surprises e.g. serious illness along the way, and I will still have to deduct further!
This deduction in turn depends on how much of the remaining privately owned peak energy supply I spend the mundane e.g. commuting to work and back, shopping for food, on chores, going to the toilet, showering, eating, and well you get my point.
And so I’m lucky if I’m left with just 1% in my battery!
And so to conclude: 1% is all I personally truly own from the portion of my remaining peak energy supply to pursue happiness.
That is unless of course I choose re-negotiate with myself the T’s and C’s of a New Life Deal that will serve to re-charge my depleted battery.
Interviewer: Are you saying we voluntarily and somewhat carelessly trade away our only asset, leaving ourselves in the single digits from very early on, to pursue the only meaningful goal in life, happiness…??
Candidate: Yes. That is exactly what I’m saying. But I’m also saying a New Life Deal is very much attainable for most of us!! And so is happiness, which by the way, is also proven to lead to more peak energy supply. You better believe it!!
To grasp this fully, let’s establish what makes a human being happy in the first place.
A nearly 80 year study by Harvard University sums up the key to happiness in one word: Relationships!!
That’s all there is to know and pretty much what makes all the difference between a happy and an unhappy human being.
Not status. Not fast cars. Not a high IQ. Not political power. Not fame…
None of the usual BS we often see the rich and beautiful up to on Netflix or in the movies!
Challenging Harvard University just slightly I’ll add to the list some of my own for you to consider:
Freedom. Self-mastery. Health. philosophy. Art. Work out of passion rather than out of necessity. A good night sleep. A healthy meal. A beer with a friend, oh wait – that’s already full circle back to relationships!
Interviewer: That’s a fine list of election promises Sir. But with only 1% peak energy supply in our pocket… Wouldn’t pursuing happiness require a hell of a lot more energy that that?
Candidate: Well, the way I see it, not a hell of a lot more but some for certain!
We would be unreasonable and irrational were we seeking anything more than what we already know makes us truly happy. For endlessly chasing more than what verifiably makes us happy, such as material possessions, with little remaining peak energy supply in out battery, is not just an irreversible and horrific waste, but will serve in fact to make us very unhappy!
Just reflect for a moment on the high-flying workaholic executive that endlessly chases up the dream of elevated status and a fat bonus check…
Or the middle class Jones family mortgaged up to their neck trying to keep up with the neighbours (who in turn try to keep up with the Joneses, go figure!)
… And whilst these tragic figures waste their peak energy supply in such ruinous ways, they can at most end up the richest/most in debt names on gravestones in the local graveyard…
What a waste of peak energy supply when after all happiness itself for all of them was always… free!
My point being: There’s enough happiness for everyone. The potential for it is all around us all the time. It’s our personal responsibility however to grasp this basic fact fast, and urgently re-channel our peak energy supply, for as we already established, it is a finite amount and its running out fast!
My conclusion therefore is the following: we should make it our no.1 priority – and even a matter of emergency – to increase our personal ownership of our peak energy supply as fast as we possibly can.
Then make every second count by using as much of it as possible, on that which we know for certain truly makes us happy!
Interviewer: Happiness is free… It’s all around us… That all sounds great… But just exactly how does your New Life Deal will help increase ownership of our peak energy supply?
Candidate: Glad you asked! It starts with 5 simple steps:
Take a pen, paper and calculator. Then put a number on your remaining peak energy supply!
Write down your list of happiness items!
Ask yourself this simple question: Am I confident my current Life Deal guarantees my ability to pursue happiness??
3a) If the answer is a resounding yes! STOP right there. You have arrived at your destination. Congratulations!!!
3b) If the answer is anything but a resounding yes! HIT the breaks. Urgently start re-negotiating with yourself the terms and conditions of your New Life Deal!
To do that, proceed to step 4…
Declare a state of emergency!
Now consider your options:
4A) Will you be content with moving off the grid into a cabin in the Alaskan woods to spend your days hunting moose, or perhaps into a Benedictine Monastery in Belgium to devote yourself to praying and brewing?
If the answer is a resounding yes! Off you go and good will hunting/brewing!!! Catch ya later.
If the answer is hell no! Move on to step 4B…
4B) Put an emergency plan together to tackle the very essence of your Conventional Life Deal. And namely your choice to sell the remaining of your peak energy supply in return for money.
The emergency plan must include
a) The meticulous tracking of ALL your expenses here onwards and the increasing of your savings rate on every front!
b) The most urgent elimination by any means necessary of any liabilities running in the background of your life and draining your battery like silent killers. That’s any debt you may have signed up for. Expensive stuff you have absolutely no use for. A car which mainly sits in your garage. Go!
Buy a power plant!
No. Not really. But this step is where things start getting really interesting! Let’s keep it simple for the time being: Start channeling your savings towards available tax efficient or other investment vehicles such as SIPPs and ISAs: index tracking funds/bonds should come first!
Then comes less tax efficient options – if you must! – such as physical assets like real estate or gold.
This estate will be your “power plant” which will produce the energy you need to “pay the bills” and thus free up your own peak energy supply to the pursuit of happiness!
Of course nothing is ever this simple… – there is a lot more you are about to learn once the journey is on… !
But remember: you must start somewhere and you better get going.
Interviewer: The New Life Deal sound simple to execute… But before I enter this rabbit hole you just described… How do I know for sure that this deal will work out in my favour? Are you speaking out of experience?
Candidate: In short, yes.
These steps are exactly the ones I followed to prove to myself beyond any doubt, that this new deal can work!
Here’s a quick debrief on the path I chose to walk myself:
Strategic approach: Having zero appetite for risk of financial ruin and homelessness, I spent a significant – but not excessive – portion of my peak energy supply fortifying my position such, that my money no longer needs be acquired through means of trading my diminishing pool of peak energy supply and whereby both a) shelter and b) reasonable income to cover all my expenses for the rest of my days are accounted for.
Practice: To achieve the above, I followed the emergency plan to track my expenses and significantly increase my savings rate. I then put a plan together to eliminate the mortgage I had on my London home in just 8 years instead of the 25 years which I signed up for originally!
In parallel to eliminating my debt I was already purchasing cheap index tracking funds on available tax efficient vehicles to provide me with sufficient income to cover my expenses.
End game: Acquiring my own power plant or financial independence took me in total 15 years to achieve. Admittedly a little longer than it would probably take yourself – Predominantly because for only 5 years out of the 15 I was actually aware of the existence of this life changing deal!
Enjoying the ride: During this era, being the adventurous person that I am, I never once stopped myself from living fully. I moved countries no less than 4 times! I took 2 sabbaticals to travel the world… (funding the second sabbatical entirely out of my investments for by then I was already familiar with investing!). I optimised my skills on every front, from yoga to brewing beer! And then in the last two years, already serving as my own chef, master brewer, yogi, and blogger! I achieved my end game. Financial Freedom!
The real ROI?
The buyback of 14% of my peak energy supply.
Interviewer: 14%… It still doesn’t sound like much but I guess in comparison to 1% it is…1,300% increase!!
– Say we elected you and that New Life Deal of yours, what do you suggest we do with the re-charged battery of ours?
Candidate: Well, I’m going to make every second count pursuing happiness and I suggest you do the same!
Interviewer: This has certainly been a thought provoking interview… Any final words before we conclude and let the people make up their own minds?
Candidate: Yes. No-one else will do this for you. No life coach. No blogger. No magician. No financial advisor. Only you can re-negotiate and sign your own New Life Deal!
Remember: Happiness awaits for no-one.
But if you reach out you might just find … it was always just there near you anyway!