What’s the Ultimate Daily Pleasure? (Part 2)

| November 6, 2012 | 5 Comments

Five Ways I Begged, Borrowed, and Bought More Time

Yesterday I talked about the one shining thing that tops the charts for me in terms of luxury, hedonism, and selfish pleasure: Time.

Today, a little about how I recrafted my life to have more of it to enjoy, and some thoughts on how you can too.

Ditch your job:  Rethink what you do for a living, and who you do it for

I know, scary, huh?  But it’s not really.  Read on:

My friend Terri works as an event planner for a large company, coordinating big corporate meetings all over the country. She makes a good salary for doing that. I know a one-person event planning company whose owner does exactly the same job, puts in half the hours every week, and makes three times the money (after taxes) by working for herself, and doesn’t have to sit in interminable staff meetings or beg for a raise when performance review time rolls around.

Chris left her corporate life to go back to school for a year, then put together a patchwork life of a stable part-time job, two micro-businesses she runs, and a tiny real estate investment that pays her a small amount every month. She does fine, and is, as she puts it, “At least a hundred times happier than I used to be.”

I left my good — and fun — corporate job to start my own company.  Self-employed, doing approximately the same job, I work a 20 hour week, choose to work with only people I respect and like, and earn the same after-tax salary. I gave my suits to Goodwill, went to classes to brush up on a few skills, set up a business checking account, and I was off and running. I know countless people who have done this. In fact, nowadays most of my friends are doing some variation on this theme.

The western world loves workers. Project managers, corporate accountants, call center workers, software designers, all of those people who make the engines of big companies (and small companies) keep on running.  I respect the need for companies to have employees, but I long ago ditched the illusion that the only way for a person to have financial security is to work for someone else.

Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not a rocket scientist. I don’t have a Masters degree, a trust fund, a rich relative to back me, or a huge savings account to fall back on.  I just took the advice of some very smart people, made some smart choices about what kind of business to start, started small and stayed crafty about money, and take such good care of the people I work for that they refer me to others – for 15 years now, without a single advertising expenditure on the books.

If you think this is impossible for you, take a deep breath, suspend your disbelief for just a second, and pick up any of the books below and give them a chance:

  • Daniel Pink’s Free Agent Nation
  • Chris Guillebeau’s The $100 Startup
  • Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week
  • Barbara Winters’ Making a Living Without a Job
  • David Lindahl’s The Six-Figure Second Income
  • Emilie Wapnick’s Renaissance Business (ebook)
  • or any in this genre (ask your librarian or bookstore person)

No matter who you are or where you live or what effect The Big Bad Economy is supposedly having on all of us, it is possible to make a great living working for yourself, with greater security, having more fun, and HAVING MORE TIME FLEXIBILITY.  (Unless you just love those meetings, in which case, I’m sure you could arrange a meetup with some other solopreneurs at Starbucks to argue about who’s not loading the paper correctly, or how so-and-so doesn’t deserve that office, or whatever.)

In the world of taking control of time and steering that time toward pure pleasure, taking control of my employment was a game-changer.

Time I add to my week:  No CO2-belching commute, +7.5 hours.  Not needing to work 60 hours a week to climb the corporate ladder or impress a boss, +20 hours.  Not needing to work as long to make the same money, +10 hours. Doing my own bookkeeping, filing and such: -10 hours. Net gain: +27.5 hours per week.

What I do with it: Yoga classes, meditation, exercise I actually like, playing with the dogs, cooking great food, losing weight.

Television’s Just Not That Damned Important:

I am just such a loser.  When someone tries to talk to me about The Biggest Loser, or The Voice, or Jersey Shores, I can’t keep up.  I am clueless.  I struggle to find some way to say “I don’t have time for that” in a nice, nonjudgmental way.  In truth, I don’t care if people watch TV all night after work. Not my thing any more, but I can remember how relaxing it was to just zone out with a beer or four all evening.

Sunday night, rather than watching TV for four hours, I hung out in the kitchen making a big vat of fantastic soup for the week ahead, along with a crock pot full of black bean chili, a batch of pumpkin muffins and a loaf of homemade bread. I sipped wine and ate cheese while I worked, talked to my best girlfriend on the phone, and periodically got down on the floor to wrestle with our newest puppy, who was (happily) stuck in the kitchen with me as part of his housetraining.

This has become a typical evening for me.  After spending most of my life being addicted to “my shows” and getting into someone else’s drama for several hours a week, I more or less quit TV. Instead, I cook, eat, stretch, walk, read, write, hook up with my friends and family, look for green luxuries online, draw, collage, try new restaurants……basically, I take those hours and live a great life instead of watching strangers on a box getting paid to pretend they’re having a great life.

Time I add to my week:  No more couch zombie, +14 hours or more.

What I do with it: See above.

Don’t Drag Your Energy Down

Don’t listen to the news first thing in the morning.  Seriously, just don’t.  All media news is, at its core, a vehicle to sell advertising space, and how it does that is by choosing the stories that are the most dramatic, inflammatory, enraging, or insidious possible. Don’t handicap yourself by starting out every day in a vague cloud of angry, sad, sick, or frustrated.  Believe it or not, the news will continue to happen out there whether you’re listening to it or not.  If you just can’t get through the day without hearing what so-and-so had to say about the economy or what’s going on in Whereverstan, then do it in a controlled environment and make sure it’s the most impartial news you can find.

I know there are people who love the morning TV shows on in the background while they eat the exact same breakfast foods the shows told them to buy last week, but I find them really detrimental to my life in so many ways.

Time I save per week:  At least 15 minutes each morning, and countless hours of higher, more positive energy to get through my day. +1.5 hours.

What I do with it: Fifteen minutes of stretching and walking around my neighborhood in the brilliant morning light, and I’m on top of the world for the other 23.75 hours.

Learning to Say Not Just No, But Hell No

Think about the previous few weeks of your life.  How many times did you find yourself doing something that your heart really wasn’t in?  A volunteer thing you signed up for, a social gathering with people you feel so-so about, a board you sit on, extra assignments you said “yes” to even though 10 years from now you won’t even remember them, or just one of those zillions of things you do because you don’t want to disappoint somebody else (or suffer their guilt trips).

Learning to calmly, lovingly, bravely say “Love to, but can’t” is one of the best skills I ever learned.  As an introvert and a soft-hearted person in general, it was harder than calculus, programming the TV remote, and balancing the checkbook combined, times ten.  Valuing the luxurious feeling of free time — feeling as though I don’t just deserve it, I NEED it — was the driver that allowed me to suffer the fallen faces and even the sneaky manipulations of those I chose to say “no” to.

Time I save per week:  At least +2 hours.

What I do with it:  I write this blog, making friends, having lots of laughs, and feeling good about being alive.

Invest in Some Basic Time Management Skills

A friend recommended the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, which I’d read when I was a corporate employee (at gunpoint, we all had to read it)  but never thought to revisit (something about PTSD)

I sat down and read it again this year, and was amazed at how useful it was for non-job applications.  I combined it with Peter Bregman’s great book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done to re-tool how I do stuff in life, and not waste time on things that just plain didn’t matter in the long run.

Even if you just want to gain an hour a day in extra time, grab one of these books and thumb through it.  Jot down what resonates with you, and try it for a week. Bregman has a terrific section on identifying the five (he says three) things you really want to accomplish this year, and making sure everything you do every week, every day, is pushing those things forward.

Time I save per week:  At least +3 hours in savings here and there.

What I do with it:  Date night with the hedonist husband (HH), where we rediscover how funny we still think the other is (no one else does, but we do)


Time has become a luxury more precious than any wine, spa treatment, theater production, or bauble from the mall.  Take out the big hammer and start making some space to really enjoy your life.


Category: Fun, Home, Local, Mental Health

Comments (5)

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  1. emm says:

    Yes!! Love this, so true, so well-said. Time is really the only thing we all have, and choosing how we use it defines us more than anything else. How not to waste it in procrastination is my biggest struggle – the goal is to work well and then get to enjoy playing well!

  2. kb says:

    Ugh! Free time – what a lovely thing! Thanks for these inspiring words… Currently love my job, but visions of self-employment dance in my head!

    • greenhedonist says:

      KB, you can do both. I just finished a book (not great, but interesting) called “The Six-Figure Second Income”. Just making a little information product about something you’re passionate about can feel like you’re honoring your passions AND your job.

  3. tp says:

    I love your suggestions. The idea of my own business scares the crud out of me. Perhaps because I have a hard time believing I have skills that I could sell.

    One rule I’ve adopted to find free time that I work really hard to never break is to leave one day per weekend (usually Sunday) on which I won’t do any chores. It’s all about family or pure relaxation. It means I have to work a little harder on Friday and Saturday to get the laundry and errands done, but I love to sleep late on Sunday, take a bike ride, sit on the deck and read. It’s so renewing.

    • greenhedonist says:

      Thanks so much. I love quiet Sundays too, and feel a little bit “cheated” if I can’t completely relax that day. One of our favorite routines is to walk down to the local coffee shop, curl up with a book and/or a journey & pen, and just hang out for as long as we want. For the price of a latte, it’s super-relaxing and feels so luxurious…..here’s hoping for many more relaxing Sundays for you!

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