8 Lessons Learned From a Horrible Job

I have been working at a job that I don’t enjoy for almost 2 years now. It is uninspiring, it is time-consuming, it is filled with joyless people.

But spending so much time at this job, has taught me some great lessons about life, which I am grateful for. If you are working at a horrible job too, I advise you to take note of the following lessons, and be grateful for them:

 1: Time is valuable – don’t waste it. When you waste 8-9 hours a day already, you get extremely aware of this fact, and you notice how well you spend your spare time.

2: Be nice to people. If you have a boss that makes your life horrible, recognize this power he has over your day, and do the opposite, next time you have the same power over others.

3: Spend money wisely. When you spend your money, while holding a crappy job, you basically exchange the hours you spend there for goods and services. You need to try and only spend money on the bare necessities, or on stuff that makes you at least as happy, as the job is making you unhappy.

4: Freedom is everything. Having to spend half of your day in a place you want to be, is a massive loss of personal freedom. You therefore need to become an expert in optimizing the rest of your day for personal freedom .

5: Appreciate what you have. When life gives you lemons, you need to learn to enjoy the sour taste. You can learn to be appreciative in all circumstances – it only takes practice and belief. Parts of life could always be better, but they could also be much much worse. So learn to appreciate what you already have. This is something the old stoic philosophers were preaching as well.

6: Learn from adversity. Every tough situation you face is an opportunity for you to learn. Is someone screaming at you at work? Practice how to be calm. You don’t want to take your bike to work today? Practice mental toughness/discipline.

7: Be efficient. You get a lot of tasks and you don’t want to do them – they are boring to you. So learn how to work efficiently, so you can be done with them faster. Check out some of my productivity posts , or study the Less Doing method.

8: Find out what’s important. When you don’t have the whole day to yourself, you need to decide what’s most important to you and prioritize. Otherwise, you might regret how you spend your spare time. This is a valuable lesson to learn.

What about you? What have you learned from working an unenjoyable job?

The Ultimate Recipe For Wasting Life

I have to be honest with you; I really don’t like my current, full-time job. The job is very unfulfilling, and my boss is a jerk, so you can imagine how it makes me feel, to spend most of my waking hours at the office.

However, taking this job as my first real “adult” job has taught me some very valuable lessons.

Among many things, having a terrible job will teach you how to be super aware of how you spend your money, since you are ultimately exchanging hours of your life for objects and services.

Therefore, you will begin asking yourself: in which cases am I spending my money on stuff that doesn’t make me happy?

Of course, you might have a job that you actually like – I am not blaming you for that, but that changes everything in terms of how you should spend your money. And it leaves us with four differents scenarios:

You can either:

  • Make money in a way you love, and buy stuff that you love
  • Make money in a way you don’t enjoy, and buy stuff that you love
  • Make money in a way you love, and buy stuff that you don’t enjoy
  • Make money in a way you don’t enjoy, and buy stuff that you don’t enjoy

 

In a perfect world, all purchases are made the first way.

The second scenario can make some sense, because the thing you buy and love, might actually bring you some joy and make up for the fact that you don’t otherwise love your work-life.

Thirdly, if you buy crap for money that your loved making, it is not really a catastrophe, because the whole process wasn’t a  complete waste of your time/life.

The remaining fourth option, is what I believe is the ultimate recipe for wasting life:

Buying stuff that doesn’t make you happy, with money you earned with a job that doesn’t make you happy.

Nothing could be worse than allocating your resources (time/money) this way.

However, I believe that this is exactly how a lot of our resources are spent in a western society. I know a lot of people who are spending most of their days at a job they don’t like, and go out and spend most of their money on stuff they think will make them happy. But sadly, this rarely turns out to be the case.

It is really rare that the stuff you buy makes you truly happy. So be careful with what you exchange unenjoyable working hours for.

How I Plan to Retire ASAP (I am 27)

The headline is provocative. It also seems like an unrealistic goal for any average young man, to start preparing for his retirement right after finishing college. However, I do plan to do this, and as soon as possible.

It is important to emphasize that I am not born with a silver spoon or any other advantage. I have average parents, a job that pays a regular salary and nothing else that gets my bank advisor particularly excited.

But my mission is clear. After reading the great great blog of Mr. Money Mustache , and also the earlier posts on Zenhabits , I have gotten highly determined to work towards financial freedom. And I think it is realistic for me to get there sooner than later.

I have made a system to help me accomplish this goal, and I would like share it, in case you want to join me in quitting the rat race for good.

Key Strategy – Be Frugal, Be Minimalist

It’s important to begin by mentioning that I don’t intent to come up with a quick and extraordinary business idea, that will solve all my problems in a few months. My plan is to really earn this retirement, by changing my lifestyle to a simpler one, which is going to make the end goal really easy to reach.

The great thing about utilizing the frugal strategy is that it starts a positive feedback loop:

You save money -> you invest the saved money -> the interests on your investments will have a relatively higher value, compared to your monthly expenses, the more you save.

To quote Mr. Money Mustache: “My only superpower, is my ability to spend very little of my money”.

Of course, you can choose the strategy to instead earn more money, but saving is like burning a candle from both ends.

Reducing monthly reocurring expenses is key here. Do you have a magazine subscription or Apple Music account you might be able to cancel?

 

My Beloved Spreadsheet

So I have made this humongous spreadsheet in Google Docs, to track my progress. I input ALL relevant information to my mission in it.

Planning for early retirement

I don’t really want to show you the whole thing in detail because I want you to make your own, that is fully customized to your dreams and needs.

The neat thing about a spreadsheet like this is, if you change one tiny aspect of it – say you cancel a magazine subscription – the entire landscape changes automatically thereafter, which makes it very motivating to make even the smallest changes.

 

In my spreadsheet I track:

Monthly expenses – this is the cornerstone of the spreadsheet. The main function of the document is to calculate when I can pay for my monthly expenses with just passive income (investments, interest, blog income and others).

Passive Income – is therefore the next most important category. Here I track all the passive income I have coming in from stocks, interest from bank deposits and affiliate marketing from this and my other blogs.

Required work – is something I track mostly for fun. What if I was to quit my job today? How much would I have to work to cover my basic expenses? Currently, the number is 20 hours a week, and it is very motivating to see this number drop every time I make a new investment.

You might even argue, that I could semi-retire by quitting my job at a point, when I only needed to work for a few hours every week.

Lots of other stuff – but these are the essentials.

 

Making this spreadsheet has made me realize all of the strategies I have available to me if I want to work one getting closer to my goal.

I can either:

– Save more

– Invest more

– Work on getting more passive income (for me: writing)

This is very motivating for me. Every time I go hunting for good deals in my grocery store, I get closer to my goal. Every time write another blog post, I get closer to my goal.

 

Two More Points:

– it’s important to note, that if you plan to retire from work as a relatively young and capable man or woman, it is very unlikely that you will stop making money completely the day you stop working. With all the time in world, you will probably have to start new passion projects occupy to yourself with, and some of them might help you earn a little extra. This is why you might even be able to start your retirement a little earlier than you think if you aren’t too risk-averse.

– If this blog post is your first introduction to the concept of early retirement, I need to emphasize that you don’t know anything yet. To really get a full understanding of the concept, I encourage you to go to the blog of Mr. Money Mustache , and start reading.

 

Thanks for reading guys!

——

For more information on the subject, I also recommend checking out the book Early Retirement Extreme

How to Optimize Life for Optionality

I was first introduced to the concept of optionality by Nassim Talib (my favorite author) in his book The Black Swan.

In the book, he mostly talks about optimizing for optionality in the context of investments, but also, to some extent, in terms of life in general.

What he means by having optionality is “to have a way out”.

If you for example invest a large portion of your resources in a specific project, you should always have an executable exit strategy, if things starts to go south. You don’t want to be locked into a position.

The main idea is to have the maximum amount of freedom, and always be able to move on to the next thing, if the first one doesn’t work.

Now, if this key idea suits your personality, you can start applying it as a core value to your life.

I try to do so, because I like freedom and to have a lot of options.

Others don’t need that many options in life, and some doesn’t even want them. And so, they might have a lot to gain from committing to something more long term.

Below, I have listed a few areas of life, where you might be able to optimize for optionality/freedom if you want it:

 

You living situation

I think that buying a house is a gigantic commitment. Not necessarily a stupid one. I’m just saying, that I probably never will be able to stay in the same house for 30 years.

It is inconceivable to me, why the majority of the working middleclass is willing to take this risk, and make the commitment.

Yes, you can always just sell your house again, but what if it is in the middle of a recession? Then you lose your optionality.

 

Cars and other major assets

This is kind of the same as first point. Sure, you might be able to go out and buy a car, without having to commit to a 10-year loan. But since the value of cars depreciates so quickly, you will most likely feel committed to keep it for a very long time, so you can at least get some benefit from it, instead of just a lot of loss.

 

Investments

Regular stocks/bonds vs. a pension, what’s the difference? The commitment again. Stocks you can sell in a second if you ever want to change your financial planning. You can “cash out” at all times – you have optionality.

A pension on the other hand, is a very long term commitment, and it is very inflexible. You probably won’t have any control over your own money for the next many years to come. This is why I never transfer more funds to my pension plan than I have to.

 

Your debt

Kind of the same principle, explained in a fourth way, but I just want to emphasize my general idea about debt: it always affects optionality negatively. Debt can stop you from doing many things. If you are in big debt, you are very unlikely to quit your job, go on a long trip or just do something completely new with your life. Nothing hinders freedom like debt. It is the most powerful enslavement mechanism we have nowadays.

 

Your spending/savings

How you spend your money in general is the broader essence of the point that I have already made. If you spend too much, you get into debt – it is that simple.

On the other hand, if you become very good at saving, collecting and holding on to your resources, you gain a lot of options – and we like that!

 

Your daily work

We move on from financial habits, and take a look at lifestyle. The nature of our daily work also has a determining effect on our level of freedom. Different professions falls on a spectrum of the degrees of freedom they allow for. A janitor at a school for instance, has a very low level of optionality, since his job is bound to a specific location and with regular working hours.

Entrepreneurs, authors, investors and bloggers has high levels of freedom.

 

Criteria for your happy life (Amour Fati)

Amour Fati was a concept I learned about in the lovely book The Obstacle Is The Way. It means love fate. And it further means, that you should try and love everything that happens. It’s a stoic concept.

If you have a very narrow picture of what your perfect world might look like, you cannot live a truly free life, because you can’t ever make a new move before all the stars are perfectly aligned for you.

 

Your addictions

Addictions locks you into a position where you aren’t able to move.

Take me as an example. I am pretty addicted to coffee. This means I panic, If I don’t think I can get a fresh cup within a few minutes after waking every morning. So I NEED to have coffee in my kitchen. I NEED to have a functioning coffee maker, and I even bring one with me for vacations.

If I don’t get it, I get miserable and unproductive.

So I lose the option to ever try something new for breakfast, and I lose the option to simply drink nothing. I can’t just see where the morning takes me. I have to do the same thing every morning, which is the opposite of optionality.

Now this, I know, is a minor addiction. Think about how other addictions might be able to steal a lot more freedom, than just coffee.

 

Your need for others approval

It is the oldest advice in the book; to stop living up to the expectations of others. But the underlying reason why is clear. If you aren’t able to live completely on your own terms, you lose the option to live the life that you really want for yourself, which is what optionality is all about.

 

Thanks for reading everyone. What strategies do you utilize to optimize for optionality in your life?

How to Stop Using Toilet Paper (and Save the Planet)

I know.. This headline seems ridiculous. But I actually think that I got a nice little tip here, that I would like to share with you guys.

It has baffled me, these recent years, how we in the western world can accept ending our “bigger” toilet visits by just using paper. Seriously, no water or anything? It is actually a little disgusting if think about it.

As I heard one friend put it:

No other place on my body, besides my bottom, would I accept cleaning off poo by only using paper!

The obvious solution to this is looking to the eastern world, and watch how they do it: they use a bidet spray.

I installed one of these in my bathroom a few months ago, and my life has just gotten a little better ever since. The bidet solution is cleaner, simpler and it is even cheaper and good for your monthly budget. I mean, water is cheaper than store bought toilet paper.

But what I like most about it, is how unwasteful it is. You eliminate the need for the plastic wrapper around the toilet paper, the toilet paper itself and the transportation of the paper from the factory to the store, and then to your home.

With the bidet you just need water. Period.

To be fair, I also use a towel to dry everything, after “everything” is cleaned. The towel is then washed regularly with a little soap.

But I still think that making this change, can have a nice positive impact on the environment. And for sure, also on your wallets.

I have tried to convince many of my friends to try it as well, but for some reason, they all seem very hesitant. I don’t know why – please comment below with your opinion.

My last money saver tip: If you live in an apartment with a small bathroom, where the shower is close to the toilet. You might be able to just use the showerhead and start today – without spending a dollar.

Again, please comment below. I want to understand the resistance to this 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Automation Gives You Discipline

This post is just another quick thought about, why I think you should strive to automate any trivial task in your life.

Why? Because it gives you discipline.

Honestly, in many cases, life-automation doesn’t give you that much extra time. We are talking about a few seconds extra here and there.

However, more importantly, sometimes stuff only gets done due to automation because you otherwise wouldn’t have the discipline to do it.

When I finish up writing this post and post it on my blog, I can easily go to Twitter and share it pretty quickly. But if it wasn’t for my automation system, it might not be done – for several reasons. I could forget it, I could get distracted or I could be less-than-usual proud of my work and thereby simply not do it.

Now, since the process is automated, I will do it for sure, no matter what.

Here is another example. I have a Hue lighting system at home. It makes sure that the lights in my living rooms dim in the evening, which gives me a mental cue to get tired, and think about going to bed. It gives me the discipline to be consistent with my sleep schedule.

My message is: live a more automated life! that is a disciplined life.

Living the Dream – Now

Like me, you probably have a lot of ideas about certain parts of your life that needs to change, before you can start living your dream.

I have personally been struggling with this for quite some time now and have always thought that I wouldn’t be able to start my business, and start my life before I was 100 percent economically ready for it.

Læs mere Living the Dream – Now

Your Money Under Control with the Champagne Tower Analogy

In becoming a better minimalist and living more intentionally, I have realized that we humans need rules and system in place to ease the daily burden of decision making.
We should spend less money on unnecessary stuff, and direct our energy towards the more meaningful parts of life. However, society and TV-commercials have a tendency to persuade us to do otherwise, and their influence is exactly what we need to resist – with daily rules in place to help us live better lives.

Life can be chaotic and frustrating sometimes, but personal finances is actually an area where we can be in control. So setting up guidelines for how we manage and spend our money can be extremely liberating and ultimately a good business decision.

The problem is, most people spend their money according to their gut feeling. They’ll say: “I think I deserve to go shopping and buy some new sneakers” or “I haven’t treated myself in a while – therefore I should”. Meanwhile, they’ll go out and do these things, without feeling completely confident, that now actually is the time to treat themselves. They are not necessarily sure that their gut feeling is correct. But oh well, they have done this a 100 times before, and always managed to pay the rent the next month somehow – so what the heck!

I say this is a non-optimal way to act, and for 3 reasons:

– Firstly, this way of thinking comes with a decisional cost. You have to make the decision, whether or not you “deserve” a treat every time you buy something. And as we know, decisions are a finite resource and should be conserved when possible.

– Secondly, there is always a build-in guilt component to basing your buying decisions on “deserving it”. Since you are more likely to buy something on impulse, when you are your weakest, you are also more likely to feel guilty about your choices afterwards. 

– And thirdly, in this context, most of us (me included) have a propensity to spend a little more than we should, because we tend to lose track of our long term goals when we find ourselves in a shopping mall.

So we obliviously need another way of thinking about this. And I like to use the Champagne Tower Analogy.

It works like this:

In a champagne tower, the second layer of glasses won’t see a drop of champagne before the first is completely full.

I call it “extreme prioritization”, because the second layer of priority is completely ignored until the first level has been fully attended to.

Now think about your monthly expenses in terms of extreme prioritization.

First, you make sure that you can feed yourself in the coming month, when you get your paycheck. Not until you have money for food, do you have money for anything else!

Afterwards, you might think about how you can put a roof over your head.

Not until you have money for a place to live, do you have money for anything else.

And so on….

I assume you already do something like this unconsciously, but my suggestion is to KEEP GOING! Until the very end.

Keep adding to your list until you have all of your priorities listed.

Maybe include some things you are saving up for, or loans you would like to get paid off quickly.

Make sure to prioritize everything in its correct order, so you will always fill up the most important champagne glass first.

Whatever “spills over from the champagne tower”, you may buy jeans or booze for.

Unless you have made jeans a priority in the tower itself of course.

I have personally set it up so that everything that is left after my champagne tower has been filled, will be split up into 3 equal amounts: Vacation, Invest, Have fun.

The Have fun part is for going out and buy my jeans.

This completely eliminates all feelings of doubt of when I might deserve to treat myself. I know exactly what I deserve, because all the important stuff has already been taken care of.

One more tip: I have opened up a lot accounts in my bank to make this system work for me. I get the feeling that my bank finds it annoying, but they have accepted it.

I think though, you could easily get this system to work with a single bank account a spreadsheet.

Hope you guys found this to be helpful. Have a nice day!

Rich Men Reads – Nassim Taleb

This week in Rich Men Reads, we are showcasing a completely different caliber of rich guy, compared to last time, where we talked about the reading habits of Bill Gates.

His name is Nassim Taleb, and even though he might not be insanely rich like our former subject, I want to talk about him, because he is one of my favorite authors of all time – plus, he claims to have, what he calls, f*ck-you-money in the bank. Læs mere Rich Men Reads – Nassim Taleb