There are two types of people at the poker table, generally. First there are the sharks. They stay quiet and occasionally make comments about the game that intimidate amateur players by revealing just how much they're thinking about. The second group are normal people who are there to have a good time.
Through hours of listening to the second group, I've noticed how different the things are that "normal" people think about, and people like me think about. I'll loosely define "normal" people as people whose lives are dominated by things they HAVE to do, vs. people whose lives are dominated by things they WANT to do.
I thought it might be interesting for people who haven't made the switch to independence to hear what sorts of things rattle around our minds.
Money is Time
We tend to not think of sums of money as "a boat" or "a new stereo", but rather we think about it as time. A month of time, for me, is around two or three thousand dollars. I can live well off that.
So if I have $50k saved up, maybe I count that as 20 months. I don't think about it like that because I'm going to take a 20 month vacation, but rather to evaluate risk. If I know I can float myself for 20 months, that's a long runway for me to ponder and come up with an ambitious project. If I have $5k saved up, it's time to hustle.
We Don't Like Weekends
Our week is actually reversed, with weekdays being better than weekends. On weekends everything is busy and expensive. During the week it's cheap and empty. A friend and I just went to ski in Tahoe for a couple days this week and never waited in a lift line. Our hotel was $45 a night. When we go to Tahoe for a full week, we actually use weekends to stay at home and work because the mountain is too crowded.
We can't really figure out how you stand your job
I might be more of a victim of this one than most people, but as I interact with people with normal jobs all day, I can't stop wondering how they take it. This sense of wonder is on par with wondering how Cirque du Soleil acrobats do their tricks: I see it happen so I know it's real, but I also can't even for a second empathize and imagine doing it.
On a similar note, friends' jobs are really annoying because they get in the way of them joining our adventures.
We Write a Lot
I've noticed that my independent friends, like myself, tend to write a lot, whether it's in a personal journal or on a blog. I don't know for sure why this is, but my best guess is that it's because our lives revolve around turning thoughts into action. When I'm in a tough spot I instinctively just start writing in a text file to sort things out, confident that by the end I'll come up with a plan that will be executed.
Location is Flexible
Today I'm headed to Las Vegas. Three friends from San Francisco are coming. I sent a couple texts to two other friends (developer for Bungie and a professional poker player) to see if they wanted to join, and without much discussion they agreed.
When you know that your friends have control of their own time, you invite them to stuff in random places. This sounds expensive, but it's actually pretty cheap because we can take flights on the cheapest day and at the cheapest time.
Status isn't Derived from Money
When you have a job that monopolizes both your time and creative output, material items are the obvious sources of status. Amongst independent people, this is very muted. Admiration for a material object, if it exists at all, is likely to be based around the FINDING of the item, not the purchase of it.
Instead, we derive status from projects. I try to meet people who are working on interesting things, and/or have done so in the past. Whether or not they have money or luxurious items is essentially irrelevant.
What's the point?
What's the point of sharing all this? It's not to convince you that it's how you should be thinking, or even that this lifestyle is better for you. I'm always curious to know about how other people think and what their lives are like, so I thought I'd share a bit about my friends and I to help you understand what bounces around our brains.
I'm sure I've left out tons of things. I'd love to hear you observations as well.
Really looking forward to Vegas this weekend, and then Austin immediately after. SXSW, staying with awesome friends, borrowing my brother's motorcycle, and backstage passes at a certain secret show!
More TaskSmash.com codes:
(Joel Spolsky suggested a multiple use code so you don't have to keep trying them. Definitely a great idea, but I haven't had a chance to implement it yet.)
In the post, Sebastian is sitting by a train station, watching normal people go by, happily executing their normal lives. "I don't get to have this," he says. That's how I've always felt, too.
There are a great many benefits associated with living an unusual life. Those are fun to talk about because they can be inspiring, amusing, and provide readers with a sort of voyeuristic pleasure. Talking about the hidden downsides isn't much fun, but probably warrants some discussion, at least for the sake of being comprehensive.
Just got a comment on "Having Your Own Ethics is Lonely" by a reader. He asked one of the hardest questions about becoming successful - what happens when you're improving when your friends aren't?
I found this blog because I'm looking for advice. I've realized four years ago that I was unhappy with myself. I lived a poor, and dead end life. So I decided to look closely at my lifestyle and eliminate some bad habits and replace them with good ones. I also got a second job to make more money, and lived in relative poverty by choice. And it worked! I'm healthy financially and I've gotten a chance to learn anything I've wanted to know. I'm strong and smarter than I used to be. I think I know what God is, and everyday I work to be better than the day before. But, I can't connect with my old friends because they do all the things I dont want to be a part of any more, because they dont care to do well for themselves as much. In a way, to put it bluntly, they're not usefull to me. I'd rather make friends with people I truely admire and respect. I dont feel like I can tell them that I basically think they're bad people. They've done nothing to harm me personally, but I want nothing to do with them. What do you think?
Indeed, that's one of the hardest parts about becoming successful.
Most people don't like to change after they get established. If you improve quickly, it can upset and turn off old friends and cause breaks in friendship.
Perhaps the worst time is when you're still on a shaky ground with your old improvement. I remember one time, I was going through a super healthy kick. Lots of gym, weights, very clean and healthy diet. But with one of my buddies, we always ate junk food together when we got together. Pizza, chicken wings, burgers and fries, stuff like that.