You know you don’t want to spend the rest of your life in an office.
And you’d like the day when you quit your 9–5 job to come sooner rather than later.
Problem is, you don’t know what you do want. How can you move towards more independence, towards working on your terms, when you don’t know what that will look like for you?
I’ve been in this situation. And many others are there with you right now. Here’s what you, and they, can do to have the flexibility to pursue fun opportunities in the future.
One: save money
The best gift to Future You is the gift of time—the time to do what he or she wants to do. And you can give yourself time by saving money now, so that Future You does not have to work forty hours a week just to pay the bills.
To get started, take a look at my articles on how much to save, on what a Minimum Viable Income is and why you should calculate it, on reducing recurring costs, and on investing in stock index funds.
Two: connect with people
No, I’m not telling you to go “networking”. Instead, just get to know people you like. Build friendships with people who share some of your interests. It’s that simple.
When you meet someone you like, ask them to have coffee, lunch, or a drink with you. You don’t need to give a reason why. If they ask, just say that you think they’re cool and that you’d like to get to know them better.
You’re building a “network” of people—there’s that scary word!—not because you want to benefit from them immediately, but rather because it feels good to spend time with people you like, and because spending more time around people who share your interests will reveal opportunities to you over time.
Three: pay attention to what you like and dislike
It’s not a problem if you don’t know what you want right now, but it does help to get a better sense of it over time.
That’s why I recommend that you start paying attention to what you like and what you dislike.
In particular, pay attention to what makes you feel proud. Pride is an excellent indicator that you care. And it’s hard to trick yourself into thinking you feel proud.
But also pay attention to other factors that influence your happiness. Do you always feel good when you visit a certain city? Do you thrive when you are around smart people? Are you super productive when you get some alone time? Which topics of conversation light you up?
The more you pay attention to what you like, the easier it will be to decide whether to pursue opportunities that come your way.
Now, these three are no-regret actions. Whether you ultimately leave the 9–5 or not, and regardless of how you do it, you’ll be better off having savings, knowing people who share your interests, and having a sense of what you like and what you don’t.
Then, if you do decide to make a big change in the future, it will go a lot more smoothly.