I just spent the last two weeks in what was a relatively intensive work period. I learned a number of things about myself during this period.
First, I learned that I am often much harder on myself about things than other people are (although I also learned that you can’t please everyone and sometimes I really do need to prepare more). Related to this, I was also aware that when my insecurities come out, I ask for reassurance, and therefore, I depend on the advice and kindness of strangers.
Second, I learned that I am often much better with working efficiently and effectively when I am extremely busy. With little time to “muck about,” I end up doing a much larger number of things than I usually do when I have more time at my disposal. And I also learned that while I have an aversion to meeting new people, actually taking the time to really listen to someone new tell you their story is heart-warming.
These two realisations left me standing in front of a wall of calendars and planners at a department store this weekend, wondering if I just purchased a new planner, would my life all of a sudden feel more in control and could I get done what I really needed?
But, instead of buying a new planner calendar that would help me be “more successful”, I came home empty handed and started re-reading a book about compassion, including self compassion. And there in black and white was a passage about the difference between self-compassion and self-esteem.
Self-compassion is not the same as self-esteem. […] Certainly, there is nothing wrong with self-esteem per se. But it is often too tied up to criteria of achievement, which leads people, including children, to believe that they are worthy of esteem (from themselves and others) only to the degree that they “succeed.” (p.54)
So now, after reading this, I realise that what is good for me is unlikely to be written on the to do calendar but rather on the gratitude journal. And I think this also applies to financial independence. Perhaps it’s limiting if we see the journey towards debt free financial independence as “succeeding” rather than as “self-care.” If we think about what our self-care FI budget might look like instead of our FIRE plan, would we spend our time and money differently?
It’s the shared moments and the social connections of last week that made my vocational life rewarding not the other way around. And so I wrote my list of last week’s actions and activities that saved me: The fact that I deepened my connection to a new friend and actually tried to get to know her. The action of buying 6 eggs from a farmer, where I had to leave a pound coin as payment on the farmer’s mail box without being observed for paying. A walk in the woods. The donation that I made to the Canadian Red Cross in response to state of emergency from forest fires. The absurd amount of money that I spent on pizza for my students that helped us have a great party.
Maybe we need to develop a new kind of budget, one that is based on spending more compassionately and in kindness rather than a budget that is oriented to being in control? In our quest for financial freedom, I think it would be very helpful if we all asked ourselves: What would it be like to beg for our food rather than to save percentage XX of our income each month? What would a compassionate budget look like? How do you practice financial frugalness with an open heart?