There wasn’t a trigger moment.
I had been working in the corporate world for a mere five years when I started to notice it: a gradual but perceptible change in my thinking.
While I continued to plough through my working life, I had begun to think more about purpose and finite time – and it was self-perpetuating. The longer I engrossed myself in my work, the more I found myself immersed in the question of what I was really doing there.
As a pragmatist and a bit of a cynic, this started something of an internal wrestling match. I wondered for a long time what the hell was happening to me. Was I transforming into the archetypal millennial? Was I losing my corporate resilience and ambition? Perhaps I was just plain burnt out at 28 years old?
No matter how hard I fought it, I found my mind-set changing.
I thought more about how my environment and my career choices had changed me, and about how I wasn’t extracting purpose and fulfilment from what I was doing anymore – or if I ever had.
I thought about practical options to fix it. An internal job change, a new company, a new culture, a new way of doing things, a fresh perspective – anything that could potentially address the growing inner unease.
But it all didn’t matter. I had reached a conclusion.
The endless days spent staring into an abyss of meaningless data and emails, the politics of vying for position, the self-imposed anxiety about things that didn’t really matter: all of it was undermining my well-being and steering me toward creative insipidity, subtly but consensually.
This wasn’t me. This wasn’t what I wanted from my life. I wasn’t giving my soul the nourishment it needed while I was around to nourish it.
Those were a long few months wrestling with my conscience and own sense of rationality. Believe me, I hadn’t reached this conclusion lightly.
But I now believed it to my bones. Something had to give. What I needed was a permanent escape plan.
And I mean permanent. I wasn’t about to quit my job to travel, only to realise what a terrible financial mistake I had made after three months. This needed to be a plan that would secure my freedom to pursue passions for as long as I saw fit. I needed a long-term financial strategy to secure this future.
So on a rainy day in December 2018 I set to work on my Hustle Escape.
I drew up a vision of a financially independent future in 2025: one where I would be free to embrace the fulfilling and decline the unfulfilling for the rest of my life, without all the financial worries that kept me bound to office life. And I pictured a three-pillared approach to fulfilling this vision, centred on plans for current income, cost controls and passive income streams.
There and then I decided that as I pursued this plan I would write about it step by step, sharing my learnings along the way. In fact, this blog post will be the first of many as I forge my path to financial independence. I’ll share insights, ideas, success stories and tribulations that I encounter on my journey, all with an eye on the long road ahead.
But why exactly do I want to share my story?
In order to answer that let’s step back for a second and take stock.
We live in unprecedentedly prosperous times. Though it probably doesn’t feel like it to most of us, we are better off than ever before in history.
We should be thankful for that. I’m not sure to whom – perhaps to Mum and Dad, or to God (if you’re religiously inclined). Or maybe we should just be thankful to each other.
Wherever you want to direct your gratitude, the point is we should have heaps of it. This is a golden age of prosperity in our history. You are lucky to be here now.
But perhaps you’re not feeling so thankful or lucky? Perhaps you’re not pinching yourself each day for all that historical good fortune?
No, thought not.
Something has gone awry. Whilst we are more economically prosperous than ever before, over the course of our lives most of us are working for longer than ever before. And let’s face it: most of us aren’t spending this time working on something we can truly say leaves us feeling fulfilled.
Of course, we’re living longer so we’re not shortening our retirements per se. And of course, there are lots of people who are working on what they love. But with all this economic prosperity we should surely be in a position to secure financial independence for longer – if we want to.
Lowering state retirement ages isn’t a financially sustainable or fair course, so we are left with our own choices.
Choices. That is what the Hustle Escape is about. It’s not about deprivation now in exchange for freedom later. It’s about changing your path through active choices: assessing what truly brings value to your life when it comes to spending, and making choices that maximise your worth when it comes to income.
Now is better than any time before to do this. We live in the most prosperous economic period in our history and its corollary is a world where such choices can be made, whatever your current circumstances. There are opportunities everywhere. Your choices change everything. You don’t have to follow the path most travelled.
So that’s why I’m going to share my story.
I believe that many more people should be pursuing their own Hustle Escapes, and with a structured plan like mine – and a fair bit of dedication – I believe many more people can.
My hope is that should my story reach a wide enough audience it will serve to inspire others to pursue their dreams and pragmatically leave behind the corporate hustle in which so many of us feel trapped.
Time to get started.