One of the blogs (The Frugalwoods) I read just achieved one of their big goals; they bought a homestead in the woods. They currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They're moving there soon to pursue a simpler life, according to them. They have been able to do so due to extreme frugality and high levels of savings. Their most recent post is describing the homestead they just bought and some of their plans. At the end, they pose the intriguing question: what would you do if you didn't have to earn a paycheck?
This is an excellent question with no easy answer for me. It's something I've pondered on and off over the years. I think the key part is not needing to earn. I've been unemployed before with lots of time on my hands, but the stress of not having a job and possibly running out of money was distracting. I am a good saver and have a solid cushion set aside, but it's not enough to retire indefinitely. So, when I didn't have a job, what did I do? I played music (mostly ukulele), read books, meandered on the internet, and ran more often. Nothing major but mostly fulfilling when I wasn't stressed about not working.
There's a big part of me that says I would continue teaching. When all is going well, I truly love my job. Interacting with students, sharing my excitement, and seeing them geek out about learning is wonderful. But then there are the stressful times, when I have too much planning, too much grading, and not enough motivation to get it all done. I often feel overloaded. But then summer hits. While I enjoy doing nothing for awhile, I really appreciate the structure and focus that my job brings to my life. Without it, I start to feel diffuse, and there's not much pressure to get anything much done.
My hope for this summer is to work on planning for one of my classes. I teach three different classes. One is mostly planned and just requires little tweaks from year to year; that is mostly not stressful, although there is a lot of grading for that class. The other two are less well-planned. My hope is to get a second class to the "well-planned" stage during three weeks I have slated for pure work this summer. I am curious to see if getting more planned helps me have a bit more time during the school year. I think I would enjoy my job even more with a bit less planning and a little more time for family and myself in the evening.
I am glad that I have found something I truly care about to do as my job. I don't have the patience to simply punch the clock for a paycheck. I enjoy doing something fulfilling. But maybe just a little bit less of it some of these weeks.