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Financial Independence Means No More Excuses

Quick! Think of something you’re putting off. Something that’s important to you, but not so important that you’re putting all your energy toward it right now. Something that’s been relegated to “someday,” or to “after I reach financial independence.”

For us, that thing is fitness. We stay moderately active these days, at least for working stiffs, but we know we’re not in the shape we want to be in, to be able to climb high elevation mountains and hike long distances without getting injured. And when we think about why we aren’t dedicating more time to getting into our best shape, the answer is one of those vague we don’t have time answers.

Of course we have time, even with all the work travel. We just choose to spend it in other ways. This blog, for one thing. Seeing friends sometimes. Getting enough sleep most of the time.

It’s been awfully technical around the blog lately, and we’re itching to get back to the feelings behind all of it. So today we’re tackling a big one: Excuses. Let’s go!

OurNextLife.com // Financial Independence Means No More Excuses -- early retirement, intentional living, simplicity, goals

We’ve written many times before about how important it is not to live solely for tomorrow, and to enjoy today. We all know that tomorrow is not a guarantee, and it’s tragic if we put everything we dream of off until some future date that may or may not ever arrive.

But let’s be practical.

We simply can’t do everything.

We can’t do everything even when we’re retired and have a lot more time on our hands, so we certainly shouldn’t expect ourselves to be able to do everything while we’re working a full-time-or-more job and maybe side hustling too.

The “Pick 3” dilemma that Randi Zuckerberg posits totally resonates with both of us. Basically, if you’re an entrepreneur (or in any other super busy or high pressure career), you can only pick three priorities out of:

  • Work
  • Sleep
  • Family
  • Fitness
  • Friends

Work is already consuming one of those, so what are the other two? For us, it’s been sleep and friends (and we count YOU in that — we’re totally in this for the community). We know we’re neglecting family, we know we’re neglecting fitness, and while we’re not exactly okay with that, we accept it. For now.

But, we’re starting to think of early retirement as our “pick 4” season of life. When we can scratch work off that list and actually prioritize all of the others — sleep, friends, family and fitness.

But Those Excuses

It’s nice to cut ourselves a lot of slack and all, and to acknowledge that we’re in what we hope ends up being the highest stress time in our lives (not because we want more stress now, but because we hope there’s less later!). But let’s be real about this fact, too: We still make plenty of excuses.

I definitely had 45 minutes this afternoon when I could have hopped on my bike. Mr. ONL definitely hit the snooze bar long enough yesterday to have gone for a jog. If we really wanted to make fitness a priority, we’d do it. Excuses.

It’s the excuses that have let me overlook the gradual creep of pounds that have come from the unfortunate convergence of more career pressure, lots of work travel and entering my mid-30s. I’m starting to do something about this, but I know it will come at a cost — so far the cost has been sleep. For years it has been easy to tell myself, “I hate the weight gain, but I don’t have time to deal with it right now. I’ll deal with it when we quit.” Excuses.

The very fact that we can’t do everything may in fact lead to more excuses. Like, “Well, the Pick 3 lady says we can’t do all that stuff, so I shouldn’t feel bad about not going for a run tonight!” Slack is important, but any climber knows that too much slack is a very bad thing.

The End of Excuses

JD Roth‘s story, which he recently told on the M.O.N.E.Y. Podcast, is a perfect example: After he reached FI, he lost the weight he’d been letting creep on (sounds familiar), he got his life back in order, and he started traveling. As he put it in the podcast, there were no more excuses once he had time on his hands. He had to take care of what was important.

And perhaps more than anything — more than traveling the world, climbing tall peaks and getting out our creative yayas — we crave that feeling of being able to get our life in order. To know that we’re taking care of ourselves and each other. That we’re getting enough time with family, especially our aging parents. That we’re supporting our friends. That we’re getting enough sleep.

Our life is mostly in order now. We’re pretty good at being adults. But there’s still stuff that falls through the cracks, and self care is often top of that list. Some of that is circumstantial (work eats up too much time and brain space), but some is just an excuse. And not having all of that stuff solid now makes us feel like our lives are built on a shaky foundation. We can’t wait to strengthen that foundation instead.

The Mindset Shift We’ll Have To Make

The biggest change we’re beginning to anticipate when we transition to early retirement will be starting to think — for perhaps the first time in our lives — solely in terms of the present. We’ve always been future oriented, and we know we’re not the first ones to feel like a big portion of our lives has been lived in suspended animation, waiting for our future to begin. While we might not have known for most of that lives what that future would be, it will be here soon!

Our future is our early retirement. After that, it’s only the present.

There will always be future concerns, of course, but very soon, we won’t be aiming for some future thing anymore. We’ll be living the thing that we’ve been aiming for, the culmination of our whole lives essentially. (Whoa, that’s humbling. No pressure to make it great!) And we’ll have to knock off that pesky habit of living for the future. We’re already good at being fully present in isolated moments, but we’re always dreaming of the future. It could be a hard habit to break.

But break it we must. And with that future mindset, we also hope to toss the excuses mindset. Because early retirement is now or never time, do or die time.

Chime In!

What excuses do you make that you’re game to share? Anything major you’re putting off until FI? Any secrets you’ve discovered to stop making excuses, or to stop focusing so much on the future? Please share it all in the comments!



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118 replies »

  1. I’d say my most effective procrastination tool is the “I need a chunk of time to get this done” line of reasoning. It’s a lame excuse.

    If you only have 15 minutes and the job will take a couple hours, get started anyway. A job that has begun is much more likely to be completed than one that sits indefinitely on the back burner.

    I’m struggling with fitness lately, too. I get a workout in a couple times a week, and I’d like to double that. There’s only so much time.


    • This was a reminder that I needed today — just get started! This especially applies to work projects for me — like you, I feel like I need some big chunk of time that will likely never materialize. So just do *something*! Thanks for the kick in the butt. :-)

  2. I am a work sleep family girl. I dream of having time for fitness and cooking and friends. Sometimes now I am so busy that those latter items seem more like chores then fun, which is just wrong. I am hoping when my new job comes through that it will give me a better balance. I keep thinking that just liking my work should make a huge difference in how I feel daily!

    • I am POSITIVE that liking your job will make a huge difference in your whole mental outlook, and I hope for you that it will restore the joy to lots of areas of your life. But I think we do ourselves no favors if we act like “this change will fix everything that’s wrong.” You’ll certainly still have too much to do and too little time to do it, so it will always be important to prioritize, which it sounds like you’re good at. :-)

  3. This post hit home a bit. Starting my blog has meant more time writing, editing, networking, etc. I always need to remember my priorities and never let family fall too low on the list. Exercise is another one that we’ve fallen in and out of a routine. I certainly do look forward to having more time for working out in retirement. Wait, I think that was an excuse right there!

    The Green Swan

    • In our experience, blogging only gets more time-consuming, not less — so brace yourself! :-) And haha — we know that time for working out excuse well!

  4. Like The Green Swan starting and maintaining a site has taken away from other parts, some days I look at my Fitbit and the steps are embarrassingly low. A 15 minute run would turn it all around – but I rarely stop what I am doing to do it.

    • Wish I could offer some hope here, like “it gets better,” but we’ve definitely found that the blog only gets more time-consuming over time, not less. But it’s all worth it, so that’s the huge upside. :-)

  5. I can’t tell you what a great mindset shift it is to think of time blogging as in the “friends” bucket, because I realized the other day that oh my god, friends has just totally fallen off the radar as I work on upping my blogging time and my fitness time. Until I make some gym friends, this is a much needed mindset shift! (Although seriously I need to see some friends someday in real life. It’s been too long.)

    • Some of my best friends started as gym friends. :-) But yeah, we definitely see blogging as firmly in the friend column. I definitely would have skipped some Monday or Wednesday posting by now if I didn’t feel like we’d be letting down friends. Since we aren’t monetizing the blog in any way, we certainly aren’t doing this for clicks and pageviews. But yeah, schedule some IRL friend time! Do it now! :-)

  6. I’m certainly excited to hear about all you’ll do in early retirement. No more excuses is an empowering way to look at that freedom. Though I’d add that one has to drop a lot of excuses to reach FI, too!

    • Haha — you know we’ll share it all! (And, truly, there will be so much more we can share once we don’t have to be anonymous anymore!) :-D And you’re so right that we’ve already kicked tons of excuses to the curb! You just made my day, helping me see that!

  7. It’s funny…..since I retired from full time work earlier this year, I find it’s MUCH HARDER to get anything done. The structure of the work life increased my productivity. I’m allowing myself some time to adjust to a new way of life, but it is true what they say: I don’t how I got everything done when I was still working!


    • You’re not the first person we’ve heard that from! We’re so curious to know which end of the spectrum we’ll land on when we retire ourselves. I *feel* like I’ll be more productive, but that’s really a complete guess!

  8. Years ago, I suffered from the same prioritization problem when it came to fitness. I never went to the gym and I ate out for the majority of my meals. Needless to say, I ballooned up to about 240 pounds. But once I prioritized fitness and started to let other things fall second fiddle (yes, that includes work, too), I’m down to 195 and in better shape than I was back in high school. And it, along with switching over to eating mostly vegan while at home, has made a wonderful difference in my overall stamina throughout the day and how I look and feel.

    One thing I did to prioritize fitness is I made it a part of my lifestyle. It’s not something that I *have to do*. Rather, it’s something that I DO, kinda like taking a shower in the morning or walking the dogs. I don’t forego my morning shower because I have work to do, for example. A morning shower is part of my routine, so I do it, and fitness is the same way. While I am okay adjusting when I go to the gym during the day, I almost never simply refuse to go because of this or that. It’s a part of what I do, so I make the time to do it. I hardly even have to think about it. It just happens. Other things can wait until I’m finished.

    I think you hit the nail squarely on its head when you wrote about the “time” excuse. The fact is we all have the time we need to do the majority of the things that we *should* be doing. Because you prioritize something else doesn’t mean there isn’t time – it just means you’d rather do something else MORE. With most of us, that’s the nature of the game.

    Honestly, there isn’t much any more that I leave for the future, aside perhaps from photography. I’d love to get out more with my camera now, but I also know that once we start traveling, we’ll have the landscape come to us. Every stop we make will have something new for us to explore and capture on digital film. While I don’t use the time excuse, I tell myself that “I’ll get plenty of opportunity after we begin to travel”. While that may be true, that doesn’t mean I can’t get out more NOW.

    Ah, excuses. :)

    • That’s so awesome that you dropped that weight and kept it off, Steve! Congrats! Thank goodness we both eat healthily (though I know Mr. ONL sneaks some junk food when I’m away for work sometimes — ha!), so we’re not talking about massive weight gain, but definitely enough to bother me. You make a great point about making exercise part of your routine — and I think the routine is key. When you throw a bunch of work travel into the mix, timezone changes, short nights of sleep, etc., it makes it awfully tough to get into a routine — and that’s where I struggle. But, this is a short-lived problem! Looking forward to shaping our own days once we quit, and making sure that fitness is a part of it that’s non-negotiable, just something we do without even thinking about it. :-) — And look forward to seeing more of your photography!

  9. I wouldn’t exactly call it excuses, but in all honesty there is only so much time in the day. If you’re working 10+ hours a day, traveling for work, trying to cook decent meals, work on the blog, spend time with S.O., etc., I can see how exercise might not fit in. Personally I always make room for working out ahead of the blog and other things. It’s all about what’s the biggest priority at that time. That’s why I go 2 weeks or so without posts so often. :) Lately though I haven’t exercised at all really since my move has trumped everything else. Since that won’t take time from my schedule anymore – back to pumping iron!

    • You understand the time dilemma. :-) Like if I don’t get into my hotel room until 11 pm and I still have an hour or two of work to do, I’m not going to add a workout on top of all of that — I’m going to try to get some sleep! I think it’s great that you’ve prioritized your fitness, and hope you can create a new set of habits in your new location. Working from home has made it tougher for both of us (there’s so much inertia power!), but given what a high priority it is for you, I am sure you’ll get into a good new groove.

  10. I wouldn’t say putting it off until FI, but I have a terrible time doing the dishes by hand. I have a dishwasher and I love it, but some of the dishes can’t go in it. I’m the worst at putting these off. I also need to make a baby quilt in the next week and a half. Eeks!

    • LOL — I was just imagining what that would look like to put off doing dishes until FIRE! :-) I’m thankful every day that Mr. ONL is game to be our dish-doer! (I tackle lots of other stuff, so it balances out.) Good luck getting that quilt done! You can do it!

  11. I hear you on fitness, I mean, running the half-marathon was mostly to keep myself dedicated to running more often than I had been. :) If I HAD to do it, then it suddenly became easier to run 4-5 times a week. Amazingly (or not), I’ve lost 10 lbs in the process. Post race, I am still logging 8-12 miles per week, but holy hell it seems so much more forced. I’m still doing it though, and even more cool, I don’t plan my routes anymore or have a set distance in mind, I just go run and stop when I feel “done”. Lately, that’s been around 30-50 minutes, so I still call that a win.

    My other thing I’m putting off and make excuses for is playing music. Yes, I’ve been fiddling around with learning a new instrument, but even just playing my banjo has dropped to once every couple of weeks, if that often. I just find that after putting the kids to bed, making dinner, and then saying, “What’s next” I’m usually ready for a couch and just wanting to relax for an hour, since it’s typically 8pm or later. I’m ready to switch the brain off for an hour or so before bed, which isn’t conducive to anything productive really. Maybe I just need to “noodle” more on the instruments as opposed to thinking of it as “practice” or learning something new.
    Even just picking around aimlessly has to be better than nothing. :)

    • That’s so awesome that you’ve dropped 10 lbs from the running. That’s actually rare! The newest research on exercise actually suggests that it impacts weight loss very little (http://www.vox.com/2016/4/28/11518804/weight-loss-exercise-myth-burn-calories), so lucky you! :-) I agree with you — exercise feels so much harder mentally when there’s no big goal. For years I was always “training” for something — a run, a mountain climb, etc., — and that helped a ton. Maybe I need to schedule something to train for to boost my motivation! And yeah, I think more time to noodle is in order! Better than nothing for sure!

      • That’s a great article, thanks for the link. It brought up a great point, that I also followed which was instill a “no beer Mon-Wed” rule. This is only a few hundred calories for those days, but even at say 300 cal/day that would be a 900 calorie/week reduction. Other than that I didn’t change anything else, but now my stupid belts are in a weird spot where I need a “half” notch belt hole. The one that it naturally goes to is too loose, and the next one is too tight. Gah!!!
        I’ll start noodling more and you should schedule a 10k or something even if it’s just for yourself. I am tempted to make a “Mr. SSC Inaugural half marathon” around my neighborhood just to give me another easy goal to shoot for. Easy in that it’s cheap, and I can just compete against myself, lol.

      • The article would suggest that it’s your new beer rule, not the running, that’s giving you the belt problem. #firstworldproblems ;-) But either way, sounds like you’re on to some good stuff!

        I didn’t say this in the post, but altitude is definitely an excuse for me since moving to the mountains. We’re fully acclimated in terms of day-to-day life, but it is just straight up harder to work out up high. So maybe I’ll schedule myself a 10K down at sea level. :-) And yes, you should do your inaugural half marathon around the neighborhood! I bet your kids would make for the cutest water station volunteers!

      • I’m sorry to post on such an old article, but I feel the responsibility to point out that the text in that Vox article and the data behind it do not match as well as the author would like you to think. It takes much more time and effort to read the original research, but you will get a better picture of the truth if you do so. The general premise that cutting out junk food and eating less contributes to more *rapid* weight loss is correct, but most studies still show that exercise does help with *sustained* weight loss, which is actually more important. (You can even see this in some of the charts in the Vox article–though they conveniently cut the time short, before the exercise cohort catches up.) It’s also true that the gov’t and food companies are putting out lies about our food options and their consequences… I don’t mean to deny those valid points. At any rate, the ultimate goal should be the best possible health for each individual, not just looking good, and daily exercise is a no-brainer for true health.

        Great blog overall, with solid PF advice. Thank you.

      • Thanks for sharing that! As you know, it’s so hard for non-scientists to make sense of all of the research out there, and sometimes the media gets it right… but sometimes not. Thanks for reading and for the comment!

  12. I don’t have any secrets, but I find myself “training” for early retirement. I slowly (but surely) am learning to become more self-sufficient, more DIY. I try out new recipes, included breads and pizza dough. I use You Tube to fix things when they break or determine if I can fix it. I still have a lot of learning to do before I feel I can just into ER. I figure if I get use to a self-sufficient life now, the transition might be easier.
    As for the top 3, they would be work, sleep , family. I don’t think these choices are black and white though. From week to week, the priorities shift. One week I might devote more of myself to friends. The next, I am into hiking or self-care. It just depends, I don’t think it is all or nothing.

    • I love the idea of training for ER! Slowly working in new habits, slowly shifting mindsets — that will surely set you up for a smoother transition! And we’re the same way — shifting priorities on an ongoing basis. This week I’ve definitely given up some sleep in the interest of other priorities. :-)

  13. I have to agree that it’s difficult to find true balance when work is one of your priorities. As with thejollyledger, my priorities shift. One weekend I might have to work, another week I may be able to leave the office early and spend a lot of time playing with the kids . . . you have to try your best to balance priorities over the long term, instead of just trying to cram everything into each single day.

    My excercise routine is improving now that all three kids are going to bed at a reasonable time. I love to go running at night, under the stars. It’s been really great to be able to do that again.

    There are plenty of things that I make excuses for not doing, but the top ones that come to mind are finishing my book and crafts/refashion projects. It’s so easy to say I’ll find some time, another day.

    • Totally with you on priorities shifting — some weeks we’re better at fitness, some weeks we’re better with friends, some weeks we’re better at nothing! :-) How awesome that you’ve been more able to get out and run — I also love running in the dark, but it makes me miss street lights, something we didn’t appreciate enough when we lived in the city!

  14. Work. Sleep. Work. Sleep. Yawn. Tad irritable. Kids baseball. Kids baseball (Guess that is the family piece). Eat (mostly healthy). Blog research and posts. (Includes Friends and mental fitness.)

    Recent foray to hit the road bike got derailed with getting knocked down (ironically by a nurse who was driving) and bike being trashed. Luckily I was not trashed. A few bumps cuts and bruises.

    Yeah, not sustainable. But, hey, no excuses right!!

    Insurance came through quickly from the other party, new bike and off we go again.🚴

    With our recent entry into the blogosphere, got actually more energy overall I think…..Telling me we draw energy from things we care about.

    There is a lot worse things that could be going on than being a bit tired and a tad irritable. Now, back to work Mr. PIE. The big pharma company requests your attention.

    • Whoa — how awful that you got hit on your bike! That’s my worst fear. :-( Thank goodness you weren’t seriously injured! And I’m glad you got a new bike. I think losing my road bike would be hugely traumatic — I’m very attached to her. :-)

  15. Fitness. Entrepreneurial activities. But since early retirement is a ways off yet, the new goal is to slowly work toward being better about those things around work. I’m hoping if the transition is slow and steady to entrepreneurial ventures, Mr. T will eventually feel natural about cutting off the employed work. We’ll see how successful that ends up being!

    • I love the slow and steady approach, which is definitely how we’ve succeeded in saving — we didn’t try to reform our habits all at once, but just kept layering on gradual changes so it never felt painful. But it’s been tougher to stick with those good habits outside of finance. But I bet you guys will be successful! :-)

  16. I’ve been doing push-ups and planks before going to bed. It takes about 5-10 minutes and it’s been doing wonder to my overall body tone. But I hear you, would love to be more fit physically. Many of my friends are the fit outdoorsy type. Recently a few of them just did a 1 day ski traverse which usually would take 2 – 3 days (I did it in 1.5 day a long time ago). Getting in better fitness is definitely something I need to work on.

    • So awesome you’re doing that — and seeing results! Since you love outdoors stuff, too, I know you understand that we’re not just talking about basic fitness (which we’re fine on), but the more advanced kind that lets you crank out a multiday hut trip in 1 day. :-) We know we’re probably not going to be able to manage that before we retire, but fortunately that’s not so long from now!

  17. I dropped cable TV subscription from my life and it’s been a game-changer with the “not enough time” problem. I definitely still do my fair share of sedentary screen watching (sometimes during work!) though.

    I like to be physically active because i feel better when I am. i’m by no means “healthy” and my diet is horrible, but I find moving around outside to be the perfect way to spend free time, when non-free time is spent sitting in an office staring at a computer.

    • That’s great that dropping cable has been so beneficial for you! We dropped it almost five years ago, and noticed a big difference at first. But now we let Hulu and Netflix fill almost as much time as cable used to, so… baby steps. :-) And if you recognize that you feel better when you get exercise, then you’re already ahead of most people. Keep that up.. and maybe eat some broccoli today, too. :-)

      • Broccoli?!? You had to pick one of my least favorite vegetables. :) My “ex” got me to eat green beans and after salting them, they were pretty delicious.:)

      • Okay, maybe not broccoli, then. :-) How about the advice from Dazed and Confused? “Eat a green thing every day.” Of course that was advice a convenience store clerk was giving to a pregnant woman he was selling cigarettes to. :-)

  18. I used to make a lot of excuses. I don’t have time. I’m too busy. Then, I stopped because I realized I wasted energy on making excuses, energy I’ve applied to more productive activities. I find I’m happier now than before because I feel accomplished and I’m getting things done. Cutting excuses helps!

    • That’s so awesome! Are you one of those super human people who is accomplishing everything, or are you also more successful because you’re clearer on your priorities? (If you say you’re succeeding at all five, I’ll be more impressed than I already am!) :-)

  19. My top 3 is sleep, fitness, and work (in that order). I guess the one piece of good news is that MOST of my fitness activities involve being around friends (beach volleyball!), so that does help take care of that, but dating is one area I’ve put off for one reason or another. If I do really want to meet someone, I HAVE to make more of an effort because it’s probably NOT happening “the old-fashioned way.”

    • It’s so awesome that you manage to combine friends and fitness — that’s definitely something I miss about living in the city, having close fitness friends! Here the exercise tends to be more solitary, or if it’s more social, it’s not actually that great a workout. :-) And yeah, dating these days seems SO HARD! I think you’re right that it’s something you have to prioritize if it’s important, or maybe you decide it’s not — there’s no one right answer.

  20. Fitness is one of those things that is so easy to make excuses for but if you can commit, it feels great. To me, fitness is in the top of my priorities but I do have days where I just don’t feel like working out. On those days I will drag myself to class or out for a run and am almost always glad I did. But I do know myself well enough that I am not going to try to get up before 6 and go for a run because it just won’t happen so I am also realistic. But being in good shape for me also means I can enjoy other activities like keeping up with my husband on the slopes on a powder day. I hope you are able to find a good balance while you are still working so that you are ready to go on your adventures in retirement.

    • Totally with you — it DOES feel great! And it’s good you recognize where your own lines are, and that 6 am is not going to happen. Work with what you’ve got, right?! And going on the adventures is the whole point of it all for us, as you noted — unfortunately, we’re talking about a different level of fitness that’s harder to attain (though we’ve had it in the past), so we’re accepting that part of our first year may be the “full fitness ramp up” or something like that. :-)

  21. I’m with you on the fitness thought – I can’t wait to be done working so I don’t have an excuse not to just get moving again. We eat pretty healthy for the most part, but I really struggle finding the time for exercise (an excuse, I’m sure!).

    I’m actually hoping to start martial arts again once I quit the 9-5. I did that for a little bit as a kid and then actually had that as a semester in college (what the @#$% school did I go to?!!). But I loved it – I enjoyed it and was staying fit at the same time.

    — Jim

    • I love that goal — focusing more on martial arts after you quit. That sounds great — something that challenges your mind and body at the same time!

  22. Gardening is the thing I am putting off until FI. I have always wanted a big, productive garden (vegetables and flowers), but it takes a lot of work! I hope someday I’ll be able to devote the appropriate time to it. Right now it’s Work, Sleep, Family…

    • That’s a good one! And you’re right that it can definitely take a ton of time. Though back when we lived in a more garden-friendly climate, we had a super productive container garden on our small balcony — food for thought. :-)

  23. We have the time. It’s just how we choose to spend it.

    When I traveled every week, I would use that as an excuse for not exercising. But honestly, exercising on the road is pretty easy. Every hotel you stay in has an exercise room of some sort. And when you’re on the road, you don’t have all those home maintenance tasks to deal with. And also, you tend to have more control over your time when you are traveling.

    But instead of hitting the exercise room, I would meet the team in the bar for a few drinks and too much food.

    And now that I spend more time at home, what’s my excuse?

    • I’m glad it worked for you to work out on the road! It definitely is not true for me, since I’m often arriving at a hotel after midnight, already exhausted, and with meetings starting at 8 or 9 the next morning. So working out would mean not sleeping, which is not a trade-off I’m willing to make right now. But you’re right about working from home — makes it a lot easier to find exercise time!

  24. Fitness for me too! I’ve been working on getting 30 min of exercise every day — but then a bunch of life got in the way last week. So I rode my bike to work and back and will give the dog an extra long, brisk walk. It’s not soulcycle but it’s what I can do.

  25. Oh excuses… I have so many… I think the big thing that gets me procrastinating is thinking everything needs some huge chunk of time when really just a few minutes here and a few minutes there would get it done.

  26. All work, family and fitness here! Looking at it like that I now realize what I’m really giving up sleep for! I get up at 4.45am to go to the gym most days. The big benefit is missing the traffic at that time, but the BIG downside is that if I’m not in bed by 10pm I’m in trouble!
    I’m also a big believer that we find time for what we want to do. , makes it a bit easier to figure out what you enjoy doing and what you don’t enjoy doing!

    • Of course the problem is when what you want to do and what you need to do for health and longevity are different. :-) but it sounds like you have a pretty good balance right now… And certainly in the future you’ll be able to dedicate more time to the good stuff and less to work!

  27. This post really hits home. I really feel that we had a pretty good balance of work, family, fitness and friends with sleep often sacrificed pre-baby. I don’t know that we could have sustained the pace that we pulled off while younger forever, but we were pretty satisfied which is why we never got very serious about FIRE even though it was a topic we discussed casually a fair bit. However, post baby we are heavy on family, OK on fitness and sleep, but work has suffered and friends have basically been sacrificed. I really felt that we could figure out a way to have it all by working just a little less, but work still totally dominates our time and yet just trying to cut back a little has actually made work less rewarding and always feeling like I’m playing catch up, spread too thin and at times mailing it in. I am really excited to enter the next phase to free up all (or at least much) of the time that we currently spend working to give the proper amount of focus on other things that I find more rewarding and interesting.

    • You were just making me think back, wondering if we ever felt like we had a good balance. I’m not sure… but you provide a really excellent example of how we can’t have everything, certainly not while we’re working. So something has to give. It’s a bummer that you guys had to give up on friends, at least for now, but that seems to be unavoidable, and I know exactly what you mean re: work. That’s how we always feel trying to go on vacation, which almost makes the vacation not even worth it. But hooray for being close to the next stage. :-)

  28. I agree with the Pick 3 assesment, so I’ve typically chosen Family, Friends and Work. Fitness is important to me, but I only spend 20-30 minutes on an intensive workout, and I’m also not an athlete anymore.

    Now that I’m not doing the corporate thing anymore (just side hustling), I feel that I’m able to live a bit more balanced life. I think my family is the primary beneficiary of it.

    • That’s so excellent that you feel like you have more balance now. That is certainly what we are after, but we don’t expect to get it while we’re still working! :-)

  29. I had to choose between focusing on my LLC and playing on my soccer league for two summers in a row. It’s been brutal. And my pants stopped fitting. I still can’t play soccer, but I’ve focused more on eating healthy because I have to eat everyday. I try to make enough good choices that the bad don’t overwhelm me.

    • What a tough choice. So rough to have to give up stuff we love, even if it’s only temporary. Astec that you’ve been successfully making healthy eating choices. For sure that’s tough for a lot of folks!

  30. This is the first time I’ve heard of the “pick 3” concept – but that makes a lot of sense. And it’s a great reason to reach early retirement. Everyone of those other items is something that is ongoing, while work is one that can easily be reduced once you have enough to retire (although most ambitious people love working too). Congrats on no more excuses! And I’ll try to do the same.

    • Yeah, the idea of pick three make sense to us too. And you’re right that work is the one that should go! :-) We’re looking forward more than ever to early retirement, when we can really focus on the stuff that’s important to us.

  31. Excuses? Oh yeah. Kids, work, house stuff etc I’ve used them all. One thing I do try to do is exercise with friends – either running before work or walking during lunch at work. Killing 2 birds with one stone :) My goal was to learn to play the piano. I’ve made zero progress.

    • So awesome that you can make that work, to hang out with friends while getting your exercise! Working from home and traveling a lot for work are definitely not good for that, so I’m envious. :-) And we both want to pick the piano back up too. The good thing is that we’ve heard lots of stories of people learning later in life, and they can still get very very good.

  32. I like that “pick three” framework (well, I don’t really like it, but it’s accurate!) Fitness has always been the one that’s fallen off most quickly for me. I’ve probably lost five or ten pounds in the last couple months just from our more active lifestyle lately.

    I’ll write about this soon, but one of the things I’ve discovered in our first few months of full-time travel is that I still feel busy. There still isn’t as much time in the day as I would like for exploring, working on side hustles, writing, reading blogs (I’m weeks behind now!), and everything else. Maybe slowing our pace a bit would help with that.

    • Haha — yeah, I don’t like it either! But I agree it feels true for us. :-) You are definitely not the first post-FI person to tell us that you still feel busy — and I’m sure it will be true for us, too. But you guys are also traveling at a pretty whirlwind pace! I’m sure it’s tough to squeeze in anything besides your travel, like side hustles, blogging and work, though thankfully fitness is now baked in for you (pretty much the model of we’re hoping for post-ER!). We both love your blog, so if we get a vote, we vote for putting your effort into writing new posts instead of getting caught up on other people’s blogs. :-)

  33. We have also put fitness on the back burner so to speak. It’s hard to accomplish everything we set out to do in a day where there are only so many waking hours. But since we started the blog, we have been re-evaluating our goals, and one of the recurring ones seems to be getting and staying fit. Now that we are in our 40’s, we are starting see see the pounds creep up and we need to start making fitness a priority, otherwise, we risk being unhealthy and won’t be able to enjoy our retirement to the fullest.

    Thanks to Mr. FE winning us a fitbit, we now realize that we don’t move nearly as much as we should given that we both have (in my case, had) jobs that involve long hours sitting at a desk. As a result, we have been penciling into our schedule daily walks, and on the weekends we’ve been taking long hikes now that the good weather is here.

    By the way, the jury is still out on the fitbit! We like the fact that it keeps track of how much we move in a day and think it’s a great motivator, however, after counting our steps on more than one occasion, we find it to be wildly inaccurate. It’s quite possible that not being techies, we misunderstand how this thing is supposed to work. But for now, we will keep using it and see how it goes! :) – Mrs. FE

  34. We have also been putting fitness on the back burner so to speak. There are only so many hours in a day to get everything we need done. However, since we started our blog, we have been reevaluating our goals and feel strongly that we need to start making fitness a priority. If we don’t put our health in the forefront, we won’t be able to travel and enjoy our retirement to the fullest. As a result, we have now been scheduling daily walks and long weekends hikes.

    By the way, the fitbit is still working well! We like how it keeps us honest and motivates us to improve our fitness level. The only thing we don’t like about it is the inaccuracy. We have counted our steps a few times and found the fitbit to be incorrect. We are both technically challenged, so it could be that we misunderstand how this is calculating our steps! ☺

    • Found your comment in the spam and cleared it! :-) Good to know about the fit bit. But more importantly, I’m super stoked for you guys that you’re prioritizing your fitness. That obviously has a gajillion benefits, so high five!

  35. The pick 3 framework is not nice but very true…. In my case, it is work, family and nr 3 changes each wek. as a results, it does not get done wel…

    Lately, sleep got not enough attention and I returned from work at lunch. I slept 4 hours in the afternoon. I always said I could sleep when retired… Look I can’t ;-)

  36. My excuse is that I’ll have more time to spend with my wife and kids once I’m retired. They’re actually one of the reasons I’m working towards Early Retirement, but it’s an excuse: I could work less hard, still hit ER “reasonably soon”, and spend more time with them. It’s just that I’m a single threaded entity and can’t think about work, ER, Family, and my side gig all at the same time

    • That makes sense! We feel like we can’t do our jobs at the level we need to, and travel as much as we want to, and get outdoors often, all at the same time. But we’re willing to work hard now, knowing it’s a short timeframe, just like you.

  37. I understand about pounds creeping on :) This past January, I made eating right and fitness a priority. Instead of making working out something I “should” do, I made it something I “had” to do. I changed my mindset. As of today, I’ve lost 20 pounds :)

      • I eat quite a bit more veggies than I used to, and I stopped eating “snacky” kinds of carbs like chips, pretzels, etc… I also exercise 2-4 times a week. I don’t believe in deprivation; I am more of a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of gal :)

      • That is a great, moderate approach that will be far easier to stick to long-term than some crash diet. And I’m convinced that diets are just like budgets — the best one is the one you’ll actually stick to. :-) Keep it up!!

  38. Although I’ve always made fitness a priority, I’ve found that scheduling gym time on my calendar every day encourages me to stick with my routine even on days I may not feel as motivated. This is easy to do since we have a gym at work and I treat it as part of my daily responsibilities. Once we move, I’ll need to figure out a new routine.

    • That’s awesome you made it such a priority, and also awesome that it’s been so accessible for you at work! It is definitely much harder when you work from home, and the idea of leaving home to begin with is a big deal, but then adding going to the gym on top of that… It becomes a huge hurdle. Here’s hoping you don’t have that same challenge in figuring out a new routine!

  39. I’m starting to find that the best way for me to mentally detach from work at the end of the day is to either go running or go to some sort of challenging fitness class. Is that something you can relate to at all? Like, on days when you do manage to get some exercise in, do you ever find that it has an immediate psychological benefit? Sometimes I find that sort of payoff more motivating than the rather vague goal of getting in better shape. (“Ooh, if I go run around outside for 45 minutes, then when I get back my brain won’t be buzzing around like a crazed bumblebee anymore!”)

    • Oh I can definitely relate to that. But I do think that working from home and having to go out the door when I’m already home to go do some of that stuff is a big demotivator. That’s just an excuse, of course, but it is also reality, and it’s not made easier when I’m exhausted from work travel. But I do like changing that frame about exercise as an immediate psychological benefit, not just a vague future one. I read this comment while out on a hike this evening, and it felt very relevant. :-) I was like, yeah! I do feel the immediate benefit!

  40. My life was work, eat, sleep with an occasional moment for hubby. And a ton of things on the “Someday List” – fitness, friends, cooking healthy, travel, etc. I applaud you for trying to shift a bit in the present. I found in ER, those habits (years in the making) are hard to break! Two years into ER and still working on the shift. I can say I am more fit now, but it’s much harder on an older body to get in shape (after 20 years of nothing). Sad but true.

    • I think we’ll find the habits to break, too! That’s why we’re trying so hard to start the process of breaking them now — wish us luck! ;-) And even in our 30s, we feel how much tougher it is to notch our fitness up. Kudos to you for fighting your way back up that hill!

  41. Very good points – fitness is also something that is being put on the side until we have more time for it. Fitness doesn’t help with our FIRE goals really, nor the other categories. So we try to be reasonably fit, but not getting too much into it.

    Another thing I’d like to do more of is play with our cat more (that’s actually one of my 2016 goals), as it’s something I’d like to do, but again, compared to other things it’s not that ‘important’.

    FIRE will definitely allow us to live the happiest, healthiest, best lives we can. We want it as soon as possible, whilst enjoying life during the journey.


    • To your point about fitness and FI being separate, I’ve been starting to wonder if one can help boost motivation for the other. Like if we feel like we’re crushing it on fitness, will that make us feel generally like we’re rockstars, and therefore get even more motivated around finances? Maybe not, but we’re going to try it. :-) And I fully support all pet-related goals!

      • Oh for sure – beating your fitness goals shows you can beat your other goals too. It takes willpower and effort to achieve any goal, so I’d describe that as a trait of a person. It’s more of having the time to do so. To have a full time job, sleep well, have a good relationship with my wife, comment on your (and other people)’s great blogs, type out our own blog posts, it all takes time (and physical/mental energy). We only have so much time & energy each day, so we must prioritize, like you said.

        Momentum is a very powerful thing in sport, it can help us personally too.

        Thanks for the pet praise, we need to get him some new toys I think.


      • All well said! Prioritization is everything. We’re now making a bigger effort to be sure we’re prioritizing actively instead of defaulting into non-action. :-)

  42. It wouldn’t be entirely shocking if I end up making non-financial excuses after I am independent enough to not have financial excuses. :)

  43. I make excuses for things ALL THE TIME. Even when I was laid off and had some time to spare, I didn’t get around to doing everything I wanted to do. It’s just easier a lot of times living in the moment and getting that extra 20 minutes of sleep, zoning out to mindless TV, etc.

    I only get about 2 hours free to myself each night and it’s hard to be truly productive. It’s something I struggle with daily. I do my best, but looking back I know I could do more. My blog has made me a little more accountable. Speaking of which, I need to write again ;).

    • I hope you know how truly normal you are for making excuses for that stuff. We all crave some downtime… It’s completely normal. But, go write another blog post! We always love them. ;-)

  44. Fitness has also taken a back seat for me. The past 2 years, I kept a fitness streak of working out at least 3 days a week and working out every Monday, because “never miss a Monday”. This year though, I took a few courses for my CPD, enrolled in Mandarin classes, decided to write more and go out more, all while trying to run a household (although it’s much easier because we don’t have kids) and working full time, I knew something had to give and unfortunately it was fitness. I tried squeezing it back in the past few weeks and I settled for 15 minute chunks of HIIT workouts and so far, I’ve never missed a Monday but I also never did any workouts from Wednesday to Sunday. Haha! But I guess it’s a good start. :)

    • That IS a great start – progress is progress! And wow, you’re doing so many different things to better yourself. That’s so impressive! Everything you’re doing is stuff I would love to do after we retire… It’s getting closer every day. :-) I definitely want to learn more languages, write more and spend a lot more time with our friends and family. So the fact that you’re already doing that stuff now, while also focusing at least a little bit on fitness, makes me a bit envious. What’s your secret? ;-)

      • The secret is I don’t do any of them when I don’t feel like it. Haha! It sounds ineffective but it actually is. I give myself a break when I need it and I forgive myself when I’m not able to meet my (own) expectations. By doing this, I avoid feeling I have to do any of them for the sake of doing them – I keep the interest, hence I keep doing them out of my own will. I just commented on Sarah’s post and wrote there how I think I was a task-hoarder – how I felt like I always have to do something with my free time. But I slowly learned to choose carefully and prioritise and to actually finish something before I start anything new. It’s working so far. How’s your Spanish going, by the way?

      • I think that approach is so smart. Not putting too much pressure on yourself is so important – but so hard to do! And, yeah, Spanish not going so well so far. Have had so many other priorities, but it is still very much on the list. :-)

  45. I come from the opposite end of everyone here. I started my weight loss journey first. I lost over 40 pounds through cycling.
    Now, I have the same morning routine every day. Wake up a little before 5, go for a 5 mile bike ride, come back and make some coffee, write for 30 minutes, then get ready to go to work.
    I’m at the same weight I was in high school. I feel great. Not bad for a guy in his late forties.
    What is bad is my financial picture for a guy in his late forties. I do not have the balance.
    I made a decision, I created a vision, and it took persistence, and I achieved my goals. I have to think that the same can be said for increasing my income and achieving financial freedom. Do you know of anyone who has success in fitness and has been able to translate it into financial success?
    I’ve got a great blog coach and I feel like I am in action. Just wondering if there is anyone else out there that is putting together FI and fitness.
    Thanks for the great post Mr. & Mrs. ONL.

    • That’s so awesome what you’ve achieved on the fitness front, Gerald! You probably didn’t share your whole fitness routine, but make sure you add some load-bearing exercise in there as well. Cycling is good cardio, but it won’t protect your bone density as you get older or help maintain muscle mass. Lots of long-term cyclists get injuries that could be prevented by some load-bearing cross training. :-)

      I think so much of achieving goals is the confidence piece — knowing you can stick with something that’s hard at times and persevere. And you already have that because you know you have achieved big fitness goals. So I think it’s just applying that same thinking to your finances now. We can both relate in that we trained for marathons (four for Mr. ONL, one for me) before we really focused on our money in a serious way, and definitely learned that we can stick it out to achieve goals over time. It sure seems like you’re on the right path! :-D