Also, I want to say that I know a lot of you will think becoming debt free first is most important, but I honestly dont see how that’s possible.
In order to see
that it is possible, you must choose to believe
it is actually possible. Everything that is built in this world is built twice: first in the mind, then in reality. You can do it. But it's going to take time, and planning on paper, and sacrifice, and others can't make it happen for you, especially if you don't think it is possible.
Here’s my very blunt advice: Take some time offline and come up with a solid plan to get out of debt while simultaneously making your family's life better. Continue to permaculturalize your surroundings, beginning at your doorstep. Here's an example plan:
____1. Don’t sell your home
-Shelter is a basic need.
-Once it is paid off some day – yes, that day will
come - then consider renting it out and moving if you don’t like the area.
____2. Keep your current job for another year
___A) Write out 10 things you really like about your job. Also write out the deeper purpose for why you are working there. Carry that on an index card and keep it available for reference. Take a look at it when you are feeling down about your job. Remind yourself out loud:
“No one is forcing me to work here. It may be hard, but I choose to work here.”
___B) On the flip side of that card, write out 5 things you don’t like about your job. But... flip the narrative
for each one, and do your best to change it to its opposite.
e.g. “My job
doesn’t add value to the world.”
→ transforms to:
“My job DOES add value to the world, otherwise they wouldn’t be paying me. My family and community rely on my services.”
e.g. "I am hurting the environment by doing my job."
→ transforms to:
"Even if I personally didn't do this job, someone else would still be doing it. Better me than others. I will use the value I gain from this job to change the system for the better when possible."
___C) Learn about the inverted U-shaped performance vs stress curve
. Stress is a GOOD thing. Too much or too little stress is bad. Figure out where you are on the curve. With your current responsibilities, ask yourself, are you:
Adequately tasked, or…
If you drastically change your life or quit your job, will it result in more or less performance and stress?
___D) Brainstorm +50 ways to make your current job more satisfying. Here’s a start:
2) Environmental modifications, color, art
3) Have a plant at the desk, or a small plant in the truck.
4) Guerrilla garden at your job site
5) More productive or fun breaks
6) Healthy snacks
7) Engaging more/less with other coworkers
8) Focus on making others happy
9) Brainstorming business plans when there is down time
10) Call the wife from work more often
11) Yoga / stretching
___3. Schedule a date-night plus 30 minute strategic conversation with your family.
____ A) ”What does OUR ideal life look
like? What does it sound, smell, feel,
like?” Focus on developing a common vision
that is jointly held. You’ve already conceptualized your vision of Eden, but keep brainstorming until there is a JOINT vision established, and write that one down. That vision is yours, your wife’s, and any other stakeholders involved.
____B) Ask yourselves whether you are willing to sacrifice
your individual short term happiness, goals, and passions for your family’s long term happiness, joint goals, purpose, and common passions. Sacrificing takes courage. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice, delay having children. Even if you wait past your biological clocks, adoption is still possible. No rush. You’re young, you still have time. Focus on the marriage. Kids change everything, supposedly.
____C) Continuously brainstorm
ways you can dovetail your current reality and joint context closer to your Eden vision. Avoid thinking escapist permie-pie-in-the-sky thoughts. Instead think hard, achievable, boring but possibly beautiful realities. Write them down.
___4. Audit your time for a normal week.
-Carry a notebook or another index card along with a watch, and figure out where all your time goes in a week.
168 hours in a week.
- 40 hour work week,
- 56 hours sleeping
= 72 hours of expected free time.
-Discover all time sinks. Everything, good or bad. Write it down.
-Analyze and eliminate or swap various time sinks in order to get you closer to your vision.
e.g. "Oh, apparently I spent 1 hour on Permies.com each week reading about other people's permaculture gardens;
Instead, I will spend that time collecting 30 lbs of organic matter from the neighborhood as fertilizer for my market garden.
___5. Audit your money. If you have never made a formal budget, do it.
-Use a notebook or index cards, and figure out where all
your money goes in a month.
-Put it all in a spreadsheet. Money in. Money available. Money out. It’s a flow system. Use systems thinking: plug the leaks and increase the flow coming in.
-Ruthlessly eliminate or reduce as many recurring out flows as possible. When paying down your debt, just think of it as enabling future, permaculture-related projects. Challenge your true needs vs wants. There is no shame in eating inexpensive. Even billionaire Elon Musk once ate cheaply at less than $30(CAD) for a month to prove he could.
e.g. I paid $20 in dog food for a month. → If I sell the dog, that saves $240 a year in puppy chow. "I saved enough to buy 500 bare root apple trees each year
e.g. I paid $5 in beer each week → Switching to water. Saves $60 a year. "I just saved myself 4 hours of working for the man at a minimum wage job in the future."
___6. Dig deeper into your community, explore, and leverage what you have.
Lets pretend you live in Iron County, MI
. Perhaps there are part time jobs in work fields that better align with what you want to do. Perhaps you can work an additional job on the weekends for a landscaper, or a local farm, and expand their offerings for sale. Perhaps parks or churches would let you plant trees or place mushroom logs under downspouts. Perhaps there are non-profits or volunteering opportunities that would enable you to achieve your goals of teaching youth.
___ 7. Pay it off and pay it forward, slowly.
You have everything you need around you to start achieving your dream. It may take a while. It
will be unpleasant. You can do it. Do it evenly-yoked alongside your wife. Please don't reply to this post, because your time is too valuable! Just go, and turn that passion into a slow, steady, productive force to be reckoned with.