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April 23rd, 2022

As a concept, the ideal circumstance is usually a fairly static dream in a person’s head. The right living situation, relationships, income and toys. It’s a hazy set of goals that we carry around with us, regardless of making progress toward them or not. While these “dream life” goals can be very motivating they can miss an important point. And it’s best encapsulated by the rich person who finally gets to the point where they can spend all their time on the beach, and while sitting on that beach for the third week, there’s an unsettling sense of: now what?


A better strategy is to shorten the time horizon and imagine a cascade of possible ideal circumstances. Given the goals for the next six months, what would be the ideal circumstance for them?


This sort of thinking isn’t generally available to people because of the rigid nature of keeping a job. For the most part a person’s time is almost completely spoken for. The freedom to wonder about life in 3 and 6 month stretches doesn’t usually come until retirement. Obligations stitch a person to their income pretty tightly, and it’s usually the un-obligated who can be so whimsical with their time, and flexible with how they achieve their goals.


A growing number of people, however, are trading in the old fashioned 9-5 for a more flexible, often remote situation. Living and working on that beach can be far cheaper than expected, and part time work paired with cheap living can afford a lot more time - that crucial ingredient which a 9-5 obliterates - to consider more flexible ways toward long term goals.


Most importantly, such flexibility can turn the ideal circumstance into an evolving equation, a process which has many incarnations. What could be better when compared to the traditional image of decades of toil capped by a vague sense of freedom in the later part of life?


Strangely, an idea of the ideal circumstance can get in the way of seeing an excellent circumstance right before us. Being so focused on some distant and unavailable circumstance can obscure the present - even if the present has evolved into a previously imagined ideal circumstance! Embarrassingly, I speak from very recent experience. . .

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