Ebb and flow (also called ebb and flood and flood drain) are two phases of the tide or any similar movement of water. The ebb is the outgoing phase, when the tide drains away from the shore; and the flow is the incoming phase when water rises again.
The last few months have been very hard on me. I’ll go into that another time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about 2017. Many driven people spend all their time storing up acorns. They forget to enjoy the acorns. Fear usually drives this more than greed; fear of being poor or running out of money.
But maybe what should drive us isn’t the fear of running out of money, but the fear of running out of time. Life doesn’t go on forever. We shouldn’t just allow finances and assets to “flow” into our possession, but we should also allow the tide to “ebb” out, as well.
My friend Clark talks about a gap year. A sabbatical. A time away from the grind. To rejuvinate, refocus, figure things out.
I’ve talked about this many times before, but before the industrial revolution, everything about work ebbed and flowed. The planting of the seed, the waiting, the harvest. The rhythms of day and night – before electricity and computers, people didn’t work after dark, and often didn’t work in bad weather.
This ebbing and flowing of work, just makes sense to me. It’s how I want to live my life. 2016 was a good year to build up resources for us. I busted my butt in my side hustle (selling homes) and put away some money. We made some big purchases that needed to be made, without much regard for money.
For 2017, I want to do the opposite. I don’t want a steady pace year after year. I like the pace to vary. For 2017, I want to work less, spend less, and unplug more.
There are some pretty nifty financial ninja moves to help make doing this financially advantageous. I’ve gone over a number of them in this blog, and if I get motivated maybe I’ll edit this post and add some links here. But if you plan correctly, you can really ebb and flow well, not just in terms of lifestyle but in terms of optimizing and greasing the financial machine.
I think we all need to make choices. We can’t just let life drag us along. I’m not a big fan of goals, I’m usually too impatient for setting detailed goals. So I’m not going to flesh this out a whole lot. I’m just going to put it out there in general terms – my goal for 2017 is a year of rest, refocus, and relaxation.
I’ll end with this interesting fact. If you can really unplug and rejuvinate – I mean, really – You may actually end up making MORE money over the course of your lifetime. See, this rest, this ebb and flow, is how we are wired. When we really unplug, destress, and get distance from the grind, it renews our energy and our creativity. It prevents burnout. It puts us back on track. So even for those type-A overachievers, we can still rest assured that our productivity when measured over time, won’t suffer, and might even increase. Such good news that is!
This is a huge reason why I advocate being self-employed. While there are many downfalls of being self-employed, it does allow you to choose when you ebb and when you flow. That’s the problem with the 9-5 grind — it puts humans in a completely artificial schedule, out of tune with hard work and rest, and in tune with turning humans into efficient widgets of capitalism.
Going a bit further, I’ve also been pondering the next 10 years of life. This article is super fascinating and life-impacting. It basically lays out the shortness of life, but goes a step further and lays out the shortness of time we have with our kids before they move away. Accordingly, I kind of want to retire and take a gap year not just for 2017, but for the next 10 years. We’ll see how that goes 🙂