I Have No Stuff – July 2, 2014

I loved my job. It fulfilled my need for endless information and gave me challenging problems to analyze. It provided a chance to identify and reduce risk in the financial system, and offered a degree of work-life balance.

Yet, I resigned in April to begin a personal sabbatical in May.

Although I’d accomplished a lot at work, I felt ready for a next challenge. And I wanted that challenge to be in a completely different field, at least for a while. I’ve made big switches before — from journalism to information security to risk management — and was ready for a leap.

So, I let my lease expire in New York and gave away most of my stuff.

I moved to a short-term sublet with three small bags of essentials and gave myself a month to change my mind — a final gate check before departure. I considered the possibility that I might simply need a change of scenery.

I didn’t change my mind, so I resigned.

My new lifestyle is a huge shift. I have no stuff. I have no lease. I feel free to travel, learn, create, and see where I can most add value.

Here are six reasons why I love the leaseless life:

1. I reclaimed many hours previously spent on cleaning and chores. I use those hours for writing, reading, learning and coding. This, I love.

2. Some of the AirBnB hosts I’ve stayed with have pets, which are a huge plus and bring joy to every day. It’s like having free pet therapy.

3. I can’t buy stuff if I have a bad day. It won’t fit in the suitcases. I can no longer surround myself with remnants of every bad day I’ve had.

4. I’m forced to delete clutter mercilessly. Receipts, mail, packaging — it goes into the trash, not into a drawer or shoebox or mystical “shredder pile.”

5. I can explore different neighborhoods in a short amount of time. I feel like I’m already traveling even in my home city. And to travel elsewhere, I just take my three bags to the new destination, with no rent to maintain.

6. I buy less food, and I eat more of it and throw away less of it.

From a productivity standpoint, if I add the hours gained by not doing housework to the hours gained by not working at my former job, I freed up about 50 hours per week. Added to the 10-20 I already spend on my own interests, this is a reasonable amount of time to explore the world, decide on my new purpose, and get real productive work done toward those goals.

I’m moving forward, with minimal distraction and maximum intent.

This essay originally appeared in Medium’s Nomad List publication. 

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