This post was inspired by this over at FI for the People. Thank you Bitches Get Riches for bringing it to my attention.
Perhaps my most popular post is the one where I wrote about my death march to financial independence. It describes how I went a little nuts to get to FI. I worked very hard and in doing so, forgot to live. The whole point of FI is better living, so I totally missed the point. I now advocate taking it slow and enjoying/embracing/loving every bit of the journey.
Goals are temporary and fleeting. The journey is what life is all about.
FI for the People (FftP) wrote about my silly march and had this to say:
As for Mr. 1500, yes, his “death march”
sounds like it was miserabledoesn’t sound like it was fun. And given that he and his family have a net worth that’s multiples higher than his original stated FIRE number and that, at some point along the journey, he probably realized that his family would have income streams on top of their investments coming in post-FIRE (blog income and Mrs. 1500’s job to name two), thus meaning that he could withdraw from his investments at a less than 4% safe-withdrawal rate, he could have slowed way down and been no worse off (and maybe even better off) than he aimed to be when he set his goal.
But, first, how could he have known that when he set his goal he was in the heart of an epic bull market that’d not only last until the time he FIREd, but for years after? For all he knew, his investments were going to take an immediate hammering. And, while he might’ve suspected that Mrs. 1500 would be working after he called it a day, nothing’s a certainty. Also, as Mr. 1500 has often noted, he was in a bad place at work when he set his goal. He was constantly stressed and, I think, unhappy with his work life. Getting out of that toxic place must’ve, understandably, seemed pretty darned appealing.
FftP’s words made me think a bit. I worked really hard to get to FI and even when I met my goal, I worked for another year. The reason can be summed up in one word. It’s 4 letters long and starts with an F. Not that F-word; get your mind out of the gutter people. The word I’m thinking of is:
FftP was partly correct, but it wasn’t all about money. Some of my coworkers were great friends and I knew I’d miss them. I didn’t want to be bored. I didn’t want to drastically change my life, even if knew it was an improvement. It was a lot to digest. I was afraid.
Humans are held back by negativity bias. For any situation, we can find many more excuses for why we shouldn’t do something. Quitting work is a great one. I can come up with infinite excuses.
Great things don’t happen when you’re sitting around with a bad case of the “What ifs?” Normal effort yields normal results. Everything great happens when you push your a$$ out of your comfort zone.
Less Is More
When I hear most folks talk about FIRE, they talk about making less money and all of the danger that comes with it. I don’t hear much talk about the potential upsides when you expand your time considerably. If you sleep 8 hours per day, you have 112 waking hours. A normal 40 hour workweek consumes more than 1/3 of that precious time. Then, you have to commute, prepare meals, mow the lawn, cut your hair, take care of kids, pay bills, clean the toilets, chase squirrels, blah, blah, blah. Not much time left for yourself.
Instead of focusing on lost income, what if you focused on what you’ll do with all the time you have?
- Work on relationships
- Get healthy
- Take long walks
- Learn a new language
- Go to Home Depot at 1pm on a Tuesday instead of Saturday morning when every other human from your town is there
- Learn a new language
- Read (I love to hang out at the library)
- Prepare great meals at home
- Spend more time farting around in the garage or your workshop
I’m not advocating that you be silly or dangerous. Build up margins. Have backup plans for backup plans. Be frugal. And if bad stuff happens, use the same resourcefulness and brains that got you to FIRE to make it through the rough patch.
Looking back on my journey, the most important piece of advice I can give you is this:
Don’t be afraid. Stop wasting time debating whether or not you should live by the 4% or 3.5% or 2.8888% rule. Most likely, it won’t make much of a difference long term.
Use your newfound time to become the best version of yourself. It will be much easier to work on whatever plagues you when you have time to think.
Live with intention. Find deep purpose. Take chances. Have confidence*. Life is too short to do anything else.
Know that there is no permanent security.
You will die and you don’t know when. To make matters worse, if you live to an old age, your last decade or so may not be so great. Knowing this, your primary goal should be to do what you want for as much time as you can when you still can do it.
*This is a fine line. Too much confidence is a recipe for disaster.
The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.
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