I am not the same person I was 10 years ago. Even the difference from last year is apparent. Life is constantly moving around us and I like to change and adapt with it. It certainly makes for a less monotonous, if not a more exciting life.
One of my greatest fears is missing out on so many wonderful experiences that I can have during my life. Some days I feel stagnant, while the next I feel like I am getting out there and doing something meaningful.
Recently, I was asked to create a small profile about myself for work, including a section on personal achievements not relating to career. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Removing the milestones I have reached in my professional life, I was finding it difficult to come up with an answer. Yes, I have had many experiences, but is there something that I am truly proud of, where I can honestly say I have achieved something?
Several months ago, I started a new job. A new career in fact. I spent years training to be and working as a Doctor. Initially, it seemed like I had everything lined up perfectly, life was good, I chose the right path. One big problem though… I dreaded going to work, I hated my job and lived for the rare time that I had off.
Despite making a decision to go down a career path that would be meaningful and allow me to make a difference in people’s lives, I found myself far from happy.
In order to try create a happier life for myself, I started trying everything. New hobbies, dating different people, travelling, moving jobs within the medical profession. Unfortunately none of it worked. Yes, I enjoyed many of those things and I am very grateful that I could do all of this, but essentially I was throwing money at different things for a fleeting happiness. At the end of it all, I had to go back to a job I deeply did not enjoy
A New Life
My story is not going to be defined by a job. It will be a collection of experiences with different people in places all over the world.
I grew up with the belief that I would finish school, go to university, start a job, find a wife, have kids, work until retirement, retire and enjoy the well earned rest after years in the workforce.
Never questioning this assumption, I started down that path until every day and every week could almost be mapped out to the hour:
- Wake up at 6am
- Shower and get ready for work
- Home from work with great intentions to do something social or productive, or simply enjoy a hobby
- Actually just vegetate on the couch after a draining day
- Go to bed
- Weekends were slightly different in that there was no work or maybe was on call, but I may as well have not been off as I was still recovering from the usual 80+ hours of work.
We haven’t even factored in the time it takes for normal adulting (laundry, cooking, cleaning).
Years of not questioning the “expectation of society” to follow this series of life events, led me to a truly miserable existence. This was going to continue because despite me trying anything to improve my life over the years, I was still stuck in this rut.
Something needed to be done. A drastic change to break the vicious cycle that I could not escape
What has FIRE got to do with anything?
Financial Independence (FI), Retire Early (RE) in the most literal definition is amassing enough assets to will fund your lifestyle, allowing you to retire earlier than the expected ripe age of 70 years.
FI is the key aspect. Essentially, it is reaching a point where you are no longer financial dependent (needing a job for money), allowing you the freedom to pursue that which you find meaningful, or are passionate about. You can choose to live exactly how you want, without the manacles of dependence.
On paper, this sounds fantastic. “So why isn’t everyone doing it” you my ask. Well, it is very simple. People don’t know that this is a legitimate path to follow. “How do we even get there?” There are hundreds of blogs, possibly thousands at this stage. Some more established than others, including those people who have already reached FI, and have been living that way for years. I am still figuring it out, I will be documenting it all, trial and error, all with FI in mind.
The main aim is to create passive income streams that cover living expenses.
Another aim is to alter your lifestyle to speed up your path to FI all while enjoying the journey and finding true happiness.
Why work your ass off for 40 or 50 years while putting off doing things on your bucket list, when you can create the life you want far sooner than “retirement age.”
Don’t take my word for it
I am not the first person setting off on the path to Financial Independence. I certainly won’t be the last. It is not a straight line to FI either. I have been on this journey for 2 years, and not consistently either.
This is OK, there are many paths to FI. Some people do it slowly, other go to extremes to get there as fast as possible. One of the most important things to remember is that it is not a “get rich quick” kinda plan. It will take time, it will take work, sometimes it won’t be easy, but always keep in mind that you should not solely focus on the end goal. It is imperative to enjoy the journey, otherwise you are still putting off your happiness indefinitely.
Take a look at some of the biggest names in Financial Independence sphere. Each has a unique story, and a different path to FI, as well as achieving it in various time frames:
- Coach Carson
- JL Collins
- Millionaire Educator
- Mr Money Mustache
- Our Next Life
- Root of Good
- 1500 Days
Always remember that trying to reach FI is just as much about creating the life you want, as achieving financial independence. Keep an eye on the horizon but live in the present (something it has taken me a long time to learn).
A friend of mine introduced me to the world of FIRE nearly 3 years ago. I spent months reading endless posts and articles about the subject, completely enthralled. I didn’t actually pull the trigger until about 2 years ago.
Step 1 on my journey to FI was start saving regularly. Next, I opened a brokerage account and invested my savings. I followed this routine for 2 years, saving up more than a year of living expenses. Genuinely, I was convinced that I was on the right path. I was to an extent.
At this stage, I was still working as a doctor, saving money, but miserable. What was the point in my growing investment when I was not enjoying my day to day life?
Finally, I learned the important lesson, it is not just about the destination.
Sitting pretty on a nice, little nest egg, I realised that I had enough money for what I considered “temporary FI.” If I quit my job then and there, I had more than a year of living expenses covered, so there was little risk making a change.
So I quit my job. I left medicine entirely.
No idea where I was going or what I was going to do, I just knew that being a doctor was not a part of my happy life.
This was my first true taste of the power of financial independence. My god, it was good!!!
Without those savings, I probably would never have taken that initial leap because I may have been living paycheck to paycheck, like so many others my age.
Now, I have started a new career in finance (seemed the logical choice as I am interested in it anyway), and it feels like a life transformed. Yes, my salary has taken an initial hit, but it will increase at a much fast rate than in medicine. More importantly, I have free time, a social life, energy to enjoy my evenings and weekends. I am well and truly on the way to FI.
I am Steve, and welcome to my journey to Financial Independence.