Don't be ordinary, be extraordinary... Part 1

extraordinary Siwash Rock

Ask yourself this question, do you want to be successful and extraordinary?

I think 99.9% of the population will answer this question with the word YES!

From a young age, many people were taught that being successful and extraordinary in life involves the following steps - go to school, get good grades, get a university degree, get a job, be good at your job, get paid well, be a good worker, focus on work, earn lots of money, buy expensive things to reward yourself from all the hard work, take expensive vacations, get married, have an expensive elaborate wedding reception, raise a family, provide your kids with better education by sending them to private schools, continue climbing the corporate ladder, and finally retire at the age of 65 or older to finally relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Does this really describe a successful and extraordinary life?

Many might think so.

But I disagree.

What I just described above is what it means to be ordinary, or a typical worker's life.

Why do we define being successful and extraordinary by how much money we make, how many expensive things we own, how many expensive vacations we take, and what our job titles are?

Why do we associate being successful and extraordinary with all the materialistic things that we own and all the things that we can show off?

Is this really the correct definition of being successful and extraordinary?

Thanks to TV and media, many of us think celebrities are successful and extraordinary.

I do not agree.

Who do I think is extremely successful and extraordinary?

The Dalai Lama is successful and extraordinary.

Mother Teresa is successful and extraordinary.

When we are blasted with false images of success and extraordinary every day on TV, in the newspapers & magazines, on the internet, and other forms of media, we begin to believe in these false images. We begin to become delusional about what it means to be successful and extraordinary.

Combined with how most of us are raised.... we were taught and told that we're simply ordinary.

So we go through our lives being ordinary.

Most of us were wrongly taught by our parents, our teachers, and people that we know, what being successful means. 

I'm sorry but ordinary is just not good enough.

I don't want to be ordinary.

I don't want to be successful and extraordinary by the traditional definition.

I don't want to set my life purpose as having an ordinary life and being "successful" by traditional means.

I want to be extraordinary.


Extraordinary is something very different.
Many of us believe being extraordinary means we need to do important philanthropy work like The Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. Because most of us cannot dedicate our lives to philanthropy work, we believe that we cannot be extraordinary.

Extraordinary is being able to get outside of the comfort zone and strive for something that we haven't been told to do by our parents, taught by our teachers in school, and trained to believe in.

For most of us, I believe being extraordinary is simply being able to achieve financial independence at an age where we are still in good health to enjoy our lives to the fullest.

Extraordinary is being different from the norm, being able to recognize from within ourselves that there's something more than mindlessly finishing tasks because the "Boss Man" says so, it's more than climbing the corporate ladder, and it's more than working for 40+ years before retiring and enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Notice here that I haven't set any age. Why? Because each individual go through different circumstances and experiences in life. So to label that one must reach financial independence by a specific age is simply not fair. To achieve financial independence and to be able to enjoy what we want to do because we are in good health, that's extraordinary.

Having good health is extremely important, especially when we're financially independent.

Having all the money in the world at our disposal but not being in good health? Then all that money won't do us any good.

Simply put, we need to be able to have good health to enjoy what we have accomplished - being financially independent.

But how do we achieve financial independence?

While becoming financially independent is not an easy task, I think it's very simple.


Becoming financially independent.... is simple? 
Many people use easy and simple interchangeably. But these two words are very different.

Both words are used to describe something as being "not difficult". Easy is defined as "not hard to do; not difficult" where simple is defined as "having few parts, not complex or fancy, not special or unusual."

To be more specific, simple is not always easy.

  • To lose weight is simple, but not always easy.
  • To stop smoking is simple, but not always easy.
  • To stop drinking coffee is simple, but not always easy.
  • To be kind to everyone is simple, but not always easy.
  • To not judge others is simple, but not always easy.

Similarly, to become financially independent is simple, but not always easy. At first glance, the financial independence formula is very simple:

Passive income > expenses = Financial Independence

The concept of becoming financially independent is really simple. It basically comes down to the following simple steps:

1. Live below your means
This idea probably has been mentioned in every single personal finance book and blog. In order to get ahead, your expenses need to be less than you income. The concept is simple but not easy. You can try to increase your income and/or cut down your unnecessary expenses. This process can take many years to master.

2. Pay yourself first
Again this idea is very simple but not easy. When you receive an income, put aside a specific amount or percentage in your savings account and never touch this money. Only spend the rest. For example, if you receive $2,000, pay yourself $500 first, and only utilize the remaining $1,500. The idea is to use the saved up amount to create passive income streams.

3. Create passive income streams
There are many different types of passive income streams. For example, stock investments, rental properties, royalties, and businesses. The more passive income streams you have, the more diversified your passive income will be. Use the money saved in step 2 to invest in these passive income streams. Initially it might take some active work, but the idea is to set up these income streams so they can generate income passively once you have them set up.

4. Simplification
Are there things in life you can simplify to save money? Perhaps you can sell things that you no longer use, reduce your media consumption, reduce your cellphone data plan, consolidate all your debt, reduce your wardrobe, or create and stick to a meal plan. There are many ways to simplify your life to save money. You can then use the money saved to create passive income.


It shouldn't come as a surprise that having good health, just like becoming financial independent, is simple but not always easy.

How do we stay in good health? It involves the following 4 simple steps:

1. Have balanced nutritious meals
We all need to fuel our bodies with nutritious food items. We also need to watch out how much we eat. Don't over eat, just like we don't over spend. A good rule of thumb is to eat until we're about 75% full. This is similar to the concept of "live below your means."

2. Stay active and exercise
Staying active is the best way to maintain good health. It's also a great way to have good muscle tone in your body. Staying active and exercise will provide benefits in your life today and continue providing benefits as you age. It's a similar idea as "Paying Yourself First" mentioned above.

3. Create a healthy lifestyle
There are more than just having balanced nutritious meals and staying active. Creating a healthy lifestyle by avoiding smoking/second hand smoke, limit alcohol consumption, limit salt and sugar consumption etc. Part of the healthy lifestyle can be creating your own affirmations that resonate with you and set your own intentions. For example, set an affirmation that focuses on loving yourself: "I love my beautiful body and accept it everyday." This specific affirmation helped Mrs. T loose weight after Baby T1.0 was born. She focused on loving her body as it was and gradually the extra kilos disappeared. So focus your intentions on things you want, not things that you do not want.

Creating a healthy lifestyle is like having passive income. Once it is created, you will enjoy the benefits over and over again. This is a similar idea as "create passive income streams" mentioned above.

4. Strong body, strong mind
Become emotionally balanced is an important step in order to have good health. Let go of negative thoughts and patterns in you life. Your body can't function without your mind. So focus on what matters to you in life. Develop both a strong body and a strong mind. This is a similar idea as "simplification" mentioned above.


Because becoming financially independent and having good health are very closely related, focusing on just one of them simply makes no sense. We must focus on both.

Make no mistake, it's simply extraordinary to achieve both financial independence and good health at the same time.

But there's more to it than just being financially independent and having good health. I will discuss that in Part 2 of this blog post next Wednesday.

Part 2 here. 

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  • Reply
    Dividend Growth Investor
    June 15, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Very nice and informative article Tawcan. I look forward to reading the second installment in the series!

    Dividend Growth Investor

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Hi Dividend Growth Investor,

      Thanks, will post the second installment next week.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 9:09 am

    So true! So many people forget about their health and there really is no point in reaching FI if you can't enjoy it because you are sick. I have also been trying to redefine success. For me it all boils down to the freedom to make the choices that I want to make when I want to make them. This requires being not only FI but also healthy. A fun read! Thank you.

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Exactly, we need to have our health to enjoy FI. 🙂

  • Reply
    Investment Hunting
    June 15, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Great post Tawcan. I look forward to Part 2. I'm in my 40s and when i was brought up we were taught in school and at home to be ordinary and to fit in. It's definitely changed over the year. I see my kids now and their friends growing up in a different world. In their worlds, being unique and different is highly valued. I think the creative minds we will see from their generation will be much better than my generation.

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Hi Investment Hunting,

      Great to see that you've changed your view now. It's totally OK to be unique and different.

  • Reply
    Mr.Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes
    June 15, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Great post, and I completely agree!

    Many people think being extraordinary is about buying luxury goods. That's completely bogus! Any stupid fool can buy expensive stuff!

    Looking forward to the next part in your series!

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Thanks Mr. Tako. Thanks to media, too many people think being extraordinary is about buying luxury goods. It's all about consumption, which leads to debt if people don't watch out what they're buying.

  • Reply
    Thias @It Pays Dividends
    June 15, 2016 at 10:33 am

    I love this! My goal in life is to live a life that I consider remarkable. A remarkable life in my eyes is having the freedom to do the things that you want to do.

    You are completely right - a lot of things in life are simple but they aren't always easy to actually implement. That is where your dedication and passion come in!

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Glad to hear that you enjoyed the article Thias.

  • Reply
    Mike Drak
    June 15, 2016 at 11:22 am

    When I read the beginning of your blog you described my past life to a 'T". Now that I have reached FI my time left is all about living an extraordinary life. I was trapped for the longest time working hard to achieve security for my family and I can't really see a way around that but what is really important is what you do after achieving FI. Life really opens up and it would be such a waste to not take full advantage of all the possibilities in front of you.

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Hi Mike,

      It's totally awesome that you're living an extraordinary life. FI provides so much more possibilities.

  • Reply
    The Green Swan
    June 15, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I couldn't agree more, maintain your health is very important in order to be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor in retirement! It's part of maintaining a well rounded lifestyle and a major focus for my wife and I. I look forward to part 2!

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Thanks The Green Swan. It's tough to have all the money in the world but can't enjoy it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Stefan - The Millennial Budget
    June 15, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Great post Tawcan. The media is the doom for many people as we are taught to look up to celebrities and their high consumption lifestyle. I think you touched on another critical point which is health. What is the point of retiring if you have health issues? Looking forward to part 2. I hope more people read this post as it has a powerful message.

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Hi Stefan,

      Exactly... health is so important. Glad you enjoyed reading the post.

  • Reply
    More Dividends
    June 15, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    I know I quite often fail short on eating as healthy as I should.... or exercising as much as I should.... but I just keep at it day after day and try to build more habits that help make a better me. It was very nice to find an article that emphasized financial independence as well as the need for a healthy lifestyle. Thanks for sharing this post and I look forward to reading part 2.

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:18 am

      I could definitely be more active and exercising more. It's finding the balance that works for you.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    "being extraordinary is simply being able to achieve financial independence at an age where we are still in good health to enjoy our lives to the fullest."

    I agree. Was it Dalai Lama that once said: "Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health"

    Back when I lived in Vancouver, people around me used to judge others based on the car they drive, house they live in, and toys they possess. I was still a teenager and had no clue on the difference between driving a BMW and a Pontiac. When friends showed me their new car and saw that I was not marveled by their new car, they became offended. The car took me to Richmond, and I got my bubble tea and I was happy. Now I'm making enough money to buy most of the things I want, but instead I feel trapped. while true: Bug fixes, meetings, status reports

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:19 am

      That's a great quote by Dalai Lama... he's so wise. 🙂

      Too many people are trying to impress other by luxury goods. Does it really make sense?

  • Reply
    Route To Retire
    June 16, 2016 at 5:56 am

    Well said! Stepping out of your comfort zone is a tough thing to do. A lot of people just try to get through the day, plain and simple. It's hard to step back and figure out your place in life and what you could do to make it better - both for yourself and others.

    As far as FI and good health go, I've figured out our path to FI and we're well on our way. However, the good health part, we need to work on. We eat pretty nutritiously, we're focused, and don't smoke. But we need to step our game on the active lifestyle, get some more exercise, and though we don't drink a ton, we should probably cut back on that as well.

    -- Jim

    • Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 10:20 am

      We need to work on the health part too. We eat quite healthy, don't smoke, and are active... but we can definitely be more active. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 16, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you! I really appreciate your looking at success from a very different perspective. I'm betting that someone like the Dalai Lama knows a level of joy and contentment that very few 'celebs' experience.
    Early retirement is all well and good as a goal but I think too limited to be judged as a good or healthy goal by itself. The question is what is one going to do with that gift of time and energy.

    • Reply
      June 20, 2016 at 11:41 am

      Hi madeline,

      Good call on asking what one is going to do with that time and energy. I think everyone has their own answer.

  • Reply
    Dividend Diplomats
    June 17, 2016 at 3:21 pm


    Love it. We are extraordinary as we are bucking the trend. Love that you list out the basic steps to freedom, time and commitment stays within there, and a strong mind, as you mentioned. It's hard not to be in a haste. We will get there and we are all getting there. Have a great Friday eve!


    • Reply
      June 20, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Hi Lanny,

      Bucking the trend definitely make us a bit extraordinary. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank
    June 18, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Agree with you Tawcan. I think if we want to be extraordinary, we need to be willing to make sacrifices and go for extra mile!

    • Reply
      June 20, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Making sacrifices for the future is definitely worth it.

  • Reply
    A Frugal Family's Journey
    June 19, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Nice article...well put Tawcan. Reminds me of an Instagram post I made recently where my quote was..."The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra." I also like how you incorporate a health component to the wealth component as I always strive for health and wealth myself. 🙂

    Looking forward to Part II.


    • Reply
      June 20, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Thanks AFFJ. It's that extra little effort that makes you extraordinary.

  • Reply
    June 20, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Hey Tawcan! very good read!

    I particularly liked the following line:
    "Extraordinary is being able to get outside of the comfort zone and strive for something that we haven't been told to do by our parents, taught by our teachers in school, and trained to believe in."
    This is exactly what I think being extraordinary is. It's not really about making a lot of money or doing philanthropic work. It's about doing things that sets you apart from others. If for you it's making lots of money and doing incredible things with it or you prefer to dedicate your life to community work, that is also fine. I think the problem is too many people simply live their life without asking themselves life changing questions such as "what do I want to do with my life? what my passions are? Can I live fully my passion?".

    I'm currently experiencing this transformation as we left our home a week ago (currently heading toward Mount Rushmore in 2 days :-).


    • Reply
      June 20, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Hi Mike,

      That's a great way to see thing, how can you live to fulfill your passion. Totally awesome that you're on the road to explore North America.

  • Reply
    Frugal Desperado
    June 20, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for reminding us that the typical Western version of the "ideal" life is so very ordinary, and there is a special place outside that box that makes us extraordinary. I often find myself as an outsider because I don't want the typical life of a suburban house with the 2.5 kids, minivan and life dedicated to keeping up with Joneses. When I need motivation to keep saving, or even to keep studying and working side jobs while everyone is out enjoying themselves, I think of Dave Ramsay saying "to live like no one else, you must live like no one else." Great advice for those wanting an extraordinary life!

    • Reply
      June 20, 2016 at 11:44 am

      That's a great quote from Dave Ramsay. So true, you need to be OK to live unlike anyone else. 🙂

    • Reply
      June 21, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Hi Andrew,

      Many things in life are simple... but they're not easy. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 27, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Thanks doe this post, I found it really refreshing with the health element included, but also in making me think about what is considered extraordinary. I like the idea that in gaining FI I can consider myself extraordinary, I just need to make sure that I can follow through and deliver my plan!

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