What does it means to be extraordinary? If you haven't yet, please check out my previous installment of this two-part blog post before you continue reading.
I have outlined that becoming financially independent and having good health are simple and an integral part of being extraordinary. But there's more to it than just being financially independent and having good health. We also need to improve and grow ourselves as human beings continuously.
Continuous Self Improvements
Being extraordinary also means that we recognize the need to become better human beings through self-improvements.
We must learn new things and obtain new knowledge as we go through our life journey. We must determine our life purpose.
Our life purpose isn't to work until we're 65 old or older. Our life purpose is more than being stuck inside a cubicle for the majority of our day.
Imagine starting working full time at age 20, spending 8 hours each day inside a cubicle, 5 days a week, then 45 years later, retire at age 65.
That's 250 days a year spent working.
Or 2,000 hours a year sitting in a chair.
Working for 45 years that means...
That's a total of 11,250 days.
Or 90,000 hours of our lives spent inside the average 75 square feet cubicle.
Since many of us end up working overtime, especially people working in high tech , that number may be over 100,000 hour by the time retirement comes around.
No wonder the job has become many people's life purpose.
This is exactly why so many retirees' health deteriorate very quickly, shortly after retirement. Their jobs were their life purpose. When they retire, these retirees do not know what to do with their lives anymore. They end up living in a life of full leisure, sitting on the beach all day, basking in the sun, and just letting their minds go blank.
If we're not busy learning and developing ourselves, we go stale as humans.
When we go stale and stop learning, we're busy dying.
Make no mistake about that.
So many people hold retirement up on a pedestal.
It's the ultimate goal, it's the end game, it's the finish line. But what if you never make it to the finish line?
These people think that retirement is the end goal. So they are not happy until they reach this goal.
When they finally reach this end goal, they don't know what to do with their lives. They stop learning and stop obtaining new knowledge once they get there.
Many of them develop what I call the have-to-be symptom. We are wired to believe that we need to have something first in order to do what we want to do, so we can be who we want to be (happy). So we teach our brains that we must attain retirement before we can enjoy our lives. It's only when we attain these things (i.e. a new car, a big raise, a bigger house, retirement), that we can do what we want to do with our lives. Once we can do what we want to do with our lives, we can finally be happy. Once we're stuck in this have-to-be fallacy, we are always chasing that next new shiny thing. We are comparing ourselves with our neighbours, friends, and strangers. We feel that we cannot do anything in life because we haven't accumulated sufficient things. So we continue the never-ending binge shopping and never really end up where we want to be.
That's the wrong way to approach life in my opinion.
The Be-To-Have is a way better approach. I truly believe in that.
We as human beings are constantly changing. Our bodies and thoughts are changing every minute. Having an ordinary life means that we can go through our lives repeating doing the same thing and making the same mistake over and over again; having an extraordinary life means that we are constantly learning and trying to improve ourselves.
Imagine being the same person 20 or 30 years from now and not have learned or grown one single bit and repeating the same mistakes. Sometimes people believe that if someone has worked for 20 years at the same job, then he/she has 20 years of experience in the job. However he/she could just have 1 year of experience in the job because they have not developed and learned new things, but simply repeated the same year over and over again. That is not equal to 20 years of experience!
I don't want to be like that.
So we need to improve ourselves as human beings. Some simple self-improvement methods include:
1. Read self improvement books.
There are lots of great books out there. The more books you read, the more wisdom you expose yourself to. Some great books I've read over the years are Living the Wisdom of Tao, How to Win Friends & Influence People, and The Road Less Traveled.
2. Get Out of your comfort zone
You can't grow unless you become uncomfortable. Learn to expand your comfort zone by exposing yourself to a new context, a new situation, or a new environment. Challenge yourself to try new things and explore new areas of your life. Some might say to do one thing a day that scares you, I wouldn't go that far, but it is an interesting way of thinking about challenging yourself.
3. Maintain a positive attitude
Positive thinking is so important. The mind is a very strong tool. Whatever you believe in, you can achieve. Become aware of how you think and talk. Stop using double negatives like "Not bad" and start using "Great" instead.
4. Be open minded
If we are closed down and fixed in our beliefs, we are restricting ourselves from doing new things. So we do the same exact thing every single day. This really hinders self improvement. Being open minded will allow us to try new things in life, and usually things that we did not plan for, but just appeared in our life out of the blue.
Forgive is an important part of becoming a better person. We can't constantly live in the past and hate people that might have done us wrong. When we hate, we're only hurting ourselves. The person that you hate does not know this. He/she will continue with his/her life. This is like drinking poison and expect someone else to die. You are the one stuck in the past and letting this hate consume you. Forgiveness is the remedy. Let go of all resentment and pain and move on with your life.
6. Be grateful
Practice being grateful for things in life. Be grateful for who you are today and what you have accomplished. Start small if this is new to you. Be grateful for being alive, for having food on the table, a roof over your head etc.
While we are improving ourselves as human beings, we also need to look within.
Self-esteem vs. Others-esteem
Do you like getting praise by someone?
Do you like others approval of you?
Throughout our lives, you might have been taught to seek approval from others.
Don't believe me? Look around and listen to things that we and others say every day.
"I'm so proud of you."
"You are such a good student."
"You're such a hard worker."
"You're so smart."
"Wow I'm impressed that you solved that problem so easily."
Isn't it nice to hear these things to be said to us?
Indeed it is, but I believe this is not what we should strive for. After all, self-esteem should come from within, from the self. We want to be confident and feel good about ourselves from within. If we can only feel good about ourselves when others tells us so, then we're really no good at controlling our own feelings and emotions.
Constantly seeking praise and approval from others is the opposite of having a high self-esteem. Rather, it's like having a high others-esteem. Because we need others to tell us what to do and how to feel.
Isn't this the wrong way to do things?
Instead, we need to learn from within and listen to that tiny voice in our head and trust our intuition.
Does this relate to financial independence?
Because striving for financial independence is so outside of the norm, you probably haven't shared this ambitious goal with every single person in your life. If you have shared with everyone you know, you probably have heard a lot of negative comments and some disapproval.
Does it matter if other people think being financially independent is impossible and a silly goal to have?
Does it matter if other people think being financially independent means you're lazy and you're not contributing to the society by working hard at your 9-5 job?
Does it matter if other people think saving money each month and investing in things that will generate passive income is boring and that it is way better to spend all the money you earn right away to fully enjoy your life?
Does it matter if other people are doubting you?
The answer to all of the above should be NO!!!
We all need to learn to ignore other people's opinions and stop caring what others think about us and our ideas all together.
We need to be comfortable with what we believe in. We need to find the fire, the ambition, the strong desire from within ourselves.
If we aren't comfortable in our own skin, we can easily get convinced by other people to stop our financial independence journey and to start doubting ourselves that it is even possible to reach that goal.
If that happens, we become ordinary.
Between being extraordinary and self-confident vs. being ordinary and others-confident. Which one would you choose?
I'll take option 1 every single day.
Stop believing in what the media and financial institutions are telling you. Change your mindset today.
- Start reading self-improvement books so you can grow.
- Start putting more of your income into savings and investments. The traditional thinking of saving 10% is just not enough, but it is a good start.
- Start looking from within instead of judging others.
- Start finding inner peace.
- Start charting your own version of financial independence, start fighting for financial freedom!
- Start saving that raise you received from a promotion towards investments.
- Start simplifying your lives.
Don't be ordinary. Be extraordinary.
Life is better when we have freedom and choices, which by the way we always have.
Life is more enjoyable when we can stop and smell the roses when we want to.
Life is great when we can find joy and inner peace. Happiness is externally driven; joy is internally driven.
Life is great when we can be kind to everyone, including ourselves.
In case you're wondering, this super long post was inspired by this PBS program by Dr. Wayne Dryer based on his book Wishes Fulfilled. Please find 2 hours of time and watch this amazing program. I highly recommend it. You'll be a better human being by the end of the show. 🙂