The Financial Independence Journey – Where do we go from here?
The other day a co-worker, in his late 20’s, came up to me during lunch and wrapped one of his arms around my shoulders. He then did the same for the other co-workers too. I thought it was really strange and figured something was up. Sure enough, after giving everyone a “man hug” he declared:
I’m leaving the company tomorrow to seek for new opportunities. Thank you for all your help.
His announcement as a complete shock. He has always been a happy-go-lucky type of guy with a smile on his face whenever I interact with him. As a senior product manager, I deal with people on many different teams every day and this co-worker has been extremely helpful and a pleasant to work with.
After a little bit of chit chat, we were able to find out the main reason why he’s leaving the company – he was not being challenged in his current role. As a young engineer, he wanted to work on certain projects to improve his coding skills. He was not given the opportunity. Since he started with the company, he has been pigeonholed to do a specific task. The task, although extremely important in the overall scheme of things, is extremely repetitive.
According to him, he had provided this feedback to his manager about 10 months ago but nothing has changed since. Frustrated, he decided to find opportunities elsewhere.
When I heard that, I applauded and congratulated him for taking action. It’s easy to get comfortable and just clock in and clock out every day, collect your salary every 2 weeks, and leave your desires to be challenged at the door.
His story made me reflect on our financial independence journey. How do we keep ourselves engaged and challenged on this long quest for financial independence?
The Boring Financial Independence Journey
If you break down the financial independence concept down to its core, it requires 4 simple steps:
Step 1: Earn
Step 2: Save
Step 3: Invest
Step 4: Repeat and wait
Unlike many mainstream media articles have suggested, becoming financially independent is not a quick process. To be financially independent is simply a game of
While being financially independent is very enticing and appears to be a very magical status, the journey can be extremely boring and repetitive. Because you’re continuously repeating the 4 steps mentioned above.
There are no magic pills. There are no shortcuts.
Sure, you can win the lottery or get an inheritance. But if I were you, I wouldn’t count on these to propel you quickly to financial independence.
Financial independence takes time. And the slow and steady path usually is the best approach.
How do you make sure you are engaged and being challenged every day while on the financial independence journey? How do you make sure repeating the 4 steps doesn’t get boring and repetitive for you after a few years?
So…Where do we go from here?
For Mrs. T and I, we know that passive income will exceed our annual expenses one day in the future, it’s simply a matter of time. You may recall that our dividend income in 2018 covered 32.7% of our 2018 expenses or 58.8% of our Necessities. We are slowly but surely building up our passive income by deploying the earn, save, invest, and repeat & wait steps.
Unlike many FI/FIRE seekers, we don’t have a specific timeline or date that we must become financially independent by. If we hit this milestone in our early 40’s, great. If we hit this milestone in our mid 40’s, great. If we hit this milestone later in life, that’s great too.
While we have a good mindset about our FI journey, things can still get boring and repetitive. We may get complacent. We certainly don’t want is to lose interests, give up our quest for financial independence, look for other challenges/opportunities in life, and go back to our pre-financial epiphany lives.
How do we do to keep us challenged and engaged so we don’t lose our focus on this long journey?
For one, we can challenge ourselves to earn and save more. What about earn an extra $100 each month? What about increase our savings rate by 0.5%? What about creating another passive income stream that will generate additional $20 a month? Although these things seem little, a little bit here and a little bit there all add up.
Outside of financial challenges, we can certainly keep ourselves engaged and challenged in our daily lives. Pursue a hobby that we have always been interested in but haven’t had the time is a great way to challenge ourselves. For example, photography is something I really enjoy. While I shoot weddings part time, I haven’t had as much time to do creative portraits. I can certainly challenge myself by organizing creative portrait shoots with models and makeup artists. I can also challenge myself by using different lighting set up and techniques.
Since I speak Mandarin and Mrs. T speaks Danish. A good challenge for us would learn each other’s mother tongue. It would certainly be great to understand what everyone’s talking about when we go back to Denmark and be more involved in the different conversations.
Lately, Mrs. T and I have been reading more books on various topics. Previously I read a lot of books on personal finance and investment while Mrs. T read a lot of books on self-improvement. By widening the topics that we read, we are challenging ourselves to learn and be open to different concepts.
Another thing I’ve really enjoyed is to connect with other FI/FIRE seekers. Thanks to this blog, I have been able to connect with many like-minded people and met up with them. I’ve always been amazed by how easy the conversations flowed and how enjoyable they have been. On many meetups, it would have been easy to talk for another 3 or 4 hours. Meeting new people and discussing ideas can certainly keep the FI journey more interesting.
Another interesting challenge might be figuring out the tax consequences once we are financially independent and not working full time. Figuring out how to be as tax efficient as possible is an extremely interesting challenge to me.
So where do we go from here?
Continue learning new things, finding personal challenges, and setting up yearly goals and working on these goals each week. At the same time, celebrate the small successes.
What do I mean by celebrating the small successes? It can be treating yourself when you cross the $1,000 passive income per month milestone or celebrating with your loved ones when your net worth hits a certain milestone. Without celebrating the small successes, the financial independence journey will only feel longer.
Remember, we all only have a set amount of time on Earth. Value your time!
Dear readers, what are you doing to keep your FI journey interesting?