I think there are a lot of people out there who turn to money for many different reasons. Either they want fame and fortune, power, less stress, a model spouse, or all the above. What can do that easier or faster than having an unlimited supply of cash? Not a whole lot. The amount of influence money has on the world around us is truly astounding.
This is something I’ve said before – well I’ve repeated many things on here before but that’s because I think they’re so important – but money and happiness are two different things. Deep down people want all that stuff because they think it will make them happy, right? Being rich and famous and powerful is everything they’ve ever dreamed of. But, when they have it they realize they’d give it all up in order to change just a few things that are seemingly out of their control. Sound familiar?
So what exactly brings each of us fulfillment and happiness on a basic, foundational level?
“According to an authoritative article in American Psychologist magazine, it’s not money that determines our happiness, but the presence of some combination of these three attributes; (1) autonomy, the extent to which we have the ability to control our own lives, ‘to do our own thing’; (2) maintain connectedness with other human beings in the form of love of our families, our pleasure in friends and colleagues, and an openness with those we meet in all walks of life; and (3) exercising competence, using our God-given and self-motivated talents, inspired and striving to learn. “ (The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
I’ve noted over and over that reaching this goal of financial independence is not to have a lot of money, but to have enough. It’s not to be rich, it’s to be free, and it’s to have autonomy over life.
I’ve mentioned how the people that surround us are the greatest asset in our lives and this often goes unappreciated. We need the people in our life and they need us. By having to spend less time at work, we can spend more time with them. Even if they do annoy us from time to time.
I’ve talked about my love for the outdoors and how crucial finding passion in your life can be. It can literally be anything, but you need to find not only the people you love, but what you love to do as well. I know I love being outside, helping others, and talking/reading about money. If you can find a job that will pay a reasonable salary that you love to do go after it with everything you can. If that’s simply not an option then make it a hobby or create trips or projects dedicated to fueling your passions. It gives you something to look forward to, improve upon, get creative with, meet other people interested in the same thing, and motivate you to simply get up in the morning and create value to the world in some capacity.
I recently started reading The Black Swan and immediately after reading that passage it crystallized all the thoughts in my mind. These are the things I was, and still am, chasing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with my current life, I’m not miserable every single day, but at a certain level I’ve become fairly confident there are things out there that would make me happier. The three things listed are positively, without a doubt, it.
Where does that leave me with my FI journey? Well, now I’m more committed than ever. Whether it’s a naïve belief or not, I feel as though if I were to become financially independent these things would fall into place. Now, certainly there would still need to be some work and a little luck involved on my end, but they would be much more likely to occur if I had sufficient time to work on cultivating each one of these areas of my life. And I feel as though the same applies for every one of you. We are each on this journey for a slightly different reason but when it really comes down to it, I think this is what it all leads back to. We all know our jobs suck so how do we change that and achieve greater happiness in the process? Well, here it is, go after these things. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but having concrete goals and knowing where to focus certainly helps put things into perspective.