No more FI for me!

With time comes wisdom. This does not mean that the previous conclusions and plans were wrong. As you gain experience, you get to discover new elements of your personality, the system, the mechanics of different matters. And so did my FIRE concept evolve.

This is what I thought about a year ago.

fire

That is a fairly simple, straight forward view of the ultimate goal: be Financial Independent. That will solve all issue and answer all questions. So, lets just do a few simple tweaks in what we already do and… voila!

Turns out that you can even calculate FIRE as 25 times your yearly expenses. A spreadsheet was born and an index created to track progress! All is under control.

NOT

 You then read a few blogs that are less focused on the money aspects of FIRE. They focus on the journey, on the things you learn, what you want to do after FI. Sure, I had a vague idea, never gave it a lot of thought.

You read a few more blogs on what to do after the FI, about full time travel that is not the holy grail, and lots lots more. You go to meetups and discuss that a goal might not be the best, you might need a system.

And here is my view today

happiness

It still is pretty much work in progress. I would call this my version 0.0.7, an alpha release for feedback and bug reports.

Some observations:

  • FI is no more the end goal. It is merely one of the stations towards the ultimate goal we have: be happy. Being happy might not be a goal, rather an end state we want to last forever (thx Cheesy Finance for the quote during the meetup)
  • There are a lot of items that contribute to happiness. Money is not the only one. It sure is one that makes some things easier when money is not part of the equation. Quality time with family and friends is a matter of priority. One way to achieve this is to be intentional and take a month off from work. This for sure will delay your FI goal, in return, you make a great step forward in bonding with the family and friends. Some things can not be expressed in money!
  • Focus on money alone won’t get you there. Finding your passions has little to do with money. It is about finding your drivers, the things that will make you wake up 1 minute before your alarm clock so for sure you are on time.

What is your view on this?

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48 thoughts on “No more FI for me!

  1. Super interesting post atl, lots to consider. I sure think FI makes happiness less encumbered but I also think you don’t have to wait for FI to increase or find happiness, do meaningful things or live healthy. Your mentioning of systems rather than goals I think shows this too, that it’s these regular patterns that create happiness, without happiness being the goal. Anyway that’s my 2c, hope I didn’t misunderstand your post too much.

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    1. you understand the post very well…! having systems that simplify life, create regular happiness and positive surprise avoids that we try to measure happiness and that we do not make it a goal

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  2. Well said. I think this line hits it right on the head, “Some things can not be expressed in money!” So true. Which is why I always felt it was better to invest and spend on experiences rather than things. More often than not, experiences translate into real long term happiness that can always be reflected upon. The bottom line, it’s about gaining control of your time which is the main point of FI as you addresses above. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. I totally agree with your updated perspective here. FI is a great goal, but it’s not a satisfactory end state. Once you reach it, you’ll surely be saying, “Ok, now what?” Full-time travel is fantastically entertaining to us now, but we’re not going to do it forever. It’s just one part of pursuing new experiences, learning new things, being active, and avoiding the things that make us unhappy — just like you laid out. Even all that won’t lead to happiness *all* the time, but it’s a good recipe for a healthy life.

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  4. awesome!

    I like it! you say it right. Happiness is the ultimate goal.
    Financial independence is one of some stations we have to take. If you want to work on or later again you can do it, but you dont have to do it if you dont want to!

    I really enjoyed this blogpost!
    keep it up!
    Chri

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  5. Totally agree, interesting thoughts! I was just thinking of FI being a balanced act between ao money, time, happiness and life fulfillment. And having a sound balance is, in my opinion, more important than being FI as soon as possible. So only focussing on FI and money gives just a small part of the deal.

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  6. I love the diagram and the evolution in thinking! I think writing and drawing things this way makes it a lot clearer what you want from life. Great post!

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  7. Thought provoking post. We followed the same thinking process and chose to dump a significant amount of our FI-money in a house we enjoy every single day.

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  8. Great post, I was lucky to reach my FI goal early, however my family and friends didn’t so I had to find some new passions. I know many people who end up going back to work after reach FI because they are bored.

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    1. Good that you found some new passions while family and friends still work! For me, it is very likely that I will keep working once I hit my FI number… The goal is to find a job I love way before FI

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  9. I like it. I think it generally reflects the attitude of the FIRE community…Freedom from the need to work isn’t and end goal, but rather a means to and end (pursuing other passions, time with family, travel, etc.)

    That being said, one also can’t work toward FI thinking, “If I just reach THAT goal, I will be happy”, any more than one should expect to be happy if they lost 15 pounds and fit into their skinny jeans. Happiness is a state of mind and ideally, one strives to reduce stress and maximize enjoyment and satisfaction and quality of life along the entire journey.

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  10. I love the evolution of your diagram!!! This is right on and I think where I have struggled. Once I thought beyond FIRE I was a bit lost. I have been trying to formulate something in my head but this by far the best example I’ve seen so far. Thank you for sharing!!!

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  11. I fully agree! FI is a means to and end, it is not the goal itself. You want to be FI, because you don’t want to spend your days in an office, but do more meaningful things with your time. My own project is much more of a search for happiness than a shortcut to FI. Being less dependent on income helps a lot, but for me these are simultaneous paths: working towards FI and finding out a way of life that makes me happy. Great post!

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  12. Nicely said, ATL. I fully agree. I am striving for happiness and FI is a means to enable that more easily. Not having to work for the money but working because it is meanigful to me makes a great difference.

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  13. Ciao ATL,
    Totally agree with your post, there isn’t much I can say about it. It’s quite disappointing for me to see that maybe one has money and is not happy, sometimes it makes you wonder “what’s the point”… I am actually looking for my “point” as I am writing, FI is a mean to reach it. So far I have managed to rationalize that having time for myself is a great outcome of being possibly FI, but that’s not all to it. The feeling I have is that I am moving towards decisions that 5 years ago would have been impossible, just to find more peace and happiness, so yes, money is just a side of things…
    ciao ciao
    Stal

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  14. Great post ATL. I find that a lot of bloggers are writing about saving, saving, saving and not about experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with saving, but I don’t agree with sacrificing everything to retire early. Everything in moderation, including saving. I could save way more money, but I also want family memories, to explore the world, and to have a nice dinner every once in a while. What’s the point of retiring early, if your only memories are of the extreme sacrifices to get there.

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    1. There is more in life than saving. I am with you on the experiences. Best is to remember a life rich life that enabled at a certain time FI, than fast FI and no fun. That is our view, we seem to share that one.

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  15. Nice post, love the visualization. Been struggling with this as well. The path to FI should make you happy, not FI itself, “otherwise its just trading current happiness for future happiness which is silly” I heard recently. Made me think as well.

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  16. Agreed. And I love the extended graph.
    To me reaching about FI is about being to able to live a life I want to lead, take care of family without fear and give back to the community. I was pretty lucky in life. I want to do something back. But I also think that life is as in an airplane. First put on your oxygen mask, than help others.

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  17. Important thoughts! In my opinion, FI is a side effect. You try to be happy and when you’re lucky, you reach FI or at least you can work less. You shouldn’t use FI as an excuse, why you don’t change anything and you shouldn’t change your life just because of financial reasons.

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  18. Great post and nice flowchart ATL 🙂
    I’m totally with you, happiness is the only logical pursuit (as MMM said in his talk on WDF last year)!

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  19. ‘You then read a few blogs that are less focused on the money aspects of FIRE. They focus on the journey, on the things you learn, what you want to do after FI’
    This is what i like the most about the FIRE community as well. Being frugal and investing was something I did naturally but I had no plan for afterwards. The FIRE community helps me think about this, be more focused on it and push me into action on certain things! What makes me happy? But it sure is a lot of work also ….

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  20. Great post, ATL, and love the evolution of thought. As I get closer to FI I have begun to focus more on what next to refine those thoughts. I think for us it’ll staying healthy and fit, hobbies, community service, travel and more time with family and friends.

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  21. That’s the power of blogging – it forces you to constantly think and question your ideas. Thanks for sharing your thought process! It’s true that a lot of people on the path to FI just concentrate on “reaching their number”, but if you read blogs by people who already reached FI, a lot of them report feeling a sense of anticlimax once they reached their goal. It’s important to realise that reaching your number won’t change anything – you’re the one who has to make the changes yourself. Deciding what to fill your life with after FI is a long process, it’s best to start thinking about it early to give your thoughts time to evolve.

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