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Pop quiz of the day:
After travelling the world and coming back to visit, your ex-colleague will likely:
A) Ask about your trip
B) Brag about work
C) Make snide remarks
If you answered B and C, you are right.
“I’d be so bored if I wasn’t working.”
“You haven’t run out of money yet? Give it time.”
“Wait until you have kids. You’ll never have money again.”
The funny thing is this ex co-worker, whom I shall call “Don”, could easily become Financially Independent. But he refuses to, because he is obsessed with keeping up with the Jones’s.
And so, even though he knows exactly how this FI thing works, he’d rather keep convincing himself it’s a bad idea, than take the leap.
“Kids are so expensive. Do you have any idea how expensive private school is?“
Don easily makes twice our combined salaries.
“Houses are money sinks! It’s going to cost us at least 400K just to add a second level. Just wait until you have to buy house!”
Don lives in one of the most expensive areas in Toronto. His house is worth well over a million, but not only is he not cashing out, he’s planning to spend another 400K. His wife wants granite counter tops and he wants a man-cave.
“Once you leave, you’ll have a hole in your resume and you’ll never be able to come back to work!
Don knows our post-retirement life is amazing. He knows we don’t want to go back to work.
And since I’m not exactly the picture of calm, you’d think Don would have a fist-sized hole in his face by now.
But no, I wasn’t mad. Instead, I was sad. So very sad for Don.
You see, Don is extremely unhappy. Though he’d never admit it.
He works really hard for his money, but he can’t stop it from leaking like a sieve. With a salary 3 times the average, Don still feels poor. With an insatiable house monster and expensive private school tuition.
On the surface, Don may seem like he has it all. On the surface, Don seems happy.
But deep down inside, he isn’t.
How do I know?
Because happy people don’t tear other people down. Happy people are just…happy.
And I’ve been there. I used to be just like Don. Constantly putting others down. Constantly belittling their promotions, their dreams, how they choose to live their lives.
I was a Grinch. Green with envy for other people’s successes. Guarded because of my tiny, shrivelled heart.
But then I became FI and travelled the world.
Suddenly, I was surrounded by happy people. People from all different walks of life. People with different stories, different perspectives, different social economic backgrounds.
They were all different, but they all had one thing in common:
They were HAPPY.
Happy to be working for themselves. Happy to be exploring the world. Happy to be following their passions.
And I used to look at these happy people with jealousy. Hate. Fear.
I used to wonder what it would be like to join their circle. But my shrivelled little Grinch heart never let me.
Then ever so slowly, like an inflating balloon, my heart grew three sizes! And I became happy too. And now I can be happy for others, instead of tearing them down like I used to, not very long ago.
Unfortunately, Don is still a Grinch.
He wants us to be miserable. Because if we’re miserable, he won’t have to be scared. He won’t have to question his choices. He can choose to stay in his “safe”, complacent life.
But here’s the thing. What Don perceives as “safe” isn’t really safe at all.
Don loves his job now, but will he love it in 5, 10, 15 years?
Don loves being a father, and it’s a HUGE part of his identity, but what about when his kids leave the nest?
Don loves eating out, but what if his health deteriorates because he never has time to work out?
Staying still feels safe. Staying still feels comfortable.
But companies always need to make MORE money. Sooner or later, they will squeeze you. Sooner or later, they will squeeze every last bit of life from you, because they need to make shareholders happy, not you.
I once had a good job too. It was great at the beginning and everyone was happy. But when it turned bad, I chose to quit. And that’s the best thing about becoming Financially Independent. It doesn’t mean you have to quit your job. It just means you have the option to do so. And having choices leads to freedom, which leads to fulfillment, which leads to happiness
And I’ll be honest. Retiring from the 9 to 5 isn’t always great. Some days you miss your friends. Some days you run into roadblocks. And some days, you screw up your travel plans.
But none of that really matters.
Because in the end, it’s still worth it.
Because even the WORST day working for myself, is still better than the BEST day working for someone else.
I’m living the life I want to live. And it’s infinitely better than living a life DICTATED by someone else.
Because in this life, I’m the author. I get to write my own story. Not someone else’s.
And because I’m Financially Independent, I can build any dream I want. I can try again and again, failing over and over, until I finally succeed.
I have a massive parachute, and I will keep building new dreams. Forever and forever. And I will succeed. Because failure doesn’t faze me. Especially since I never have to give up, and be forced to go back to work.
I feel for Don. I really do. I know what it’s like to feel compelled to put others down. I know what it’s like to be jealous of other people’s success.
And on your journey to FI, you will have the same push back.
Your cellmates don’t want you to be free.
Your “friends” don’t want you to live a better life.
And your parents will tell you it’s a big scary world out there.
Well, you know what? I’ve been out there. I’ve been outside those long, metal bars.
And it’s not scary at all. In fact, it’s beautiful.
But, don’t take my word for it. Break free and see for yourself.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to force you do anything you don’t want to do.
You don’t have to come with me. You can stay exactly where you are. You can keep telling yourself: my life isn’t that bad, I don’t need to change anything.
When you are lying in your deathbed, and your life is a movie reel playing in front of your eyes…
…will you like what you see?
Or will you forever be wondering…
Click here for the follow up: Why Everyone Wants Us to Fail Part 2