Don’t Let Comparisons Derail Your FIRE Journey

FIRECracker
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FIRECracker

FIRECracker is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
FIRECracker
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“Comparison Is the Thief of Joy” – Roosevelt

Clearly, Roosevelt did not grow up with Asian parents. If he had he would know comparison IS joy. A day without comparison in my Asian household is a day without sunshine.

In our household, NOT being compared to a cousin, a friend, a classmate was like not eating, thinking, or breathing.

“Look at your cousin Yi Wei,” my Mom would say. “She’s the perfect daughter. She never talks back to her mom.”

“You should be more like your aunt Xi. She has a really high nose bridge. Not flat like yours.”

“Our friend’s son has $3 million worth of houses and you only have $1 million and no house. So sad.”

You will never see my mom happier than when she’s berating me on how I failed in all aspects of my life, compared to my peers.

My head is too big. My arms are too fat. My legs are elephant trunks. My life is sadly devoid of houses.

I grew up comparing myself to everyone else. My brain is just one GIANT measuring-stick.

I’ll be honest. This mental measuring-stick did NOT serve me well at FinCon. Because everywhere I went, it seemed like I was constantly being bombarded with my shortcomings.

Why didn’t I have the insane Alexa ranking of J.Money? Why wasn’t I making 100K a month in affiliate income like Pat Flynn? How come I wasn’t optimizing my SEO like Millennial Money?

But as I started to spiral into a vortex of a self-loathing, I saw one of my heros, one of those big bloggers whose stats I would drool over, doing the exact same thing as me. They’d be sitting at a bar lamenting over how they didn’t measure up to an even BIGGER blog, and that’s when the truth dawned on me.

The people I was comparing myself to were also comparing themselves to someone else.

The 100K a month affiliates want to make 1 million. The million dollar affiliates want to make a billion dollars, and so on, so forth.

If you focus on comparing yourself to other people, you will NEVER match up. No matter how well you do.

Because there will ALWAYS be someone farther along on the journey than you.

They could’ve started WAY before you did and gotten here only because they’ve had YEARS of a head start. But of course, your ridiculous measuring-stick brain conveniently chose to ignore that.

Stupid brain. Why do you hate me so much?

Don’t compare your beginning with someone’s middle or end.

Instead of comparing yourself to other people, look back at your own journey and see how far you’ve come.

And remember, even though there are hordes of people in front of you, there are also hordes behind you. They would switch places with you in an instant.

And this is especially true for your FIRE journey. Many readers have e-mailed us saying they feel defeated when they compare themselves to other people who are farther along in the journey.

But here’s the thing:

Becoming Financially Independent isn’t a race. It’s not about the end goal. It’s not about the FI number.

Your FIRE journey is about growth and progress. It’s about celebrating all the wins along the way.

So don’t chase the FI number. Chase the thrill of watching your F-U pile grow. Because we all know you don’t need a million dollars to feel the power of F-U money. Just like how JLCollins negotiated a 6-week European trip when he had just $5000 saved.

So celebrate the milestones. For every $1000 you save, look back and see how you are now $1000 richer than you were a week, a month ago, or a year ago. Do that, over and over. Cherish these wins.

Don’t get discouraged. If you see other people farther along in the journey and want to throw up your hands and quit, just remember, if you don’t do it, the time will pass anyway.

Take my ex-colleague, Luke for example. Luke makes a good salary—around $75,000 a year. He also works on a contract so he has the option to take 3-6 months off every 6 months and go on these “mini-retirements.” But since we are at the end of our FIRE journey, he feels like he can never catch up. So even though he could be saving 50% of his salary and getting richer by $28K per year, enough for a 6-month sabbatical every 6 months, he decides to blow it all on a car, name-brand clothing, and eating out everyday, while at the same time working insane hours and complaining how he can never afford to take any time off.

Don’t be like Luke. Don’t miss out on your wins just because you’re comparing your middle with someone else’s end and seeing it fall short. You could be inadvertently missing out on all your gains.

So the next time you get caught up with turning your brain into a measuring-stick, do this:

DON’T COMPARE YOUR BEGINNING WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S MIDDLE OR END.

Photo credit: Andrew Hurley @ Flickr, license: CC BY-SA 2.0

It makes no sense to look at someone at the end of their FIRE journey feel bad that you’re not there already.

Would you tell a child to give up on life, just because they’re not at your level of intelligence and maturity? No? Then why would your FIRE journey be any different?

Other people are where they are because they had a head start. Don’t compare your beginning to their end.

LOOK BACK AT HOW FAR YOU’VE COME. CELEBRATE YOUR WINS!

Instead of constantly looking forward and chasing the FI number, look back and marvel at how far you’ve come.

You’re richer than you were a week, a month, or a year ago. And that’s worth celebrating!

Realize there is always someone else farther behind than you. They would trade places with you in an instant.

IF YOU DON’T DO IT, THE TIME WILL PASS ANYWAY

If you give up, time won’t slow down. The time will pass anyway, regardless of whether you pursue FI or not.

So in 10 years, would you rather look back and see how much richer you are, or be exactly where you are now and be the shmuck that your nearly retired co-worker dumps all their work onto?

BECOMING FI ISN’T ABOUT THE END GOAL. IT’S ABOUT THE THRILL OF WATCHING YOUR F-U PILE GROW.

PHoto credit: Making Money @ Flickr, license: CC BY-SA 2.0

As JLCollins taught us. You don’t need a million dollars to feel rich. F-U money is power. Just $5000 was enough to help JLCollins achieve his European travel dreams.

What do you think? Is your brain a measuring stick? Do you get caught up comparing yourself to others on the FIRE journey?

93 thoughts on “Don’t Let Comparisons Derail Your FIRE Journey”

    1. “There’s always someone cooler than you”. HA HA love it. I’d say, “that’s not what my Mom says”, but we all know that joke wouldn’t work ’cause it would be a blatant lie 😀

  1. I know exactly what you mean FIRECracker! We’re approaching $3 million in net-worth these days, but I find myself comparing us to people with more.

    Stupid brain! Same thing goes with blogging.

    I probably need to spend a lot more time celebrating my wins, rather than comparing myself to others.

    1. Yeah, comparisons blow. Meanwhile, people are looking at you guys, wishing they had close to $3 million. And even those with $10 million are probably feeling like losers when they look at people with 1 billion net worth. When does it ever stop?

      Give yourself a pat on the back, RIGHT THE HECK NOW!

  2. Great post FireCracker. I especially liked this sentence “Because there will ALWAYS be someone farther along on the journey than you.” It’s a bit funny if you think about it. You always measure yourself against older more established people but you also always yearn to be young at the start line. It’s a fun dichotomy to think about.

    1. Very true, HM! When we’re young, we want to be older. When we’re older we want to be younger. When we have straight hair, we yearn to have curly hair. When we have curly hair, we go buy straightening irons. The grass is always greener on the other side. But when you get there, you just want something else. Comparisons are poison.

      1. Actually, when we are older, we are just happy to have hair, period 😉 Great perspective in this message and so true on many fronts. We hit a goal and then think it must not have been all that challenging as we compare ourselves to others and then we get depressed because what we thought was a great accomplishment has now been sabotaged by the great orb above our neck.

        Being healthy and happy starts with being satisfied with our place in the world and what we can contribute while we are here. When I start to get full of grandiose ideas, I try and do something for someone else. Funny how that seems to make me feel better and allows me to focus less on myself and my self-instilled paranoia.

        1. “When I start to get full of grandiose ideas, I try and do something for someone else.”

          Love this. It’s definitely good to get out of our heads and over ourselves every now and then…

  3. Comparing yourself to others has its benefits and its drawbacks I suppose. You benefit because it invariably motivates you to at least get closer to something better. For example, when you discover FIRE you begin by comparing your situation to the situation of the blogger you’ve discovered. Most the time the reader will be in a MUCH worse position than the blogger, but that comparison has made them realize what they could have if they put in the same effort as said blogger, even if they achieve it much later in life. By comparing yourself to others, you will likely achieve more, even if it is less than those you are comparing yourself with.

    On the flip side, if you live a life of constant comparison, you will never reach happiness as there is always somebody better off than you. You might achieve more, but will you necessarily be content with it?

    It’s a bit of a catch 22. I compare myself to others a lot and I do see the advantage of it, I just hope one day to finally be happy with what I have and stop comparing myself to others.

    1. The scary thing about comparison is that it’s a vicious cycle. If it could be stopped, like say when I got to a certain point, I stopped comparing myself and just looked back on how far I’ve come, that would be healthy comparison. But it’s never the case. When you start, you have to keep reminding yourself to stop.

    2. Hope you do take this advice to heart. If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all. Don’t like your feelings of jealousy, hatred, and dissatisfaction hate on others who have never wronged you. Look to fix yourself first.

  4. Doubled my gross-worth in the last 5 years thanks to greaterfool.ca and FIRE. Still can’t retire because I need to double it again to leanfire (and again to be comfortable). I am both peeved and gratified, which is a weird place to be.

    1. Congrats on doubling your gross-worth (ha ha, that sounds weird ;P)!

      “peeved and gratified”…that’s what it felt like to be at FinCon. Gotta tell ourselves to keep moving forward and pat ourselves on the back for how far we’ve come. Otherwise we’d just go nuts.

    1. Word! “Keep your eyes on your own paper” the best life lesson I learned in school. Need to apply that to life 😀

  5. I wonder whom Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are comparing themselves to? Vladimir Putin? Who’s further along on the FI journey than Vladimir really?

    1. Putin has no one to compare to because he would just “disappear” anyone who he can’t beat. Or maybe he’s head is so big he doesn’t think anyone’s better than him.

      So I guess one way to stop comparing is just be a narcissist 😛 Delude yourself into thinking no one is ahead of you.

  6. I compare my current FI status against my past and future as a tool to keep me on track. When I start to feel discouraged about the future, I look back at what my life was like 15 years ago- negative net worth, working for barely more than minimum wage, feeling like my education was a complete waste. And then before I get too complacent, I compare my current status to what I want it to be in 8-10 years.

    1. Way to go! See, that’s exactly what I was talking about. Look at how far you’ve come. And then in 9-10 you’ll look be and be blown away with how far you will go. Nicely done!

  7. Great post FC, I can totally relate to the part about Asian parents comparing their kids to everyone else’s kids but thankfully my brain never really did turn into a giant measuring stick. I realized a long time ago that I need to do what makes me happy and not what my parents or anyone else want and ever since I have been living a pretty unconventional lifestyle even before early retirement. During this time I faced a lot of judgement for not fitting in with the norm and going to college, getting married, having kids, etc. like other people and have always kind of reveled in the disapproval of it when I’d have some nosey relative comparing me to someone else in the family and tell me what I “should” be doing. Last year I was told off at a family function by an uncle when I told him I wasn’t having kids and I quite enjoyed how mad he got and I found it quite absurd that he should be so angry over something that is none of his business.

    Maybe I just lack ambition but for me I am perfectly satisfied with where I’m at and think about how lucky I am every day and how many people wish they could trade places with me. With that being said, maybe that’s why I’ve been so complacent when it comes to pursuing my after retirement goals as I mentioned in a comment a few weeks ago…. Too much comparison is a bad thing but maybe not enough is also bad.

    1. “I quite enjoyed how mad he got and I found it quite absurd that he should be so angry over something that is none of his business.”

      Gee, I have NO IDEA what that’s like 😛

      I’ve since realized that people get like that because they need to justify their life choices. If you don’t do what THEY are doing, they feel like it’s an attack on their life choices. So really it’s about them, not about you.

      As for pursuing retirement goals, I like to think of it this way. I shouldn’t do things just because other people are doing it. I do it because I WANT to do it. That’s the whole point of being FI so you can choose. If you feel bored, then feel free to join a group and work on something together . Or start your own passion project (thought I find being in a group is helpful for motivation). Otherwise, carry on with what you’re doing. That’s the beauty of FI. Choose your own after retirement adventure!

    2. Hi Liz,

      I am glad that you has chosen the path which makes you happy. I think that this should be the way one should be living. No matter what decision one makes, there is bound to have disapproval opinions from others. We cannot satisfy others. So it does not matter to bother with other people’s opinions. Make the decision based on own preference. Live life in own way!

      Ben

  8. So all this talk about someone being further behind reminded me of Arlo Guthrie’s prelude about ‘the last guy’.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17gKw_j6Qq0

    I actually had the (dubious) honour of being ‘the last guy’ or in my case ‘gal’ one time. I signed up for a rollerblade race that was held on the Molson Indy course the day before the car race. My friends talked me into signing up for the fun race. Even so, I finished last. But you know, finishing last didn’t upset me nearly as much as the fact that they started the next race before I had even finished the course. Like WTF! I haven’t given up on myself, so why are you? Let me finish the damn race! As you can see, I”m still upset about it.

    Aww, don’t mind me. I’m sitting at home feeling sorry for myself while I recovery from dental surgery. At least with being on the FIRE journey I could pay for the surgery out of pocket without blinking…..

    1. If it makes you feel any better, I was last one in the swim test for my PADI certification and I still ended up becoming a certified scuba diver (ha ha slipped through the cracks) 😉

      Btw, if you’re on your FIRE journey, you’re not last. Everyone else who doesn’t even know about FIRE is so far behind you it’s not even funny. Okay, maybe its’ a little bit funny…

  9. i had a cross country coach at my rich liberal arts college tell me “fred, the other runners on this team are interested in what you’re up to but you seem absolutely disinterested in what they’re doing.” i was lucky not to have that mentality that i got from some good mentors in my small town. they taught me to have some swagger and confidence to take into the world. the majority of the team were wealthy by many standards. that alone didn’t make them interesting, nor did it mean there was anything wrong with them. they just “were” and that was it.

    to me, i look at some of the savings rates or low spending of some of the blogosphere but realize that i like cable tv and good wine so i’ll work a little longer and that’s ok. make peace with you.

    good blog, by the way.

    1. Thanks, freddy. It’s great that you have the “eyes on your own paper metality”. Comparing savings rates to other people is futile. Hell, I’m guilty of spending $900-1800 on food a month which would easily get me an MMM face punch but I have no regrets! Everyone’s FI number is different. You gotta do you!

  10. Dear FIRECracker, you are absolutely right about the comparison malady that pervades the Asian culture, regardless of country in that continent. The reality is that FI standards are different for different people. So, if a person has attained FI per his or her standard, there’s no sense in continuing to compare the numbers and content behind the FI status with that of other FI folks. Yes, its a challenge…but a trap one should not fall into. We should never ruin our hard-earned FI status by getting into another rat-race.

  11. I ran 15 marathons, usually under 4 hours. That’s middle of the pack slow. I remember running a 3:48 in my fifties. It was my all time personal best. I was so proud! I told a friend. A very fast runner and I’ll never forget him saying he didn’t understand why slow people even ran marathons.

    1. Well, for comparison, I’m lying in bed covered with discount halloween candy, so you’re kicking my ass on the marathon front 🙂

  12. Great post! I’m a competitive cyclist and we always say to each other “there’s always someone faster/stronger than you” when we get passed or dropped out on the road. It’s a great lesson to remember, no matter how good or far ahead in whatever ‘thing’ you think you are, there’s always someone better. And no matter how bad or far behind you are at the same ‘thing’, there’s always someone in a worse situation.

    I heard you guys on the ChooseFi podcast last week – great job and great information!

    1. Thanks, Accidental Fire! That’s a great lesson from cycling!

      Incidentally, your alias would be a great name for a gun forum…oh wait, maybe not 😛

  13. Same lesson I learned as a runner. There will always be someone faster than me. I’ll never win the race, so why even try? Well, because it’s not about beating everyone else. It’s about bettering myself. I always made it a point never to compare myself to my running friends. I was me against myself. “Beat yesterday”

    1. Wow, all you marathoners and cyclists make me feel so lazy. And I am a bit mad at myself for not thinking of affiliating for Nike on this post. Grrrr.

  14. Interesting feedback post Fincon! One tip that helped me was stop reading/following bloggers who shout from the top of the roof their income and net worth. It can be in a post, on social media, in a comment, they always use the opportunity to say how much they have, knowing it’s more than most.

    Try it out!

    BTW is Pat still only at $100K/month after all his posts and time? 🙂 I know one blogger who completely makes up her income amount, and is always bigger than the next month. But anybody can see she’s lying once you see her traffic statistics. It’s a sad game.

    Sam

    1. Good tip! Though, as a FIRE blogger, you kind of can’t get away with not revealing your net worth since it’s part of being transparent (you could just be lying about being FI). But yeah, it makes sense to do it only for informational purposes and not for shoving it in people’s faces.

      As for Pat, he’s probably rocketed way past $100K/month as we speak, but who’s keeping track? 😛

      1. Haha, well I guess I am an international reader from Toronto, but originally from outside of Canada (like 50% or our city eh)!

          1. Thats funny I was thinking the same.

            The condo/housing market here makes me sick BUT I believe this is one of the best cities on Earth, and I m lucky to call Toronto Home =)
            Its the most cosmopolitan city in the world (before NYC, London, Paris …)

            Just like you guys, I have spent several months backpacking thru SE Asia many years ago (to date those are still my favorite years).
            And even tho I was sad to leave SE Asia and go back to Canada, I was glad to think all the SE Asian people and foods can also be found in Toronto!

  15. Great post! The irony in all this is that the whole point of reaching FI and retiring early (usually from a cushy job) is the concept of having “enough”. It’s just another form of keeping up with the Joneses when you start comparing net worth.

    Growing up in an Asian household, I can completely relate to everything you wrote above about your mom constantly comparing you to others around you. My mom did the exact same thing!! I was never smart enough or obedient enough. She still does it to this day. The comparison thing runs deep in Asian households.

    1. *Asian mother five*! Did you read and relate to the book “Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother” too? I really wanted to write a counter book called “Battle Scars of a Tiger Daughter” after reading it.

      You’re right. Comparing blog stats, SEO, and earnings is just another form of FOMO once you retire. Gotta check yo-self before you wreck yo-self!

    1. When I realized a couple of my federal employee friends hadn’t gotten into matching TSP contributions yet, and they asked me what the big deal was, that was how I titled the email I wrote them. 😛

  16. I love this. I am so happy we had roughly the same lessons learned from comparing ourselves to others. Except, mine didn’t have any mention of Asian mothers…… weird! Just so you know, you’re one of the people I try not to compare myself to 🙂

    1. Ha ha that’s funny. I try not to do the exact same thing, comparing myself to you. Just goes to show we’re all a hot mess of insecurity inside. But hey, in my mom’s eyes, you win because at least you have a house 😉

  17. I went to FinCon for the first time this year and I also had the same feeling (also I said hi to Wanderer but forgot to say hi to you, FireCracker!). It’s really easy to get down and even intimidated by people who are doing “better.” For humans, though, nothing is ever really enough. Everyone goes on their own journey and has their own struggles that we can’t see.

  18. Hahaha! Asian parents, they have hive mind I’m certain–I myself have a similar experience with the parental nose comment (from my Asian mom). But, very true, the second you give into the unhealthy comparisons and negative self-talk, it’s an express ticket to Bummertown. Everyone has their own unique starting line, but at least we get some control over how long we want our journey to be. I mixed two metaphors, whatever, but you get what I mean.

    1. Yeah, I don’t get the whole nose-bridge thing, but that happens surprisingly often. I just watched an episode of Ellen Degeneres interviewing “lil mushroom” (Chinese 10 year girl who can break dance) and she said the thing she’s looking forward to the most when visiting the US is seeing people with “blue eyes, blond hair, and tall noses”. What the HELL is with our parents’ obsession with tall nose-bridges? Does it breathe air? Good, it’s served its purpose! I thought they were supposed to be pragmatists?!

  19. “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end.”

    Love the way that’s framed, FireCracker. There’s something illogical about the way we compare: not enough attention is paid to context. Is this person I’m comparing myself to even a reasonable benchmark?

    As you noted, the better approach is just to not compare at all and be happy to run your own race…or flipping forget about a race at all, and just enjoy jogging.

      1. Hi all,

        I totally agree. Life is a journey. FI gives us the option to do things which we want to do at the current time. It is absolutely right not to compare with others. Focus on ownself and progress on own pace. Focus on growing F-U Money which will give us the peace of mind for hassle-free retirement. It does not matter how big the F-U money is at the current moment. Get started and all of us will be on track to FI. Life is short. Enjoy the moment!

        Ben

  20. great post .. . this subject is in my thoughts a lot . . I am FI and have been for ages .. yet its so easy to compare myself and feel miserable sometimes even when many feel so jealous of me !

    we tend to find the one person who is perfect on FB or real life and that is the holy grail

    for feeling crap ..

    and i have discovered that nothing physical makes you happy .. money , big house etc .. but ones attitude is the key to contentment and it takes constant work on ones thoughts .. there is no nirvana .. . but we can all improve a little bit all the time ..

    1. Once you have ENOUGH, all the extra stuff, more money, big houses, fancy clothing, none of that increases your happiness. Or even if it does, it’s short-lived.

      Your attitude matters a lot when it comes to happiness. Well said!

  21. It all comes down to fear. Parents fear the judgement of their parents, their peers and their children!

    Everyone wants to do the best/right/smart thing, and looks for cues from the outside world to judge that.

    It’s a vicious cycle that must be broken.

    Meditate and look within to see if you are happy. If you are happy today, but were not happy yesterday, that is progress. If you are not happy today, but were yesterday, that realisation is progress too.

    One of the smartest things I read was doing a yearly review. Perhaps taking time out like Chris Guillebeau and noting how you have met or not met your goals from the previous year, and making new goals for the year to come.

  22. P.S. I have learnt from my Indian parents that once you have a house, one house is not enough. 12-15 is enough. I’d hate to be stuck on 11. 😆

      1. Oh, that’s why it means luck in Chinese. Good to know.

        My favourite is when parents praise someone else’s child in front of you. Revealing their envy by showing their pride.

        Maybe parents are very insecure about doing a good job raising a child, and need the comparison to others to justify their pride or envy. And children learn so much from their parents, even subconsciously that they take pride and envy into their lives.

        The vicious cycle repeats.

        Let’s break that by being mindful.

        1. “Maybe parents are very insecure about doing a good job raising a child, and need the comparison to others to justify their pride or envy”

          Interesting. I never thought of that way. Hmm…Well, according to my Mom she does it because she wants me to improve and not get complacent. But I think your explanations makes more sense. Usually when someone does something that’s harmful, it’s more than them than it is about you.

          1. “Well, according to my Mom she does it because she wants me to improve and not get complacent.“

            I can’t help thinking about the mother/daughter relationship of Monica from ‘Friends’. 😉

            I suspect she is already thinking about the next milestone (family!?!) And a house is just a pre-requisite. 😊

            She is right that no-one should get complacent, and always try to improve. Unfortunately, the world has changed. The standard life plan of degree/job/house/car/spouse/family/Disney vacation/bigger house/bigger car/Europe vacation/smaller house/smaller car/cruise vacation/retire/cruise/cruise/cruise does not apply anymore.

            The problem I see, is that there is no new standard plan to measure against. People are free to pick and choose parts of the old plan, or create their own plan. The industrial revolution that gave us the old plan hasn’t been fully replaced. Change is so rapid now.

            There is a lot of uncertainty that naturally causes people to seek the familiar.

            Your mom may be struggling to to see your own achievements because she is so close to you and change appears gradual. Milestones get blurred. Just remind her what you have done. Her nurture helped give you buckets of grit to become a published author and persevere to your 5th blog. And retire (from the deferred life plan, not from life)! As an outsider, that is outstanding.

            Just remember- You are very lucky to have a mom that cares so much. Savour it. You only have one mom. I know that can be hard sometimes, but one day she won’t be around. The thing that you remember of her will be her unconditional love, not her words.

  23. i was always picked last, got the last piece of pie, married late, and started investing well into my 30’s… had kids late. I envy you guys, but I am not anywhere close to being you… I am me. I’m ok being me.

    http://lwwym.wordpress.com is all about living in the today with what you’ve got, not condemning people to their mistakes. I grew up bad-ass, and one day will tell my story too, my therapist says it would be good for me…

    spaceman

  24. It’s like a balancing act – you have to look at others for inspiration, ideas, and often even to know what’s possible, but simultaneously not get caught in a negative feedback loop if you’re not achieving the same returns as others. If you’re consistently growing your net worth, you are on the right path. Not settling for no growth should be enough to motivate anyone to tracking toward FI.

    On a related note, it’s ok to beat yourself up over mistakes or regrets to some degree, since they’re learning experiences, but not to the point that it negatively impacts your mental and physical health which are both equally important to success.

    1. Instead of beating yourself up, I think it’s better to just acknowledge that mistakes are just a part of the learning process and move forward. Easier said than done though. My brain is always trying to beat me up, even for successes! (why isn’t it an even BIGGER success?!) Sigh.

      But you’re right, looking to other for inspiration is always a good thing, as long as you don’t get caught up turning it into a competition all the time.

  25. “Don’t compare your beginning with someone’s middle or end.”

    I think this is pretty easy not to do. But how about comparing against someone who was well behind you/me but then passed you/me up easily because you/I early retired? That’s a little bit harder not to do. There are those who early “retired” and then made much more income during “retirement” but I would guess this is the exception rather than the rule. Most early retirees just want to rely on passive income. Active + passive income easily trounces passive only, so in 10, 20, 30 years, it’s likely an early retiree would have fallen well behind their non-retired peers financial-wise (of course the non-financial benefits may more than make up for this). Asian parents would then say, look, your cousin who is X years younger than you now has 8 houses, is CEO/president/managing director of Megacorp and has an 8 or 9 figure net worth, is sending their kids to Stanford/Harvard, and you still only have your $2 M * inflation rate and can’t afford that overpriced house for your family which has increased in value faster than the inflation rate.

    I’ve been early retired for 10+ years now, this situation certainly happens. Additionally, travelling and living abroad causes one to lose touch with their home country, and after 10 years price increases can be shocking (e.g. movie tickets were $7 when I retired, they are $12 now; eating out for two used to be $25, now over $45 at the same restaurant; health insurance has gone up from $900 a month for a family of 3 to $2000 for much worse coverage; my single family home was $900 k 10 years ago, now worth $1.9 M; starting pay at my former employer was $90 k when I left, now it’s at $130+ K with some awesome new benefits e.g. 6 month paternity leave, an ESPP plan that currently doubles the salary, matching 401k, etc – for someone with many years of experience, the compensation packages now are WOW).

    Like you said, best to stay away from the comparison game, but be prepared for those Asian parent comments, they might get worse. Maybe by then you get the last laugh because your blog is making $100 k a month 😉

  26. I can definitely relate to the whole blog comparison thing. I’ve compared my blog earnings to My Money Design (a humble little blog that didn’t really make THAT much, but that still inspired me to get into blogging) and Jason Feiber’s Dividend Mantra back when he was still working at a 9-5. Hell, I’ve even been a bit jelly of THIS blog, being another finance blog run by Millennials who also act awesomely Millennially AND that started more than a year after mine! What the hell, guys!?

    Instead, I started comparing my blog stats today to my blog stats of 2-3 years ago (not the money earned. Still earning nothing). I feel a small source of pride to see that I get as much traffic in two days as I used to get in a month. Or to see newer bloggers and writers reaching out to me for guest posts, blogroll adds, and other such things.

    And outside of comparisons at all, people reaching out to me by email or on Reddit to say how much my blog has helped them in some way. Either customers who needed help with a banking issue or fellow retail bankers who deal with the same issues and just need something to help them relieve the pressures of their jobs and know they aren’t alone.

    Yes, Angry Retail Banker is now a coping mechanism used by multiple people.

    Point is, listen to FIRECracker and Wanderer. Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s a game you’ll never win. Just make sure you’re always moving forward.

    Sincerely,
    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. ARB gets it! 🙂

      As for comparing with people who “exceed” you when they start later? Well, again there’s all sorts of stuff behind the scenes you don’t see. You think I started after you but, really that’s not the whole story.

      Like how we FAILED repeated and got rejected trying to write for 8 years WAY before this blog started. Or…here’s the secret…this is not our first blog. This is actually the 5th one 😛 The other 4 failed miserably.

      I suspect this is true of the other blogs you mention as well. There’s a lot of “overnight” successes that are really not overnight successes at all.

      You’re doing great if you’re helping so many people with your blog! Keep up the good work!

      1. As you said, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end.”

        Said another way, if you just got your starter Pokémon 30 minutes ago, don’t compare yourself–or issue a challenge–to the trainer that’s beaten the Elite Four twice. You’ve still got 8 badges to earn (and Team Rocket to defeat).

        Sincerely,
        ARB–Angry Retail Banker

  27. Hi all,

    Let me share a circumstance which I encountered.

    I met up with a few former colleagues for an afternoon gathering. During the gathering, it appears that the former colleagues are changing their cars. In fact, all of them are now buying new cars. The cost of the new cars are $150K each. When one of them asked me whether I intend to buy cars, I said no. They started to ask questions why I am not following the current norm of buying cars. I explained the rationale of not buying cars in search of financial freedom. Based on their responses, it appears that they do not buy into the idea of financial freedom.

    The above circumstance shows that there are a lot more people who are not on track to FI as they do not believe in it. Hence, this goes to show that the most important thing is to get started and focus on own path. There is no need to compare with other people on the progress of the journey.

    Like what FC has mentioned, focus on making small gains and celebrate when a certain milestones is achieved.

    Ben

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