I Used To Be a Hater

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If you read this blog regularly, you may have noticed how much I love fighting with haters. Because, why not? It’s SO much fun to tweak them. And the best part? When they come back to fight, again and again, gloating about their superiority, while giving me extra views every time. If you hate me so much, then why do you love getting me paid?

Anyway..I digress. Despite how much I like fighting with haters, the truth is….I used to be one.

That’s right, I used to be a hater.

And one of the things I used to hate on is this Larry Smith video:

For those of you who haven’t seen it, allow me to give you the Coles Notes.

In 2011, Larry Smith, a University of Waterloo economics professor, did a TED talk venting his frustration after hearing over and over again the same complaints from his students: they’re aren’t happy with their careers and yet they refused to do anything about it.

He goes over all the excuses they give to avoid following their passions. Excuses like “great careers are for people who are lucky”, “people who pursue their passion are geniuses” or “I’m a nice normal person and normal people don’t have passion, etc, etc, etc. And despite these excuses, Larry points out the reason why people use these excuses and don’t follow their passion—no matter how bad their careers are—is FEAR.

They’re afraid to try. Afraid to look ridiculous. Afraid they might fail. They might even go so far as using human relationships (their kids, spouse) as a shield to protect themselves from failure. Because if they’re a great friend or parent, they will always be the hero of their own story and not have to “sacrifice their relationships on the alter of accomplishment”. Larry then proceeds to call BS on this, saying “Great friend, great spouse, great parent, great career. Is that not a package? How can you be one without the other? But the truth is, you’re weak. And you’re afraid.”

To this day, it’s one of the most memorable TED talks I’ve ever seen—receiving over 6 Million views to date.

But back then, in 2011, when I was working a stressful, unfulfilling job while daydreaming about being an author, this video made me want to reach into the screen and squeeze Larry’s skinny little neck until his head popped off.

I didn’t want to hear his advice. I didn’t want to hear about the fear, the excuses, the “human relationships” shield I was using to excuse myself from writing. Everything he said made my blood boil. I showed the video to Wanderer, co-workers, and friends, indignantly clutching my imaginary pearls and shrieking “Can you believe this asshole? What the hell does he know? Why is he putting other people down? I bet he isn’t even following his dreams—blah blah blah.” I ranted for hours, bashing Larry, and trying my best to discredit everything he said—all the while ignoring the little neuron in the back of my head, jumping up and down yelling “He’s right! You know he’s right! You are afraid!”

I was terrified. I was full of excuses. I was a hater.

In the back of my mind, I knew everything Larry said was true. Instead of writing and following my dream, it was easier for my brain to shut him down and call him an asshole because the alternative—actually WRITING and pursuing my dream was WAY harder.

I even dismissed the end of his speech, which he ended by saying “You will fail to have a great career, unless…” and then cutting himself off. Back then, I completely missed the point he was trying to make. “Unless? Unless what? He isn’t even going to tell us HOW to how a great career? What kind of crappy advice is that?”

But now, looking back, I know exactly what he’s saying. It’s like I’ve gone through the looking glass and I’m seeing everything clearly now. I hated that “unless…” ending because I was expecting him to tell me what to do and he didn’t. He spent the entire talk making me feel bad about my life and then when it came time to spoon-feed me the answer he dropped the ball. But he wasn’t supposed to spoon-feed me the answer. Now, I realize that “unless…” meant I was supposed to find the answer myself.

I’m SO glad I didn’t stay a hater. I’m so glad I kept writing, I kept going, even though every cell in my body wanted to quit. Every cell in my body screamed at me to give up—so I wouldn’t have to face failure.

And now, looking back, I’m no longer afraid of that video. I’ve watched it countless times since becoming an author and early retiree, both dreams the Hater-Me in 2011 would’ve never thought possible.

I’ve noticed this to be true about Financial Independence too. When we first “came out” with the news that we were FI and retiring, all we got were haters. And not just the thousands of haters that came out on mainstream media. I’m talking about the haters hidden amongst friends and family too.

They were all very quick to dismiss us, just like what I did to Larry back in 2011, because they were afraid. Afraid they couldn’t pursue their dreams, just like I was. When you’re afraid, it’s easy to become a hater. Because haters don’t need to step into the arena, they don’t need to look ridiculous, they don’t need to show up, day after day, week after week, year after year. They don’t need to fail, over and over, until they finally succeed. They can attribute everyone else’s accomplishments to luck or talent. They can hide in their safe little cocoons, telling themselves they are the heroes of their own story, telling themselves that it’s okay not to accomplish their dreams because they are “nice people” who don’t need accomplishments, only relationships. The fact that you can do both is preposterous!

I’m glad I’m not a hater anymore. I’m glad I pushed past the fear. I’m glad I got to where I am today because I refused to let myself get too comfortable.

But that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t once a terrified hater who loved making excuses and staying in my comfort zone.

Change is scary, I get it. We all get scared.

It’s okay to be scared. But don’t let fear debilitate you and make you a hater, like it did to me.

Don’t stay in the safety of your comfy cocoon. Put on your big boy pants, or your big girl skirt, and go out there and fight for your dreams.

Because as Larry says, “You will fail to have a great career…”



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54 thoughts on “I Used To Be a Hater”

    1. Yup, that’s what I started to see after retiring. Being a hater says more about them than it does about you. You only get riled up by something if you believe there’s truth to it.

  1. The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.
    ~ Thucydides

    1. Love that quote. Reminds me of this one: “Bravery is feeling fear but doing the thing anyway. –Jennifer Donnelly”

  2. Amazing revelation. My friend, the most viscous antagonizer of all the haters, came from the hater primordial pool herself. Wow. This is just as amazing to me as finding out Darth Vader was Luke’s father. Haha. I think the way to crawl out of this primordial hater soup is to change. Embrace change. Be change. Search for learning and growth opportunities to change. Don’t be afraid of change. Be afraid of not changing. For example, I used to think people who advocated sobriety were weak losers. But then I discovered addiction wasn’t a great place to get a lot done, and now I realize there is some truth in their words. I changed my views, and therefor I began to change my life.

  3. Great message, as always.

    We need to remember though that the haters are also people who would really benefit from improved finances, smarter purchasing decisions, etc. etc.

    As you noted, a hater can end up going after her dreams, becoming a writer, and even Canada’s earliest retiree. 🙂

  4. I tend to just ignore haters whenever we get them. 🙂 The best way to discredit them is to prove them wrong. FI bring on haters? More motivation to become FI and sit back, relaxed, not working while they slave away at their shitty jobs.

    At the end of the day you can go through your financial life actively or passively. The FI crowd has chosen the ‘actively’ route and will be much more likely to achieve their goals (and then some) versus the passive haters. Sounds like a win to me.

    1. You are so right. The active route is infinitely better than the passive crowd. As the Russian proverb goes “Pray to God, but continue rowing towards the shore”

  5. I think this might be one of your best posts yet FIRECracker.

    Fear definitely stops people from trying to reach for their dreams. It just goes to show that the human animal is still ruled by these primal emotions.

    We all know we can’t achieve our dreams if we don’t start, but few people even take the first steps.

    1. Thanks, Mr. Tako! Taking the first steps is hard enough, but taking the next hundreds and thousands of steps is the seemingly impossible part. That’s what separates the “doers” from the “dreamers”.

  6. “This video made me want to reach into the screen and squeeze Larry’s skinny little neck until his head popped off.”

    Hahaha good one! Thanks for sharing. I don’t know if I’ve ever been a hater, but I didn’t question A lot of the wisdom online before deciding to give it a go myself. Inaction is stupid if you believe you can do better.


    1. “Inaction is stupid if you believe you can do better.” So true. So many hecklers out there who are too afraid of stepping into the arena.

    1. Fear is inevitable, but pushing through the fear and doing it anyways is what separates the “doers” from the “dreamers”. That being said, pushing through fear is really hard, so that’s why it helps to have a group of supportive friends.

  7. I was so lucky to grow up in Punk era in the UK

    all the songs were about injustice and not listening to the Man

    be yourself basically .. but with hate and anger in the delivery

    that moment came to me in my mid 20’s

    i was in a super easy sales exec job in London .. the City

    and i saw a guy in his 40’s who worked there who was so dull and no spirit and it freaked me out , i was gonna become that guy
    so from then on i was self employed and traveled the world with my ace partner of 30 + years
    money came but it was secondary to our travels , from sleeping on beaches in Greece to the Trans siberian train via China and India .. we went everywhere
    and FI in my late 40’s .. live frugal and make smart choices … i still live frugal but i can buy whatever i want but i find more and more that the free things in life are the best …. right under our nose

    bravo to you guys to get out of that rut

      1. $100 .. we bought the ticket in Hong Kong
        after we sold our flights back to London by checking the people in and then selling the boarding passes . we did this many times over the years .. can you imagine today ?? ha ha

        we traveled up through China . hardly any backpackers , it was bikes and Mao green uniforms .. . we had to get visas in Beijing for the 5 countries .. the USSR embassy was closed so we had to bluff it at the border
        Mongolia was a blast . me and a german friend were found wandering round Ulan Bator during the 2 hour change .. and escorted back to the train by a dozen soldiers ..

        and then we hitched hiked from W Berlin all the way to London ..

        it was a blast . you asked !!!

        1. Dude, you have some serious balls. Being escorted back to the train by soldiers…that’s a big much for me. Also the Maoist green uniforms would give me nightmares. Looks like you had an amazing adventure though, so clearly it was worth it!

  8. I was a bad bad hater, and everyone knew it. I spent 15 years in the same position whining about how unappreciated i was. I had to let it go, forgive, do all that shit. It was me, not them. I did not know how to play the game. I am now playing the game, one day in my own space i will tell you what I’ve learned.

    Thanks, going to watch this video from start to finish.


    1. I’m glad you stopped hating, spaceman! Life’s too short to be stuck complaining and not doing what we want to do.

  9. That was wierd to watch because I was a person who picked a career just because it paid well and I was good at math and science even though I really wasn’t sure what a chemical engineer was. That economist mentioned getting lucky and having a great career never happens but that is exactly what happened to me. I found I loved my job, it became my passion even though it wouldn’t appeal to very many people. It fused with perfect synergy with my family life and it all just worked and made me tremendously happy. I was aware that few of my coworkers were as happy as I was and it always puzzled me. Plus I would put velcro as at least as important as inventing a warp drive, if that ever happens!

    1. So glad it worked out for you, Steveark! Have you seen Cal Newport’s talk about “not following your passion?” I feel that would appeal to you, because I honestly don’t believe blindly following your passion is the answer–unless you’re okay with being in debt and never having much money. Sometimes you end up being good at something and that turns into your passion. In your case that clearly worked out nicely!

      1. I just watched it, thank you so much! In retrospect my career growth and passion developed very much the way he laid things out. That’s so cool, even an old dog can gain some self knowledge from a youngster. Too cool FIRECracker!

        1. Glad you enjoyed it! He’s really good at breaking things down scientifically rather than the impulsive “just follow your dreams and the money will follow mindset”. Even though I agree with Larry that you’ve got to get through the fear in order to follow you dreams, without the skills Cal Newport talks about, you’ll never get anywhere. Combine Cal NewPort and Larry Smith, and you’ve got a pragmatic path to success!

  10. But you became an author (your dream) after you got your 1 million dollars, Its easy to pursue your passion when you have 1kk dollars making you 40k for year doing nothing, If you have start your job life like an author would you be already retired ? probably it would take more 5, 10 years for that even more who knows, That’s why is so hard to pursue our dreams, sometimes our dream doesn’t pay much, I don’t want to became financially independent only at my 60’s, well its complicated hehe, by the way I love your site, blog, it help-me a lot, I live in Montreal and immigrant like you, we don’t have many sites in french like yours. Congratulations for your work !

    1. Actually no, back in 2011, I had no idea what FIRE was, had no plans for early retirement. My portfolio was also less than half what it is now. But, I’m glad I started writing even before retiring because it took a LONG time to gain the skills to become an author. I wouldn’t advocate for quitting your job and just blindly following your dreams. You need to have a backup plan. Whether that’s with FU money (and it doesn’t need to be a $1 million) or a day job while you write on the side, it’s worth it.

      Great to hear from a Montrealler! Welcome to the blog 🙂

  11. Thanks for the video. It annoyed me greatly but maybe in a way that makes me think and grow…or am I a hater? I notice that when he lists the things he thinks are a great package he doesn’t include great health, greatly rested, great hobbies or anything else. Is it that there is no room in life to pursue anything else besides being a great friend, spouse, parent and having a great career? That one can’t both invent Velcro and win a Nobel prize? That one would list a career on a tombstone before or instead of family?
    I pursued a great career for almost 15 years, but 9 years after adding great parent to great friend, great spouse, and great career I WAS EXHAUSTED! Who am I kidding-great friend was already gone by then. Something else had to go before I fully crashed. So, goodbye great career and hello part time job. I am all for pushing through fear to try great things but experience has taught me timing is also important.

    1. Yeah, he does come across as a bit irritating because he’s so blunt. While I may not agree with everything he says, there is a lot of truth to it. People do make excuses all the time. And I’m not saying it’s not hard to juggle relationships while pursuing your passion, but if it’s worth pursuing, the challenge will be worth it.

      Good for you for pushing through the fear! Timing is a factor, but what I found is that if you can pivot and learn, even if the timing isn’t right for one project, it’ll work out for a future one. The important thing is to have a backup plan to support you while you’re in the trenches, pursuing your dream.

  12. Embrace the changes. Although they might be hard or uncomfortable, they ultimately push you to be a better person. Stagnancy is downright boring and unfulfilling… And now I have Taylor Swift stuck in my head

  13. My students say a lot of the same things. I didn’t know about this talk and will have to show them that. I am not sure how much good it will do, but all it takes is one to make it worth my while.

  14. Ok I just watched it. My passions are Flying, I hold a private pilot licence, and Music, I play guitar and like to make music. But I chose my third passion, electronics and computers. I have no regrets.

    So why did I not choose to become a professional pilot? – After 10 years of flying, I knew I would hate it.

    So why not become a professional musician – Because I saw too many of my friends become slaves to music, and hate, and regret the choice.

    But now… I still love music, and have a longing to fly again. You can have a passion for more than one thing. Find something you don’t mind doing, that is lucrative, and then you will have all the time and money to pursue your passion… you dont’ have to love your job, but it helps if you like doing it. I actually like my job now, i am a consultant, and use my expertise to help people.


    1. You have a private pilot’s license? Very cool! That is one profession I’d would suck at…I not a big fan of flying, I just do it because I love travel so much. But I’m always in awe of people who have the balls to do it.

  15. This post made my heart jump out and appreciate you so much!!! Thank you for the way structured this post and worded it and made every word ring true. Big fan of yours! 🙂

  16. The thing I find with haters/bullies is, really they’re just trying to put you down to make themselves feel better, because they don’t feel good about themselves and it has nothing to do with their “victims.” In Canada, even though we are a very polite society, “we” become major haters when it comes to wealth. Envy seems to be Canada’s Achilles heel, which makes your accomplishments all the more infuriating to the average Canadian Hater. Keep up the good work.

    1. You are so right, Tazi. When people are hating on you, it’s really more of a reflection of them, not you. Thanks for the encouragement!

  17. Another Montrealer (anglophone) here who loves your blog!!….just wanted to mention that in my experience the haters are mostly jealous of someone else’s success…and it is mostly from friends and family like you mentioned!!…am in no way FI and I still have to work but I really like my job so that is okay!..I experienced the haters when I bought my condo…people I did not know well were genuinely happy for me but many of the people close to me made snide remarks and pointed out all the negative things that could happen…and when I told one “friend” she got this strange look on her face, sort of like disgust and shock and jealousy all rolled into one..lol…I was wondering what the heck when someone pointed out they were jealous and then I realized he was right!

    1. Welcome to the blog, Cindy!

      I totally get where you are coming from. Dealing with haters is bad enough, but when they are your friends and family? That’s a hard pill to swallow. But what really helps is to realize it’s more about them then it is about you. The more confident you are about your life choices, the less the haters will bother you. Stay strong!

  18. Those who believe their lives are controlled by external factors don’t like being told their lives are actually controlled by – shocker – them!

    All the success you see out there is not luck. It’s a lot of hard work, persistence, and just plain will power. If you don’t like your situation, change it! Complaining isn’t going to do anything. Taking action will!

  19. Hater schmater, passion schmassion. The real question to ask yourself is: “what do you want to be when you’re 60.” It is that single question from which everything will flow. You probably won’t get around to asking it till your 30, because you’ll be too busy getting drunk and laid and hating, but eventually you’ll look closely at the 2×4 that keeps hitting you and realize it’s your dominant hand that’s holding the wood. At that point put down the wood and figure out what it is you want to be when your’re 60, and go be that. It doesn’t take courage it takes vision and perseverance.

    This is my first time on this site so I watched the manifesto blame the boomer video. Boomers had no more freedom than you and far less mobility. Back in that day there weren’t any cheap mutual funds. Most mutuals had a huge cost and a front end load. Vanguard didn’t start till 1975 and was a tiny little nothing. My first IRA had a $2000 limit on yearly contribution and it cost $200 to make a trade. Companies AND unions used the pension as a means of indenture. Your FIRE status is completely dependent on the creative destruction that happened to the financial industry because of the loss of pensions. Boomers had a real war and a draft and a whole lot of dead bodies and a Government that was happy to feed them into the wood chipper. Whole different gig. It’s like the old CSN song: just look at them and sigh and know they love you. Part of the reason millennials didn’t have to go to a war with the huge personal loss was because the Boomers said “Homey don’t play that!”

    My kids are 19 and 21. They both want to be photographers. I sent them to college and they will graduate debt free because that is part of my waddya wanna be when your 60 plan, but I also saved some so if they came to me with “I want to be a photographer” I could say “kick it ’cause I got your back”. I started saving for them at age 2. By 21 I had enough to back them up and 60% of what I had for them was interest on the principal aka free money, and my ability to help them doesn’t cut into my retirement cash flow at all. DO NOT MISS THE POWER OF A PLAN.

    Life is a choice, you got a brain, you have the freedom to act, so what are ya waiting for?

    I’m 66 and I’m what I wanted to be. Think I’ll stop by again and do my part to make you fabulously wealthy.

  20. After reading this then, FIREcracker…maybe i’m not a hater after all… I’m actually re-incarnate Larry Smith… I too pushback on the people around me…like really this is it? All you wanted for your life was to push a baby out?…but look at the plank in my eye… what am i doing so much? …not pushing out a baby or building a relationship… i still like my life better… but if that were true… would the baby pushers make me so mad… yassss! cuz #bebetter! If it’s okay for a white man to say it… it’s ok for My Early Retirement Journey (not a white man).

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