Most of the famous financial independence bloggers are financially independent. They write about how great it is to be free from the commute, the boss, the office and the un-necessary office politics. I’m different.
I’ve enjoyed reading the work of The Escape Artist here in the UK, and the likes of Mr Money Moustache in the USA (spelled the correct way of course, old bean). They talk about how they achieved their goal and offer hope about how we can do it too. And the fact is that it’s easy to do, as follows: 1) play good offence (get paid well) 2) play good defence (don’t piss it all up a wall) 3) Invest in equities and / or other sensible productive assets 4) repeat until you don’t need to work anymore.
More importantly for me what started as a desire not to be poor, became a much broader process where I learned about DIY investing, solidified some thoughts about the wastefulness of consumerism, acquired new culinary skills and generally led a more mindful life. It’s been great to rid myself of the desire to keep up with the Joneses. It’s brilliant to eat properly. It’s been very interesting to learn about how to invest the difference between what comes in and goes out. It’s really great watching net worth grow, achieve FU money, and head towards genuine independence.
But for me the struggle is still real. I’m not poor, but I’m not rich yet. I’m in the land where I know I’m going to be financially independent, and work will be optional in the not-too-distant future. This is a good thing, and I’m happy that my financial situation is such that I have the means to cope with most money-related problems life could throw at me. However, being an in-betweener (not poor, but not yet free) has thrown up some interesting challenges for me. The challenges boil down to motivation.
Like a runner who knows he’s got a race won, I’ve kind of relaxed. I’ve taken the foot off the gas, and I’m just not hustling as hard as I was. On a daily basis I experience thoughts of (sometimes unhelpfully smug) satisfaction that I’m on the good path, and then I have to remind myself that I’m actually not there yet. This is quite an admission to make, but I can’t escape the truth, and I need to refocus. Now, logically I know that this madness. Logically I know that really going for it, focussing and hoovering up opportunities will see me hit freedom more quickly. Job done – se ya later commuters. However, we all know that humans aren’t logical animals. Somewhere in my being a switch has been flipped. Sub-consciously, I’m there and I’ve relaxed. My challenge in 2018 is to re-frame my position. To take the best bits of being a bit more chilled (the main one is that I’m doing a better job of being a dad), while re-establishing my fight in business. I need fire in my belly and ice in my veins!
How will I fix this?
- Cognitive re-structuring. As is the case with all thinking errors, I don’t have to be a prisoner to my current trap. When I find myself thinking I’ve made it, remind myself that this is not factually true, not helpful, and that there’s an alternative view.
- Set some financial targets. I’ll get more excited about an opportunity if I know it’s helping me head towards a defined target. I’m going to take a big chunk out of the mortgage this year and the micro-target of paying off the mortgage will bring more focus than the macro-focus of financial freedom for now.
- Prune my portfolio: In its first six months of existence, my business took on a lot of varying challenges. I proved I could make a go of it, and enjoyed the process. I also explored a few avenues that proved to be not massively fruitful. If 2017 was about taking baby steps to get going, and doing a bit of exploring, then 2018 will be about focussing on fewer things and seeking to do them very well, as well as profitably.
- Do things that are really fucking hard: They say that if you want to make easy money, do something hard. I believe this to be true, and I also believe that the downside of experience is there’s fewer opportunities to do things that really stretch you. I understand and value that I have skills I should exploit, and get paid for doing so. However, I miss the thrill and anxiety associated with pushing the boundaries and doing things that make me nervous. So, in short, I’m going to push myself a bit harder and not just exploit what I can do easily and well.
- Do better marketing: I’ve been both fortunate and lazy. My business has had a busy enough start without spending time (and money) on having a fancy website and whatever else people do to market professional services firms. Again, this is nice – well done me – but in 2018 I will tidy up the shop front and market a bit harder. This will put my in good shape to win more significant pieces of work.
None of these things will get in the way of me living life according to what’s important. I won’t be forcing anything, or doing things according to what I or others think I should be doing. I’m thinking of this period as an interesting new experience to deal with. We’re firmly in the realm of ‘nice problems to have’, but life as a financial in-betweener has it’s challenges for me, and challenges are there to be analysed and overcome.
I suspect this is a subject I’ll revisit. I’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, happy new year and good luck.