People talk a lot about the “why of FI” and the importance of having an over-arching purpose that is bigger than achieving financial independence itself. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It wasn’t like that for me.
Draw Your Line in the Sand
I have been keeping a journal for several years and when I look back to when I seriously doubled down on getting my financial life in order, I find some pages about Life Purpose.
This was the time when I had just read “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod – a book I have recommended several times before and will do again.
“Make a decision today to create the life you want. The reality is, if we don’t change now, our life won’t change. If we don’t consistently invest time into self improvement, our life will not improve. Yet, most of us wake up every day and stay the same.”
The routines of family life and making a living – day to day, week to week, month to month – nothing much changed over time. I was sleep-walking through life. And looking around at friends and colleagues – everyone seemed to be living the same way.
At the time I was enjoying my job. I loved my life outside of work too and everything seemed to be in balance. When life is good the easiest thing is to just drift along. Why upset the apple cart? Why push yourself to do anything different?
But when I really thought about it, I knew that I wanted security and freedom from any financial worries. I was in a good financial position compared to many, but we all have our demons and mine would regularly taunt me – niggling thoughts and worries that it could all be taken away and we could lose the security around us.
I had no ambitions to become super rich and live a life of extreme luxury. I wanted to have exactly the life I had, but to be completely secure within it – and that meant improving my financial situation.
Time to draw my line in the sand and start making some changes.
Determining Your Why
“When you are committed to a life purpose that is bigger than your problems, your problems will become insignificant and you will overcome them with ease.”
It is easy to be cynical about self-help books. But to make significant changes and achieve the security I craved I had to overcome the procrastination mindset of “I work hard, I’m exhausted, in my free time I need to relax” and find reserves of energy to apply elsewhere.
I recognised the wisdom in what I was reading – I needed to focus on the bigger picture in order to be able to get through the individual tasks. Worrying about how much needed to be done would be counter-productive and form an obstacle.
When you have a family and a career and a household to run, it isn’t easy to find the time and the energy to fit anything else in. But focusing on the bigger picture of achieving financial independence and measuring progress to that goal, was a huge motivator.
One of the first things I did was divert some of my savings into property – a fantastic source of passive income once set up, but hugely time-consuming at the initial stages. Researching the property market, scheduling viewings for the weekends, sourcing solicitors, surveyors, insurance…. the list is almost overwhelming when the only time you have free is at the edges of the day and all you want to do is curl up with a glass of wine.
My “why” kept me going. But my “why” was simply to gain the security that comes with financial independence.
For me there was no greater why. I didn’t want to be financially independent so that I could go on and change the world or go on a grand tour. My why of FI was simple. I wanted to get there because I wanted the security. Simple as that – I just wanted to get there. And once there, I knew I could figure out the next phase of my life without worry or financial constraint.
Some people thrive on having a greater purpose in life. They know they are destined for different things than working in an office every day and they focus on their specific aims to get them through the slog of the savings years.
But many of us don’t have that one thing in mind that we were always meant to do or be and that’s ok too.
Sometimes, when daily life is busy and stressful and all-consuming there just isn’t the head-space for any level of deeper thought. What some of us want is simply room to breathe; to sit back and figure out the next phase of life at our leisure. That is our why.