How many times have you heard someone say “one day I will……..”<insert dream / vision of the future>. Maybe you have even said it yourself a few times, but for most that vision will never become a reality for one simple reason – it is never backed up with any form of action. The passage of time alone will not make dreams a reality – it requires a little effort. Some goals may seem a long way off and difficult to achieve, but if it is important to you, the only person who can stop you is you. If you don’t think you can do it, you are right. The good news is – if you think you can do it, you are right. You just need to take that first step. We often over estimate how much we can achieve in a day, but it is far more common to under estimate what we can achieve in a year, just taking it a small step at a time.
It is easy to get distracted by the every day and just go with the flow. Before you know it, months have passed without you really noticing. I have certainly been guilty of treading water in 2020. Looking back, I think that my response to so much change and uncertainty in the world around me was to limit changes in the areas I had control over. Was this sensible for my mental health, or just procrastination? I’m not entirely sure, but as we have all become more accustomed to ‘the new normal’, I feel as though I have somehow freed up some mental bandwidth.
It is all to easy to operate on autopilot and get stuck in a routine which evolved rather than being a conscious choice. If you want a different outcome than the norm, then you need to make different choices than the norm, but those choices need to be aligned with your personal values. That takes a little effort, not only to increase your savings rate and invest, but also to take the first steps to living the life you want, so when you have more free time you will be ready to make the most of it.
The popular adage that you can have anything you want, but not everything you want applies to how you spend your time as well as how you spend your money. We all have a finite budget of free time as well as a finite pot of money. If you are pursuing financial independence, you probably have a pretty good handle on optimising your monthly expenses to enable you to save and invest more for the future, but do you apply the same critical thinking to how you spend your time? What do you spend time on just because you have fallen into the habit? What do you do because ‘everyone else does’ or because you feel in some way that it is expected of you?
Hitting that magic number and ‘retiring’ is a huge milestone, but the next morning you won’t be a different person. You will have the choice to spend more time on the things you love, but if they are truly things you love, why aren’t you doing them now? I have seen a few articles in the last few months where people have spoken about abandoning FIRE as it was too restrictive and the ‘extreme frugality required’ was just too much to maintain. For me that rather misses the point. We could certainly have saved more and hit our number faster, but life is all about balance and enjoying now as well as planning for the future; about finding enough. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, and if this year has taught us anything it is about what really matters (and it isn’t having the newest car, latest designer clothing or staying in luxury hotels).
“It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen”Scott Belsky
So, what is the most important thing you want to achieve ‘one day’, and what is the first step you can take today?