I follow a blogger and podcaster who goes by the name Mad Fientist. He reached Financial Independence (FI) a few years ago and writes about his experiences, sharing helpful advice, insights, and resources. He published a post recently, titled “The Best and Worst Thing About Financial Independence.”
Something he wrote really caught my attention and it applies to all of us, no matter our stage of life:
“If you’re unhappy when you’re working and you blame your job for all your problems, you may struggle after FI if you’re still unhappy.
What do you do when your biggest scapegoat disappears?
Your job doesn’t have feelings so you can blame it for all your issues and it won’t care. But when your job is gone and you start blaming your wife, your friends, or your kids instead, it’s not going to go down as well.
You’ll hopefully realize that those external things aren’t the reason you’re unhappy but…it’s very hard to do…especially when it’s you that’s the problem.”
The Best and Worst Thing About Financial Independence
He then goes on to describe how the best and worst thing about Financial Independence are one and the same: “Financial independence gives you the freedom to do anything you want with your life,” which means if you aren’t maximizing the freedom you worked so intentionally to achieve and “if you aren’t living the life you want, you only have yourself to blame.”
A Lesson For All Of Us Today, Regardless Of Where We Stand
As the Mad Fientist says in his blog post, “You’re still going to have to do the hard work to change yourself into the person you want to be so you might as well start doing that now.”
- What work on your self are you ignoring?
- What accomplishments and dreams are you putting off?
- How are you blaming your job, rather than confronting the intentional work of building a life you love?
Because money is a tool that helps us live the lives we want, but it doesn’t provide the motivation or habits to improve ourselves. “FI is not a magic bullet and it’s not going to instantly change you into a new person.” That’s something we can all choose to start today, and as he says, it’s hard work and a key to happiness.
We all do this in various areas of our life. Here’s one example: “I want a new job, but I’m so tired at the end of the day from this job I hate that I never have the energy to update my resume and apply for a new job.” Or, as the Mad Fientist asks, “Do you say you don’t have time to go to the gym but somehow, you’ve been able to watch all the Game of Thrones episodes?”
Of course, we don’t have to (and can’t) tackle everything we want to do all at once, so pick something and start there, utilizing small, achievable steps. James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, which I shared as one of the best books I read in 2018, is a great resource for understanding more on how to begin. One of his insights is to start with habits so small that you can’t talk yourself out of doing them (meditate for one minute, write one sentence, do three push-ups). In fact, the Mad Fientist podcast has a great interview with James Clear on the topic, which is a valuable 50-minute crash course on building good habits and breaking bad ones.
What Will You Do?
I’d love to hear some examples from your own lives. What have you put off? Are you blaming work (or something else) for why you’re not improving your life or making changes today? Is there something you could start now, in a small way, that will add up to significant progress and improvement when you look back in a month or a year? I’d love to hear and learn from your own experiences and examples!