What’s Your Why for FI? (Financial Independence)

If you don’t know what’s your why, then what’s the point? Sometimes we lose track of why we do certain things. As in, why do you really want to be financially independent?

what's your why

And when we lose track, we can deviate from our original plans. Hence, it’s a very worthwhile exercise reiterating your why and getting ourselves back on track.

I’m reading a lot of other financial Independence blogs and I see a trend amongst them. Some of the lucky ones who’ve become financially independent now have the dilemma of what to do with their time…and life (3rd world problem).

Building up enough passive income to exceed your annual expenses is one thing, however, finding your purpose or why is another.

What Was Your Original Why?

Sometimes we need to backtrack…

Two decades ago, my why was making lots of money and travelling the world. This why made a deep impact on all my future decisions. My environment, where I work, relationships, what I did with my social life and hobbies etc.

My life was centered on making money and travelling. And of course, it happened. A lot. I was happy with it and really can’t complain.

I was making more money than I could ever imagine. The thing is, money (and to some extent travel) doesn’t have the same value to me anymore. I became less happy. I was starting to miss out on relationships, building community and doing the day to day stuff you call home.

It became unimportant over time. I just didn’t realise it. I exceeded the fulfilment curve.
That’s the moment we get lost.

I needed to fill my time with something that had more meaning now.

I needed to re-adress my why…

Dispelling Some Myths About What’s Your Why

It can’t ‘just’ be about breaking away from a 9-5 and deserting your cubicle. And if you think travelling half- way across the world and sitting on a beach is the answer to your prayers…you’re going to be disappointed.

The truth is, we’re just looking for an escape from our daily grind and current situation. What we’re really looking for is meaning. Something that is truly going to fill our day…and to some extent, life.

My why shifted from making lots of cash and travelling to simply doing something more creative with my life. Making a change. Creating something bigger than me.

That was the moment I decided to fast track my way to financial independence and pull out all the stops. That was my why for FI. Because with financial independence, I could buy back time. Time to create something more meaningful and creative.

The why is your driving force to propel you out the dip.

With your why you can overcome any how. A why will give you the courage to tackle any how with conviction, stay motivated and start living a more rewarding life.

what's your why

Start Exploring and Take Action

You can’t overthink what’s your why either. It’s more about taking action towards the things that have real meaning in your life and removing the things that have no purpose anymore i.e. leaving a stale corporate job/ relationship, breaking away from toxic friends, quitting a hobby that doesn’t ignite your passion anymore etc.

What it does mean is trying new things, investing in different asset classes, having a stab at a side business, ‘putting pen to paper’ and starting a blog, taking lessons for a new hobby/ musical instrument, exploring lots of options…reinventing yourself.

Those creative outlets should lead you to a higher purpose that is truly rewarding. Each person’s why is different.

If we dig a bit deeper, I’d say we have to go above and beyond those examples.
You have to ask yourself (for example), will playing golf every day truly fulfil you? Will looking after an investment fund full-time get you out of bed every morning? To a certain extent, yes.

But we can only distract ourselves with pleasure for so long, before wondering what the point is? (again, what’s your why?)

Hence, I don’t think these things are our calling, our true why. Back to the golf thing, or any of these things we are ‘passionate’ about. For example, if you’re willing;

  • To put yourself through the pain barrier for the golf i.e.smacking hundreds of golf balls every day (until you get blisters/ bleed), watching endless hours of instructional videos and honing that swing
  • Making it your lifetime project i.e. Starting up some academy or society that will benefit golf itself and others who play it
  • And use it to build relationships and make a positive impact on society (i.e. not just your own). Use your new found skills to teach others and give back to the world of golf.

Then I’d say you’ve found your why…

It’s only when you start exploring, then those muddy waters become clear. And the happiness and why is addressed through your actions.

Take the romantic notions out of your head and start applying them in real life. Take action today. You just never know.

The ‘Dip’ and Finding Your Why

The process of turning financially independent is very much like delayed gratification.

That point, from where you make the decision to turn financially independent to actually becoming financially independent is arduous (for most folk). It’s not for everyone. And it can be a lonely road. That dip tests your character and strength. It tests how much you really want to change your life.

In fact, it’s the point where your priorities have to change. Because in order to change your life, you have to change your priorities.

It’s this horrible bit in the middle, where you have to come out your comfort zone and be willing to make sacrifices. If we’re genuinely passionate about something or if it has a meaning we’ll plough through it.

If you want to study that degree, write that book, code that app etc., then we have to follow the above to some extent.

I think downtime between contracts/ projects/jobs is a very interesting period. It’s a time for reflection, to clear the head from stressful thoughts and is an excellent opportunity to explore those options…and what’s your why.

what's your why

There’s No Silver Bullet But You Have to Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

1. When do you get ‘lost in the moment’? Put another way, what activities bring you sheer joy for a short period of time, where you forget the world around you exists?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, “What makes a life worth living?” Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of “flow.”

Focus on the activities/ skill sets, where you reach that state of flow. And if you can provide value to the general public using these, then even better.

2. If someone ordered you to leave your home each day, where and what would you do? What would you do with that valuable time? I’m sure you would want to fulfil it with something that has real importance to you. And no, you’re not allowed to skulk around Facebook, surf the web or watch TV.

3. How are you going to save the world? Maybe there is some cause that means everything to you. Perhaps you want to carry out voluntary work, in aid to the humanitarian crisis that is plaguing our planet right now.

You need to find something you care about, contribute to that cause and make the difference.

4. What does your Eulogy look like? It’s a bit morbid that question but how do you want to be remembered?

I’m sure it’s not, so and so really loved his/ her box sets and got through 8 Seasons of the Walking Dead. There’s nothing wrong with watching Netflix. However, it should be more of a treat after doing something rewarding with your time.

If you’re going to leave a legacy, it should be true to you. Not some cool shit that will look good on Instagram.

We're here to put a dent in the universe...Steve Jobs Click To Tweet

Takeaway

Without your why, you have no direction. No purpose. No real values.

With no real values, you have no control. And you end up living other people’s values.

If you haven’t thought it through, your why will catch up with you when you least expect. In the long run, it’s best to be at the foot of the ladder with something we love, than at the top of the ladder with something your heart isn’t in.

Otherwise, we can lose focus and passion. But I guess that’s easier said than done.

Having a clear why for financial independence is paramount. Because it can’t just be about having enough to live on…

Now I would like to hear from you in the comments

What does your new life look like?

What’s your Why for FI?

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  • This is the central question that I feel doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I get the impression that people working towards FI are far more focused on reaching their magic number than on what they’re going to do once they become FI. They lose sight of their why and see reaching FI as the end point rather than the start of something wonderful. Thank you for giving some attention to this important question!
    Having been FI for over two years now I can say that the why can change as your life situation changes. You can’t count on having an idea for the perfect passion project to spend your time on well in advance of becoming FI and being able to plan your FI life in advance. But once you’re FI and an idea does suddenly come, you’ll have the time and energy to get working on it straight away. And like buses, once one idea comes along, you can be sure that there’ll be another one not far behind.

    • First of all, congrats on achieving that elusive milestone (FI)!

      I like your perspective here. “They lose sight of their why and see reaching FI as the endpoint rather than the start of something wonderful”. I guess folk think reaching their magic number is the answer to all their prayers. Like it’s some sort of competition. As you say, it’s the start of a new chapter. A prerequisite in some ways, for starting a new life.

      Yes, we shouldn’t be so fixated on something. Life gets in the way as you say, and plans can change over time. Also, as my post suggests, we shouldn’t overthink our why. Let nature take its course and roll with it when we reach FI.

      Thanks for stopping by Mrs W…