The Road to Financial Independence Ain’t All Sunshine and Rainbows

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward…. But you gotta be willing to take the hits…”

I get goosebumps whenever I watch this scene from Rocky. It reminds me that although we lead happy lives, the road to financial independence does have bumps along the way, and it’s how we choose to handle those bumps, and move forward, that makes all the difference.

Some bumps can be very mean and nasty

Let’s acknowledge the fact that not everyone will understand what you’re trying to accomplish. You’re saving and investing as much as you can, so that you can become financially independent with the possibility of an extremely early retirement. Confused souls will ask: “What does that even mean?” You can try to explain it to people in different ways, but it can go above their heads and all they might think is that you’re just trying to accumulate money for the sake of it. And then they go on to make their assumptions with thoughts such as a)”How can you live a life so deprived?” Or b) “Since you’re accumulating, you can afford to pay for the others who don’t live responsibly or are not willing to work as hard.” It’s actually goes far beyond that. By having your FI goal, you have a clear purpose and understand what it means to be free.

Some are not going to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. And in my book, that’s okay. I’ve come to grasp the concept that as long as my partner and I understand what we’re trying to accomplish, no one else needs to be in agreement.

As you continue on your path to FI and turn your life around, there’ll be a glow in your face. Your stress level is lower now that you have your finances under control, and “the world is a great place” mantra is all over you. After making some adjustments in your spending behaviors, you managed to become debt free or are on your journey to become debt free. You realized that happiness doesn’t come from material possessions and although you own certain things, they’re there because they bring value to your life. You enjoy sharing with people, and are more than happy to give financial advice to anyone that is in need, because you want everyone to be free from the consumer mentality lifestyle.

And then you hit those bumps on the road. As you get closer to your goals, some will resent you for your accomplishments. They might not want to hear your unsolicited advice about happiness and spending, how well you’re doing, and how much happier you are without a materialistic mindset. Their minds have been engrained with a different philosophy. It might also be jealousy, envy, you name it. These type of emotions are nothing new to world civilization. People has been fighting since the beginning of time and emotions are part of being humans. As the old saying goes: misery loves company. If you choose happiness over sadness, some will be out there watching you and willing to steal it from you.

There’s a nasty world out there–a world that will question how come you got to be on top of your game and will want to make you feel bad for it. All I have to say to that is: don’t let them rain on your parade! Que la lluvia no pare tu fiesta! People might start seeing the results of a happier you, but don’t know the struggles you might have had to overcome to get there and they will talk about you. And it’s okay if they don’t get it, as long as you sleep well at night and know deep inside your heart that you’re doing the right thing.

But nobody is going to hit as hard as life

When you put it all into perspective, the words and resentment of others will come short when compared to how hard life will punch. The road to financial independence is a like baseball game in which your family and friends are part of the crowd. Some in the crowd will cheer, while others will boo. But life is happening right on the field. As you bat, you have to keep your eyes on the ball, and know what you need to do to at least make it to first base, or for your teammate to make it home. You don’t know what kind of curveball might come your way, but you have to be ready to hit and run to the bases. Life will throw curveballs in ways you never expected.

This is why my wifey and I make it a point to be happy and make every moment count. After all, who knows what would happen tomorrow? A disease might knock down your door. You could be close to your FI date and then out of nowhere, cancer hits you or someone close to you. A sudden death might impact you in ways you can’t even imagine. Although you can reduce the risk by being preventive, there’s always the possibility of the unknown. I’m not trying to be negative here, just throwing a little dose of reality.

Some ways we deal with it

Life will place you in undesirable situations, and it’s better to be prepared, than to be caught off guard. To help me face really bad situations, I’ve learned to practice negative visualization, based on the Greek and Roman philosophy of Stoicism. You can learn two important lessons with this technique: how to value what you already have and how to prepare yourself mentally for worst case scenarios.

For example, to value what you have, you spend time imagining your significant other leaving you, how it would feel to wake up not seeing that person, losing your home, your job, car, etc… The key is that by imagining these scenarios you realize how valuable they are and appreciate them more. I recommend reading this book that goes into more details about this philosophy:  A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

To prepare for a worst case scenario, you mentally go through an unfortunate event such as a death and anticipate what might cause you to grieve. How you would need to react in such a situation. What would make it easier for you during that hard time? Arrange for that, if at all possible. You’ll be less caught off guard when prepared for the worst.

It has never been about the money

Striving to reach financial independence has never been about money, and this is where some get it wrong. It’s about reaching freedom. It’s about getting your time back and deploying it into things that brings you true happiness. As long as you have to work for money, you can’t have all of your time to yourself. You need investments bringing you passive income to be free!

It’s more sad, and certainly, less beneficial to your wellbeing to work all your life just to afford a “happy” lifestyle that would bring you more stress, than to work for the purpose of one day saying that you saved enough and now you can go do the things that really matter to you without having to work for money again.

You win by taking the hits and moving forward

Doing what feels right to us is what should lead the way, and it is the choices that we make along the way, that will decide most of our destiny. The difference between you and others is that you decided to take control of your life and kudos for that! You took the road less travelled and found this FI community, that is motivating you to get to the finish line. You stay focused on your goals while others get easily distracted by the media and society. You make your own decisions while society decides for the rest. Some will like you while others will dislike you for it, and you should not worry about it. Just take that as background noise.

So while the FI road ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, I can guarantee you one thing: the other roads are much worse! The debt road comes with a chain of finance charges, and the consumer road keeps you a slave to work until you drop, so, no thanks! It’s not so much the road that you choose, but the way you deal with its bumps. It’s about responding and not reacting to situations.

It's better to be an average person, surrounded with smart and positive people that uplift you and bring the best out of you, than a king in a world of mediocrity. Click To Tweet

When you get hit and fall, dust yourself off and keep moving. That’s what makes the difference. It doesn’t matter how many times things go wrong, keep taking steps in the right direction, at times you’ll fail but keep trying and success and happiness will follow. Don’t let the situations break you, welcome and thank them for the opportunity to make you. Life in general is not an easy road, but you’re an FI fighter, and you must get up every time you’re taken down, without excuses or feeling sorry for yourself. Giving up is not an option.

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Also, challenge yourself and keep learning without getting intimated by what you don’t know. Not everyone will be happy for your success, but look for those that will. It’s better to be an average person, surrounded with smart and positive people that uplift you and bring the best out of you, than a king in a world of mediocrity. Create your happy world, it’s all possible. 🙂

Cheers to you, you sexy FI souls!

Below is the YouTube video from the quoted Rocky Balboa scene for your enjoyment!

What motivates you to get up and continue fighting your daily life’s battles? 

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Mr. Enchumbao

Mr. Enchumbao retired at 44. He worked for 13 years at Vanguard, primarily as a Communications Project Leader in the Institutional Division, helping people save for retirement.

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