As I write these three posts on the gifts of financial independence (FI) I am realizing that each gift is becoming more abstract and more internal. I hadn’t planned it this way but I am discovering that this is my story with FIRE. It’s become more about me and how I interact with money and life.
The third gift of FI is the gift of self-discovery. I know that this may seem like an odd gift but let me explain how it fits in. When I first started this journey I was a mess. I couldn’t tell you how much money I spent on living nor could I tell you the interest rate on my debt. It just wasn’t on my radar even though I started this journey in my late 20’s and I think it should have been on my radar by then. I even bought clothes too big for me just because they were on sale, like I said I was a mess. But then I taught myself a lot about personal finance and strategies to overcome debt. It became a game to see how much information I could absorb and apply to my finances. It was like a puzzle that I was enjoying putting together.
It was through little wins like paying off a car loan then a student loan that I found rewarding. This gave me power to continue on a plan to become debt free. And following through with this gave me a sense of fulfillment. I found that I no longer had financial insecurity and this gave me the energy to explore interests and hobbies that interest me. This started with becoming a minimalist because I became conscious what I was buying. Having these successes and finding that I was becoming happier in the process only encouraged my drive to optimize my life more toward lifestyle design.
Lifestyle design in the personal finance world is all about living your best life while on the path to financial independence (FI). In other words don’t kill yourself trying to make it to a destination… your FI number. Instead try to imagine your ideal life and make changes to get there. It wasn’t until recently that this concept has made sense to me. I am discovering that I want a lifestyle where I can “work” anywhere or travel more freely. So I’ve decided that launching this blog would give me a chance to document this journey and share it easily from anywhere. By discovering and working towards FI I actually picked up skills and lessons that I could apply to my life now to achieve my goals.
At this point in journey I am almost at complete FI so this concept of lifestyle design applies but in a different way. Today my lifestyle design is geared towards what I’ll do after reaching FI because I don’t think I’ll stop work altogether but work will look different to me. Work in the future will look like blogging and photography, things that I am picking up later in my journey. Plus I don’t expect a lot of income from these sources so reaching FI first will take that pressure off me financially.
I am discovering new interests and new opportunities as I approach FI. Giving myself permission to explore and take risks I wouldn’t normally. Even as I write this post I am discovering new ideas and things I’d like to try in the future. In fact this post looks a lot different then I’d imagined it. I imagined it to talk about discovering a sense of wonder, individual strength, and new creative talents. But it ended up being a post on lifestyle design. And for me allowing the post to flow from what I had planned to what was on my mind is self-discovery. I am discovering I can plan all I want but sometimes the universe has a grander plan. I’m learning to go with it.