Enjoy the Journey

Since starting the this blog on May 1, I have published a post every Thursday morning.  When I started, I committed to do this for at least one year.  This would motivate me and hold me accountable to learn as much as possible about personal finance and retirement planning.  It would also allow me an adequate chance to become a better writer and learn to build an audience.

I must confess that this week is the closest that I’ve come to not meeting that commitment.  Last week our household was dominated by a sick baby and the cascade of events surrounding it.  These included worrying, lack of sleep, running to the doctor, loss of exercise routine, shuffling work and childcare schedules, and lack of any outdoor activity which all combined to result in complete exhaustion by the end of the week.  The exhaustion of the week amplified some frustrations I had already been feeling with the lack of time we’ve been able to devote to the blog.  I actually laid in bed on Thursday night and talked to the Mrs about just putting the blog on hold.  I asked:  With our already hectic lives does trying to write and build a blog even make sense?  She reiterated all of the reasons that we decided to do this.  They included those already outlined above.  We also discussed our desire to help others avoid some of the mistakes we’ve made while sharing things that have worked well for us and things we continue to learn.  In my head, I had already decided it didn’t make sense anymore.  I suggested putting it on hold until we had more time.  We could learn more and present ourselves from a position of more expertise if we were already “retired”.  We would have enough time to write more and better content and to devote the time to getting our word out as required to build a successful blog.

I would allow myself time to sleep on the decision and get some needed rest.  Friday morning, I decided to ignore the alarm and skip my morning writing.  Saturday, I received an e-mail  from the “Financial Mentor” blog with this post.  It was exactly what I needed to change my perspective.  There were several points that resonated with me.

“Happiness is found in the journey, not the destination.”  The journey is what this blog is all about.  There are already plenty of “personal finance experts” out there and several successful early retirement blogs from those who have achieved the goal.  What motivated me in the first place is my belief that we could give a different perspective.  We would share the journey from having little knowledge and knowing no one who could show us how to do things differently to figuring out our own plan, achieving financial independence and retiring early to a better way of life.  Along the way we would share freely with anyone who cared to learn along with us.  I know from my climbing experiences that we are often motivated by the idea of reaching a summit.  However, I honestly have little recollection of any summit experiences.  Instead it is always the climb itself, the camaraderie with partners, overcoming obstacles or even the training and planning that stand out to me.  Even failed attempts teach us many lessons about preparation, planning and risk assessment allowing us to be safer, better prepared and more successful in future endeavors.

“Suffering today in an effort to earn greater success and income for tomorrow so that I can relax and feel secure at some future date is insane. I can embrace the adventure that is my work. I do what I can each day without stress but with creativity and joy, and trust the results will be meaningful.”  If you are reading this blog, then like us you probably don’t suffer from the short-term thinking that causes many people to seek instant gratification through spending money on material things.  However, you may at times struggle with being too obsessed with the opposite way of thinking.  I know we struggle with this.  The grass always seems greener on the other side.  “As soon as we are financially independent we will have freedom to spend our time as we want and our problems will be gone.”  Unfortunately, we know that this is not true and that early retirement will present its own set of challenges.  How will we deal with not having the security of having a regular paycheck as we’ve been used to all of our lives?  What will be the motivating factors for achievement in our lives when making more money no longer serves this purpose?  How will we afford health care and maintain our standard of living if costs keep exceeding inflation?  These are but a few of the issues we will have to deal with as we enter the early phases of our early retirement and each ensuing phase will have its own challenges.

“Happiness is an option and misery is an option. They are both choices you can apply to the same day’s events. Which option do you choose?”  This quote is basically just a nice way of saying what I eventually said to myself after absorbing this whole message.  “QUIT WHINING AND START COUNTING YOUR BLESSINGS!”  Even on a bad week, the number of things we have to be grateful are infinite.  It is just a matter of focusing on those things.

When facing adversity, where do you choose to focus your time and energy?
Are you focused on things you can’t control or grateful for those you can?

Hopefully, reading this post will pick you up, give you a new perspective or serve as a reminder of something you’ve already long known.  If this is a little too touchy-feely and sappy for your post for the week, I’m sorry.  Check back next Thursday for another post about financial independence and early retirement.  We’ll be here!

 

Elephant Eater

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