Will I Ever Be Content With Where I Am On My Path To Financial Independence?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Recently it struck me that I always strive for more. I am never content with where I am.

I always push forward.

If I reach 50 k $ net worth, then I will be happy.

Then I reached 50 k $ net worth. But I still felt the same.

Then 100 k $. No celebration, just looking forward.

In february 2019 my net worth peaked 150.000 $. But I was still feeling the same.

While I dream about FIRE every day, I just realized that basically nothing is going to change in my life after I hit my FIRE-number.

I’m still me, I’ll still be the same person. No matter how far I will come in my FIRE journey.

Is it really so bad going to work?

I’ve had some really good months on job lately. I’m really starting to understand the new tasks I’ve been given by my boss.

That’s in deep contrast to the autumn of 2018, where every workday felt like a nightmare. That time I was new in my job, and I thought I was never going to succeed.

But I came through! And now it’s so worth it. I feel that I’m doing a great job, and I actually manage to enter a flow working state several times a day.

So right now: I love my work. I’m looking forward to go to work. To stimulate my brain. To solve problems in my projects.

Those who know me, knows that when I like doing something, it’s impossible for me to quit.

But, I also know that this feeling wont last forever. There will be though days again. The sunshine will eventually pass, followed by an icy storm.

Do you know what this is called?

LIFE.

That’s why I try to become financial independent.

To have options. To try new things.

So that I eventually can walk away if I don’t like to work for someone else.

If I want to start a business, I can use all my time directed to that business. No more commuting or sleepy meetings.

Will I ever be content with what I have?

So I mentioned in the introduction that I recently hit the 150.000 $ net worth mark.

That means that I’m 1/4 to my FIRE-number.

But it’s like I’m constantly living in the future. Aiming for the next level. Looking forward to the next net worth update. Planning for the next event.

I’m always living somewhere else. I even went to India on a yoga and meditation camp for several weeks to try to live more here and now.

I’ve read Eckhart Tolle and downloaded the Headspace app, which I am using almost daily. I’ve really tried to live more in the now. But I do find it really hard.

The two reasons to why I’m never content with the present

My personality

The main reason for my future-oriented view is because of my INFJ-personality.

INFJs have an amazing ability to predict what is likely to happen in the future.

INFJs typically focus on what could be and are acutely aware of what they’re doing in the present will affect them in the future.

This is part of the reason why I put so much pressure on myself to invest my time wisely. I am, as Steven Covey put it, a “begin with the end in mind” kind of person.

I want to make things better.

Moving stories, possibilities, and life transformations pump me up.

This is partly why, I believe, I enjoy personal development. I think about the possibilities for the future and enjoy hearing about how other people have been able to grow and change.

My brain naturally start thinking about what life could be for myself and others so they set to work moving toward the
goal with a jolt of energy at the start.

My INFJ personality is partly why I am so idealistic. I am seldom content with reality as it is. The best possible future is what I want, and, as a result, I am often unhappy with my present circumstances. Usally I am happier when I am working toward a desired goal.


Read about my goals for 2019 here.


I need to see that I am making progress every day toward a better future, and when I’m not, I can grow discouraged.

A deep hunger for a sense of purpose is what I want in life.

I anticipate the end of my life and want to know that I’ve made a difference in the world, primarily through serving people.

Personal growth

I commit myself to personal growth plans and work tirelessly to achieve my long-term visions.

This past year, I read and listened to aprox. 50 books. It was one of the best years of my life partly because I learned so much about myself, others, and how the world works and partly because what I learned helped me take measured steps toward a more exciting future.

I love to help friends figure out what they’re good at and create an action plan to help them get there. I think I would be a great teacher, life coach or counselor in a subject I loved. Earlier on I studied nutrition physiology, and I really thought that was what I liked to do the most. But now as I work as a project manager in engineering, I wouldn’t go back.

I enjoy helping people get where they want to go and to the places and positions that are best for them, their families, and society at large.

Hedonic adaption

The second reason I’m never content with the present is because of “hedonic adaption”.

Definition: Hedonic adaptation is the tendency for humans to quickly adapt to major positive or negative life events or changes and return to their base level of happiness.

As a person achieves more success, the expectations and desires rise. The result is that we never feel satisfied, and don’t increase our happiness level.

In my example in the introduction, after making my first 100.000 $ in stocks, a number I had previously thought was significant, I started thinking 100.000 $ is really not all that much in the grand scheme of things, and it is not something that is worth celebrating.

The outcome of this is that no matter how pleasurable / disappointing a situation is, we return to a happiness “set point”.

Mean goals and end goals

My net worth goal for FI is 600k USD $. But this is a mean goal. Mean goals are often only a means to a larger, more fulfilling end goal. It’s not an end goal.

Ends goals are our ultimate destinations. Ends goals reflect one’s personal values and are often feelings.

Maybe I’ve focused on the wrong things all along? It’s like I am obsessed by this net worth goal, and I should focus more on my end goals.

My ends goals are to be happy, feel like I’m important to someone, contribute to the world and to be healthy.

I can achieve my end goals  regardless of tangible outcomes or any other factors outside of my control (net worth goal).

I should really focus more on this. Especially to my end goal of contributing more to the world. This leads me to the 80.000 hour movement.

80000-hour movement

Recently I heard a podcast about this movement. It was at FI Europe podcast that I first heard about the movement.

Definition: 80,000 Hours is an organisation in the effective altruism community that conducts research on the careers with high positive social impact and provides career advice. It considers indirect methods of altruistic employment, such as earning a high salary in a conventional career and donating a portion of it, as well as direct practices, such as scientific research.

You have 80,000 hours in your career. Make the right career choices, and you can help solve the world’s most pressing problems, as well as have a more rewarding, interesting life. That’s the theme of the podcast episode.

Link here: FI Europe Podcast – 036 HOW TO USE FI TO ACTUALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE

The episode is about Sebastien who reached FI at 33 and now on a new path to using his time to make an impact for the world through effective altruism and the 80.000 hours movement. By starting to consider what the world needs and what we are good at, we can find something that eventually will bring money, because we will be bringing a solution to real world problems.

FI can allow people to have time, money and freedom, something most people don’t have since they are so focused on work. In this sense, the FI community is a great place to increase awareness of the amazing potential they can do to help others with their newfound freedom.

FI should be about helping others

Creative expression, traveling and other forms of self-development are things we ache to do after reaching FI. But many times people don’t think further than that – what will I do after my 1 year travelling the world? After watching all the shows on Netflix? After never waking up to an alarm again? Sebastien explains that giving back, helping others and fighting for greater causes are some ways to find fulfillment.

I think Sebastien makes some really good points in this episode. I really liked what he talked about. The FI community and myself included is so obsessed with tracking net worth, earning more, saving more and sometimes I feel like we’re a bit selfish.

I think that’s a part of the answer to why I am never content. I need to focus more on the right things.

The things that matter to the world.


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17 Replies to “Will I Ever Be Content With Where I Am On My Path To Financial Independence?”

  1. I also have the impression that part of the community focus mainly to target a number, sometimes obsessively. But, what’s after that? Do we just want to be FF because we hate our boss or our jobs? It sounds purposless.

    A few months ago I also had the feeling that making more money was only adding temporary happiness, vanishing quickly. But then, I assisted to a relationship and meditation class taught by a monk and surprisingly helped me a lot to found some answers.

    Really enjoy reading you 🙂

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thanks! I’m sending the interview questions for you today or tomorrow 😉

  2. mechanic says: Reply

    Good insight. I don’t hate my job at all, and it pays me well. Unfortunately I don’t agree with it morally, and it doesn’t increase my base line happiness. So I’m using the money to get to FI as soon as possible. Then I can transition to a altruistic purpose full time. I haven’t heard of the 80000 hour movement, must learn more. Thanks

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thanks, Mechanic!
      We’ll catch up on twitter 😀

  3. Hi there,
    I liked your article and posted it on FIREhub.eu.

    Concerning hedonic adaptation, I’m currently following a (free!) online course taught by a Yale professor.
    Among other things, the course explains the concept of hedonic adaptation and also what we can do to prevent this. The course is called The Science of Wellbeing and is accessible via Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being – if you don’t want links in comments I understand and you can delete it. I just find this free course incredibly interesting and helpful).

    I have also spend quite some time on the 80 000 hrs website, and found it very useful. It encouraged me in my career change to chose a new, more meaningful career than my current one.

    Concerning fixation on net worth numbers, have you ever heard about the strategy of focusing on the process rather than the end goal? For example if you want to run a Marathon and you don’t even have running shoes because you never run: you break your goal of running the Marathon into small steps. Get information or a trainer, buy shoes, run 1km, then run 3 km, and so on. Just focus on the next achievable goal. I think this can perfectly work for the FIRE process.

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked the article 😀
      I will definitely check out that course! What is your main take aways from the course? And have you written about it on the blog?
      What is your career now? You mentioned earlier that you worked 90 % ?
      I’ve heard about the process, but don’t know so much about it. Do you have some tips to where I can read more about it?
      Where can I follow your FI journey?

      1. Hi Route2FI,
        the main message from the course I mentioned is: we usually aim for the “wrong” goals (high paying job, the perfect body, fancy stuff,…). “Wrong” because these things don’t make us truly happy. And we all want to be happy, don’t we?
        The course demystifies all these goals by showing what psychological research has found. And then goes on to show, again with research results, what really makes us happy. I don’t want to spoil everything here and I am not yet through the course. It’s very simple things, some seem counterintuitive, others we have heard of being benificial… but seeing those research result of really how benificial it is (excersising or meditation for example) are just mindblowing.
        As you are interested in happiness or content, I think the course can be interesting for you.

        Concerning reducing work hours, we have a law for part time work here in Germany. I don’t know the situation in your country.
        Just one tip: I had in mind that only women who have young children can work part time. And that people will ask why I want to reduce my working hours. I thought I had to justify why I wanted to work less (even without having children). Well, it turned out that nobody asked for my reasons. That happened twice, with different bosses, as I recently asked to reduce to 80%.

        Good luck!
        Noemi

  4. Quarter-life Queens says: Reply

    Great post. I appreciate your vulnerable expression of the things you deal with and how you have been finding ways to move past it. I think I’m a way we’re all taught to strive for better, to the post where we don’t even pause to celebrate how far we’ve come. Good for you for recognizing that and finishing ways to stay present

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thank you for the kind words!

  5. Nick @ TotalBalance.blog says: Reply

    This is exactly how I feel! Always looking for “what’s next” is really daunting, and not very fulfilling. We’ve got to try and find a way to “bind” ourselves in the present – and be happy there…

    When you find the answer/solution – please let me know! 😛

    Actually, the answer seems really simple: Do something that you love doing, and make sure to help people/the earth in the process.

    It sounds really simple – and yet it’s so difficult to attain 😉

    Congrats on reaching 1/4 of FI! I do feel like it’s something worth celebrating. I understand you don’t feel any different, and it makes you sad (that you don’t feel different). But really, I’m about 15% of the way towards my FI number, so 25% seems pretty good/impressive to me!

    I think instead of looking at your ability to “look into the future” as a negative trait, try looking at it as a positive skill. It got you where you are now (and I assume you’re in a better place than two years ago – maybe not mentally, but financially at least 😛 ).

    If you don’t feel your behavioural patterns are working in your favor – then you (we – I do the same thing!) should try to change them…

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      I’m glad you liked the article, Nick. Check out the answer I gave you on the other post you commented. Would love to hear more from you!

  6. Savvy History says: Reply

    I clicked on this post because your brain sounds a lot like mine! You’ve done so much hard work on yourself financially and mentally, so I hope you can take time to deeply appreciate your progress. Human brains are quite the trap, but even by reflecting on this question, you are on the route to beating hedonistic adaptation (even as it applies to progress and not material things). Great post!

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thank you so much, Savvy History!

  7. We seem to think pretty similarly. I am an INTJ and I live in the future. My husband thinks it’s odd that i am planning actively for things in 2021 when we are not even through 2019. It’s the only way i know to live. 🙂
    While I don’t hate my job, I do not love it. It does pay well, so I am using it to fund my escape from work all together.

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thanks for reaching out, ms. FOGO!
      It’s so fascinating to meet other people that also live in the future. None of my friends are like this!
      What will happen in 2021? Is that you’re FI date?
      That’s the same as me, the job pays well, so I’ll keep up in the rat race for 5 more years!
      What are your plans when you’re FI? 😀

  8. I’m definitely of guilty of living in the future, and I don’t even have FI to blame. I just think, “If I can get to $10,000 in savings, I’ll feel safe.” Well, I hit that goal and still could think of a million ways that money could be gone so easily. (And I’m having to dip below my threshold soon, so I wasn’t entirely wrong.) So now the goal is $15,000. But will I really feel safe at that point? Probably not. I’ll just have to accept that the numbers in the bank are important for future happiness, but so is day-to-day life. It’s about choosing to live more in the present — to have a meal out when I go to trivia, for example — than to constantly deprive myself in the hopes that my most recent goal will finally net me some contentment/security.

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      The exact same thoughts as I have!
      Is 15.000 $ your emergency fund? Or what are those savings for?
      Do you feel like you handle to live more in the present? I try to tell myself that I have to be more present, but somehow my mind always wander into the future!
      I feel crazy for looking forward to update my net worth at the last date each month 😛

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