Staying Motivated & Focused on Your FIRE Journey - Tips, Tricks, and the Occasional Email to Yoursel
One of the first steps towards financial independence and retiring early (FIRE) is calculating your FIRE number. If you’ve already calculated your number, you know that it can be downright intimidating!
If you haven’t already calculated your FIRE number, here’s the quick calculation: 1) take your estimated annual expenses in retirement; 2) multiply that number by 25; and 3) you’re done! That’s your FIRE number - that’s the amount of money you would need in your investment portfolio in order to reach financial independence and retire early.
WARNING! Once you calculate your FIRE number, you might feel discouraged. The number will likely seem very big. It may even seem like it will take forever to reach it. But here’s the thing: reaching FIRE doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time . . . and because it takes time, you’ve got to find a way to stay motivated and inspired and positive along the journey. So, I’ve got some tips and tricks to help you stay motivated and inspired!
TIP 1: Think of your FIRE journey like you would a marathon.
Me in 1994 on my high school cross country team - very likely questioning why I ever committed to running in the first place.
Have you ever run a marathon? Technically, I haven’t - at least not all at one time. But, I have run a half-marathon. It’s long and it’s painful and during the actual race, I questioned why I ever committed to running in the first place.
But, let’s focus on a full marathon! With a marathon, everyone starts off knowing the goal - 26.2 miles. But, if you ask marathon runners what they think about during a marathon, you will very rarely ever hear anyone tell you that they focus on the 26.2 miles the whole way. Instead, they focus on completing the first mile . . . then the second mile . . . then the third mile. In other words, they know the end goal, but they break it up into subparts - knocking off one mile at a time and moving closer and closer to the finish line.
Adopt a marathoner’s mindset on your pursuit of FIRE! Understand your end goal (i.e., your FIRE number), but break your goal into subparts. If your goal is to amass two million dollars, break that goal up! First, work on eliminating high interest debt; then, work on amassing $50,000; then, work on amassing $100,000. Continue to work on your goal, step-by-step. By doing this, you’ll be more likely to track your progress and celebrate the small wins, making it more likely that you’ll achieve your goal!
TIP 2: Create a plan and write it down.
Did you know that you’re more than forty percent likely to achieve a goal when you write it down? I think you know where I’m going with this - Grab a pen and paper and write that FIRE number down!!!
And don’t be shy about it - write it everywhere! Write it in your journal, write it on a note and tape it to your mirror, write it down on a post-it note and stick it in your car. Write it down - everywhere!
And while you’re at it, do something fun - write an email to yourself and schedule the email to be sent to you one year in the future!
First off - I LOVE you! You’re incredible and awesome and you WILL achieve FIRE!
Second, I am writing you/me/us on July 2020. It’s time to pursue FIRE and stay on that pursuit! Keep chipping away at your FIRE goal [insert FIRE number here]! If there’s one thing I know about you (and I know everything about you), it’s that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. So, continue pursuing FIRE so that you/I/we can enjoy that retired life! Third, check under the bed!”
Schedule your email to be sent to you one year in the future . . . and don’t forget to leave a present for your future self under your bed! You’ll forget about it after a while and then you’ll have a nice surprise when you read your email one year later! Just don’t leave food - a rotten piece of cake under your bed won’t be a pleasant surprise for anyone.
TIP 3: Find others to inspire and motivate you
Did you know that the average person has anywhere between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day? AND, of those thoughts, approximately 80% of them are negative?! That’s some Debbie Downer type of thinking!
On your road to FIRE, you must purge negativity and embrace positivity! Maintaining a positive mindset will increase your motivation and self-esteem - making it more likely that you’ll achieve your goals. So, think positive!
Our motivation and inspiration - family time in Lisbon and capturing Tram 28.
Easier said than done, right?! One way to make this a bit easier is to surround yourself with positive people. Amon and I talk about this all the time. Just as chaos breeds chaos, positivity also breeds positivity. Focus your time and energy on positive people. If you find yourself leaning towards negativity, regroup, and lean the other way!
TIP 4: Incorporate some fun along the way!
Last, but not least - make sure to have fun! Of course, you’re supposed to save more and invest more, but just because you’re on your FIRE journey doesn’t mean you have to be miserable! Being miserable isn’t sustainable.
With that said: I give you full permission to have fun on your FIRE journey! But keep in mind, having fun doesn’t necessarily mean spending tons of money. Be creative - find ways to have fun, but to also save money. Amon and I love doing “Fork and Cork” get-togethers with our friends (potlucks where everyone’s required to bring a bottle of (cheap) wine and a new dish they’ve never made). We’ve also created and hosted elaborate scavenger hunts for our girls and their friends - a super cheap way to entertain a bunch of kids! And (during our FIRE journey) we discovered travel hacking, which allowed us to travel the world for free!!!
Of course, you don’t need to do the same things that Amon and I did, but I would encourage you to think of creative ways to have fun (on a budget!) on your FIRE journey!
So, while you’re on your journey towards FIRE, remember these key things: have a written plan, stay positive, and have some fun along the way! Because pursuing FIRE is like a marathon . . . but it’s not an actual marathon . . . and it’s not as painful.
Why You Should Save and Invest Early - The Life Story of the Spender vs the Investor (Comedy Skit)