Be prepared to be different
To most people, conformity comes naturally; original thinking, on the other hand, does not. This means that most people tend to make their way through life without questioning why the norm is the norm. This ready acceptance of the status quo has left many with a sense that their financial destiny is not really in their hands, the evidence for which is all around for us to see.
Instead of saving and investing which, if done consistently enough, could guarantee early retirement, most people prefer to play the lottery, for example. This mentality almost guarantees that they will never reach financial independence, but ironically many people see the lottery as the only way in which they could ever retire early.
The choices we make
Of course, putting the lottery on is seen as pretty normal by most, yet saving more than half your income in order to retire in your 30s or 40s is viewed as strange, despite the fact that the latter is almost guaranteed to provide better results in the long run. It should therefore be obvious:
Just because something is considered normal doesn’t necessarily mean that it is superior.
One weekend I got talking with some acquaintances about investments. One guy asked another if he invested. “No, because I can’t afford to at the moment”, came the reply. I considered this response to be strange given that the guy in question had recently managed to cobble enough money together for a new sports car. With this in mind, a better answer would have been: “No, because I choose to concentrate my financial resources on short-term gratification rather than long-term prosperity”.
There are always choices! It’s just that sometimes people don’t realise they have them.
Most people work until they reach state retirement age (currently 66/67 in the UK but set to rise further over the coming years) or beyond, because they don’t believe there is any other option. I’m sure that given the choice, most would want to retire earlier; it’s just that they don’t believe it to be within their abilities, hence the concentration on pipedreams like the lottery.
Dare to dream
So, when I tell people that I intend to have the financial freedom to retire in my 40s, the general response is one of incredulity, suspicion or even (very occasionally) hostility. People are naturally wary of that of which they are ignorant – but they are also curious. One of the most common questions is how I intend to occupy my free time once I retire. This illustrates the extent to which most people are defined by their jobs; whether they enjoy their work or not, most people find it hard to imagine a life without their job. This is sad, because people were born to be so much more.
There are a million and one things I can think of that I’d like to do given the time. And of course, becoming Financially Independent doesn’t mean you have to quit work entirely. In fact, becoming FI may be the ideal precursor to starting a business. Personally, I’d like to continue working occasionally once I become FI – but only on my terms!
So, be prepared to be different, but don’t let other people’s responses phase you. You will get some funny looks from time to time, but in the end it will all be worth it.