Achieving financial independence is simple. Want to know the secret? Spend less than you earn over a long period of time. That’s it. Every time you read someone’s story about how they retired early, this is exactly how they did it.
So, why don’t more people do it? Because it’s hard to do. Really, really hard. Especially at the beginning. It takes discipline over a long period of time which is something that most people really suck at.
There are worlds of difference between simple and easy. Simple describes complexity. Easy describes difficulty.
Here a few other things that are simple to do:
- lose weight
- build strength
- learn a new language
- learn a new instrument
These are all notoriously difficult to accomplish, but it’s not because they are complicated. It’s because they each take discipline over a long period of time.
Want to lose weight? Burn more calories than you eat every day.
Want to build strength? Lift heavy weights 3-5 times a week and eat a lot of protein.
Want to learn a new language or play an instrument? Practice every day.
They key is that it isn’t good enough to just have a flash of inspiration. You can’t just decide, “I think I’ll lose 20 pounds today” and do a really intense one-day workout and accomplish that goal. You have to really want to lose that weight. You have to want it more than you want the donut at work. More than you want those couple beers at the end of the day. More than you want those 2 dozen chicken wings.
If you want to learn a new language, it’s the same deal. You have to want it more than you want to catch up on your favorite show. More than you want cruise around facebook and reddit. More than you want to read the new book in your favorite series.
I don’t mean that you can’t do the things listed above, but you have to want your goal more than any of those things or you aren’t going to have the staying power you need to reach the finish line.
The real issue at play here is your habits. Creating a habit is simple, but it’s also really hard. Just do whatever it is every day. That’s it. Of course, as they say, this is easier said than done. But creating good habits is the key to accomplishing any of the goals in this post.
The funny thing is, once you decide you want it bad enough, once you can develop the right habits, the hard task almost becomes easy. You can’t understand why you didn’t do it sooner.
You start watching what you eat. At first it’s a battle every day, but gradually it gets easier. You don’t have to think as much about your choices. If you want it bad enough, these new habits stick around and eventually become second nature. The pounds start to fall off, and suddenly you are cruising towards you goal.
Once your mindset shifts its focus and you really devote energy to developing new habits to help you reach your goal, suddenly doing the right things becomes second nature. Easy.
Reaching financial independence is the same type of goal. You have to want it more than you want that new car. More than you want to eat out several times a week. More than you want that yearly European vacation.
But if you can really wrap your mind around what financial independence means to you and understand the freedom it could give you, then you have a very good chance of wanting it bad enough to develop the right habits.
You automate your savings.
You stop craving all those shiny new things.
You start to realize that your happiness is unrelated to all the shit commercials want you to want.
Then things get really exciting. Your net worth grows. You start to see the end of the tunnel and realize you are actually on your way. The positive feedback loop reinforces all those good habits and you can’t imagine doing things any differently. Suddenly simple becomes easy.
But you have to really want it. Really. Otherwise you are just playing a deprivation game and all those siren songs of the shiny objects will eventually wear away your resolve.
I’ve asked this question before on this blog but it seems relevant to ask it again.
Why do you want it?