Most people will never know exactly what they want. Surely, most, if not all of us wants to be attain the status of being financially free but let’s get deeper than this broad concept. I don’t know what I want (huh? “So why LCF is preaching all that he writes here?”). If you ask me what I want to do in the next 6 months for this website, I do know. It’s a matter of specificity. “What do you want?” is too imprecise to produce a meaningful and actionable answer.
“What are your goals?” is similarly fated for confusion and guesswork. To rephrase it, we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Let’s assume you have 5 major financial goals, and you achieve them. What is the desired outcome that makes all the efforts worthwhile? If you answer happiness, think again. Happiness can be “bought” with a few tequila shots every week during happy hours. There is a more precise alternatives that reflects the actual objective.
It’s Excitement. It’s a more practical feeling than happiness. Happiness does not makes us feel alive, but excitement does. That thrill. That rush of adrenaline. It is what that makes entrepreneurs feel alive rather than getting stuck in cubicle nation for the same monetary rewards. It is what we strive to chase. It is why workaholic can’t stop being busy post retirement. Excitement is the cure-all. When people suggest you follow your passion, they are in fact, referring to the same thing. Doing what that excites you, which could also support you financially.
So now the RIGHT question to ask is “What would excite me?” rather than “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?”
The Adult Onset A.D.D. – Adventure Deficit Disorder
Somewhere between graduation and your third year in your employed career, that little voice behind your head whispers – “Be realistic. Life isn’t like in the movies” That’s why so many people are Korean drama junkies rather than charting a life similar to the drama they are watching. (Note – The last drama I watched was Winter Sonata more than 10 years ago)
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If you are in kindergarden and your ambition is to become an astronaut, parents tell us we can be anything we want. If you are 23 or older and says you want to create a business which adds value to the society, the response is different. Be realistic, become a white collar professional – get a good spouse, have kids and retire. Stability and certainty over everything else. How many of you feel the same like what I feel about my upbringing?
If you do manage to disregard the doubters and chart your own path, A.D.D. still lives within. It just takes a different form.
For most, it’s about making X amount of money, say, per day, whether you are working or not. Best if not working of course – like while you are sipping Starbucks at KLCC. Or to get that retrenchment (aka VSS package) windfall in hundreds of thousands.
However, this is actually still NOT specific enough, if you had not defined alternate activities that would replace the initial workload. Without an clear definition of an alternate productive activity, you just keep on working. And the X figure would just increase indefinitely to avoid the fear-inducing uncertainty of this void once reaching your goal. After all, we cannot just watch the grass grow after every work-related activities are removed from our lives, can we?
To a certain boiling point, one eventually “meltdowns”. The usual term to call it – mid life crisis. Splurging on material things (and woman?) to regain their bottled up feeling of lost youth. Picture this – Bald & Fat middle-aged man in a sports car or a Harley Davidson. Seen the movie Wild Hogs?
Boredom, my friend, is the actual #1 enemy.
Correcting the Course – Revamping the Goal Setting
- The goal now is to shift from ambiguous wants to defined milestones.
- It focuses on activities that will fill the VOID of not working once milestones are achieved. Living and being financially free requires doing interesting things not just Owning enviable things.
Alternatively, and contrary to the conventional path, you don’t need to defer the real passion in life to post retirement age. Integrating it into your current daily life without jeopardizing one’s ability to provide for the family is something everyone should consider. Easier said than done but as most successful people would tell you when you ask them “how do you get where you are now“, they just couldn’t answer you in defined steps which you could follow closely to take action. The path in which everyone charts is different. Just have to kick start something….anything.
“Action may not bring happiness (or excitement, in the context of this article), but then thee is no happiness (or excitement) without action”
Now, tell me your take on this.
*Post inspired and adapted from The 4 Hours Work Week by Tim Ferris