As I was growing-up, the expected pathway of life for the average person was to graduate high school, go to college, get a job, start a family, buy a house, save money, and one day retire. In that retirement, you’d live in the house you bought, travel, visit family, and generally take life easy.
Sure, there was the concept of opportunity and of getting rich. However, the road more traveled was a predictable formula to a comfortable post-career life.
Generations after the Baby Boomers have taken that method and thrown it out. Whether it is living more in the moment, rejecting the consumerism of their parents, or working for periods to not work for periods; Millennials, Gen Y, and Gen Z are formulating a variety of lifestyle trajectories.
One of those paths is called the FIRE Movement. FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. It is a financial process that advocates for extreme saving and investing to achieve financial independence and retire early. FIRE followers typically aim to save 50-75% of their income each year, so that they can retire in their 30s or 40s.
FIRE adherents revolve their life and activities around not spending when they don’t have to. Life needs to be very simple and frugal. In addition, the financial strategy needs to deliver monetary performance to grow the savings fast enough to achieve a targeted retirement date.
As I researched the movement more deeply, I formulated a few general opinions (not necessarily scientifically based, so correct me if you have actual data).
- FIRE participants seem to be mostly male.
- It requires an almost religious fervor and will consume almost all your awake time.
- Living is tied to a singular focus, money accumulation.
- There is much we all are able learn from the process that can be more softly applied to everyday life with beneficial results.
As an outside observer of the FIRE movement, I find it suffers from the same challenge as most traditional retirement strategies. There is difficulty answering two foundational questions.
- What will be your purpose in life?
- What are you going to do with your time?
To have a goal to retire at 40 (because you have the resources) without a lifestyle strategy to compliment, can be a recipe for retirement challenges just like someone at the age of 65 or older.
- A lack of self-worth, which can lead to depression.
- Boredom because of a lack of time management skills.
- Loss of identity tied to the career.
- Loneliness because there is a lack of meaningful social connections.
Whether you are a FIRE person, doing a conventional retirement approach, or creating your own path you need to add LIFE.
Lifestyle Implementation, Finalize Early (LIFE)
In my upcoming book The Time-Optimized Life, I address a goal planning system designed to be adaptive as life changes.
- Create a Life Purpose Statement that becomes your mission or vision statement by which all major activities in life are tested against.
- Develop a Bucket or Vision List of aspirational items that may seem crazy but give you excitement and energy to expand beyond the regular aspects of life. Make it fun and update it.
- Draw up Long-Term goals that are between 1 to 3 years. They can come from your Bucket List or just organically develop as you progress in life.
- Institute Annual goals that help you accomplish important and meaningful activities that bring personal value.
- Set Short-Term goals (3 to 6 months out) that bring about unexpected satisfaction.
LIFE living is profound and consequential living. LIFE existence is deep and far-reaching.
FIRE and LIFE may seem to contradict each other. On the surface, FIRE could be viewed as a lifestyle strategy that leads to LIFE. Still, I am not seeing that being played out by those in pursuit of an early retirement. Life is predominantly FIRE at the expense of LIFE.
Regardless of the path you have chosen, working on FI (financial independence) with or without the RE (retire early), you must be as focused on creating your version of LIFE (lifestyle implementation, finalize early). Do it now, FIRE or not.
Join us on Thursday December 7, as we discuss the FIRE and LIFE concepts and how they can apply to how you live today.
Learn more about the lifestyle possibilities of your future self.
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