I think that lifestyle is as important as money, when shooting for financial independence. Many people forget that and go straight for the euros. I’ll try here to elaborate my thoughts on the financial independence lifestyle that fits me at this moment.
Financial Independence Lifestyle
In my life, I try to live by a few simple rules. I call them my pillars for a financial independence lifestyle. These are the 4 things that matter the most in my lifestyle, outside of money matters.
1 – Drive
I want to be as driven as possible. Drive does not only make me achieve things that are considered not achievable, it’s also a treat of very successful people. It’s a mindset.
It is said that the thing that separates overachievers like military special forces from the rest, is their drive. When Navy SEALs conduct a mission, they direct all of their energy at the very first thing they need to do. Whether that thing is big or small doesn’t matter. When you put all of your efforts in the very next thing, you will crush it. It will also give you the momentum to keep going, and focus all your energy on the next task, and the next after that.
This is what makes ordinary people achieve extraordinary things. Think of people like Elon Musk, who slept next to his computer for four hours per day, while working on his first company, to return to a work day of twenty hours before going back to bed. Even if you are half as driven as people like Musk, there is no other outcome than to be successful.
You can choose to be successful, by not wasting your time and energy. That has nothing to do with “being lucky” as people usually talk about luck. Luck is created, it is the result of preparation meeting opportunity.
2 – Health
Part of the financial independence lifestyle, in my opinion at least, is health. In the end, health is one of the most important things in your life. Imagine working a gruelling job and being sick of it all the time. The money is great, but do you really want to live with all the stress and anxiety that comes with it?
Striving for financial independence is not just saving a lot of money. It is best enjoyed when you are in good health. Health is both a mental and a physical thing.
Mental health is maybe the most difficult, because people find it harder to talk about it than to talk about things like being sick or trying to lose weight. It is however super important.
I see quite a lot of people around me struggling with stress and related issues. These things can really take their toll on you. Be careful. You will not be able to enjoy your life when you reach FI under burnout conditions.
Sometimes it’s better to take a step back and relax. Even if that costs you a bit of money.
Also, I recently started to use the Headspace, an app that teaches you to meditate and be a little bit more mindful. The idea to do this comes from Tim Ferris, who is big on meditation himself. Tim interviews guests that are super successful in whatever, and try to decompose the things that make people so successful. On of the things they have in common, they all meditate in some form.
Besides mental health, your physical health is important as well. In fact, I think the two are closely related to each other.
Regarding physical health I would consider both your diet as well as your activities. In my job, I usually sit a lot. And with a lot I mean a lot. Most days I sit behind a laptop for 9-10 hours a day, which really kills my back. To counter that, I take a short walk every so often, and try to have my laptop setup in a way that my back isn’t hurt. So I use a laptop stand, and configure my chair properly.
Three or four times per week I do pretty intense exercises. I used to be a semi-professional athlete in university, and these days I practice powerlifting and weightlifting three mornings per week (before work!) and do some running on one of the evenings. By training my body I get the benefits of being stronger so I’m not as easily hurt, as well as getting to loosen up after a long day at work.
Food is also a pretty important part of your health and financial independence lifestyle. I like food. I mean I do quite a lot of sports so I need more energy than most people do. Bu I also enjoy good food.
Sometimes it is so easy to come home from work, open a bottle of beer and a bag of crisps and go at it. I enjoy doing that sometimes. It does not help my body unfortunately. What does help is eating a healthy balance of protein, healthy fats (think olive oil), and vegetables. Most days I get this right, so a cheat day here and there isn’t that bad.
3 – Be A Good Person
Not only do I think you have to be good for yourself, by taking care of your mental and physical health, I also believe you have to take care of others. You have to be a good person, whatever that might mean to you.
My wish to be good has nothing to do with religion or otherwise outside rules. I just want to be good to others. That means not lying to get what you want. It means treating others with respect.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in a very commercial role (business consulting) so selling is naturally part of the job. That means I will sell anything to anybody if I need to, but I won’t lie to get things done.
A very, very good book to read is “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. It is very old, so the examples are a bit outdated, but it’s principles are valid even today.
4 – Having A Purpose In Life
Just saving up a large pile of money is not having a purpose in life. Your life should have a goal, what that goal is is very personal to you.
This is the most difficult part of your lifestyle. Very few people have a purpose in life that’s so obvious to them they can’t ignore it. Most of us either have no purpose or don’t know yet what that purpose is.
Do It For Something
If you have no purpose, what are you doing it all for? All the hard work, for what? If you live your life with purpose, you are creating (hopefully) a better world. If you do things without purpose, you are just spending time. That’s totally fine, but I wouldn’t want to look back at my life in 50 or 60 years and be proud of my only achievement being that I binge-watched Netflix every day.
Finding your life purpose is hard, very hard. Not many people can truly say they have a purpose in life. Me neither. I know that I want to live a good life, doing good things. But what these good things are, I’m not sure yet.
It’s Okay If You Don’t Know It Yet
I’m 25, and thinking hard about how to give my life a purpose besides earning a lot of money, investing it, and then live off the investment returns. Because if I achieve that goal, what am I going to do? When I know, I will surely write about that here. And probably it will change a few times during my lifetime. But that’s totally fine. You don’t have to set this in stone.
I know I want to leave something, that I can look back at and be proud of. Things that have my interest at the moment are clean energy and teaching, but I don’t know yet how to formulate my purpose out of that. It will come with time I guess.