Financial Independence is a long term project. The maths looks great on paper, but in reality many fail. Why? Human psychology. The classic pattern is to start off super-enthusiastic, but to lose focus over time. After all, our hunter-gatherer brains are wired for short-term goals and rewards.
To make it all worse, we tend to perceive progress in relative terms. It’s easy to double your wealth when you have $10 in the bank. 100% progress – great! Doubling when you have $200,000 or $2m? Not so easy.
So how can we keep the momentum long enough to hit our target?
- Change our values. Work on your Inner Game. Live congruously with your values. This way we can keep moving forward, even when we’re not focussing actively on it.
- Enjoy partial progress. Financial Independence isn’t an all-or-nothing game. Look back at what you’ve already achieved. Take pleasure in having enough to relax about emergency costs, enough to go travel the world for a few years, or simply enough to cover your monthly Netflix subscription in perpetuity.
- The first rule of FI club (shh!). Just telling others about our plans can give us a premature sense of achievement. This actually hinders our accomplishment of them. Keep your eye on actions, not words.
- Gamify. Making a game out of long term goals can make them feel more fun during the stale moments. Why not treat Financial Independence as an RPG, as in one of my favourite posts from the Finance Zombie?
- Accept the lulls. Just recognising that we’re all human can help us cope with the boredom of working towards Financial Independence. There are guaranteed to be times when we don’t feel inspired. Understanding that this is a natural part of progress can immunise us against getting too demoralised.
Is Financial Independence your longest term goal? What else have you achieved that took years? What did you learn?