There’s a story that comes from the tradition of the Desert Fathers, an order of Christian monks who lived in the wastelands of Egypt about 1,700 years ago. In the tale, a couple of monks named Theodore and Lucius shared the acute desire to go out and see the world. Since they’d made vows of contemplation, however, this was not something they were allowed to do. So, to satiate their wanderlust, they learned to “mock their temptations” by relegating their travels to the future. When the summertime came, they said to each other, “We will leave in the winter”. When the winter came, they said, “We will leave in the summer”. They went on like this for over 50 years, never once leaving the monastery or breaking their vows.
When I reflect on this story, it resembles to the lives we live in our cubicles. Every time we get our salaries, we spend it to satisfy our immediate desires. We postpone saving for our freedom. “I will start saving money next month” is the thought every time. The time to live for ourselves never comes at all despite the fact that no one stops us from taking the leap.
You only have one chance at living. Do you want to live a life others expect of you to live? Or do you have the courage to live a life true to yourself?
Spectrum Of Total Time In Your Life
When you look at the spectrum of your total life time, you figure that in a projected lifetime of 80 years, you only have 691,200 hours to live. More than a fourth is wasted in growing up at the whims of your parents. Once you are released from the shackles of your parents, you are arrested by the rules of the society. Getting a job, getting married and settling down, having kids. It’s an endless rat race.
Out of the 691,200 hours of total lifetime, you only have less than a quarter of time left for yourself. What can you really do in the crippled state when the demons of old age are haunting you. Thoreau has put it beautifully. “We spend the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.
I have come up with a happiness index to measure the quality of our lives. It’s the number of hours available for ourselves to the number of hours in our life times. If you spend your entire lifetime in a cubicle, you end up with a happiness index of 0.22.
Would you be satisfied on your death bed when you figure this out?
Cofucius said that every man has two lives, and the second starts when he realizes that he has just one. Can you do anything differently to start your second life?
One solution is to achieve financial independence by accumulating enough amount of money that does not descend you to the level of poverty in your lifetime. In comes the spectrum of financial independence to help you pull the trigger and call it quits.
Spectrum Of Financial Independence
The first and most important step towards financial independence is finding your place on the spectrum.
If you are reading this post, you are definitely not born with a silver spoon. You do not want to end up at the fag end of the spectrum as well, where you are working till you fall dead.
The most optimum solution is to find your place somewhere in-between.
Before you find your most optimum place, let’s take a look and see what have others done in the past.
Derek Sivers was financially free at the age of 22 with just $12,000 in pocket. This was his total cost of living for 12 months. His financial freedom corpus. After accumulating the $12k, he knew that he could do what he loves and earn his cost of living. He was not worried. He wanted to live his life. He knew that by living cheaply, it’s easy to be free. Did he increase the probability of having a higher happiness index? Certainly.
Mr. Money Mustache, on the other hand, had a different approach to financial independence. He worked hard in a corporate job, accumulated 25x worth his annual expenses and quit at the age of 30. By living frugally, saving and investing large sums of monthly earnings, he was able to increase the probability of dying with a higher happiness index.
Do it like Sivers or Mustache but do not rot in a cubicle for your lifetime. Find a place for yourself on the spectrum. Take steps to increase your happiness index.
We know that the journey is not easy. But we must get on the path of financial independence. There is no greater joy than owning your time.
Leaving you with a talk by Sivers titled “How to stop being rich and happy”.