Monday, June 5, 2023

Random thoughts: Rewriting the script of unfulfilled FIRE

Warning: Random thoughts are meant very much for myself, rather than any other readers. 

The script is clear.

Work hard, save, invest wisely, and then, when passive income exceeds expenses by a significant margin, say "F*off" to your day job. You have achieved Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) and have the freedom to do whatever you want.

The promise of the path to FIRE is clear, straightforward, and attainable for most white-collar workers, even those not earning top dollars.

Yet, I could not do it. So what?

A week ago, I was chatting on WhatsApp with fellow "financial bloggers," and we discussed feeling uneasy when the conversation shifted to property or "how much one has" in general. I started to feel a little inferiority complex creeping up on me again. This time, I am grabbing the inner demon by its neck and saying the following to it:

1. I will write my own script.

2. I love my work. When I achieve FIRE, I want to continue doing what I am doing—teaching pupils and coaching volleyball. So, people are paying me to do what I love, and that is freedom. I may be poor, but I have freedom.

3. Ten years ago, I wrote about my bucket list. When my mum passed away, I shared about the bucket list. I do not need to start a social enterprise, and I can live a life without fulfilling my dreams and fantasies. It is disappointing but not crippling. I will carry on with my life and find meaning daily.

4. I am well on my way to building a portfolio of reasonable dividends. However, very soon, I will liquidate most of it to buy a private property. Fulfilling the dreams of my loved ones is also my dream. I can let go.

5. FIRE means having everything.

6. I can have nothing and still stand straight. I will work until the day I drop dead at work, which is much preferred to waiting on a deathbed, even though the last journey is not controlled by my will.

I am fully aware that forcefully grabbing the neck of my inner demon indicates a lack of inner peace. Well, so be it. Whether it's sour grapes or not, I have learned to distance myself from conversations that revolve too much around "how much I make." Perhaps if I were making a substantial amount, I could join in, but currently, I simply don't enjoy participating. In fact, I find myself having lunches alone, even if the conversations don't revolve around "money and assets." Maybe as I age, I just want to focus on doing what I want, pursuing my interests, and avoiding superficial small talk.

Moreover, with my closest friends, I'm starting to feel like our conversations are going nowhere. During our recent supper three days ago, I made a deliberate effort to steer the conversation towards our beliefs, interests, lives, and values. I'm glad that my close friends still open up to me honestly. I was shocked to hear that one of them is contemplating divorce. The funny thing is, he mentioned it last year, and we didn't think much of it at the time.

Considering that I have attended several wakes and heard of the passing of many people in just a few months, I have decided to discard the conventional FIRE script and toss it into the fire pit. I need to get back to work soon, and it doesn't really bother me.

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