Knowing the path is different from walking the path
Knowing other people are planning on retiring early or have done so is different from knowing you can do it.
There is a process of awareness raising, understanding the concept, internalising it, having a mental shift and then thinking that’s me that is, I can and will do that.
Taking action consistently every day, week, month and year, and educating ourselves in the personal and financial activities needed to reach FIRE are important, but a key part of the journey is having that mental shift – it could be a one off epiphany that gets you straight there, a series of incremental nudges or a general dawning which shifts thinking.
I wonder if for some it may have been like becoming a born again Christian, an immediate conversion, a paradigm shift. Not for me it has been more like a combination of slow realisation, walking some part of the path, and various pennies dropping.
I have been thinking of metaphors to describe the revelation, realisation and mental mind shift that takes place when moving to an FI mind set. Weenie describe it as ‘Being Tangoed’, ‘Taking the Red Pill’ as in the Matrix. I’ve used the term ‘The Epiphany’ in my post ‘How did I get here‘ – you could say ‘Light Bulb Moment’, an ‘Awakening’ but it doesn’t quite describe the full journey for me.
I have had a couple of number of major and minor epiphanies. The first one as I’ve said before looking round for all the money I had ‘saved’ being child free and finding diddly squat. The second was the period after seeing a financial adviser. I saw one as I knew I was holding too much cash and not investing enough in a Stocks and Shares ISA. However I hadn’t actually understood or internalised just how much the balance was wrong. And since then – over the last couple of years I have increased by investment to x 9 the original amount and decreased savings to almost 0.
The change or action needed is not always so obvious. We all know about the boiling frog fable don’t we? It ‘describes a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death’ (good old Wikipedia). Apparently this myth has been debunked, frogs do notice when when the water gets hot, however you know where I am coming from don’t you? Things change around you so incrementally you don’t notice – but suddenly something catches your eye, you really look and you are surprised by the extent of the change.
It has happened to me lots of time noticing my parents growing older, friends losing weight, the change face of a run down part of Manchester, Ancoats, which is now one of the city’s trendiest. I know the poor boiling frog isn’t a nice metaphor but it does describe that sense of changing and not changing.
It has taken me a lot of time to consume content and learn (at least what I used to think were relatively) complex concepts; get into the FIRE mind set, good budgeting practice, understand tax wrappers, what is involved in buy to let, how pensions work, what is a platform, what is a fund, how to compare investments, how to invest…phew…and loads more. However the biggest epiphany / awakening / dawning of all is realising that in all this complexity the truth is very simple … embarrassingly simple – don’t spend on silly stuff, take action, invest as much as you can in low cost track funds and be patient.
I think I’ve just swallowed the Red Pill.
What metaphors do you use to describe your journey, did you have any Red Pill moments, or have you been simmering away with the frogs?!