I gave a fair bit of thought as to what to call this article. Some of the names that I thought of were “The privilege of being on the path to FI” and “The Good fortune of being on the path to FI”. I settled on Gratitude instead as for me this allows for appreciating the luck, good fortune and privilege of being on the FI journey whilst not making it seem like it was all random without any effort and awesome work from yourself included.
My Buddhist background
After graduating Uni I had a gap year, and during this year I got heavily into Buddhism after reading ‘The Art of Happiness’ by the Dalai Lama. Over the next couple years, I studied Buddhism very closely and read countless books on the subject, I even went to see the Dalai Lama in Manchester as well as going to a couple of weekend meditation retreats. I will no doubt do a future article on my experiences and thoughts on Buddhism but it’s worth clarifying that I was only ever interested in Modern Buddhism (no literal rebirth, Karma, nirvana) and that I don’t consider myself a Buddhist anymore. I mention this however as I am no doubt very influenced by much of what I learnt and am still very grateful for some useful ideas/practises I picked up during this time. This has no doubt informed the creation of this article.
So what do I mean when I talk about gratitude about being on the path toward FI. I simply mean acknowledging, appreciating and being grateful for the good fortune, privilege that you have for being on this path towards FI. There is no doubt that some people will feel that they are independent and are completely self made. They have put all the effort in, worked two jobs, learnt about how to achieve FI and have been disciplined throughout the process. Other people who are not pursuing FI could for sure be in the same position as me if only they tried harder, retooled, got that degree, worked day and night to start a new business etc… Now I believe that the above sentiment is indeed true up to a point and that you can be a relatively independent person but that this is in no way the absolute truth. There is so much more at play, so much that we have no control over.
Now all of what I state below is meant to be the generalities, it’s all about probabilities. A person born in a country without many freedoms or options to a poor family with an abusive relationship with parents still could end up on his path. But I would argue it is much less likely.
Time period & Country you are born into
I feel very fortunate to have been born in this time period that we currently live in as a well as a modern free country (relative yet again). We are performing so well on so many different quality of life metrics and things keep improving. This is not to deny problems and areas where there is decline but I feel so fortunate to not live in a world dominated by superstition, unequal rights, real poverty etc. Just having access to the Internet, a warm house with running water and a hot shower is bliss. We have so many luxuries available to us and countless activities you can partake in in the modern world many of which we of course naturally take for granted. Having this setup as a foundation for which to build FI on is the take home here, we live in a time period and country where FI is a possibility for probably more people than it ever has been at any time before.
Genetics & Family upbringing
We are no doubt all aware of how important early life is in developing our personalities and traits in general. Genetics (nature) and upbringing (Nurture) clearly both work together to weave the person we become long before we have direct conscious intelligent control. Our genetics that perhaps make us more likely to be a worried anxious person coupled with a bad abusive upbringing could make it very hard for someone to be positive, confident and therefore kind of person that can make it more likely to have a high income job as an example. We do not control any of these genetics or early nurturing that helps mould us. I was bought up in a household with a wonderful mother who cared deeply for me whilst allowing me to be the person I wanted to be without any pressure to only be what she wanted. I am sure this has helped me to become who I am now.
Plain old Luck along the way
When we are performing our hardest work and effort at trying to achieve something like a pay rise or securing a new job. We might have done literally all we can to get that job, ticked all the boxes but due to a traffic jam on that day which made the interviewer late and the fact that you happen to look like the bully that teased her every day whilst at high school, she just doesn’t like you enough to give you the job. I myself decided to randomly go on MSN Messenger one night when just I was going to start to look for a job the next week. A Uni friend of mine happened to be on at 2am which was very unusual as he never really used MSN, especially at that time. He happened to say, you found a job yet? If not my boss is looking for someone new in our team so you can send your CV to this email address if interested. I got that job without even having to look. To me at least that wasn’t meant to be in some other worldly Devine plan sense but was simply plain old luck.
The other form of good luck was simply discovering this whole FI movement in the first place. Had I not, I simply wouldn’t even be aware of all this. My life has substantially changed as a result of this discovery but to me it was simply luck. I had come into some money and wanted to invest it for the future. This led me to moneysavingexpert and then Monevator which ultimately got me into this. Had I of took advice from a friend and just used a on ordinary bond investment at my local bank, I still might be completely unaware.
Being FI Ready
Discovering FI as a concept is one thing, I would like to think in order to achieve it, you need to be FI ready (like Windows 10 ready on PCs :D). I think you need to be in a life situation that enables FI to be a legitimate reachable goal. If you are a single stay at home mom living in a high rent area with no real past experience of working and no qualifications. It is going to be much more unachievable. It is not fair to simply say, you just need to scrimp and save a bit more money. On a personal note, I have a moderate paying job right now but if I wasn’t mortgage free and had a child I would find it would take many many more years to get FI.
The Interdependence of everything
I think to sum up my thoughts on this, it would be good to mention how we are all interdependent and even after you have worked hard for a decade or two to retire early, you are not really independent. From the fact that the gas that heats your home is kept working by countless individuals working around the clock to maintain the gas lines, pump out gas to all the food that’s gathered, packaged for you. The water that’s cleaned and made safe delivered straight to your tap. This extends to being able to pull that 3/4% SWR (Safe Withdrawal Rate) every year thanks to humanity continuing to progress and fuel growth. All the efforts from the multitudes that makes your investments worth anything in the first place. I think it’s good to take time to appreciate these things.
I’d love to hear your comments on this article. Do you ever feel gratitude for being on this FI journey or are you completely 100% self made :). For me, I know that there is so much involved in me getting to where I am that’s completely outside of my actions that I can’t help but feel gratitude. I do at the same time also fully appreciate and recognise my own efforts in getting me to where I am.
Chris @ The FIJourney