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Why Financial Independence Shouldn’t Be Your Ultimate Goal (and what should be instead)

Reaching the point of financial independence in your life is a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with being part of the F.I.R.E. (financially independent, retire early) movement. Assuming, that is, you’re doing it right.

My husband and I actually accidentally became part of that movement several years ago, before we knew it existed. I saw my husband was miserable at his job (I’d already quit mine to be a stay-at-home mom for our son), and after reading several books about personal finance and self-employment, I persuaded him to look at our finances and reconsider our future.

He looked, and reconsidered.

Decided – oh, miracle of miracles! – that he agreed with me. And so we got busy.

Reaching for super-early retirement brings with it a lot of benefits. I can tell you from experience. Here are a few of those benefits:

  • You learn to manage your money wisely.
  • If you’re naturally frugal, you learn to be even more frugal.
  • You develop a knowledge base about the financial world that exceeds that of most people.
  • Your math skills get better.
  • And, of course, once you attain financial independence, you can do whatever you like with your time within the constraints of your nest egg. You no longer have to work forty-plus hours per week at a job you dislike.

And, right there is the problem.

And there we hit the big snag when it comes to retiring early: people tend to focus on the money.

I know my husband and I did. For several years, I obsessed over the monthly budget. We plummeted into despair in 2008 when our mutual fund values lost a third of their value (I didn’t know about safer ways to invest for probably another three years; the video below shares about that way).

This kind of obsession happens to a lot of people working to become financially independent at a much younger age than the typical retirement age of sixty or so. Reaching that golden number, that amount they know they need in order to be able to pull the equivalent of a thriving income out of it every year for the rest of their lives, becomes the ultimate goal.

The love of money…

You’ve probably heard the Bible verse, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” People seeking early financial independence aren’t necessarily loving money. But making it the ultimate goal will lead to, if not evil, then to emptiness.

Why?

Because they haven’t figured out how to spend the rest of their lives once they no longer need to work at a job or a business.

And so, we reach…

The right and healthy ultimate goal

The ultimate goal of any human being should be to live a fulfilling life. This may sound selfish. It’s not. Anyone who thinks that seeking fulfillment is selfish has confused it with happiness.

Feeling happy and feeling fulfilled are two completely different things. With that straightened out, how do you find fulfillment?

#1. You extend love toward those around you.

#2. You live out your calling.

I’ve talked about finding your purpose in this post, and figuring out your calling in this post. To recap, everyone’s purpose is to create with the goal of being a blessing to other people. A person’s calling is living out that purpose using the talents, skills, and interests they have in a way that fits their specific circumstances in life.

If you’re living out your calling, you’re going to be living a fulfilled life…regardless of your financial situation. Indeed, if you know that you’re living out your calling when you work at your job or in your business, and you look forward to that work every day, it’s a perfectly viable choice not to try to build up a nest egg by middle age. You can simply plan to work for as long as you can.

A backfiring you don’t want to experience

If you make financial independence your ultimate goal, what happens the day you achieve it?

You’re done.

DONE!

You’ve achieved the ultimate in life. You have nothing more worth doing, nothing to look forward to.

How depressing is that?

Even if you don’t tend to get depressed, I can guarantee you that you’ll get bored. Really bored.

Do you need to refocus?

If  you’re reading this post, I assume you’re already part of F.I.R.E. movement, or are thinking about making the plunge into it. So let me ask you this question: do you need to refocus?

If you have no idea what your life is going to look like once you reach your golden number, the answer will be a big, fat YES.

Because if reaching that number is your ultimate goal, you’re going spend the rest of your life in misery.

And that defeats the purpose of gaining financial freedom and time freedom.

Click the book image before if you would like to learn how to achieve super-early retirement…just remember to seek fulfillment before money!

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