Beyond wealth: What happens AFTER you achieve financial independence?

Beyond wealth: What happens AFTER you achieve financial independence?

In their classic Your Money or Your Life, Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin argue that the relationship between spending and happiness is non-linear.

More spending brings more fulfillment — up to a point. But spending too much can actually have a negative impact on your quality of life. The authors suggest that personal fulfillment — that is, contentment — can be graphed on a curve that looks like this:

[The Fulfillment Curve]

Beyond the peak, Stuff starts to take control of your life. Buying a sofa made you happy, so you buy recliners to match. Your DVD collection grows from 20 titles to 200, and you drink expensive hot chocolate made from Peruvian cocoa beans. Soon your house is so full of Stuff that you have to buy a bigger home — and rent a storage unit. But none of this makes you any happier. In fact, all of your things become a burden. Rather than adding to your fulfillment, buying new Stuff actually detracts from it.

The sweet spot on the Fulfillment Curve is in the Luxuries section, where money gives you the most happiness: You've provided for your survival needs, you have some creature comforts, and you even have a few luxuries. Life is grand. Your spending and your happiness are perfectly balanced. You have Enough.

According to Dominguez and Robin, your goal should be to achieve Financial Independence, the condition of having Enough for the rest of your life. “Financial Independence has nothing to do with rich,” they write. “Financial Independence is the experience of having enough — and then some.” This is achieved when your savings has reached a level that will sustain you at the peak of the Fulfillment Curve indefinitely.

As many Get Rich Slowly readers have discovered over the years, the exercises and advice in Your Money or Your Life can transform your relationship with money, helping to break your dependency on Stuff. It's a great book for learning how to align your spending with your values. It provides a roadmap to Financial Independence.

Where Your Money or Your Life is less good, however, is providing advice for what to do after you've reached this goal. What happens when you achieve Financial Independence? What happens when you have enough — and then some? Many people reach this place only to find themselves wondering, “What next?” It's an important question, one that's often tough to answer.

The Power of Purpose

When you're building your wealth snowball, your goals and mission keep you focused on the future. They guide you toward the things you ought to do while helping you avoid temptation and peril. Without a clear purpose, it's difficult to stay on course during the long march to financial freedom.

Purpose is also important after you've obtained the wealth you desire.

In his book You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think, financial planner Wes Moss shares five “secrets” of a happy retirement. After surveying 1350 retirees across 46 states, Moss found that the number-one predictor of contentment is a sense of purpose.

“[Happy retirees] have a well-defined understanding of their purpose in life,” he writes. According to his research:

  • 91% of happy retirees are clear and comfortable with their sense of purpose.
  • In contrast, 89% of unhappy retirees report that they're uncomfortable (or only “slightly” comfortable) with their sense of purpose.

The bottom line: “Happy retirees know what their retirement money is for.

To that end, Moss encourages his clients (and readers) to foster a handful of “core pursuits” — activities that excite them and bring them joy. By developing these core pursuits before reaching retirement or Financial Independence, you're better prepared for what comes next.

Similarly, in Choose Your Retirement, Emily Guy Birken writes that “a retirement based on values will be a fulfilling and contented experience”. Birken dubs this a “values-driven retirement”.

A values-driven retirement sounds great. But how do you discover your values? How do you pick your core pursuits? How do you decide what you want out of life? How do you answer the question, “What next?” I believe the answer goes back to creating (an adhering to) a personal mission statement.

With a mission statement, you have a roadmap to meaning. Without one, you run the risk of finding yourself lost in the woods where even your wealth won't help you find the way home.

Note: At the end of this article, I'll share a powerful exercise to help you discover purpose.

Money Without a Mission

A lot of people believe that if only they were wealthy, if only they had a million dollars, then all of their problems would be solved. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.

There's no doubt that money can buy food and clothes and shelter. Wealth grants access to better health care. It provides peace of mind so that you don't fall into a panic when the car breaks down. But money is only a tool. It's not a magic wand that will miraculously make you smart, fit, and kind. It's up to you put the tool to constructive use.

Beyond Wealth: What Happens After You Achieve Financial Independence?

What happens if you achieve financial freedom without direction, if you don't use money to build a better life?

At best, you drift aimlessly from day to day, never quite sure what you ought to be doing next. Maybe you aren't destructive (to yourself or others), but you're certainly don't add anything of value to the world. I've met a couple of folks who, because they're financially secure, shut themselves away all day playing videogames. That's a shame. They have the freedom to do whatever they want…and they choose to do nothing.

At worst, reaching financial freedom without a plan plunges a person into decadence and despair. Think of all the horror stories you've heard about pro athletes, movie stars, and lottery winners who squander their riches on speed boats and strip clubs. (Here, for example, is the poignant tale of Jack Whittaker, a West Virginia man who won a $315 million Powerball jackpot in 2002. Without a plan, instant riches brought devastation rather than delight.)

Money can buy freedom, no question. But you have to seize the freedom or it all goes to naught. You may win a billion dollars in the lottery, but that won't make a difference to your health and wealth if you elect to survive on a diet of donuts and vodka while lounging watching Friends re-runs on Hulu.

“Money is important but it's far from most important,” says Jim Wang from Wallet Hacks. “This becomes clearer when you reach Financial Independence, when you no longer need to work as hard to sustain yourself. You risk losing your sense of purpose if it was deeply tied to working for an income. This is why many retirees have trouble in retirement!”

Money is important but a mission matters more.

Once you have plenty of money, it's your responsibility to make what you want out of life. (Truthfully, it always has been your responsibility.)

Fix Yourself First

For many people — including myself — I think the best answer to the question “what next?”, the best way to discover meaning and purpose, is to fix what's broken in your life. After you achieve Financial Independence, you no longer have excuses not to become the best version of yourself, whatever that means to you. As an example, here's my own story.

When I was younger, I was deep in debt. I was also fifty pounds overweight. I had time-management issues. My relationships were built on a false projection of myself. I used to think that if I could win the lottery or otherwise luck into a windfall, all my worries would go away. But when I eventually achieved complete Financial Independence, my problems didn't disappear. Quite the opposite.

It turned out that J.D. with money was the same as J.D. without money. He remained a fat, lazy procrastinator who was unhappy with his situation.

[Me in a Hammock in Belize]

I had fixed my finances by becoming the CFO of my own life, by running my personal finances like a business. Slowly, it dawned on me. In order to fix everything else that was broken, I'd have to take responsibility for all of it.

  • If I wanted to be fit instead of fat, I had to eat right and exercise.
  • If I wanted to be comfortable meeting new people, I had to overcome my introversion.
  • If I wanted to travel, learn Spanish, live in a walkable neighborhood, have healthy romantic relationships, write a book, become better at public speaking – if I wanted to be a better man, I had to do the work required to become a better man.

Money wouldn't magically make things better. Nobody else was going to do the work for me. If I wanted to repair what was broken, I had to do it myself. Furthermore, I realized that — like the hero of a fantasy or science-fiction novel — the power to fix my problems had always rested in my hands.

I began to make changes instead of excuses.

I lost weight, got fit, learned Spanish, traveled to Europe and Africa and South America, and began to build better relationships. I moved to a neighborhood where I could walk for 90% of my errands. I learned to ride a motorcycle and shoot a gun. I wrote a book (two, really) and became better at public speaking. I forced myself to set aside my introversion and relish the company of others, even strangers.

When I accepted responsibility for everything in my life, things got better. Lots better.

Note: My life isn't perfect, and I don't want to pretend that it is. Truthfully, I can sometimes go months forgetting that I must be my own hero. I grow complacent and slowly slide back into bad habits. I eat poorly. I play too many videogames. I drink too much wine. I don't spend enough energy maintaining friendships. Over the past year, for instance, I've packed on twenty pounds. But I know now how I ought to live — and when I live that way things are great!

Supplied with what seemed like limitless time and money, I realized that I was the only one who could fix the things that were wrong in my world. I realized that it had been up to me all along. It was a harsh epiphany.

My story isn't unique. Turns out it's rather commonplace.

For instance, Todd Tresidder (the Financial Mentor) says that after he achieved financial independence at age 35, he had a similar insight. He felt lost, directionless. It wasn't until he realized that only he could give himself direction that he found his way again.

This I believe: If you're not sure what your purpose is, fix yourself first — then move on to other goals.

Make the World a Better Place

After you've fixed yourself, you can turn your attention to making the world at large a better place. (Some folks might be tempted to focus on improving the world first. I think this is a huge mistake. You'll be much more effective if you take care of yourself first before moving on to help others.)

Here, for instance, is the story of Jason Brown, a former professional football player who gave up millions of dollars to do something more meaningful for himself…and the world. I love this story:

In 2009, after four years as a pro, Brown signed a five-year $37.5 million contract with the St. Louis Rams, which made him the highest-paid center in NFL history. He was financially independent. He could do anything he wanted, and he did not want to play football. Three years later (at age 29), Brown quit his career to become a farmer — even though he'd never farmed a single day in his life. (He learned how to grow crops from YouTube!)

But Brown isn't growing the food for himself. His First Fruits Farm raises sweet potatoes to donate to local food pantries. “When I think about a life of greatness, I think a life of service,” says Brown. He's found meaning through helping others.

Sidenote: In 2014, Brown delivered his own child after his wife went into labor on the farm and their midwife couldn't reach them in time!

Or there's Warrick Dunn, another former football player. During his first year in the NFL, when he was only 22 years old, he established Homes for the Holidays, a program to help struggling first-time homebuyers with the process.

Contrary to other reports around the web, Dunn's charity does not give homes to single mothers. Instead, in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity, Homes for the Holidays provides down-payment assistance and complete home furnishings to single-parent families that are purchasing their first home. (Not the same as giving away houses but still awesome!)

What's more — and I especially like this part of the program — Homes for the Holidays also provides financial literacy workshops.

You don't have to be a professional athlete to do good deeds once you've reached financial freedom.

After he became financially independent, Harlan founded The Plutus Foundation, a non-profit that aims to provide financial literacy and “improve financial empowerment”. And my friend Jen feels called to support Manos Unidas, a Peruvian school for disabled children.

Fixing yourself and improving the world are both excellent ways to find meaning and purpose once you've reached Financial Independence. But you know what? Another option, one that surprises many people, is continued work.

Work After Wealth

For many people who achieve Financial Independence, “what next?” is a new career. Or maybe even the same career.

After I sold Get Rich Slowly, for instance, and obtained financial freedom, I slowly reduced the amount of work I was doing until I was doing none at all. For a while, it was fun to have no commitments. I browsed the internet, read comic books, met friends for lunch. Kim I left for our grand roadtrip across the United States. But even before leaving Portland last March, she and I had both begun to recognize that I lacked a sense of purpose. I was aimless and adrift.

“When we get home,” Kim said, “I think you should get a job, even if it's just a few hours a day at Starbucks.” I agreed that seemed like an excellent idea. Instead, I started Money Boss while on the road. That gave me work and purpose again — the same work and purpose that gave my life meaning before. (Now, of course, Money Boss has been folded into Get Rich Slowly. In fact, this article originally appeared on Money Boss more than three years ago!)

Or there's Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme. After reaching Financial Independence at age 33, he spent four years pursuing hobbies like sailing, bicycle repair, and writing. Then, at age 37, Jacob un-retired for a few years.

“Financial independence allows you to do what you want whether that’s travel, raising children, saving the world, or playing golf. That’s what’s important,” Jacob writes. “What I like to do is solving impossible problems.” When he received a job offer that involved solving impossible problems, he took it. It gave him meaning and purpose. It was the right choice for Jacob and his circumstances.

Note: Some folks claim that if you're working you cannot possibly be retired. I think most of us recognize this as a bullshit semantic argument. (Mr. Money Mustache famously mocks what he calls the Internet Retirement Police.) To avoid debate, I prefer to talk about Financial Independence instead of retirement, but I believe they're essentially the same thing.

Finally, there's Jim from Wallet Hacks again. Jim is a serial entrepreneur. He's always starting businesses, even though he doesn't need the money. His work gives him meaning:

After I sold my last company, I felt a sense of emptiness when I woke up in the morning. I used to get up, excited to start the day because I had all these ideas in my head for what I wanted to try, projects I was working on, and people I needed to talk to. My sense of purpose, which was tied to my work, was taken away.

I started thinking about what I wanted to do next. I thought about what was important to me, what I really enjoyed about working outside of the paycheck, and realized that I work because I enjoy a feeling of accomplishment, I enjoy learning a new thing, and I enjoy overcoming challenges. So I set out to build a new work life for myself that touched on those…any income was an added bonus.

In his excellent book Work Less, Live More, author Bob Clyatt calls the lifestyle that Jacob and Jim and I have chosen “semi-retirement”. We're financially independent but opt to keep working. “Semi-retirees learn that a reasonable amount of work, even unpaid work, keeps them energized, contributing, and sharp,” writes Clyatt.

(Clyatt says that semi-retirement is also a great option for those who haven't yet achieved FI but are getting close. It's a way to scale back your career, to make a gradual transition from full-time employment to something more casual.)

What Next?

When you're Financially Independent, you should make decisions based purely on your personal values,” Mr. Money Mustache once told me. “You should make your decisions as if money didn't matter. You should ask yourself: If you could live anywhere, where would you live? You should choose to do work that you'd do even if you weren't getting paid. And you should make buying decisions as if everything were free.”

But how do know your personal values? Most people have a vague understanding of what's important to them, but lack clear goals and purpose. That's why I like the following exercise, which is designed to help you discover meaning in your life.

To complete this assignment — based on the work of Alan Lakein — you'll need about an hour of uninterrupted time. You'll also need a pen, some paper, and some sort of stopwatch. When you're ready, do the following:

  1. At the top of a blank page, write this question: What are my lifetime goals? For five minutes, list whatever comes to mind. Imagine you don't have to worry about money, now or in the future. What would you do with the rest of your life? Don't filter yourself. Fill the entire page, if you can. When you're finished, spend an additional five minutes reviewing these goals. Make any changes or additions you see fit. Before moving on, note the three goals that seem most important to you.
  2. On a new piece of paper, write: How would I like to spend the next five years? Spend five minutes answering this question. Be honest. Don't list what you will do or should do, but what you'd like to do. Suspend judgment. When your time is up, again spend five minutes reviewing and editing your answers. As before, highlight the three goals that most appeal to you.
  3. Start a page with the question: How would I live if I knew I'd be dead in six months? Imagine that your doctor says you've contracted a new disease that won't compromise your health now, but which will suddenly strike you dead in exactly six months. There is no cure. How would you spend the time you have left? What would you regret not having done? You know the drill: Take five minutes to brainstorm as many answers as possible, then five minutes to go back through and consider your responses. When you're ready, indicate the three things that matter most to you.
  4. At the top of a fourth piece of paper, write: My Most Important Goals. Below that, copy over the goals you marked as most important from answering each of the three questions. (If any answers are similar, combine them into one. For instance, if “write a novel” was one of your top answers to the first question and “writing fiction” was a top answer to the second, you'd merge these into a single goal.)
  5. The final step requires a bit of creativity. Label a fifth piece of paper My Mission. Look through your list of most important goals. Does one stand out from the others? Can you see a common thread that connects some (or all) of the goals? Using your list as a starting point, draft a Mission Statement. Your Mission Statement should be short — but not too short. It might be anywhere from a few words to a few sentences. Take as much time as you need to make this the best, most compelling paragraph you can write.

When you've finished, set aside your Mission Statement and walk away. Go about the rest of your life for a few days. Don't forget about your mission, but keep it in the back of your mind.

After you've had time to stew on things, sit down and review what you've written. How does your Mission Statement make you feel? Can you improve upon it? You want a vision to give you a sense of purpose that drives you day-in and day-out, through good times and bad.

Note: To make things easier, I've created a free PDF version of this project for you to download and print: Your Personal Mission Statement.

Final Thoughts

Over the past couple of years, I've thought a lot about people who set (and achieve) big goals but then lose their way. This happens all of the time.

Many people spend years digging out of debt only to fall back into the pit. Or there are folks like me who manage to lose fifty pounds but then gain it all back. (I've done that twice before. I'm in the middle of a gain right now — but I'm trying to put the brakes on.)

I think the big problem is that people forget to ask themselves, “What next?” They have a plan to get out of debt or to lose weight, but they don't have a plan for what follows. I think another issue is that people pick the wrong goals.

  • Your aim shouldn't be to get out of debt. Your aim should be to boost your personal profit; debt reduction then becomes an inevitable side effect.
  • Similarly, your target shouldn't be a specific weight. Your goals should be to eat right and to exercise thirty or sixty minutes each day. If you do this, fitness will follow.

A similar issue faces folks who have set the goal of achieving Financial Independence. They've set themselves target, which has no real meaning in Real Life, and once they succeed at reaching it, they're lost. They come to the realization that their goal was arbitrary, that it ought to have been a side effect not a primary aim. (It's curious to see so many FIRE bloggers lately move to “un-retire” and return to work precisely because they were floundering to find direction.)

Whether you're digging out of debt, building your debt snowball, are wondering what to do now that you've achieved Financial Independence, your happiness and well-being can be improved by having a sense of purpose. What's yours?

More about...Retirement, Psychology

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dh
dh
4 years ago

Great article, JD! Yeah, I think early retirement is totally over-rated. I want to work until I’m in my 70’s if I can. All the good things in life that people try to retire early for — relaxation, travel, spectatoring, etc., really need a foundation to rest on to be truly enjoyable, and that foundation is called WORK. I love movies, for example, but I’ve always noticed that they are so much sweeter, enjoyable, and entertaining when they are counterbalanced with long hours of work. When I have all the time in the world to watch as many movies as… Read more »

MrFireStation
MrFireStation
4 years ago

Good discussion of a tough subject – life purpose. Work is a substitute for life purpose for many people, even if their business/company really only exists to make money. I’ve been seeking to combine FI and set off on a new purpose in my upcoming early retirement (@49yrs). Over the past year we’ve banked every paycheck into a philanthropic fund that we will give away in early retirement. It will be a healthy six-figure amount. The goal will be to help others, meet new people, and put purpose to our new lives as early retirees.

Elyse
Elyse
1 year ago
Reply to  MrFireStation

This is one of my goals as well, once I hit FI, to work and bank at least one year’s salary into a donor advised fund. I’m still several years away, but I’m looking forward to being able to do so!

Mr. Enchumbao
Mr. Enchumbao
4 years ago

Hi J.D. First article I read on the site and I’m loving it. Your Money Or Your Life was also the book that got us on the FI path. I read the book about 5 years ago, shared with my then-girlfriend and she was on board right away. I went from having huge debts to debt free in about 3 years after being transformed. We’re now less than 3 years away from becoming FI and early retirement is definitely the path we’ll be taking. I think after FIRE we’ll continue blogging, doing other things blog-related and also some non-profit work.… Read more »

James Sime
James Sime
4 years ago

I enjoyed reading your well written, thoughtful article. Recommend you explore http://www.bertherring.com to resolve forever your pending health and longevity issues, which you allude to in the article.

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
4 years ago

I agree that everybody needs some type of purpose. Purpose is one of the main reasons why I wrote my latest article on starting a business to help my parents in their retirement. Because my father is my main editor on Financial Samurai, we’ve been talking and bonding for years now. He always looks forward to a new draft article every othe day and often shares his thoughts with my mom who then shares her thoughts with me before publishing as well. One of my main purposes is to keep communication flowing in my family and make my parents happy.… Read more »

Mr. Thriftyskate
Mr. Thriftyskate
4 years ago

Love the graph! Very clear image of how I spend money.

I think for some people that sweet spot of “enough” depends on the person’s awareness. When it’s one’s own spending it might be difficult to realize there is over consumption.

I’m imagining a 3rd dimension to the graph. Picture the side of a hill going into and sloping up / out and sloping down as the 3rd dimension. By moving in/out on the “awareness/perception” axis it would be very easy to feel more fulfilled without spending any additional money.

Dave @ Accidental FIRE
Dave @ Accidental FIRE
1 year ago

Wow, epic post! This really sums up a lot of the non-technical and non-money specific aspects of FI. Be the CEO of your own life, take responsibility. Life is unfair, some people have it better off than you, deal with it. Make your situation better instead of pointing at others and complaining that they got a head start over you. Try your best, be honest, and try to live your best. I love the two stories of the NFL players! Also don’t forget the drummer from REM Bill Berry did something similar. He left the band when they were at… Read more »

Selena
Selena
1 year ago

I’m struggling with this right now. While I’m trying to figure it out, I’m continuing to work. And while I continue to work, I rediscovered that having the freedom to walk away from work at any time has made it enjoyable again, especially since I now get to choose what I do because my employer knows I can walk away at any time.

Funny how that works.

Selena
Selena
1 year ago

JD,

Thoughtful, human articles like this one are why you and MMM are the only PF blogs I still read. I’m tired of PF blogs that are almost predatory and focused on me, me, me with a few numbers thrown in so people can measure themselves against others. Thank you.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago

Right on! You need to do something productive with your time after FIRE. For me, that’s being a dad, husband, and blogger. It’s a lot of work already. Once our son doesn’t need me as much, then I’ll move on to something else. Life keeps changing and you need to adapt. It’s no good to sit around with nothing to do. Part-time work is the way to go. Or volunteering or hobby work.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
1 year ago

Purpose and meaning are indeed essential for mental health and so much more. But I’d be wary of ascribing meaninglessness to the lives of other people according to the activities they pursue. I know a guy who is crazy about video games—collects and rebuild old consoles, travels to tournaments, has friends around the world based on his hobby. Somehow we think that going on a remote mountain expedition is highly meaningful and honorific and “a passion”, but playing video games is not. Professionals bouncing a ball in a court and shooting it into a rim for points happens to be… Read more »

Spencer for Hire
Spencer for Hire
1 year ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I laughed out loud reading that last sentence. That’s one way to put my life in perspective. The militiaman is happier than me

Steve
Steve
1 year ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

The ideal version of myself definitely spends more time playing video games than the current version of myself. Not all his time, but definitely more than none.

Selena
Selena
1 year ago

There are entire communities of people worldwide involved in video games by doing more than just playing. There are people who organize teams, create tools to help strategize, run chatrooms that bring together players to help one another, sometimes for money and sometimes pro bono.

Some of my closest friends I met through gaming. I have traveled the world to meet up with them. There’s a group of us who vacay together once or twice every year.

Anne
Anne
1 year ago

I would also like to add that one does not need to be a multi-millionaire, professional ball player to feel that one is contributing. I have a small “charity” budget that donates, each month, to a shelter for blind cats, and supports a girl growing up in India. There is also a small portion of it for me to use as “miscellaneous” each month. That one varies…and is fun to decide upon. Sometimes cash into the firemen’s “boot”, sometimes scouting or hamburgers for someone who appears to be homeless. I also try to buy things from individual artists when I… Read more »

Rob @ FinanceAbilities
Rob @ FinanceAbilities
1 year ago

Great article. It is so important to have a sense of purpose in work or in retirement. With a strong sense of purpose, work doesn’t seem like “work” in the first place. I am lucky to have a job I love and feel a strong sense of purpose in my work. Because of this, I don’t even feel like I want to retire early, in fact I’ll probably want to retire LATE. I think that having a purpose makes me see FIRE in a different light; it makes me realize that “FI” should be much more important than “RE”. If… Read more »

Spencer for Hire
Spencer for Hire
1 year ago

I understand money and achieving FI will not solve all of life’s problems, but from my perspective aiming for FI and purpose are not necessarily separate. My job consumes a large part of my day. Lets say my goals are becoming fit by working out or being a good father by being present with my kids. These I feel are important goals and especially raising my kids right gives me a strong sense of purpose. When I come home stressed and drained from my day job because that’s where the majority of my focus is during the day, I can… Read more »

Jennifer
Jennifer
1 year ago

Thanks for this! As an introvert, most forms of paid employment don’t fall into my happy place: too many people, too much bs. I am, at 51, struggling to figure out what paid work is likely to give me the balance of money and personal satisfaction for which I am willing to trade my life hours (YMOYL!). I don’t miss working in a job AT ALL, perhaps because I volunteer most days and spend a lot of my time learning skills and trying things I was always afraid to do. Life in reverse? I cherish being able to manage time,… Read more »

Srewolf
Srewolf
1 year ago

Recently I heard an episode of Hidden Brain (NPR) about what people spend their money on: In the second part of this episode (below), the differences in spending patterns among the classes is discussed. The author says that the middle 40-60 percent spend on conspicuous consumption (expensive watches, cars, etc.), while the “aspirational class” spends on intangibles such as education, travel, yoga classes, things that provide more free time such as household help & gardeners, etc. (Search for the phrase “aspirational class” to jump to where the spending discussion begins): https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=571181050 Other Hidden Brain episodes of money-related topics: https://www.npr.org/2019/04/19/715145723/why-no-one-feels-rich-the-psychology-of-inequality https://www.npr.org/2016/10/25/499213698/whats-it-like-to-be-rich-ask-the-people-who-manage-billionaires-money… Read more »

stellamarina
stellamarina
1 year ago

A retirement planning book that I read many years ago..(found it on the give and take book shelf at a hostel in Thailand) said that in retirement you need to replace the three P’s that you get from work. Purpose, People and Pattern .

I do not know who wrote the book or the name of the author, but I thought it was sage advice to be remembered. In fact, if anyone recognizes the book I would love to hear what the name is.

slg
slg
1 year ago

Great post. Thanks for reflecting on life after FI. I disagree on the goals vs tactics argument. If you dont have a target to be a specific weight, how will you track progress? Why use weight as a measure if you want to get fitter? A goal to “eat right and to exercise thirty or sixty minutes each day” is too ambiguous to mean anything and is more abritary than a weight loss goal. Whats right today, may not be right in two months time, exercise is too varied to assume fitness will follow. If you are ill for a… Read more »

Wally1
Wally1
1 year ago

This article really hit home, I have been retired for 8 years and I am so busy I don’t know how I got things done when I was working. That said, I have been so busy that I was neglected taking care of my health and just resolved to lose weight and start getting in shape. Financially, I found out that things I wanted and now can afford, are not actually that important. It’s actually funny that I really do not value the possessions I thought were important. I rather spend time traveling and seeing the world. Your mileage may… Read more »

NWA-non
NWA-non
1 year ago

Posts such as this one adds on to the legend that is you, JD. Your storytelling style is mostly unparalleled, even when you are driving home a point.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my purpose. I will articulate it in a future post in our blog, which hopefully is even as half as poignant as this post.

LadyonaBudget
LadyonaBudget
1 year ago

After a state of euphoria passes and you manage to catch your breath, a real sense of accomplishment for reaching financial independence is realized, often followed by a sigh of relief or uncontrollable sobbing, joy or a combination of both. Debt is a horrible thing that gnaws away at you. It’s said that around 3 out of 4 Americans live with debt, and most hope to be clear by their mid 50’s. It can cause a lot of stress on family and relationships, so financial independence is a very big deal. When I first started to see that light at… Read more »

Chris
Chris
9 months ago
Reply to  LadyonaBudget

Yes! I mentioned two books below and don’t want to insert them again for fear that I’ll be tagged a spammer, but what you say is exactly the experience. When the honeymoon’s over, you’re left bored on a Tuesday. Your friends are at work, and you don’t find it exciting to go out to dinner AGAIN and catch the special 5PM pricing, etc.

Meg
Meg
1 year ago

I never leave comments, but…great article! So timely for my husband and myself right now. Still don’t know what we’re retiring “to”. I plan on doing this exercise this weekend. Thanks so much for sharing your insight and experience.

RM
RM
1 year ago

This is an awesome article. I just reached FI and was so demotivated because I do not know what I am supposed to do now.
I realize now I can just take risks in my career and not worry about failing – if I get fired I can find a better fit elsewhere even if its lower paying. So liberating

Chris
Chris
9 months ago
Reply to  RM

If you’re a reader, I recommend both “The Retirement Maze,” and “Early Bird.” They were very helpful to me.

Alan Donegan
Alan Donegan
1 year ago

JD, just read your article and really enjoyed it. I think you are absolutely right. Purpose and having a mission are so important to a happy life! I loved the exercise at the end of the article and have copied it out and will do it this next week! Thank you for writing.

Alan

Chris
Chris
9 months ago

A book to add to this topic is “The Retirement Maze,” which explores how retirement is like being self-employed, but the business is your day-to-day well being. Many are unhappy because they wait their whole lives to reach this stage, and then when they don’t have a plan.

Another is “Early Bird,” a funny memoir about a young guy who moves to a retirement community after burning out as a writer for Conan O’Brian. He has some very good insights, and finds himself aimless after the honeymoon period of getting the break he needed.

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