Here are things people tell you, but you don’t really “get” until you experience it yourself:
- Don’t be a lawyer. You will hate your life.
- You are probably eating more than you think. Count your calories.
- If you worked really hard and made $1 million, you would enjoy being on the beach for about 3 weeks…then you would get bored and want to get back to work.
Do you agree? Disagree? If you worked hard and earned a million bucks, what would you do?
It’s funny, there’s this cultural idea that if you made a million bucks, you’d quit your job, sell everything, and travel around the world.
But every single millionaire I know got bored after taking some time off.
In short, the people dreaming about retiring to a beach are the kind who want to “get” a million bucks. The people who actually work for it — Top Performers — get bored after a few weeks and want to get back to work!
Very few people talk about the psychology of Top Performers. I’m talking about Top Performers because if you are one — or you’re working to become one — you have different challenges than other people. Smart People Problems are a real thing.
For example, in 2010, I launched my first large course. For weeks, my team and I worked from 7am to 2am every day. It was brutally hard, and it took me months to get back to 100%.
But I LOVED IT. I loved every minute of working with my team, and every day tackling something new and crazy. If you’d asked me, “How many hours do you work?” I would have been confused with the question. You don’t count how many hours you eat jellybeans for. Why would I count how long I was doing something I loved?
The launch also generated $600,000 in just under a week. I think that’s more money than my family made in TEN YEARS when I was growing up. With that money, I could’ve just dropped everything to go sit on the beach in Santorini for the next 5 years. But that’s not what I wanted to do.
Interestingly, I didn’t realize there was anything “weird” about this until friends and relatives started treating me strangely. They weren’t happy for me — they were actually mad.
“Ramit, why are you still working so hard? Shouldn’t you just be happy now?”
I was confused. I was happy — but I wasn’t satisfied.
“Guys, my fucking goal in life is not to take a vacation. It’s to make an impact.” http://t.co/wK7GRPfGXO
— Ramit Sethi (@ramit) June 16, 2015
People expect that once you’ve “made it” there’s no reason to keep on going. The narrative is, work until you have enough to retire, then quit.
But there’s one thing they never seem to understand: I FUCKING LOVE WHAT I DO.
The toxic effect of delaying happiness
There’s an interesting group of people called the “FIRE” community online. FIRE = Financially Independent, Retire Early. They typically save over 50% of their income and “retire” early — sometimes in their 30s.
For example, if they save up $600,000 by age 35, and live off 4%, they can reliably generate $24,000 for the rest of their lives.
(I don’t personally agree with the philosophy, but I respect that they’re making a conscious choice.)
But there’s a dark side nobody else talks about.
If you read their subreddit carefully, you’ll notice a ton of enthusiasm around their savings rates, around retiring and finally not having to work…
…until they actually do it.
From a commenter:
“Now what? I’m mid 30s, very frugal, unmarried, no kids, virtually no hobbies, high salary, low expenses, work in finance/tech, and can [retire] whenever.… I thought when I got to this point I’d be happier, more relaxed, but it’s yet to happen.”
They’ve spent so much time planning to retire — mostly because a huge percentage of them hate their godforsaken jobs — that they never thought about what they’d do once they made it.
GrowthLab reader: “Hey, I don’t like my job. Maybe I should (1) get promoted or transfer, (2) find another job, (3) start a business.”
FIRE reader: “Hey, I don’t like my job. I’m going to (1) eat rice and beans for the next 14 years, (2) my new hobbies will be walking, and (3) in 17 years, I’ll retire!”
You think I’m joking about walking. Look at this other commenter, who read a story about a FIRE guy’s hobbies.
Look, you can decide what your Rich Life is. If you love walking…walk. I really don’t care if you want to walk in the rain or buy a Loro Piana coat.
But if you don’t like what you’re doing, don’t just “suck it up” and wait 14 years so you can retire from this world. Please. You have way more control than putting up with bullshit for over a decade.
Top Performers understand that there are times where they might have to do things they don’t like.
But the Top Performers I know don’t dream about “finally making it” and retiring to some beach. THEY LOVE WHAT THEY DO TODAY.
Top Performers don’t wish for one day, when they can “finally” do what they want to do. They earn enough to stay at a 5-star hotel, or fly their family in for a reunion, or donate their time/money to charity. TODAY!
In short, they love what they do.
I know I do.
I could sit back and kick it in Bora Bora for the rest of my life. Why would I want to?
I don’t have to read another email response from one of you nuts ever again. I READ THEM ALL. Why?
Because I love it.
In fact, I love it so much, we’re coming out with 4 new products this year. That’s right: 4 new products — with 4 months left in the year. I love them, and I fucking know you’re going to love them too.
I wrote this because I want you to rethink success.
Average people dream of success as an escape from their mundane lives.
Top Performers craft an amazing life, then consciously choose how they want to live it every day.
If someone handed you a check for $600,000, what would you do? If your answer is “retire and milk a 4% return to live on $24,000 for the rest of my life,” you should check out the FIRE community.
On the other hand, if you say, “Man, I’d take an awesome 5-star vacation, I’d fly my friends in… then after a few weeks, I’d be ready to get back, refreshed, (maybe with nicer shoes) and I’d start on my next project…”
…you’re one of us.
Which camp are you in? Let me know in the comments below and tell me WHY.