Think Bigger

What successful people don’t tell you

Here are things people tell you, but you don’t really “get” until you experience it yourself:

  1. Don’t be a lawyer. You will hate your life.
  2. You are probably eating more than you think. Count your calories.
  3. 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, Earn1K. 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.


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!”

WTF.

You think I’m joking about walking. Look at this other commenter, who read a story about a FIRE guy’s hobbies.

image5

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.

My Rich Life: dual monitors

My Rich Life: dual monitors

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.

pasted image 010

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.

You Might Also Like

UFC_189_World_Tour_Aldo_vs._McGregor_London_2015_187767590021-e1504720161492

Think Bigger

How Conor McGregor turned smack talk into a $150,000,000+ empire

What a UFC fighter can teach us about building an audience, influencers, and fighting like hell.

gabriel-ghnassia-518

Think Bigger

The hidden hypocrisy of wanting “more”

If you could have anything in the world, what would it be? Turns out it’s harder to answer this than you’d think.

graph

Think Bigger

How only 1,000 customers generate $8.6 million in revenue

No matter what, whenever a new John Grisham book comes out, I buy it. (You know him? He wrote The Firm and...

There Are 172 Comments

Join The Conversation

I can’t think of a more depressing existence than what you described (FIRE). The amazing thing is, these guys have amazing self discipline & would likely to be able to achieve so much more if they simply tried. Definitely in the latter camp.

I am in camp GrowthLab! Why? I am currently a graduand (between final exams and graduating), have a job offer but am still applying to jobs! I want to see if I can aim higher.

I find this settling – I’ve always thought travelling was a waste of time and a waste of money, but it’s so common among more middleclass people! I have this feeling they know something I don’t about travelling.

Ramit Sethi

Very wise answer. I love how you’re open to others knowing something you don’t.

Hi Jan, I’m 26 years old, work for myself, and have already visited 26 different countries. I left for South East Asia in March and will be travelling and working from Asia until October.

The absolutely most important reason why I’m doing this – I’ve realised that my biggest personal development experiences came from studying, volunteering, or working abroad. It’s insane how much you open your mind just by being in a new country, surrounded with new people, trying to understand the local culture.

In contrast, after I returning and staying in my home country Lithuania for just a few months, I quickly start feeling that I’m closing myself in the most comfortable, cozy bubble – and then I need to leave again.

I haven’t stopped working either – I’m just incorporating travelling, sightseeing, reading, surfing, Muay Thai or anything else that I feel will help me with my personal development into my routine. In fact, I’m writing this comment from a cafe in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia where I’ve just finished the first day of my open sea diving course.

Finally, here in Asia I can have a far higher standard of living for a fraction of the cost, and I can invest the remaining income into becoming even more financially independent. So that’s a win-win-win for me in all these ways.

I agree. Im not rich or anything. But i quit my well-to-do job a few years ago relaxed for a whkle, travelled took a break from life. At the end i really want to help people. Sure i still want to travel but i also want to work and enjoy what i do and the money i make is good to save and take care of me and my family

I’ve always been a GrowthLab camper (originally iwillteachyoutoberich).

I got my start online when I decided to start taking my dad out of the country every year. He did an amazing job raising me and my family during a hard time (sickness in the family). He put three kids through college and kept his shit together.

So I decided to thank him by taking him to Rome. While in Rome I realized I could do this every year if I just made more money. So I invested in myself. i learned how to charge more, find clients, create a readership to sell products to, develop community to promote, and more.

Now I leave the country for two months a year, I quit my last business and make more money marketing, and am launching my first summit in December and then my first product in 2018.

I’m on board and proud to be part of the team.

Camp Growthlab!

(PS-we need a camp flag…)

Ramit Sethi

AWESOME! What a huge realization. YES — you can do it every year by investing in yourself and developing yourself. Beautiful example of creating your own Rich Life. Thanks for being with us, Jesse.

Prasanta paul

How can I improve my standard life by exchange my knowledge through what business? When mysurrounding neighbour just developing.

I’d honestly buy the Yamaha R1 I’ve been looking at, then take several months to tour around Europe or Argentina. Then, I’d get back to doing marketing and helping small businesses grow.

FIRE reminds me of the “typical” ‘American-dream’ that I was raised with – work your tail off for 30+ years, squirreling away every penny you can and then, when you retire, you can “enjoy life.” This never made sense to me. Yes, planning your finances is important, but so is enjoying your life as you are going through it. Definitely in the latter camp, yes, of course, I have room to continue to improve and grow, but that’s half of what makes it exciting!

Jennifer Mayo

Hi Ramit!

First of all, I’m a lawyer. Hated law school, hate lawyers, hate the legal profession….so you had me at “Hello.”

Second, I am currently going through ZTL to develop a product for just the type of person you’re describing. Successful, yet unhappy, professionals. So this was an interesting read.

Third, I am totally convinced that working on something that we LOVE is not WORK. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work in an awesome project. I worked 7 days a week, 10-12 hours each day, but it totally energized me. I’m currently working as an attorney, and two hours feel like an eternity. It is hell.

If I had a million dollars, I would still work. But I would do something that I love, as opposed to this endless nightmare!

Ramit Sethi

I agree. If you asked me how many hours I work, I would have no idea, since I love what I do.

BUT — it’s also important to acknowledge that even though I love what I do, there’s still ~20% of stuff that I don’t really like…but I still have to do, anyway.

Thanks for the comment, Jennifer.

I love this post! I definitely love my job (English teaching) and am working to make a business off blogging/ selling teacher resources/courses. I’m so excited to see where it goes and to make an impact!

I recently discovered the FIRE community myself. I think it has some interesting philosophies, the most attractive being hyper-saving.

I’ve actually done a lot lately to work towards that early retirement goal. Not in my 30s though. To me someone would just have to live to an unfulfilled and uncomfortable extreme to achieve this, and like you said, then what? Sounds boring.

IMO there is a spectrum here. Hyper saving is great. Living a rich life is also great. How can both be done though. That’s what I’d like to figure out.

How can I be financially prepared to retire in my late 40s, yet still do things I enjoy like travel, play golf, eat at nice restaurants, and spend time with my family – AND not feel guilty about it?

I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m still too far on the hyper saving side of the spectrum I think. This post may be a catalyst to re-think some of my spending / saving priorities, especially now that I have a daughter.

Looking forward to the 4 new product announcements. No publication has had a larger impact on my life than IWT.

Ramit Sethi

I agree. FIRE has some interesting philosophies, and anything that gets people to save more is a good thing. I personally love how they took the usual advice — “Save 10%” — and showed people how to push that way, way further. However, I think there are some unspoken problems of FIRE that most people skip over…such as what happens when they finally retire.

Ramit, aren’t you perhaps creating a false dichotomy here between FIRE people and “Top Performers”?

I mean, I like to think I’d take that $600,000 check, milk a 4% return, and STILL work like crazy on my next project.

Isn’t it possible to be frugal and still be a Top Performer? In fact getting that “FU money” might be an important first step in allowing someone to take a risk and start on something new. Rinse and repeat until that 4% is enough to live a rich life. Once you’re completely freed from NEEDING to work, you can focus completely on “making an impact”.

Arguably the worst kind of “Average Person” is someone who achieves a decent amount of success, and blows most of it on luxuries rather than compounding it into something bigger and more impactful.

I’d be interested to know what you think.

Ramit Sethi

In theory, there is no false dichotomy. In reality, however, the FIRE community emphasizes one message: extreme frugality. Almost any time there is a discussion of earning more income, it includes very little information and goes nowhere. (See for yourself on reddit.com/r/financialindependence.)

When certain people talk about spending on the things they love, the community rarely “gets it” — they go back to their comfortable message of cutting back and pursuing FIRE.

And in the comments where someone innocently asks, “What do you do once you achieve FIRE?” there is a distinct lack of thought. Instead, there’s more handwavy “You can do whatever you want…but most importantly, it’s your choice.”

I agree that someone who achieves average success and “blows it” on luxuries may not be achieving the goals they set out for…but that is also a common myth: That people who are financially successful will blow it all on random spending. Ironically, that is one of the arguments the FIRE community uses to dismiss focusing on earning more.

Just went on /r/financialindependence and one of the top threads was about this very thing. Here’s a quote from it: “I built my savings, but I never built my life.”

So I think there’s a balance to be found. Some people just aren’t happy knowing they have to work to live their life. And then there are top performers, who enjoy every bit of life’s challenges.

Wayne J Werner

It’s interesting to note probably the most famous FIRE guy I know, Mister Money Moustache, has almost the same attitude that I see Ramit have – He’s shameless about living a rich life. To him, a rich life is spending time at home with family and friends, entertaining, and building the occasional house. Ramit enjoys travelling a lot more.

Personally I want to travel with my house and my family.

I think this is a mistake of denigrating a philosophy or institution because of human weakness. For example, saying that capitalism is evil because some people cheat within that system or allow their greed to overrun them. Does that mean capitalism is bad in favor of some other economic framework? Or people say the Catholic Church is evil because some priests abuse children. FIRE is not a bad philosophy just because there are unimaginative people who fall back on the very surface of FIRE over and over again without thinking about the rest of their life. FIRE itself is not bad just because people cannot be flexible that some people may put value on a purchase they would never make. People corrupt great systems by being intellectually lazy or immoral, etc. but it doesn’t mean the system is wrong. Higher performers thrive in the system of FIRE (such as MMM, MadFientist, Jim Collins, etc.). There will always be pretenders who are average and low performers in any system, otherwise the greats would not be great.

Ramit Sethi

100% agree that you shouldn’t criticize a philosophy just because of human weakness.

However, when virtually every member of that philosophy follows certain behaviors…it’s pretty clear what the practical implications of that philosophy are. If you look in FIRE sites/blogs, the vast, vast majority talk about extreme frugality only.

Awesome response, thanks Ramit!

I think you’re right, within the FIRE community there seems to be way too much emphasis on extreme frugality and not enough on maximising your income.

I would definitely use the money for fun, to replace all the broken things in my life right now (sofas, bike, cookware, plates) to spend more time with my friends, and to help kick-start my business. The idea of saving up my life for retirement fills me with horror; what if I’m too sick when I’m old to enjoy not working? What if I hate not working, but I’m too sick to continue doing so? What if I can’t retire in the end because I don’t have enough pension or whatever??

I’d much rather live for today and love what I do with my life now, rather than sucking it up in a job I can’t abide for the next thirty years or so until I can finally bail. I’d also much rather live now than save all my money and retire early. First of all what a horrible life to live while you’re living it. I know, I’m living it right now because I’m struggling financially at the moment, there’s no way I’d *choose* to live the way I do right now for thirty years!! And when you’re finally retired, how boring it would be, and how little you would have to show for it!!

I’d definitely rather live my one life for right now, do the things I love to do, do the work I enjoy, and try to achieve my dreams, rather than sit on my arse in a job I hate, watching the clock tick towards my retirement.

Its hard trying to achieve goals with out savings,thinking of retirement early is exciting,would u not get fed up of vacation all the time? You need to get back to working harder to make back all u spend unless u have income flowing in somewhere. I personally was bord not working for one year because of medical reasons and after getting pregnant instantly my mind started to work how to take Care for child I have spent all my savings after 6months I’ve went out to work today I so posed to be on my 1st week vacation but I didn’t go reason my children love Christmas as I do so why not save for their and my happiness. What I’m saying is when u have kids u want every best thing possible for them so why not work hard so that their future will not be as hard as yours, give you’re grandchildren a head start. Enjoy vacations when you young and still save for when you retired at the end you can never stop working once you’re alive you have way more to achieved. DD

Loved it Ramit. Because I am kind of in this situation now : 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.” and am thinking of option 2, definitely not eating only rice and beans for 14 years and giving up travelling, etc :)

Funny. I quit my job and am making $2K a month passively now which is enough to travel the World and what not. This was the dream. But now that I have it, it’s a weird place to be. Kind of an empty feeling. No big goals, no progress, no excitement, nothing much to look forward to. So, I’m now contemplating on what to pursue next as this situation I’m in is not fulfilling at all.

Ramit Sethi

Yep. The number might be motivating at the beginning, but ultimately, the number doesn’t get you in the morning or keep you motivated. But you don’t “get” this until you have at least a certain amount of financial success.

This is how I feel too! I hit the magical six-figure mark 2 years ago and since then have felt really lost. I still love what I do overall, but this summer I have dedicated myself to figuring out my priorities first (was money, now is family) and how I can fit my career around that.

I remember vacations being really fun when I was still working full time. Now that I’m on vacation all the time, it’s less satisfying. I mean, I knew that freedom in itself was not the ultimate end goal but I somehow expected to figure everything out once I have the time and enough money so I don’t need to work. Now, 11-months-of-freedom-later, still haven’t figured out what I really want to do. Working on it 😉

The thought of making money just so I can sit around and do nothing does not appeal to me. I have to be constantly learning new things and working on new projects. Would I like more money? Yes. Would I like more time to hunt and fish? Yes, but I can’t do that 24/7 365. If I’m not learning and creating, then I get bored. The vacations and time with family are part of the balanced life. I think if I took out the part of my life where I’m learning and creating, then I would have an unhappy, unbalanced life.

Marcus Armstrong

$600,000?
I’d buy a ticket to fly to space on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

I’d put 20% down on a modest house. I know owning a home isn’t for everyone, and I’m not looking at it like an investment (Ramit broke me of that fabled thought process). But it’s something my wife and I do want for ourselves.

I’d still have $300,000 left. That money would be used for a few things: a well deserved vacation for all of us (Wife, daughter, and me); I’d finish my private pilot certificate, maybe buy a small airplane; buff up our savings and investment accounts; and most importantly, start a business so that money goes into making us more money. Probably buy more of Ramit’s courses. I’ve only taken a couple of his less expensive ones, but they have already helped tremendously.

I definitely see myself as a top performer and am working towards regrowing my business online.
I agree with Ramit – when you love what you do, you don’t keep track of time. I’m of the mentality that I work towards accomplishing a project, rather than putting in time.
When the project is completed, I can take some time off.
Then come back refreshed and pursue the next project.
That’s what is satisfying to me and having an impact on the people who appreciate that project.

There are so many things that I want to do for myself and my family. When I think retire, I think give upon what I have to do to do what I want to do.

Like learning 3 new languages, traveling to Nigeria, and playing trumpet several nights a week for adoring fans.

Certainly the last. If you gave me $600,000 I would try to 10x it, not live off it forever. The more you have the more you can produce and the more you can enjoy.

For sure it would be very boring to have to live so frugal otherwise the money would be over. How could you prepare for the unexpected or be able to travel to an exotic place, buy a dream house, buy comfort? You can’t with that.

I’d got to Zanzibar for a few weeks, walk in the sand, eat great food and then get back to Kampala to write blog posts, record podcasts and help my community to answer those big questions. I think quitting at 30 is the most painful thing one can endure, I cant imagine going through it.

Loved the post and couldn’t agree more.

I think we’d see a much happier world if people learned how valuable it is to invest in yourself and to find work you will love to do for your entire life, rather than focusing on a retirement number or date.

Like you said, I can’t even imagine wanting to just reach an amount of money and do nothing. I’m sure lots of the FIRE folks feel so empty at that point because there is nothing left to really give their life meaning. It’s the work you do and impact you make that gives that true sense of purpose and meaning to life. I find it hard to believe anyone could be truly happy without it.

I am actually in both camps and if you take away the extreme FIRE versions you get people that have many things in common with your camp. With exceptions for the most extreme persons it is about living a rich life and spending money on what matters. Not about eating rice and beans every day. What I like with the fire community is the focus on freedom. Money allows you to do the things you like for the love of it, not for money. It doesn’t necessary mean that you quit working.

Personally I would use the money for traveling for a year, getting my parents a nice vacation and getting back to do something else than being a lawyer (which mostly sucks). Which is in the plans for 2018-2019.

Ramit Sethi

I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. Anything that helps people save more is, in general, a good thing. And the focus on conscious spending is awesome. However, I disagree with the one-note focus on extreme frugality.

I’m firmly in the FIRE camp. Enough so that my friends would ask for financial advice for savings, investments and stock options.
However I’m also firmly in the camp of spend on whatever the hell it is you love way before you think of real savings. (Real savings being everything after you have an emergency fund).
I also work full time, have my own side business and have been a member of more than 1 course, DreamJob being the most influential, the skills it gave transfer to so much more than job interviews. It also helped with the FIRE part given I’ve more than doubled my salary since the course.

With all that said, this article still really hit home. If I got the 600k tomorrow, that’d push me above my full independence threshold, I’d still be in work just like normal. I love the work I do and continually try and and get better so I can do more of it. The thoughts of just stopping and not getting to do this anymore, well I may as well just roll over and die.

So why even bother with FIRE? Options. They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure does buy options. Having FU Money which lets me just walk out and not have to worry about another job for a while actually makes me much better at my job. I don’t have to play the game and can just tell it like it is. Honestly is a rare commodity to most.

I would say you only find the one note focus on frugality among the extremes. The majority saves on the things that don’t matter and spend on the things that matter for them. I am personally also disagreeing with the extreme frugality.

As Stephen stated the option of being able to walk away is one of the best parts. Because with a combination of good finances and dream job you always know you can find a new job in a reasonable time frame.

I’ve studied the FIRE guys and gals for a while, implemented some of their strategies and passed the point of financial independence (the FI bit of FIRE) late last year in my mid 40s. It’s a good feeling as it’s the ultimate FU fund – and it means I get to choose the work I do. At the moment, that looks like helping to drive innovation at a non-profit. As long as I continue to get a sense of fulfilment, I can’t see the retire early bit of FIRE coming into play. But damn, it’s great to have the choice.

Personally, a rich personal life looks like something close to the Danish idea of Hygge – doing quiet cool stuff with friends and family, cozying up in front of the fire, eating good food etc. It doesn’t take a lot of cash. I love where I live – there are beaches within 20 min cycle, and mountain walks within 5 minutes.

The FIRE guys and gals who are unhappy post-retirement simply haven’t figured out what is fulfilling to them, but plenty of them have and are loving their life.

As for the $600K, I’d probably some of it in some community energy projects as they are a particular passion of mine.

The point you make about having an FU fund is really interesting. Is it really possible to find meaningful creative expression in business and/or life without financial security?

Without the FI part, it seems like a never ending rat race, even if one does find a job that’s personally meaningful.

My answer would be that it depends how risk averse you are. I have always expressed my opinion at work even though I am not FI. Low expenses does mean that I will not be in a financial mess even if I got fired. And seriously I don’t want to work for a company or a boss were I can’t express my opinion.

I feel I’m straddling both camps. Don’t want to lay on a beach but do want to spend more time with our 4 children and have location independence. I’ve been hustling in the margins working on my voic-over and podcasting career while running a small brick & mortar business. I’m in the process of transitioning now, but it’s been a grind doing both (which gives me less time with our children…) I don’t ever want to “retire” but do want to do what I love and be with those I love – that’s the ultimate goal!

I agree with u family gives you momentum you don’t want to quite now finding time to spend with family is your choice retiring early sounds nice I taught so once then I grew up to know my grandfather never retired he got too sick and died he traveled most his life while working hard with no day off his greatgrand children is going to enjoy his great lives work and he was a family man and a giver .

I’m both. With $600k? That’s $300k-$400k in retirement money (and/or paying off debt) and $200k-$300k in travel/themeparks/toys/home-improvement.

Similarly, I have a pretty good income, and over $1MM variously invested, but we also spend $50k-ish yearly in travel/cruises/vacations.

My big FIRE-style goal isn’t idleness. It’s getting to pick only software work I enjoy. Though the current job is pretty damn good. I’d just like to never again have to sweat about keeping it, you know? I may retire some day if my brain gets too old to do software (which is totally a thing that happens.) But I could be very rich and still enjoy doing it part-time/open-source, or writing more books, or for art-type projects.

Basically I’d love to be independently wealthy so I could go part-time and 100% pick my own work. I wouldn’t stop doing it, but I’d get pickier and take more vacations.

Why not both?

I think the misconception is that people that cut back do so to retire and “do nothing.” I work hard at my day job and consider myself on the path to becoming a top performer. The appeal of FIRE to me is that you no longer have to earn income from what you do. That’s not to say that you wouldn’t work hard, just that money no longer clouds your thinking.

For me, I’m chasing both goals. I still take my family and kids on vacations, but I’ve really started to ask myself how much of the stuff I spend money and time on (TV, video games, vehicles, houses) versus the people I spend time with (kids, family, friends) is actually worth the trade off. I was rocking along fine until I started having kids. After that the things I cared about started changing. When I had every moment after work to myself, working more didn’t feel bad. But if I miss bedtime or a sports event, that’s when I really started evaluating how much value I was getting for what I was spending.

FIRE appeals to me because I have control. Growth Lab appeals to me because I get to grow and paly and work on what’s important to me. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.

I just got back to work after a four week holiday with the family (promised not to work) and noticed that I was miserable when I couldn’t do anything interesting.

So yes, drinking mojitos on the beach would get old after about an hour.

This is such black and white thinking and a mischaracterization of FIRE. In fact, I found Ramit through Mr. Money Mustache, the godfather of FI/FIRE.

Many of the leading FI/FIRE personalities work hard. They have side businesses, work in the community, and most importantly, spend time with their families. They also travel well using travel hacking.

People who do not have a vision for their lives, whether part of the FIRE community or not, are low performers and unimaginative, but to just single out FIRE misses this point.

I heard this quote recently (and long ago). It goes something like, “Don’t wish that things were easier; wish that you were better.”

The trope about the person who “gets” a million dollars and goes off to the beach reminds me of the mindset of wishing things were easier so they can live the next 40 years doing nothing.

However, I did find one of the above commenters interesting. Perhaps the 4% FIRE arrangement could provide a safety net that allows you to pursue what you love. On the other hand, not having a safety net might push you to do even more than reach FIRE. Something for me to think about.

As an observant person who works with many people who have achieved staggering wealth, it’s my opinion that people who accumulate wealth have either (1) built multiple habits that allow them to “effortlessly” find success (the assumption being that it’s not work once it’s a habit), or (2) they are hardwired to think “what’s next” no matter the level of success they have achieved. Neither of those camps would be happy sitting on a beach for too long, but here is the irony . . . .

My wealthy clients tend to not think about indulging in extravagances that way exceed $600,000 per year. They often take luxurious vacations on private jets, spends weeks at a time in beautiful and exotic locations, splurge on their friends and family, and have interests and hobbies that would be WAY out of reach for most people, financially speaking.

Those types of indulgences are typically not available to people who are employees (they’d get fired for taking so much time off) or even to most people who run businesses that depend on the entrepreneur’s constant involvement.

So what it boils down to is time vs. money. How can one have both?

I believe Ramit’s answer to that question is this: FOCUS ON BIG WINS.

The FIRE community sacrifices money for time. Workaholic lawyers sacrifice personal time for money. Neither camp has it right, in my honest opinion.

Ramit said that he has enough money now to live the rest of his life in Bora Bora, so he’s not worried about money at all. Like Forest Gump said, “That’s good. One less thing,” but how can one move into that echelon of existence? Ramit probably can’t shepherd hundreds of thousands of students to it.

So my question for Ramit is this: Exactly what impact would you like to have? If you focused on smaller groups of people with the right mental models and discipline, could the impact on their lives be exponential? I am just curious as to your thinking on this issue . . . .

For me, a $600,000 pay day would buy me two weeks in a huge beachfront mansion for me and my entire extended family and friends (and about 20 of my kids’ closest friends–who almost always vacation with us as it is). There would be endless fun for the kids–all sorts of boating, water sports, and games–and top notch dining for the all the adults, who could come and go as they pleased. Then I’d reinvest the remaining money into my business and continue figuring out how to make the world a better place.

Alan Dickler

Ramit, great piece. You’ve captured the essence of successful people in this post. Find something interesting, do it with excellence. When / if you become wealthy your work ethic will propel you to do other things that you find interesting.

FIRE sounds like so many men I have met. Me: cool that you are going to retire at 50, then what? Him:…

Buying yourself the financial freedom to be able to retire at 50, or overcome a few bad years – great so long as it doesn’t come at the cost of not living your life NOW.
Part of ‘planning for retirement’ also means that you have a life worth living when you get there – family, charity work, all sorts of options. I don’t mind hard work, I actually enjoy it most of the time.

If somebody gave me $600K, I’d buy an annuity and retire. Sort of.

Actually, I would move back to Texas so I could re-join the New Texas Symphony Orchestra, and set up my studio again, and spend about 3/4 of my time teaching children of all ages how to play the violin. I might invest in a better violin, too. The rest of my time, I’d spend expanding my Internet marketing (and IM teaching).

I like writing software, which is what I do for a (very good) living right now.

I like IM & teaching IM, some of which involves writing software.

I LOVE teaching young people how to play a violin.

Hi Ramit
What would I do if I had / received $600, 000. Wow, I’d be so happy.

I’d start off by purchasing a bundle of 10 ISBN numbers.
I’d sign up for the full Adobe Creative Suite and start learning In-design. Next I’d take a few art classes to be able to illustrate our books. I’d complete my mother’s children’s book of bedtime stories with In-Design and bring that to print.
I’d purchase copies of my OT book and send them off for reviews. I’d set up a regular ad campaign.
I’d illustrate the next kids book that I have just completed writing.
I think I’d hire a secretary and I’d hire someone to fix up the error in my WooCommerce online store.
I’d record the guided visualizations that I have to record and have them available for sale.
Not sure what would come next but I have 10 books to research and complete writing and I could do that with $600 000. Plus if sales are improving I’d have more stock to be making up.
Oh, I’d definitely hire someone to write the terms and conditions for my website.

Having a secretary I’d have the secretary book talks / workshops for me to do and I’d print up the necessary marketing material to have available together with having books ready to sell.

Do you need more of a list. I could carry on happily writing what I could do.

In the meantime I am off to create another Gig on Fiverr in order to earn my way to completing my long list of things to do.

Thanks for inspiring us Ramit

Ramit Sethi

Awesome. Although you could do almost all of those things for less than $10,000.

Hey. What’s that WooCommerce error? I’ll fix it for you for free if I can. I used to build WooCommerce stores for clients. (Also, this is just a one-time offer, I am not available for hire. Just want to help out)

With $600,000 I would just quit my day job so I can work on my business full-time and invest a portion so my money is working for me instead of the other way around. Nothing else would change.

Retirement is overrated, and will soon kill you. I work to empower each area of my life to the fullest. It’s an endless endeavour. The universe is huge, so why stop your life on the beach?

I couldn’t imagine retiring and doing nothing – that would be far too boring for me; I love to work and I’m okay with that. My friends always tell me that I’m “weird” because they don’t understand how I can work so much and enjoy it as much as I do. Thank you for posting this because it reminds me that I’m not alone… or some freak workaholic.

Love your take, Ramit. With you 100%. Making more money would only change HOW I do what I do. I work hard not to escape, but to have more freedom to pursue the things I like working on best.

Actually, I fear too much success. Once you reach your highest goals, can you find the next compelling target? I want to PRODUCE. Have impact. For me, a little nudging in the form of financial need keeps me rolling. It provides an intrinsic deadline. In my experience, tasks without that seem to flounder.

Why would I count how long I was doing something I loved?
So true. I worked all weekend writing, the thing I used to spend the weekends doing for fun but now mostly get paid for. I certainly want to learn from the FIRE group, as I spend way too much money, but chilling around is only fun for a while. Work that’s like play is the goal.

In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book on Flow, that “zone” state that he thinks is the key to a great life, he notes that you’re more likely to experience it at work than at rest. I love to bum around as much as the next person, but it’s work I love that feeds my soul.

Camille Boursiquot

I love this! I am always busy! People always ask me if and when do I sleep! I’m constantly looking for things to do! When I tell people that I want to work for myself, or make passive income. They ask if it’s so I can stay home and take care of the kids… um, no! Well, not JUST to take care of the kids.. I always say, I want to be home, but that’s so I can do my hobbies, own my business, AND travel. But, to just sit at home? That would last one day! If I do get overwhelmed with all the stuff I like to do, I’ll take a break, then after a week or two, I’m looking for something else to do because I’m bored!

This article spoke to me! Thanks for this!

$600K…..
WOW I can contribute more. But before that I’ll invest in my dream project (An entertainment website so that user can earn money from it by entertaining audience).
This will generate more revenue and I can contribute more by helping poor and needy people.

Enjoying on beach, not in my list.

ENJOYMENT is a MYTH.
SATISFACTION is a REALITY.

Ramit, you paint a very bleak, straw-man type picture of the FIRE strategy. Perhaps you are familiar with Mr. Money Mustache. He is a great example of how you can still live a rich life while retired early and avoiding excess consumption. It is more than just “rice and beans.”

Personally, I realized no matter what job I have, at the end of the day it’s still work and it will always get in the way of my true passions like working out, music, starting a family, traveling, sleeping in :) etc. I utilize your strategies to get better jobs and negotiate higher salaries while using MMM’s strategies to increase my savings rate and plan my transition to FIRE so that I can make it happen as soon as possible.

Besides, being financially independent does not mean you have to stop working altogether, rather it gives you the freedom to pursue interests regardless of money. If I always wanted to try being a high school bball coach I can do that without worrying about maintaining my ability to put food on the table.

Maybe it’s just the ones on the forums that are like that? Perhaps the people who have successfully retired in their 30s and are out there enjoying life have better things to do than sit around and moan on reddit?

Agree with this comment. It is a straw man argument. The mover and shakers in the FIRE community pretty much all leverage their freedom into pouring into new ventures.

Your argument is more a “stick with a job you hate” versus “engineer a job you love”. Which would be true no matter which angle you approach the issue.

Good lord! If someone gave me a check for $600,000 worth of tax-free money I would buy out my car’s lease for 16K and finish paying off my $500 credit card bill.

Next step I would join ZTL if it was open (the $10,000 top-notch one) so I can figure out what the hell I’m doing with my blog. I’m kind of stuck on how I should progress into monetizing it. Then I would launch a coaching service, online courses, or a physical product for my blog, Mycurlyosity.com, and turn it into more than a blog so I can help other people trying to have healthy/long hair achieve their goals. I wouldn’t even take a break or go on vacation! There’s too little time in the day in my opinion!

As for FIRE, I’ve seen their philosophies and they’re interesting but I agree with you. There is no fulfillment in early retirement unless you have no ambition in life. For some people that works out fine, though. More power to them. I can’t do that and that’s why we’re all here. I would want to work and improve what I have until the day I can’t do it any more.

Living a rich life isn’t about the money in your bank account at all. Of course it’s nice to check and see commas! But as Napoleon Hill says in his timeless classic Think and Grow Rich, “the starting point of all achievement is desire.” There is no ambition and success without drive and desire.

Definitely in the recharge and get back after it camp. “Interval training” is probably the biggest central concept by which I run my life. While it started out to me only to mean physical interval training in the gym, its now the term I use to mean anytime I need to focus 100% and then let it all go. And yes the gym is the best place, in my opinion, to practice that but think of it as both a mental and physical exercise. My goal (which I have achieved quite often I’m proud to say) is for people to ask me what I’m training for (which currently is nothing in particular). Secondly, inspired by Marcelo Garcia, arguably the greatest BJJ grappler of all time, is for people to think I’m sleeping in between sets. Marcelo was famously reported to actually be sleeping right before stepping onto the mat and handing guys their ass on a platter and winning championships. Its actually hilarious to hear what they say, I basically meditate in between sets and have my eyes closed or even lay on the floor ( a la Tim Ferriss’ suggested comfort challenges) but ill turn off my headphones and just listen. I hear all sorts like “What a pussy” “I think that dude is sleeping” “Yo, I think my mans dead” . It’s really a riot. But then I scare the shit out of them because when my timer goes off I jump up immediately and then lift twice as much weight as them because I have rested properly and fully relaxed. Josh Waitzkin also has some amazing material on this in The Art of Learning. Its amazing as you keep doing it how little time you need to fully reset and start giving 100% again. All that said, I fully support sitting you ass on a beach and not doing jack shit sometimes.

I honestly think it depends on the person. And it depends on your lifestyle, and if you have kids, your married, have a big family or it’s just you. Guarantee people who are married with kids, or even not married with kids have a whole nother perspective. They will easily find, and have plenty to do if they don’t work. People with big families that are very much involved with their families will have plenty to do as well. People who are married and both people are retired, and/or vacationing at the same time have plenty to do. It also depends on your interests, and what you enjoy, and what you like to do. People, (like me) that believe the world is your oyster will live like celebs, and rock stars with millions of dollars to blow. We’ll travel the world, stay in various countries for like a month, do all kinds of excursions, make friends, party, eat well, go to spas, etc etc etc. Basically, live like the rapper Diddy, or Jay-Z and Beyoncé. I’m quite sure they don’t get tired of their lifestyle of being able to fly on private jets to any country, city, state they want to, at any given time. Let me have a million dollar lifestyle. I would love to have millions of dollars to spend how I want. I play the publishers clearinghouse sweepstakes and online contests all the time, just waiting to get my millions.
*smile* :)

I think that I currently fall into both categories. Not one for sitting on the fence, but a lot of the FIRE principles helped me to get out of the rat race once, and I’m employing them to do it again.
Typically, the working class have a fundamental omission in their education – finance. I’ve always be a non-conformist and rebelled against the 9-5 but I was sucker-punched by my lack of financial intelligence. Sitting on the tube into London every day bored me no end, 2 hours out of my day wasted, so I did something about it and read the book “The Richest Man in Babylon” and it saved / changed my life. I adopted the saving algorithm – for want of a better word, and 18 months later I had clear my debts whilst living a comfortable life, but more importantly I had savings to start my first online business.
Four years later I cashed out of the business and rejoined the 9-5 – after seeing how old school friends had climbed the corporate ladder, I fancied a new challenge. I’m climbing a few rungs, but it’s slow progress and sucks major donkey dick!
I still employ the saving strategy I learnt – I live a frugal-ish life, but don’t make major sacrifices, as you need a (social) life after all.
A lump sum / win fall would only super charge my ambition to get out and stay out of the rat race. I’d set myself up with some long term investments, probably have a holiday, but definitely have the confidence to take more punts with ideas without the fear of falling back to the 9-5.
May I don both caps for the time being!?

Congrats Nathan on starting your own business. But why on earth did u leave the “rat race” just to go back to it years later?? Unless u enjoy it that much.

Hi Jayla,

There were many extenuating circumstances which led me back to the rat race. The main one being; I was in a partnership with my oldest school friend and a long story short, things didn’t work out. I had no voice in the business even as a 50-50 stakeholder, he just didn’t trust me even in my realm of expertise as a web designer / marketing when we had an online business.
I contemplated buying him out, but that would have ruined our friendship. Plus, at that time my mum became terminally ill so I had to dedicate all my spare time to her – it just wasn’t viable to 1. Not see my mum during that time. 2. Ruin a friendship of over 20 years and 3. To potentially compromise the business because I had other commitments with my mum.
Going back to the 9-5 was the easy option, which I’m not usually one for taking, but in this instance it was the right choice and was / is only ever a stop gap. I thought about climbing the corporate ladder, but I’m not one for brown-nosing!

This one is simple for me: leave my job and work on my side business full-time. The #1 thing holding me back from going full-time is that I don’t have the revenue to justify it YET. Right now I think I can get to that number in a year or less, so I’d view the money as an easy way to justify making the jump now.

I really don’t know what I’d do with that amount of money – with my current bills, $600k would cover them for nearly a decade. My best guess is we’d either (a) pay off our mortgage, (b) sock away a huge chunk into “retirement” (index funds), and/or (c) a few house renovations. Assuming I could scale my business quick enough to cover all our bills, we’d likely do all 3.

Oh and to answer your question – “If someone handed me a check for $600,000.” (one day very soon someone will.) I would pay off all of my debt, my family and a very few friends. I would have to be very careful not to give too much away. Cause I could easily give away a million dollars being a black woman from the hoods of North Philly. But I love to learn and I love school. I would get a PHD and a MBA in business management, finance, psychology, and sociology. I would travel to all the places I’ve always wanted to. I would invest in real estate, and stocks, and bonds, and some gold. I would make that money multiply times 500. I would pour some into my real estate business, and become the next best real estate queen/mogul. I would have 7 streams of income, and businesses. I would create steady streams of income to last me for the rest of my life. I would also be a hard money lender, just cause I could be. Hell I would be the first black woman to open my own bank.
*smile* :)

I would say I’m with the GrowthLab group, because I’m never satisfied. Once I hit a goal, I think “What’s next”, and I always want more.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the comment about how most top performers would get bored and want to come back to work in a few weeks after taking a break, and I think that’s why it can be so frustrating when people tell you that you need to chill out and enjoy life and “stop working so hard.”

The thing is, they don’t get that when we are working we ARE “enjoying life”.

The potentially negative aspect of that though, is that we can be so obsessive about our goals that we have tunnel vision and neglect other areas of our life. Balance can be a challenge, because we make the excuse that we’ll do “X when we get Y.”

Reading this post was just the kick in the pants I needed today to do what I want to do NOW, rather than waiting until I’ve “arrived” or until “X” happens.

I joined ZTL back in October 2015 when I was going through a particularly rough time. I hated my work situation, and was getting really burnt out with my training (I’m a runner), and overall struggled with balance in my life.

When I joined ZTL, I went from running 40-50 miles per week plus strength training to doing barely anything from a physical fitness standpoint. I told myself I was just taking a break from running so that I could focus on growing my business, and that I would start training again and make my life more balanced once my business was up and running, but I had basically replaced one addiction (running) with another (obsessively working on my business all day). I also said that I would work in the leisure and recharging time when I got certain things done, but then I’d keep adding things to the to-do list and never got around to the recharging.

In addition to the fitness, I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and as soon as I get busy my reading time goes out the window-even though it’s been something so important to me all my life.

I’ve since created an exit plan now that my online business is actually making money, and I keep saying that I’ll start training again and reading for fun once I hit a certain number of email subscribers, or a certain monthly income.

But the thing is, I know that once I hit that goal, I’ll want more, and then I’ll just keep raising the bar for what I want my business to do, which means I’ll keep putting off things that I want to do in my life outside my business.

So I should probably just end this post already and go for a run, and then go order those books that have been sitting on my Amazon wish list for months.

I feel like there’s a middle ground here — or something else that I’m not seeing. If someone handed me a check for $600k (ok maybe a bit more than that) I’d stop working… for money. I’d still do lots of things, maybe even exactly what I’m doing now, I just wouldn’t ask people to pay me for it.

Ramit Sethi

Maybe. What do you think would happen if you stopped asking people to pay you for your services?

Bruce Rogers

Your comments hit home – in one of the posts about taking his dad to Rome every year – Well my kids don’t have to take me, we can all go. We’ve been fortunate and all are successful ($, religious beliefs, close family).
I recently took a different job to try to get some fire back in my belly, alas no luck. I’m looking forward to retirement in the next 6 months or so, just to get out of the job I’m in.
Looking for an opportunity to MAKE A DIFFERENCE because for me it’s not about the money anymore, got that covered.
Most likely do some charity work or find a NPO that needs some help with providing clean water to disadvantaged populations.
GrowthGrandDad

I’d go mad if I had to retire and sit on a beach!

If I got $600,000 today, I would build an arts center and help run it with like-minded souls on the side while continuing in my low-paid but loved charity job and my own side gigs.

And I’d throw a great dinner party!

First off Ramit, I love you.

Secondly, if I was given $600k…

My consulting business would get a shit ton of attention, where it matters. I’d clear my student loan debt, then take a week to go on the Gumball 3000 (cross country rally).The longest I could see taking a vacation is like a month. The rally would be a vacation, where I combine chilling out with some shit I love (cars). But then I’d get on to building my custom car shop. Back to the shit I love.

That “FIRE” situation reminds me too much of my current 9-5, I’d rather walk into an oncoming 18 wheeler.

What I do with $600,000?

Start scaling my online affiliate/marketing businesses (multiple income streams), take my gf to visit Singapore for 3-4 weeks (she lived there for 6 years growing up), and treat my immediate family to a cruise or some kind of vacation.

I can agree that after so much downtime I’d start to get antsy and want to do something productive. I’m like that now.

I taught in a college (as a chemist) for 35 years and loved it. But now I’m busier than I was when ‘working’. I’ve played piano competently for 50 years and now each day starts with me playing for 90 mins; playing better than ever before and making recordings. Then at 9am, working on my new career – apple breeding, raising new varieties; was a hobby but thanks to the internet and networking it has expanded beyond anything I thought possible. I’m now working for a large nursery, thinking about the trees and clearing ground and developing strategies for selecting seedlings, probably 70-80 hours a week – but it’s not really work; i enjoy every minute. I identify very much with your post; can’t stand sitting around doing nothing. Thank you for a good read.

A lot of useful points in this article so well done. However, the comments you make about FIRE community focusing only on extreme frugality are way off base. I’d be happy to direct you to a number of bloggers who span a variety of ages, professions and range of net worth. I think you will find a diversity of passions, plans and hopes on what each wish to do with their lives after FIRE. None are living extremely frugally right now OR spending their money wastefully on the hedonic treadmill. They all have the common factor of much balance in their lives. I expect that will continue in the next phase of their lives.

As promised, here are a few to take a look at:

http://www.ournextlife.com
http://www.physicicanonfire.com
http://www.theretirementmanifesto.com
http://www.earlyretirementnow.com
http://www.slowlysippingcoffee.com

and our own little blogging site, of course.

Again, I enjoyed the read and hope to add to the dialog with a different perspective.

All the best,

Mr. PIE.

Wayne J Werner

With $600,000 I’d finish paying off my house and my student loans. Then I’d put another $100,000 in some kind of fund where I could get it in a couple of days so I have all the money for repairs and emergencies. Then I’d buy a bus or maybe a slightly janky RV that I could fix up – I’d drop $50-100,000 on all the trimmings. That would leave a few $2-300,000 to live and travel on and invest in your courses that I could use to build systems and businesses that would let me live when and where I want to – worldwide.

I don’t think it’s possible to be in “both” camps nor do I think it’s a spectrum; I think you were right to place it as a dichotomy, whereupon there are certain fundamental differences in the philosophies in place. However, I think those who view it as a spectrum/needing to find the right balance are right in a sense, that there is definitely a state (multiple, even) in between those, though that doesn’t make it a spectrum. One can end up somewhere in the in-between without ever being like a top performer nor a FIRE enthusiast (pyroMANIA of a different form, I suppose), and the people that slog through their everyday life prove every day.

I think of myself, however, as being a part of another of those in-between states: I’ve been limited by circumstance in past to be another of those slog-it-out types, and I realize sometimes life will happen at you fast such that I might have to be again. The FIRE philosophy fails specifically for the reasons you said, then, there’s no foresight on the “and then what.” Not just what do you do to keep from getting bored, but what do you do if it isn’t sunshine and roses later? When you completely check out from being a contributing member of society, you lose or strain connections in your networks, skills fall off, etc., so then you’re stuck because whether from boredom or necessity if you need to go back to working, you’re both shut out from it and already so disengaged from it conceptually that it becomes more of a pain. So yes, enthusiasm for work and living a rich life now (while also saving, of course) is paramount, though I’m pretty sure I’d suffer from Impostor Syndrome after a while if I purported myself to be a Top Performer. No matter how much I enjoy something, I will definitely get full-on burnt out multiple times and also be keenly aware of how much I have been doing. Maybe that just is situational or I’m not yet certain in my convictions enough to accept my status as a top performer, or perhaps I’m just too much of a workaholic/someone who takes pride in my work to ever really fall into the average and/or FIRE camps. Unsure.

To answer the $600,000 question: I’d sit on most of it long enough to fully mull over the options (splurge/save/improve/donate mixes), but I’d use 30k or so to buy myself the breathing room to take a step back from my life and look at where and how I could live it more richly, to spend the time to be thoughtful over whether I am already on a path that makes me happy or if there’s an explicit pivot forthcoming, and to chill out enough to answer the question I raised of myself above: am I a depressed/modest Top Performer or a self-regarding impostor?

Ramit, Good… as you have revealed these open secrets…
What I have discovered over the years is that we are naturally “WIRED” to work or do something, irrespective of how much money we have kept in the bank…unneeded, maybe.

Along the way, if you stumble on your calling in your journey of life, your wealth cannot stop you from being buried in the activities that bring that joy to your soul.
Therefor, You become more “WIRED” to do more, your success notwithstanding.

I recall just a few years ago in my part of the world, a billionaire who repeatedly granted press interviews that going by his smart strategic plans he would retire doing nothing before the age of 45 or so.
I guess he actually became much endowed by that age. But alas as today he is still as busy as ants building anthills across an African forest.
He just couldn’t stop.

Not going religious…work is what nature has slammed on our essence if we are to be “alive”.
Work we must “do” in whatever guise even if you were a Warren Buffet or Bill Gates.
We can only wish we found that which we would enjoy; that creates a pipeline of wealth and other shades of success.
That is the reason I tell my clients if you are starting aBusiness, your ultimate goal must be: would this be in tandem with my goals in life?

I’m definitely in the Top Performer category. Always had the entrepreneurial bug since an early age. Even when got my first job out of college I said this is not the life for me. Who wants to be one of the masses all departing the train at 8:40am to get to work by 9am and bid your time until it’s time to leave at the end of the day and do what you want for a few hours all to do it all over again.

Plus this idea of living for the weekends is horrible. Why give up so much of your life where you only get to have fun for 1.5 days out of 7 because invariably by Sunday afternoon the dread of work creeps in.

With $600k I would be like the Biblical parable where the rich gave three people wealth to tend to things and later he would come back to check in and he was upset for the guy who did nothing with the money and the one who lost money but was very pleased for the guy who increased the money.

Definitely would figure out ways to make the money work for me. Probably invest in multi-unit property to generate positive cashflow, also in stocks and bonds and give 10% to the church. I probably would splurge on something like a trip or a luxury car but overall put that money to work so that even after spending by next year the pot has grown larger.

So I’m the type who doesn’t like downtime and luckily I’m going into a career I love and will always have “work” but it makes me happy and I will also have multiple businesses and do lots of fun things with family and friends too.

Personally, I want to be rich because I want to the power to do whatever the fuck whenever the fuck. I want to be able to spend three nights staying up until 4:00 AM making art, and then sell it and spend 5 days chilling at L.A. coffee shops and parties if I want to. I want to not be chained to doing one thing or another all the time. I want to be able to make my spastic and hyper-creative nature work for me, not against me.

My business services colleges, universities, K12 school districts – so we are on that seasonal cycle. When I first started my business, made enough money the first few months that I floated through summer without having to work. I was so excited. I felt rich! It only took me a few weeks to realize, that having 3 months off with nothing to do was too much! I was SO bored and so excited to get back to work when Fall came.

I am definitely NOT in the FIRE camp. I could do a better job of being more frugal and saving better, but if I got 1m or 600k, I’d put it into savings, and keep on working. I love what I do and although the idea of not having to work is seductive, the idea of doing something meaningful that makes an impact – of seeing how big you can play just to see how big you can get – THAT is something to really strive for… I’m growing my business because that is how I grow myself. I want to see how big my business can get because I know it makes an impact, and I want to see just how far we can go.

People think that entrepreneurs are all about the money – we aren’t. Most of us would do what we do for free. I know I would.

With $600k, I’d wipe out my debts and do some investing. I would definitely keep working because I don’t believe any of us were made to be idle and sit around. “Retirement” didn’t exist as a concept to our ancestors, as if you stopped moving, you were a sitting duck target for a predator or you would literally waste away and die.

I’m switching jobs at the moment because my current role isn’t supporting my goal of a Rich Life. It’s public accounting, which should be right up there with being a lawyer, if you want the truth. Too many “required” hours at night and during weekends on top of the job you already do for 40 hours a week. All this and I’ve been physically sick three times in less than a year. I can’t imagine how many people torture themselves with jobs similar to what I’ve described. To me, it’s a Poor Life and I’m taking the steps I need to take to put a stop to it all. I’m looking forward to “reclaiming my time” at home and in my life so I can use it how I see fit, not by someone else’s standards or requirements.

Hey Ramit,

Maybe this is God’s way of directing me to your post and telling me to get up and do the **ucking work because honestly I have not been doing the work I should have.

I got stuck in that depresson/anxiety phase and was trying to do as much as I could to get out of it and then I came across your post and man it was a wake up call!

They say you have to become the person you want to be to deserve what you want, I am now sure that you have to become a top performer before you actually get the rewards of a top performer.

Thanks for the awesome post!

P.S: Can you write something about getting out of the lag/depression phase? That would be great!

I’m a stay-at-home mom with 3 young kids and I have small online business. I loved this post! You are so right! Getting to a point where you have nothing to do but sit on a beach is boring! Work that is rewarding is a blessing. It is so much more exciting to try and live each day to the best of my ability and to work hard and strive to be the best that I can be in every area of my life.

I am working hard in my business so that my husband and I can be more financially independent of his employer and have more freedom to live the life we want to live. However, I always plan on working hard on something, probably many things actually.

I loved this quote from you “But the Top Performers I know don’t dream about “finally making it” and retiring to some beach. THEY LOVE WHAT THEY DO TODAY.” Thanks for the inspiration I needed to get my week started focused on the right things.

Very interesting read. Mostly because I love the early retirement idea and am actively pursuing it. I’m 26 and due to reach it at 35 at this rate. I work a job I enjoy and recently got a raise after being there for only 6 month.

I base my retirement goal on what I spend currently. I cut the costs which are useless to me, but keep the ones I value: travel, dinner dates with the misso, gym, trying to build my online business.

For me, it’s part of the grander plan to fund my future ventures and adventures with time. After another 9 years of work that will really put me as one of the best in my field which opens me up to some high level consulting. Or, if I want, I can start another venture.

I’m all about that personal savings rate, but I’d rather add a few more years to the timeline so I can spend money on the things I enjoy.

Ramit Sethi

Solid comment. Really like how you point out you cut the things you don’t care about, but spend on the things you do.

Question for thought: Do you really need to wait 9 years to start “high-level” consulting?

Overall, great comment. Thank you.

Man… $600,000?

The first thing I’d do is give like $60,000 to my church. I love what they’re doing and want to enable a deeper impact on this city we love so much.
Then I’d commission a super-tricked out Tiny House for another 60K – my whole livelihood fits on a laptop and my son cares way more for video games and playing outside than he does for toys.
We’d be home-owners outright, with no further monthly payment beyond maintenance.
Then I’d hire consultants to coach me through setting up an automated FB Ads funnel – and study them closely so I can run it myself – and then do it as well as possible for clients.
A good portion of that would then go into getting more and more of those clients – I’d funnel the time right back into conversion-oriented web development. I feel like I’m here to transform people’s businesses and lives.

Then I’d continue the blog I started about geeks and faith… It would take a much longer time to get that “up and running” in a business sense, since it’d primarily be an email subscriber business with a low ceiling for potential product pricing – but it’s the thing I can do which would, I believe, make the biggest impact.

And there’s several thousands of dollars left over for some date nights & gifts for my wife.

Man, $600,000 can go a LONG, LONG way.

I think once you’ve committed to something wholeheartedly, it’s incredibly difficult to go back to a life where you are generally “uncommitted.” You’ll either commit to something else in a couple weeks, or you’ll end up depressed and aimless (until you commit again). Similarly, the people who retire have committed themselves to achieving retirement, which means they accomplished their goal! But they don’t see how the commitment had a greater impact on their actions than their desire to actually live “as retired.” Pretty interesting stuff…

I say this with peace and love: I do hear your point of view, but I wholly disagree with your generalizations here and your over simplistic method: a review of the sub Reddit comments. As an avid student of FIRE blogs and podcasts I see example after example of rich living post FI. Most folks continue to work on projects and in professions they enjoy. They get to take time to explore passions and find what brings them satisfaction. Many enjoy added time with their children, pursue extended travel, tend to real estate investments, etc. Just because FIRE doesn’t have a bottled definition of what post retirement life looks like doesn’t mean that everyone pursuing it has a blank canvas and writers block about it. To each his own. And not everyone wants to be a “top performer”. I hit FIRE 10-years ago and pursue Angel investing, real estate LP investing, reading, writing, occasional light travel and I usually have a few interesting projects going on. In between I ride my beach cruiser around for errands, to the gym and just for fun. I regularly meet up with friends for meals and hikes. I live a simple, calm and happy life and consciously no longer seek high achievement. Your reporting is WAY one dimensional in my view. As a side note, I see FIRE is an awesome financial toolkit for the masses. While it might not be the most ideal packaging for the top 10%, it provides a deep well of practical knowledge, wisdom and support for the other 90% (and it’s free!). I see much more value in promoting FIRE’s virtues than bashing it based on perceived conclusions from a few surf sessions. All of that said, I fully support the FIRE blogosphere enhancing its coverage of revenue growth ideas and post FIRE planning.

Ramit Sethi

Fair comment. And I do agree that not everyone wants to be a top performer. Thank you for leaving this comment here, Matt.

Ha- nicely said. I am a mix of both camps. I want to become financially independent to have choices. I enjoy what I do most days at work and don’t make big decisions (travel, eating, etc.) on early retirement. I do realize though that I may burn out of clinical medicine at some point and being able to leave for something else is important.

I do however spend thoughtfully. Don’t just by useless shit that will bring me minimal happiness.

I couldn’t agree more. Our goal is FI, but not RE. To me, FI is about the freedom to choose what you want to do next, not about sitting around doing nothing for the rest of your life after 15 years of wage slavery. I’ll absolutely continue to work even when our investment returns outpace what we need to live on, just because I like my line of work. FI will give me the freedom to decide if I want to work this week or if I’d rather go to Egypt to teach a class with a charity organization. That freedom is worthwhile but it’s not worth living on ramen in a trailer for.

I definitely agree with your assertion that choosing to be a cubicle slave instead of pursuing a business or something you’re more interested in is a mistake. Life is all about the experiences; the risks of trying something new or the extra work involved in developing a side hustle into a fully fledged business is a far more interesting way to live than punching your clock for 14 years while living like a monk in the name of saving every penny. Everyone has to find their balance point. Maybe you’re not ready to give up the consistent salary, but it’s a lot less difficult than you’d think to turn an enjoyable activity into a business.

Hi Ramit, I found you from your Tim Ferriss Podcast a few years ago and have been following ever since. Let me share a brief version of my story.

I was running a business that had gotten very big ($20+ MM), then crashed in 2004. For the next 6 years, I built a smaller version of it and was making decent money, but was in the middle of it all day every day, getting worn down. After reading Tim’s 4HWW, I got serious about automation and delegation. I got rid of our office and went completely virtual. I put good people in place, and slowly stepped back out of the business.

Now, 7 years later, I have fully virtual company with about 15 full time workers (contractors, not employees). I make more money and only eat jellybeans (work!) about 10 to 15 hours a week. That has allowed me the time to work on my real passion, which involves a non-profit I started (or what TF calls “filling the void.”)

All of this to say to your readers, it can be done and it is awesome. By the way, I have done all this with a wife and six kids and while living in a 7,800 square foot house. You don’t have to be single and unencumbered to do this. You just have to be smart and driven and persistent. I have witnessed literally thousands of would-be entrepreneurs who give up after the first, second, or third time they get kicked in the teeth.

Keep up the great work, I read every single email you send. I have not bought from you yet, but I love your no-BS approach, your marketing style (it’s brilliant, actually) and I especially love the real difference you are making in people’s lives. Thank you.

Ramit Sethi

Awesome. What a great story. Thank you for sharing with everyone — I hope they all read this.

And you should join one of our courses. They are 100x better than the free material.

I am joking of course. It’s an impressive and inspiring story. As a 35 year old, single guy I put huge pressure on myself to “sort it out” before I settle down, but it sounds like I can go easy on myself after reading this. I am an Obliger, so taking pressure off oneself sounds like a good idea. Thanks!

Like many people here, I would use that money to stop living in survival mode, where I am just desperately looking for the next gig to pay my bills.
I would use that financial stability to rest for a few weeks, if that, and then get to work on living out my purpose for being alive. ??

Megha Aggarwal

disagree with #1. I’m a lawyer and I don’t hate my life but (a) i got a rude reality check when I graduated from law school and couldn’t get a job for more than a year, (b) was realistic that being a lawyer wasn’t going to mean Bugattis and Yachts, Michelin restaurants and partying with athletes – it means a lot of hard work often which is unappreciated. you have to be comfortable with being the “bad guy” in the room.

The best advice I got (from your Dream Job course) was to talk to people who are in the shoes you want to be in (not your words, but that was the gist). I wish that before law school, I had talked to more real life lawyers so I knew what to expect, both in terms of job prospects, job search, and how hard I would have to work to get to where I am. I had an IDEA that it would be hard work, but didn’t realize that just like ANY OTHER JOB, you will start on the bottom rung of the ladder because law school – although it will leave you with $200K+ in debt – teaches you very little about being a real lawyer and solving real “law” problems, you will work your butt off for at least 5 years before you’re “anybody,” and your boss has a disproportionate impact on your career trajectory. going to law school doesn’t give you a pass through all of that.

I’m happy now as a lawyer, but I was willing to hustle to get to where I am, and was constantly looking to improve (even in shitty situations) so I learned a lot and fought my way to being a top performer. I like my job, but I always understood that to get to where I am, I would have to do a lot of things I didn’t want to do, incl. in my first job, doing administrative tasks which were better suited for an EA but which I had to do if I wanted to do the other “fun stuff.” Just like cleaning out the kitchen fridge, sometimes you just gotta do stuff you don’t wanna do to move forward.

The difference is the things you don’t like to do shouldn’t take more than 20-25% of your time. If and when they do, it’s time to switch jobs, careers or whatever it is to make you happy. You do have to be honest however that you aren’t going to be groundbreaking work 100% of the time. Even Warren Buffett has to take out the trash sometimes. Actually a great parallel to this is marriage – if you go into it expecting it to be rainbows and sunshine every day, all day, and that you will be madly in love with your partner 24/7, you are in for a rude awakening. If you go into it with realistic expectations that sometimes you will not be at your best, sometimes your partner will not be at their best, but that in the end, you will work to make your relationship successful and part of that will sometimes be doing things or accepting things you don’t LOVE simply because they make your relationship run smoother and/or make your partner happy, you will probably be happier.

I guess there are many things similar to your FIRE scenario – on the outside looking in, things look real peachy, but when you talk to people who are IN that scenario and living it, there are a lot of struggles not evident at first glance.

Ramit Sethi

Great comment. It’s no surprise you’re a Dream Job student. You are awesome!

Hey Ramit,

You are spot on with the FIRE community in some but not all cases. I was reading a 1 year since I retired post from a prominent member of that community recently. He talked about how he could finally do anything. Like take a rock climbing class or get in shape. He also talked about how when he didnt have work to escape from world travel wasnt very much fun. I though to myself he could have found most of the happiness without the money years ago. What was he going to get up to next well more of the work he was doing.
Pretty sad I thought.

I know you like to bash them because people like myself will comment, but there are some great things that can be learned from that community about seeking happiness (without things) and managing money.

I’d use 600k to buy a house / land.

Ramit Sethi

I completely agree, there’s a lot of value in the FIRE community. (See my other comments on this page.) There’s a lot to admire and, on balance, they are doing positive things for their readers.

Note — I don’t write things just to get comments.

I preached it since day 1, Ramit. The example you use is similar to a very well known blogger so I assume that is who you refer to. I happen to be his tax advisor and accountant. I started my blog due to high demand for my advice and worldview because I was connected to this influential blogger. In the beginning I was an apologist for the FIRE community. No more. I had a short spat with retirement at age 22 and thought I would be happy reading all day. I love reading, but the reading is so much better when within the framework of a productive life.

Love your work, Ramit. Look forward to more inspirational words.

I think I actually have a top performer retirement plan. I have my eyes on a retirement to sail-ski expeditions by my forties. That said, I expect I will mix those expeditions with projects that generate asymmetric value. And, frankly, to get to the point I can finance the capex & opex of the expeditions I will need to hone my skills at launching asymmetric value projects anyway. Net net, I agree too performers won’t slow down but I disagree they’ll keep doing the same thing. “Retirement” for us mean L’s excellence in another pursuit rather than just stopping moving

I would go to Disneyworld then I would come back to work BUT I would only focus on the things that were important to me.

There’s another person whose teachings I follow and listen to, and he makes a few VERY interesting points, especially about this subject. First off, it sounds like these FIRE people may be doing what I consider a cardinal sin that’s actually more likely to lead to an early death: they’ve stopped learning. Growthlab folks, on the other hand, keep trying to learn in some form or other. The other thing, one that you’re a prime example of, is giving back in some way or form- that’s where I’d say the 98% is.

Also, I’ve personally experienced the “3 weeks” syndrome, with some job-school bouncing in the past. Sure, the first few weeks are GREAT, when you get to relax and unwind. But in just under a month… well, I’ve felt the itch to do something other than just sit around and relax.

This FIRE bashing and us/them stuff is truly bizarre to me. For the record FIRE folks often specifically write about both continual learning and charitable giving.

Reading this makes me question myself. For me, I’ve done the not work for awhile thing and it drove me nuts (I didn’t do this after making a boat load of money, I did it after college before I started my first job). It was cool for a lil but after a month I was so bored.

Even though I know that about myself, I definitely fantasize about the big check and then clocking out, not doing anything. I want to reply to this saying I want to find something that keeps me grinding and makes me happy. And I’m sure I’d love that.

It’s just pretty interesting to me that there is a part of me that wants the large sum and then retire. Even knowing that I get bored quickly not doing anything.

I’d pay off my student loans. Travel the world with my girlfriend for a while. I’d just be like, “babe, we’re going on a trip around the world. Pack your shit.” (smiling wryly). Then I’d get a nice apartment and furnish a kick ass work space for my teaching and my music. I would hire a personal stylist to make me look cool without having to go out and shop and learn about how to pick out clothes (I hate doing that). I would buy a grand piano. Start taking lessons with a world class musician/teacher to up my skills. Become more strict with students without fear of losing them. Have fewer, but higher quality students. Use the extra time to work on my method book I want to publish. Continue to grow my business.

I think if someone’s goal in life is to work hard so that they no longer have to work, they’re not doing it right. Why work extra hard, torturing yourself — and probably getting used to that kind of torture — just so you can become useless at an early age? They deprived themselves the time to care about something to spend money on. Frying in the sun on beaches and throwing money at material goods might seem worthwhile, but if I was given a million right now, I’d be using it to help fuel what I’m passionate about.
If I happened upon a mil, I hope to use that money to build a sanctuary for rescue dogs, and hire people who desperately need jobs and homes. I’d have housing for the volunteers in the sanctuary, and have the rescue dogs live with them. Both man and animal would be given the comforts of a “normal” life that many people miss out on because of our “work until death” mentality: they’d be having a home, having a community, having a pet, and having purpose caring for the pet and making friends with neighbours. Money would be spent not only on the buildings, but on educating people on proper animal care and friendly dog training, and how to keep animals from ending up abandoned or abused.
Investing money on something and overseeing and building it up is something I wish I could do. Like you guys, I want to make a difference in the world. The Me at this very moment would NOT spend the money on being stagnant; I want to become better than I currently am!

This article really resonated with me. In fact, I was a lawyer and I count my calories because I eat way more than anyone thinks really. I’ve not made a million yet, but I’m sure if I did, I’d tick your third box as well. However, and this is the cause of a great deal of anxiety at the moment – I don’t know where to put my focus and energy, don’t know in what arena to be a top performer. I am sometimes in my current job, but it’s not satisfying … little control, not creative… any tips?

Aziz Ansari Just gave a great interview where he talked about he has made enough money to not have to work, and he won’t work again until he feels inspired to create something new. I don’t believe in working all the time for the sake of working. I could take months off if I had the money to live comfortably, but it does not mean I wouldn’t be working on improving myself either through travel or books or whatever. But this culture of elevating work to some holy level, I don’t agree with. Life is to be lived and money facilitates that. If we are passionate about our work, if it’s our “calling”, we still need to take care of ourselves, allow for down time and creativity and experiencing life.

Retirement is a term for people who have spent their lives ‘working’ to support their families and not their dreams. $600k would convert nicely into Middle Earth dollars so I would:-
– Publish my ‘fun’ journal on surviving PTSD/anxiety & depression (and fund its app)
– employ engineers/lawyers to do the design specs/register patents on my ‘green’ inventions
– executive produce a show on Netflix that actively showcases ALL of those petitions we sign/march for (Greenpeace/Avaaz/Humane Society etc) that shows how we’re destroying earth and wtf we can do as a collective
– fund international trip to $$$ hotspots to raise capital/find likeminds for all of the above
(and get my drivers license)
….just for starters ?

Man, if I had $600,000 – I’d totally take a sabbatical for 6 months where I’d pursue a fitness course with the best hands-on coach there is! Therein lies my passion hence it would be the best way to spend my time + I’d get to do it with an expert in the field! SO MUCH to learn!

It’d anyway leave me with plenty of available time to do other things I love hence get totally refreshed and back to monetise my said passion as a side (or full-time) business with myself as an experienced example! I would love to help other people achieve the same goals and would help them do so!

Can’t not workkk..I mean we wait for the weekend all through the week and then what??? While it away wedged on on a couch watching shows with other people achieving their goals! I know I eventually get bored of doing that hence NO FIRE please! Let’s get out there and do some work while we have fun at it !!!

Carolyn HENry

I was in the frugal camp years ago when we got married and had a ton of debt – I realized we couldn’t even pay for childcare if we had a kid, so we paid everything off except the mortgage, while saving and made it so we could live off of one income once having kids to give me the option to stay home if I wished. (Your first book helped with this.) Once baby #1 came along, I chose to work part time to keep that intellectual stimulus (I’m an engineer) and adult interaction in my life. When baby #2 came along, I took a 1 year leave of absence from my job thanks to living frugally and having extra money in the savings account, but I was restless to keep working, so I started a blog. I am back to work part time, but in my spare morning hours, I am working towards having my own business so I can work from home to be with my kids more and set my own schedule so we can have more experiences. So, if I was given the $600,000 check, I would take most of it to invest for the income and quit my day job, take some to just have fun and take the rest to invest in myself (business class like ZTL, business coach and babysitter to give me more time to get it started) for an even larger return in investment monetarily and for the lifestyle I desire.

I read this article w/ interest because I could identify w/ parts of it. About 12 years ago I had enough money to back and chill for quite some time. I did that; rode the hell outta my Harley and became bored after several months, if not less. I was amazed that I felt bored w/ riding my bike. Then I became bored to hell. I thought it would be cool to not have to work. Cool to me, I mean. After all, being in that state means you’ve made it in some sense. Right?

I started working – learning. I taught myself things that served me well; marketable skills. Then I worked at something I loved. Made less money but loved it – loved it. Worked my ass off for about 5 years. Nonstop; 7 days a week for months and months; 15-18 hour days. I’m not kidding about that.

Got sick, seriously sick. Could not work and became homeless. I was that way for 18 months. That was about 4-5 years ago.

Now, I’m well; not homeless but live in a one room place; no car but live in town and ride the bus. I work at a job that most people would turn their noses up at and would never even consider. I found the positive in it such as it’s physical. I’m on my feet all day and work hard.

I’ve been doing this job for close to 3 years. I’m in the best physical condition of my life. I’ve gained recognition for being a very hard worker who does excellent work. I was nominated for an award where I work. Being nominated meant more to me than getting it which did not happen.

My life has been way-way scaled down. No bills other than rent. I don’t miss driving. I read tons of books – good books; literature and just good books. I’ve begun training in martial arts again in my little room. I studied it for years a long time ago.

I feel pretty damn good, and I’m at peace w/ things. I have no stress in my life – none.

And I’m in the early stages of doing something I wanted to do when I was in high school a long time ago – write a book, become an author. I never did it because I didn’t think I could ever do that. Now I know I can. I learned about writing years ago and wrote; supported myself w/ it when I became sick.

I continue to learn about writing and will never stop. It’s a life-long endeavor and one I love. I love to learn and my curiosity knows no bounds.

I learned that it’s supremely important to work – use your mind, avoid being idle. You need to have a sense or feeling of purpose in your life. You need structure in your daily life. You need it more than you know.

Your body and mind need to move. I’m 59. Moving – working and walking, being physical is food and water for your body and mind. Moving will help keep you healthy. Working at this job I have has done wonders for my body as has being without a car. Get out and walk, every day. It also soothes and calms your mind.

I went through darkness and hell for almost 7 years and have emerged a stronger, smarter and hopefully wiser person. I no longer feel afraid of things. It changed my entire being. It could have been just the opposite.

The FIRE group are young and will learn as they age. I have no plans to “retire” and will just live my life until I move on.

Take care. Ken

If I got $600.000, I’d go study industrial design in Scandinavia. Actually, it’s my plan: I’m going to earn that money through my book (to be published this year) and the companion course I’ll build with ZTL, and then move on to what I always wanted to do. Funny you bring the subject, because the whole plan just hit me a few days ago. Before that I tried to set goals about vacations and beach houses, but it just didn’t click. Since coming up with that idea, I’ve been super motivated, I’m writing faster and better than ever. What I dream about is working in something I love at last, and someday seing my creations in stores. And also to keeping writing books because I enjoy it a lot. I’d never want to do nothing.

I’d definitely say I’m with you Ramit on this. I’m spending my 3 weeks vacation working on my side business (that I will take full time in a few months).

Plus today is actually a holiday here in Italy and everyone is bbqing everywhere! Ok, worked enough for today, time to join them 😉

A couple years ago I took a sabbatical year to travel and relax. I’m in my 30s and I worked a lot (through I loved most of what I used to do). Finally, after some bad things happening (friends dying and lots of stress), decided to take my money, leave my job and just relax for 1 year. Traveled back to Peru to live some months with my father and my little sisters. After that, went to New York, Denmark, Barcelona, traveled around Italy and finally stayed some more months in the Canary Islands. When I wasn’t traveling, I did all the things that didn’t do while I was younger: lots of fiction reading, videogames, mmos, drinking and eating doritos.

It was a great year, met great people and loved spending so much time with my family. But by the end of the year, I was depressed, overweight and absolutely cynical about the world. I felt that I lost my purpose in life and that was killing me.

The sabbatical ended, got back to my job. Not doing any other side projects like I used to do, though. I’m still overweight but losing it after one more year (remember my sabbatical started 2 years ago). Recovering from depression and feeling happier now. Still need to know what I want to do with my life.

I realized that I would be a very unhappy and unhealthy guy if I completely stopped working.

TL; DR: My sabbatical year got me depressed and overweight. Realized I like to work and help people.

Fantastic post to give us, growthlabers a push. I am definitely on your camp Ramit and I have been there since I left my job at a big corp. Just 6 months after starting. I knew I had much more to give to the world. I now work remotely part time with my own clients while building my business. This has allowed me to build the basement of my desired life: freedom of movement. I can travel the world at my own will. I am playing for the long run. Next step of my richer life: getting comments such as you changed my life. That’s what I am working for.

Thanks!!

I’ve actually thought about the “if I had $1M” question a lot, and to be honest, I don’t think I would skip a beat and do much different. I’ve set up everything in my life so I don’t go wanting. Have my savings, investments, job, etc. I go to the gym before work, and never want to be in a situation where I have to tell someone I can’t grab a drink or go out for dinner.

This year alone my girlfriend and I watched the documentaries “Somm” and “A Year in Champagne” on Netflix. Before we knew it we booked a 2-week trip to Reims (Champagne Region) and the French Riviera. Figured out where to save and where to spend, and had the time of our lives! Ended up sitting at a table next to the CEO of Hublot watches for lunch on the beach.
Met some Germans in our AirBNB, and thought about going there for our next trip since I used to live in Germany for a year and speak fluent German. What do you know, off to Oktoberfest we go in a little over a month.
Neither trip is breaking the bank, and I don’t need $600k to do it. We do what we want within reason.

Years ago when I was first starting out of college it wasn’t so. I tracked every dollar, and hoarded every vacation hour from work, only to never use either. It was all saving for an “in case” scenario that never landed in my lap. Now I understand my money and vacation time are to be used, they’re a means, not the end, and I never doubt the ability of my future self to make money.

But these trips are a good getaway to use the time we have and enjoy ourselves. Then I come back to work recharged, ready to go.
I don’t see any of this approach or attitude changing in the future. I’m still going to enjoy myself on my terms, but I don’t need to abandon work and live without purpose other than to be.

I guess with a magical $600k though, instead of AirBNB I’d actually have chartered the mega yacht for $100k in St. Tropez and had someone feed me grapes….

This is a great subject. I think the middle grounds needs to be explored more. Ramit can you please have Tim Ferris interview you and Mr. Money mustache in a head-to-head battle Royale. You might be surprised at how much in common you have with him. Either way thanks for what you do

Mimi Ghosh

I want to travel, explore, relax, see my friends any time I want; AND run my own business, do projects, create, and work. There’s no reason to have to choose. The point of having a lot of money is to have options and freedom, you’re not free if you are not doing what you want because you’re worried about money.

Joshua Rodriguez

The weakness of FIRE to me is how many assumptions its practitioners make about the future.

Stuff happens that you can’t plan for. You get sick and can’t travel. A recession wipes out your retirement savings. A civil war breaks out in the country you always wanted to visit.

Life is what’s happening to you now, not what’s going to happen once you get all your ducks in a row.

Imagine that, in the middle of your “rice and beans” phase, you get the bad news that you’ve got a terminal illness and have 6 months to live.

Are you going to be super-glad that you have lots of money saved? Or are you going to wonder if you should have maybe spent a little more time enjoying yourself and your life instead of relentlessly trying to secure a future that’s not going to happen anyway?

Ramit Sethi

Some good points in your comment, Joshua. But I think your argument paints the FIRE community with the same broad brush that I’ve heard from them: “When you earn a lot more, you just waste it! I’d rather be frugal and spend on the things I really care about. Cutting my expenses is the thing I have control over.” Not necessarily true when either side uses this broad of a brush. This is why I think FIRE has some genuine virtues to it. But also, some problems.

Man, you have no idea how much you helped me with my mindset. A few years ago, if you asked me this question about in which team I was, I’d have to say the FIRE team. Now, with a different mindset I’m 100% in the top performer team!
I have to thank you and your team because your articles, e-mails, e-books are a huge part of this transformation! Thank you!

IS THERE ANYTHING MORE BORING THAN DECIDING TO RUN OUT THE CLOCK? I have friends, living off a small trust fund, who post pictures of their daily walk on the shores of Lake Michigan. I like the beach, but it doen’t help you make a impact.

Ha – I know I’m not one of you because I’d take that 600k and add to my stable of 5 paid off rent and air BnB houses. I know how you hate real estate, Ramit, but that’s my side gig. Not a FIRE person cuz I’m past their age of retirement and love travel, freedom and eating out way too much to be tied to a fixed income.
I already make decent money so 600k is not a huge windfall, but always nice to have capital to invest.
I get my satisfaction out of my job (surgery has great immediate feedback and the challenge of being almost perfectible, but always surprising/challenging) but the best thing I ever did was negotiate a ton of paid time off which allows me to recharge, play around with the real estate biz, with my friends and family and do stuff I enjoy without feeling time pressed or burnt out like half the people in medicine or law or whatever.
Kids, you don’t need to have an internet biz, but you really do need to think about what you are good at and enjoy that makes money and is scalable without ruining your quality of life. Don’t put your eggs all in one basket, choose your spouse wisely, your little habits over time do make your destiny and yeah, its better to rent than to buy in places like NYC, SF, etc. The man is trying to show you the way and I might not agree with everything he says, but I always get a great nugget or two of wisdom from Ramit, even as an older, successful person in a totally different line of work.

Ha – I know I’m not one of you because I’d take that 600k and add to my stable of 5 paid off rent and air BnB houses. I know how you hate real estate, Ramit, but that’s my side gig. Not a FIRE person cuz I’m past their age of retirement and love travel, freedom and eating out way too much to be tied to a fixed income.
I already make decent money so 600k is not a huge windfall, but always nice to have capital to invest.
I get my satisfaction out of my job (surgery has great immediate feedback and the challenge of being almost perfectible, but always surprising/challenging) but the best thing I ever did was negotiate a ton of paid time off which allows me to recharge, play around with the real estate biz, with my friends and family and do stuff I enjoy without feeling time pressed or burnt out like half the people in medicine or law or whatever.
Kids, you don’t need to have an internet biz, but you really do need to think about what you are good at and enjoy that makes money and is scalable without ruining your quality of life. Ask for what you want, but be prepared to pay for it or earn it. Don’t put your eggs all in one basket, choose your spouse wisely, your little habits over time do make your destiny and yeah, its better to rent than to buy in places like NYC, SF, etc. The man is trying to show you the way and I might not agree with everything he says, but I always get a great nugget or two of wisdom from Ramit, even as an older, successful person in a totally different line of work.

Nice ramit sethi ure soo good….I like you….You’re my best blogger, A ROLE MODEL.

I’m definitely in the Growth Lab camp. I started my online biz in 2014 and since then we’ve grown ever since. I keep creating assets which should provide us with an endless income stream. This year I finally went from 48 weeks/year of active interaction with my clients to 40 weeks. WOW! It’s been wonderful. And, I couldn’t imagine needing more time. In fact, in my “down time”, I started an online radio station just for fun. (it helps with promotions, too!) BUT…but…I am impatient. I know my business can grow much bigger and faster, but I don’t know “Jack” about marketing. My best sales methods are a FB ad, promoting my business on my podcasts (and now radio show) and the occasional (really sparse) email promotion. It’s abysmal…but THAT is an area where I really have a hard time getting motivated. I want to stick to the content creation side… THIS is my conundrum. Should I be spending more time forcing myself to learn marketing…tears. SORRY, I think I got way off track…back to the point–my butt will always be planted in the growthlab!

Finally got my soft launch which counts as list building and research for me! I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally be on the path to running a business! I am still in the low numbers at this point which I expect since I’m still a new kid in town. But I can see myself doing this forever! I wake up excited to WORK and use mini breaks to keep recharging. Before I got things launched I was probably more like the average person, just hoping someday I would make enough to live comfortably. But now with my first 6 sales from total obscurity, I kinda forgot about the money part and just want to make the best product I can. I’m still scared as hell, truth be told. But I’m so grateful for the courage and mentorship of my friend who made me stay put for 2 weeks straight to help me through the tech stuff to get the first teaser out there. I don’t ever want to retire if life can be this exciting, scary, and full of growth!

$600,000? Easy. Holiday with my wife and our dogs for 2 weeks.
The. I’d pay off the cc debt so I can get onto growthlab and start executing some of my ideas (I have more than Altucher no joke).

Oh and I’d quit my job as a lawyer…

Working on it now the hard way. Debt sucks but it’s my own fault and I’ll beat it.

Thanks for the inspiration.

I’ve dropped out of the rat race twice to retrain/explore. Both times I returned to my former career after a few years doing something else (financed mostly by savings), feeling refreshed and invigorated. What’s more, I think the experiences in-between made me a better performer in my role, giving me different perspectives and a wider view of what is possible, as well as the knowledge that if I stop enjoying it I can always take another break and do something else. At the same time, it has made me wary of the whole buy a house thing – so many colleagues told me they were envious of my ability to just stop working, but they couldn’t because of their mortgage and not wanting to lose capital, etc. Yes, they have made big capital gains (housing still works out as a good long term investment up to a point here in New Zealand), but at the cost of tying themselves to work that they might not enjoy.

Travis McReynolds

I’m with GrowthLab. I’d take that 600k and grow it. All the while, living every minute.

While I’d like to be the kind of person who is all about inpact and can make money from their skills I probably fit the FIRE category more in that I just want the freedom to pursue my interests without being a wage slave. I actually know quite a few people I would consider ‘top performers’ in their particular areas of focus who aren’t commercially successful and who are therefore drawn to the FIRE approach in order to support their interests…

While I totally agree that the dream of retiring should be retired itself, I disagree with your generalizations about FIRE folk.

Back when I had a corporate job I learned a lot (humility especially), played semi-professional basketball, travelled the world, and had a great time. And saved a lot of money. So much that I managed to “pre-tire” at 27.

What would’ve happened if I followed your advice and skipped the corporate job entirely? It’s impossible to say, but I know I couldn’t have learned a lot of the professional skills and discipline that allow me to live a different type of “Rich Life” today. And the money I saved gives me the flexibility and peace of mind to really double down on long term plans to make a difference, instead of having to compromise on the short term need to make money to survive.

There are dumbasses in every community and every demographic. You shared examples of some dumbass FIRE folk. But it needs to be said that many—and I’d wager most—of them, of us, aren’t that short-sighted and simple-minded. They’re the ones who don’t waste their time on Reddit.

Ramit Sethi

Thanks for the comment.

2 points:

1. I never encourage people to “skip the corporate job entirely.” In fact, I’m one of the only people who builds online courses about entrepreneurship who also emphasizes the importance of a job — and in fact, I’ve written more on salary negotiation, interviewing, and finding your dream job than almost anyone!

2. As I’ve pointed out in other comments on this page, my characterization of FIRE as hyperfocused on extreme frugality is not one or two outliers. It’s omnipresent in the community.

I think it is awesome you saved a bunch of money and traveled the world. To me, that is an example of living your Rich Life.

Definitely in Camp GrowthLab. I’ve never really understand the ‘retire early’ philosophy. It just doesn’t resonate with me. We’ve been given one life on this planet. Why would I want to sit on my ass doing nothing for the bulk of it? Nah, I’d rather be a producer – create valuable things, connect with people and make an impact on them.

I do think financial independence is important though. Simply from the perspective that it gives you the freedom to work on what you want, without money being an obstacle. But money is a means, not an end itself.

100,000 usd – pay debts;
50,000 usd – have an awesome 20-day vacation in America and Europe (I am from Brazil);
300,000 usd – invest in a mixed portfolio that would grant me some place to fall dead if everything goes bust;
150,000 usd – seed money for my project of a hub about health/fitness/wellness and energetics with a plethora of products available for my audience. Probably about 10.000 usd at least would go to Ramit Sethi’s courses to help me get there.

Cheers Ramit! Love your content!

Agree with 1 and 3. Totally disagree with #2. Been there, done that, developed an eating disorder and obsession with exercise/food and numbers to the detriment of my health. Of course not everyone will have that experience. And I’m glad I “succeeded” because I learned a magic size and deadlift number didn’t make me happy.

I do think excess fat is a symptom of bad health but currently I’ve concluded that telling people to simply lose weight is like telling someone who’s drowning to breath slowly (they are breathing too fast and it’s bad for their health!) instead of getting them out of the water – losing weight happens when someone is well rested and their environment (mental and physical) isn’t giving signals to the body that there will be an energy deficit in the future and the body will store energy for the future.

Let’s see – Finished college, got a dream job, scholarship to work on master’s degree; married; 5 beautiful children; LaLecheLeague Instructor then hospital liaison for group; Tupperware sales with free car; back to work when youngest started school; back injury with a switch to Public Health; job opportunity to be Director of Home Care Agency; Agency sold to shoddy people so started my own; sold and retired; took up Heirloom sewing; opened an MSN website for it; set up work conference for sewers; tried a move to FL but not a retirement personality;2 years there were too much, so moved back near dgt, (we’re getting older now – 77/married 50+ years) back disabling so started a blog; now in process of starting a second one to put into practice what I’ve learned the last few months. Oh yes, did writing for Professional Journal along the way and now have a book waiting to be published. Retire? I guess you do that in a coffin? Not ready for that yet – still have too much I want to do. Have to get the funds for that pool I want in the back yard of the new house I want to build after another cruise with the whole family. Hey world – I’m still coming for you.

There’s an inbetween — I think. You might have some insight about this that I haven’t found yet, so I’ll describe it:

You want to change the world, but you don’t know if what you do will make money. You don’t want to spend all your time on marketing it, either; you want to study and then build it! So you spend years saving all you can (looking just like the ‘FIRE’ team) so that you can quit and then work on your idea. Or you shift out of an important job to a day job so I can focus on other things while you work.

I think of this team including people like Einstein, Tesla, various influential philosophers. Tons of others. Impact high, payoff low. Is there a way to change that without diverting so much into marketing that you lose the ability to consider ideas that won’t pay off till after you die?

Can we be somewhere in between? 😀

I would love to chill in Bora Bora (found out it is incredibly expensive to get there, at least for me now).
But yup, I would get bored rather soon… If I for example won a lottery, I would definitely travel the world. But this is far from doing nothing.
I would most certainly do something, even just doing some adventure sports around the world for starters 😀
Or travelling the world on my Purple Harley 😀 😀
But I still fall into the category of “Successful, yet unhappy, professionals.“
Even this: Successful from my point of view is not true, but still trying to figure out what successful actually means for me..

And I am the same as someone wrote too: If I had a million dollars, I would still work. But I would do something that I love.
Strange thing is, I do love what I do.. My work is interesting but the old fashioned way of working 9-5 in an office behind a computer – this is the part that I hate.
Every day, same old routine, not finding any meaning or purpose to the things we do..

To cut this short, I could go on and on, If I had million dollars, I would still work, but plan longer and ‘fancier’ vacations 😀

“Guys, my fucking goal in life is not to take vacation. It’s to make an impact.” Love it, Ramit. Absolutely fucking love it!

You say out what I were thinking in this post. I’m doing bachelor in accounting and I always think to improve my situation. I really plan to upgrade my wordpress.com to self-hosted website and want to write more in order to help others. Also, I wanna learn on how to make money through affiliate marketing and google ads.Thank you so much for this great post.

Great post. I’m 26 and I work as a software engineer. I have a decent savings rate but nowhere near enough to retire early. I spent a while trying out the extreme savings path and decided it’s not for me; I can do it, but I don’t see the point.

I love software engineering and I’d probably keep working, but I’d like the safety of not having to work for money. And I’d like to use the resulting time, resources, freedom and safety to turn myself into an inventor/ modern-day Leonardo DaVinchi/ next Elon Musk.

I want to learn all the things.
I want to explore/study stuff related to software engineering, especially Machine Learning (and the math needed for it).
I also want to spend time on other fields I find interesting: music composition, astronomy, fiction writing, and possibly find ways to use them alongside software engineering and artificial intelligence.

I’m already doing some of the things I want, just a lot slower than if I didn’t have to work for money. I’m currently able to complete 1 MOOC per 2 months at best, whereas I’ve seen that I can complete a course per week if I’m not working.

Realistically, I probably won’t be able to become the full-time polymath I want anytime soon, but I can probably fight my way into a software engineering job that is more satisfying, creative and close to my interests, and to have some financial cushions in place.

A mentor of mine defined retirement to as “stopping to work for necessity”, he further said that successful people don’t ever stop working. They just don’t work to pay bills.

There is a a psychology behind this is it instigates people to work their hardest when they are very young and manage others when they are older. The lazy ones will do anything to not do anything. That’s what i believe FIRE is about. That’s why Ponzi schemes and lottery will make wave for time to come.

This post is so damn awesome…..I keep coming to it again and again.

Do it for the love of it. Create your life around what you are most passionate about.

It is not only about working hard, it is about working hard in a systematic manner, as Anders Ericsson teaches.

Thanks Ramit!

This guy Ramit can write. Yeah this whole story that you hear from most people about, save for retirement, so that when you do finally get to retire at age 59 1/2 you can just sit on the beach all day.

But what you almost never hear, except from Ramit, is that once you do actually get to that point, you are bored out of your mind and go crazy.

At least that is what happened to me. Had enough coin to not work, goofed off for over a year and was so bored, that I needed to go back to work.

I am currently at retirement age, but I am not ready to retire and because of that, I am still working. I enjoy my job, but I am not satisfied. I would love to discover my passion and apply it towards a successful online business that I could continue once I do retire from the corporate world. This site is the most interesting and informative websites I have been on and I look forward to growing personally and professionally from the classes.

Leave a Comment