Contribution to Society

by FI Fighter on March 14, 2016

in Thoughts

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What is the measure of one’s worth? For many people, bottom line, it all comes down to the Benjamins! The more we earn, the better we feel about ourselves. Moreover, that feeling of “success” can become so intoxicating that it shrouds our views and prevents us from seeing the cold-hard “truth”.

When you make money, it just feels so damn good!

And if you’re the type of person who’s struggling just to make ends meet, really, at the end of the day, are you going to sit back and lament the decisions you’ve made to help provide yourself (and your family) with a better life?

Of course not…

Life is already hard enough as it is… If you’re going to complain about anything, you’d probably rather argue as to why you’re still grossly undervalued underpaid!

If it feels sooooo good, how could it possibly be wrong?

Removing the Need

As someone who has previously worked in Corporate America for close to a decade, believe me, I am all too familiar with the grind, and rat race. I’ve experienced: days, weeks, months, years, fly by, without really comprehending what on earth just happened with my own life…

You’re so knees deep in the trenches, that you become borderline myopic…

I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, or anything like that.

It’s just the reality of real life that I think most everyone out there can comprehend and appreciate.

 

However, in my own career, I’ve always been at least cognizant enough to step back (even if just slightly), and ask myself the bigger, more important question — What exactly am I contributing to society?

 

To answer that question, I’ve always had to search deep down… No, I wasn’t going to listen to my bosses (and their bosses), who were ALWAYS spewing some type of corporate propaganda into my ear all day long while I was at work…

 

“This is an amazing accomplishment!”

“This product will revolutionize the world and society!”

“You should all celebrate and toast to all your hard, wonderful work!”

 

Put into the right context, no, no, and no!

 

Perhaps, releasing a new high-tech gadget can “change the world”… But after the 5th, 6th, 7th, 100th iteration of the “same exact thing”, what more are we really adding to this world? More scrap to the landfill?

 

When I peer behind the curtain, here’s what I usually find:

“A promotion for my boss.”

“Much fatter compensation and praise for the corporate execs.”

“More work for my co-workers and myself.”

 

Sure, any product success would also allow for the opportunity for one to pad up their resumes further, and perhaps go job hopping elsewhere to try and land some more robust compensation…

 

I’m plenty guilty of that… All I did while working as an engineer was job hop left and right…

 

But again, put in the right context, at some point in time, when the money becomes increasingly irrelevant to one’s ability to survive, more of it does not necessarily provide any more useful utility!

 

When your basic needs for survival are met and you are financially free, it’s time to see the truth for what it really is and seek fulfillment elsewhere!

 

A More Fulfilling Journey

Ultimately, chasing true happiness is what I decided to do for myself. Since starting this blog in 2012, I’ve been on a relentless pursuit to achieve early financial independence. I reached a net worth of over $1,000,000 in 2015. I landed a “dream job” (as far as high-tech goes) that paid $200,000/year.

Been there, done that.

So, when I reached an inflection point where more money did not produce any more real happiness, I said, “adios”!

 

Just so readers know, this was not a rash decision by any means. Since about 2014, I knew full well that there was a much better path in life for me.

Around 2014, I started to travel more aggressively, and visited places like: NYC, Boston, Key West, Tokyo, Bangkok, Rome, etc.

Each time I made announcements on the blog of where I was headed to next, I would always receive a warm comment or e-mail from a reader who wanted to meet up.

 

After attending one meet up after another, I realized something… they made me genuinely happy. I loved being around other like-minded people. I got a kick each time, talking about topics that I was actually passionate about. I felt a sense of purpose each time someone told me that I had inspired them in some way, shape, or form.

 

I felt so… alive.

 

The human connection… Something that was so sorely lacking in my corporate life.

 

So, I knew what I had to eventually do…

 

I had to chase real happiness.

Making a Difference

Pursuing individual happiness can be viewed as “selfish”, but when I try and look at things objectively, I would actually argue that I am now contributing much more to society, today, as a blogger than I would have had I continued to work as a disgruntled wage slave.

 

Sure, I don’t get paid anywhere near as much… only a tiny fraction of what I was previously earning.

 

But when you remove money from the equation (which I have), I feel like I’m making a much, much larger impact on society.

 

Whether it’s through:

  • Rambling on this blog.
  • Contributing investment articles/ideas to external websites.
  • Hosting podcasts.
  • Continuing to meet up with early financial freedom fighters.
  • Engaging in discussions, comments, and emails.
  • Etc.

 

What is possible through blogging extends far and wide…

 

As an engineer, the products that I was working on, I could not identify with… I felt no connection, no attachment, no affinity for any of it. Further, I would always be limited in scope to what my boss wanted me to work on. I had no freedom to branch out and experiment with new ideas, designs.

 

As a blogger, the harder I work, the more people I can reach. Motivate. Inspire. I have the freedom and luxury to be able to try out new ideas. I can experiment to my heart’s desire. There is no ceiling to what is possible. It’s all up to me!

 

So, I don’t care what my old bosses might say. I am NOT throwing away and squandering my talents. I am NOT wasting away my life! I am NOT a menace to society!

 

In fact, with each passing day, every new e-mail that I get in my inbox from another motivated financial freedom fighter is just further affirmation that I am making the right decision with my life.

 

And when you can finally remove making money from the equation, the fear of failure is no longer a limiting factor… You are allowed the opportunity to chase your dreams with reckless abandon. For instance, it takes a loooong time for me to record, edit, and upload podcasts to the web. Further, I’m reaching my data limit on Soundcloud and will probably be forced to upgrade my account for $15/month. With these podcasts, I’m not currently making any money off of them… If anything, I’m losing money, and putting in a whole lotta love and labor into it!

 

But I really don’t care.

 

If readers and listeners gain value from the podcasts, I’m going to keep putting them out there!

 

I want to make a difference in this world.

 

I want my life to actually mean something.

 

Engineering was no longer the answer…

 

Now, I’m off to try out something new.

 

 

Fight On!

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 HristoNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Hi,

Very inspirational post from your side. It tends to happy very often recently. Keep it up!

You are in a luxury position to “remove the money from the equation” and more or less freely to chase your passions and what you believe in. Don’t get me wrong. I know that a lot of hard work and smart decisions were required to be in this position. And now, your story is like an evidence that with the right attitude financial freedom is possible.

Which brings me to my own situation. I have rather good salary for our country. I earn more than enough to satisify my needs (I have basica needs at all). But lately I go to work with basically no motivation. And that is exactly because I ask myself questions similar to yours in the past – “What is the purpose of my job?”, “How the society will be impacted if I don’t show up at work today?”, “How I make the world a better place?”. I am certain that a person can ask himself these questions once he has satisfied your needs. And from the sidelines it might seem quite selfish but I really do not feel I contibute anything significant to the society.

Your other point – that virtually nothing depends on you when you are a wage slave – I experienced it last week. Usually our company is opened to educations for the employees. I proposed to our Education department me to deliver an education course for the stock market investing. I thought that will be a great opportunity to show to my colleagues completely different universe and a way out of the corporate matrix. I thought that it will be a great opportunity to contribute with something small but meaningful for the well-being of our society. I was so excited for the idea. But after just 10 minutes on a meeting with Education department, I was basically told that the second-line manager “will not approve something not directly related to our daily job.”. That was my inflection point. At that moment I understood that corporate world won’t be my world in long-term if I am in the situation to choose. I told to myself I don’t want “promotions, recognition from my manager, higher salary at the expense of ton more work and stress”. I am now more than even determined to pursue my dreams that are for sure far away from the corporate office.

Regards,
Hristo

Reply

2 FI FighterNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 10:24 pm

Hristo,

Thank you for taking the time out to share your story. As someone who has had plenty of ideas shot down my middle/upper management, I can empathize with your situation…

It’s tough, I know…. We all want to lead a life of purpose and feel like we are making strong contributions to society and the workplace. Unfortunately, in the micro, often times it can feel like there is a huge disconnect. In the past, what I’ve always done is to turn to other outlets to better express my ideas, so that I had a way to turn a negative into a positive.

Rather than get too frustrated about situations I could not change, for instance, I started blogging and networking with other like-minded individuals who did understand where I was coming from. It really makes a difference and can help make the work environment more palatable.

For myself, it did get to a point where I finally did say “enough is enough”. Once you are far along enough on your own journey to early FI and have made sufficient progress, you will find yourself less and less willing to tolerate situations and environments you do not agree with.

That is the power financial freedom can offer a person.

But it takes time to get there…

Most importantly, don’t lose hope and keep at it. One day, it will pay off and you’ll have the luxury to do whatever you want with your life.

All the best!

Reply

3 Brian - Rental MindsetNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 2:09 pm

You may not have a perfect plan, but knew your current job wasn’t the solution. It takes guts to make a move to try something new. I’m sure you will make a bigger impact on the world because of it!

Reply

4 FI FighterNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Brian,

Thanks for the support! I really do hope that I’ll find a way to make a huge bigger impact through blogging than I ever did working in Corporate America.

All the best!

Reply

5 NickNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 2:54 pm

I used to read a lot of different blogs on finance but now I’ve dwindled the list down to a select few which includes FIFIGHTER. I’m amazed at how you continue to put out interesting and valuable content week in and week out. Keep up the good work and hope you enjoy the new found freedom.

Reply

6 FI FighterNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm

Nick,

Thanks, I appreciate the support! There are lots of wonderful blogs out there so I feel humbled to be mentioned in your select few list.

Freedom is wonderful, and I love sharing the journey with readers of this blog.

There’s still a lot of fight left in me, so let’s keep at it! 🙂

Cheers!

Reply

7 GremlinNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 3:15 pm

I discovered your blog three days ago and cannot stop reading – your journey is fascinating!

Thank you for sharing. sometimes I read a paragraph or two in a post and stop because I am shocked how identical unhappy I have felt at my job. For me it is too late to follow your example; however I will make sure to convey the right lessons to my child.

About your life trajectory and decisions: you do not owe explanation to anyone. You sound like a true Renaissance man and I am convinced that you will do the most amazing things in the next years.

Reply

8 FI FighterNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 10:29 pm

Gremlin,

Thanks for the kind words! I am glad that some of the content on this blog resonates with you as I’ve always felt that my feelings and thoughts were universally shared, but not often expressed by the people who felt that way.

The internet and blogosphere is great for finding others who understand exactly what it is that you are going through.

I am doing my absolute best to live the life of a renaissance man. In my view, learning never ends and we need to always challenge ourselves if we are to reach our peak potential.

I’ve got a lot of things I want to try and experiment with in the near future… Definitely looking forward to sharing with everyone.

Best wishes!

Reply

9 Income SurferNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 6:48 pm

You figured out that what you were doing wasn’t working, so you tried something else. Sounds like a brilliant move to me 🙂
Fight on buddy!
-Bryan

Reply

10 FI FighterNo Gravatar March 14, 2016 at 10:30 pm

Bryan,

Thanks for the support bud! I still owe you an email, so I’ll try and get back to you soon.

Hope the road much travelled is serving you well.

Safe travels and have a blast!

Reply

11 Dividend HustlerNo Gravatar March 15, 2016 at 7:53 am

Your a smart guy FIF. Do it up! Find your calling and go for it. If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back and make 200 k per year… doesn’t sound bad at all to me either or. 🙂
Life’s wonderful so live it to your terms. Keep bring value bud. Cheers.

Reply

12 KyleNo Gravatar March 15, 2016 at 8:37 am

My wife and I just got into the Software Engineering industry last year. We have a goal to pay off our $60K of debt in the next 12 months. We are also hoping to begin working remotely in July so we can travel while we save for FI. Hopefully, we’ll run into you sometime.

Reply

13 theFIREstarterNo Gravatar March 16, 2016 at 3:53 pm

People seem to easily delude themselves they are making a difference, especially if they are grossly overcompensated for it!

Its no one else’s business what you decide to do with your life, especially not your old bosses! You’ve put the time in and have earnt your right to quit early.

To be honest, even if you decided to be a hermit and live in a (luxury) cave for the rest of your life, that would be OK, however I’m very glad you have bigger plans!

There is so much you can do when not tied down with those corporate chains and for the right kind of person you can definitely make more of an impact and contribute back to society. I have no doubt that you’re that kind of person!

I always think back to your YOLO every 7 years post, such a great post and shows exactly what could be possible for someone with the right mindset and who is free from the corporate daily grind.

If you are ever in London give me a shout, I’d love to grab a beer with you!

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