I’ll admit, the first year’s (2012) progress towards achieving early financial independence came rather easy. Dividend investing was brand new to me, so there was a lot of excitement involved with buying stocks early on. Seeing the portfolio grow further added motivation to save income.
Finding and closing my first real estate property also provided an extra jolt, mid-year. Although there was always some uncertainty involved (until the check was accepted into escrow), the thrill made the time pass by rapidly.
As the year went on, I even managed to switch jobs and receive a pay raise + promotion. Even better, the new company eased me into projects, so I had a lot of downtime and very little work stress. Because of this, I had a lot of energy after work to look for real estate deals, write blog posts, and research stocks. Overall, Year 1 was a memorable and successful year.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, eventually. As Year 1 approached its closing, I started to have visions of a much more challenging year ahead in 2013. Here are my reasons for concern:
- Work stress will be at an all-time high. I have multiple projects arriving in Q1. I’m already plenty busy now.
- Expectations to perform at work are great. I received a lot of slack (grace period) last year. I won’t be able to keep milking this. That is, a 9-5, or 40 hours a week will no longer cut it. I have to prove my worth, so in order to appease the big bosses, this means I will need to put in a lot of extra hours.
- Dividend investing and real estate investing are no longer brand new. The thrill is gone. Will this be enough to veer me off the right path? Since work will be so taxing, will this push me over the edge and encourage me to “live it up” more? I doubt it, but I can’t say for certain that I’ll be able to stay disciplined, and resist temptations throughout the entire year.
- My motivation and desire to learn (as it pertains to work) is practically zero. I’ve lost all interest. I just don’t care anymore. I’m bored. Will this impact my performance? Probably. Will I be able to survive another year and still earn a mediocre/average performance review? I sure hope so, or I may be in for some serious trouble.
To help counteract these potential issues, I will try to focus on the following:
- Look on the bright side. If time passes by rapidly, that means the year will zoom by. Is that a bad thing? Well, yes and no. It sucks to see the year slip by, as I no longer enjoy getting any older (staying 28 is just fine with me). But on the flipside, I’ll be one year closer to early FI! Those of us seeking early FI already know that we have to spin on the hamster wheel for at least some amount of time to buy our freedom. Losing one year (all work and no play) is not ideal, but I’ll gladly sacrifice one (or four) to be granted the freedom to control my destiny indefinitely, thereafter.
- Don’t put too much self-imposed pressure to perform. Realize that my long-term plan won’t span more than four years, at most. Remind myself that i’m not here for the long haul. Do enough to get by, and do the best that I can. Earn my keep, but don’t go overboard in trying to appease anyone.
- If the deal for Rental Property #2 goes through, this concern becomes N/A. Owning a second rental property will certainly provide that extra spark needed to spice things up. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the place, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty this time around. Also, I’ve already had to liquidate most of my dividend portfolio. I’m basically starting from scratch again, so I have no excuse for being bored. 😉
- This concern is probably the hardest one to overcome. It’s a psychological battle I face everyday. On some occasions, I’m quite successful and I can even fool myself into believing that I love my job. Other days, it’s difficult even getting out of bed in the morning. The only way I think I can overcome this is to focus on other hobbies. For this year, I want to focus on my health and exercise. Hopefully that will keep my mind and body fresh enough to get through the grind. And give me something to look forward to after work.
2013 will be a grind. I’m certain of it. I will be tested this year, much more than in 2012. Will I be able to handle the challenge? I sure hope so, since I feel that the probability of reaching early FI will be mostly determined by the progress I make over the next 2-3 years. The bulk of the heavy lifting needs to be done here. If I can just stay the course, save intensely (70% to 80% savings rate), and invest wisely (dividend stocks + rental properties), I should be sitting pretty by year’s end.
With that said, I’m tired of playing in this cave…sometimes I just wish I had a fast-forward button to reach the end of the year (so I can take another two weeks off). 😉 All good things come to those who wait, though… it’ll just taste that much sweeter once I FINALLY get there!
What about for you? Do you expect 2013 to be an easy, or difficult year for savings? How much progress would you like to make this year?