You’ve heard it all before. You only live once (YOLO), so you better make it count! Either that, or carpe diem! It’s funny how popular these phrases have become — I first heard them being used when I was still in college. And a lot of people swear by them, integrating these messages as their life’s new mantra.
Party like it’s 1999!
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the message. Seriously, life is too short, so you should seize the day! However, a lot of people don’t put much thought into the phrases, and just accept them at face value.
A buddy of mine was preaching YOLO to my group of friends sometime early last year. He had gone through a traumatic experience when his roommate suddenly passed away. It was a terrible tragedy and I’m sorry he had to go through that. However, what struck me as peculiar was that he wasn’t fixated so much on losing his friend, but rather more concerned with altering his own philosophy on life. That night, our group of friends had dinner and he announced his plans to us. He said:
“I’m going to take some time off work. I’ve only got one crack at this, so I better make it count. I’m going to travel across Europe and live it up. Me and a buddy are gonna tear that place up and party EVERY night.”
I didn’t know how to respond. Here I was beginning my journey to early financial independence (trying to secure my future for indefinitely), and my good buddy is preaching to live it up! He was at a place in life where he was working transient jobs, spending far too much on the “finer things in life”, and altogether unstable.
As a true friend, how could I support him and encourage him go down this dangerous path? I understood that he was dealing with a lot, and probably very emotional, so I knew he wouldn’t want to hear me nagging at him. It’s also his life, his business, and his finances, so I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to get in his face about it.
I chose the path of least resistance. I supported him and wished him the best. I probably said something along the lines of, “yeah, do what you feel like you need to do. Make sure you have something set aside for emergencies, but go out and have fun.”
Looking back, it probably wasn’t the best advice to give. However, I also didn’t know then what I know now. I was still new at the whole financial independence game, and had no idea so much progress could even be made in such a short period of time.
The problem with YOLO and carpe diem are that most people interpret the phrases into meaning you MUST take immediate action. If you aren’t a real good planner, this will probably just set you up for more trouble later. Like my friend, you’ll most likely end up “living it up” for a few good months until you get that fix out of your system. After that, you’ll be forced to face reality again, and chances are it won’t be pretty. My buddy arrived back refreshed, but now had debt up to his eyeballs. He had no job to come back to, and was essentially starting life all over again. Scratch that, he was now re-starting the race of life a few miles behind the starting line!
Be patient! All good things come to those who wait.
Do I get frustrated? Do I ever have the urge to quit my job and party it up? Do I ever want to get away from the mundane and backpack across Europe? Of course I do! But I’m not willing to jeopardize my future for just 5 minutes of fun.
I want more than that. I don’t want to only live once. I want to live once… every 7 years!
7 Years Reborn
They say it takes 7 years to master something. If you start at the age of 11 and live to be 88, you should be able to master 11 different things in your lifetime. If you’re like me and aspire to be a polymath, early financial independence will help make this possible. How? Well, you’ll have all the time in the world to focus on your true passions!
It’s fitting then that my engineering career will start winding down to a conclusion beginning in Year 7 (2014). Right now, I’m still unsure if I will exit in Year 7, or in the early months of Year 8 (2015)… but it will be soon, and I can’t wait!
Now tell me, do you want to only live ONCE in your lifetime, or would you prefer to have ELEVEN distinct lives?
There’s a method to this madness, after all. Delayed gratification (without fully sacrificing today) may be the best approach of them all.
Tentatively, here’s how I’m outlining my own life:
|Age Begin||Age End||Subject of Mastery|
|32||39||Traveler,Guitarist, Fitness Guru (Martial Artist/Weightlifter/tri-athlete)|
|39||46||Real Estate Agent, Teacher, Philanthropist/Volunteer|
|46||53||Real Estate Agent, Teacher, Philanthropist/Volunteer|
|53||60||Alternative Medicine Practitioner|
|74||81||Mediator (Spiritual Journey)|
|81||88||Master of Leisure|
Ok, I’m greedy. In some years, I plan on mastering a few more things than just one (thanks to the freedom of having time). In regards to teaching, I’m not sure what I’ll be teaching, I just know I’ll want to give back. Probably, I’ll look into teaching math, engineering, or guitar for fun. Real estate and alternative medicine will be my post-FI “careers”. And if I ever change my mind and decide I want to quit because things didn’t turn out as great as I had envisioned them to be, I will. No sweat at all! Oh, freedom of choice, how I love thee. 🙂
When all is said and done, hopefully I’ll be able to master 13 different things. I’m lumping the philanthropist/volunteer and philosopher/poet/reader phases as one item. For this period of time, I basically just want to soak up books and knowledge. Try and become enlightened, but I’m still not sure if that’ll be possible for me.
The one thing I did leave out was family man. I’m not counting that on here because when the time comes and I do have a family, I will ALWAYS put them first and foremost. Everything else will become secondary and I’ll work on that with all my heart, until the day I die.
What a life… Now that I’ve mapped all this out (and realized that it should all be possible), I’m no longer jealous of cats. They’ve got nothing on me! 😉
Now let’s make the dream a reality.
How do you feel about YOLO and carpe diem? What are you trying to do with your life? What are some of the things you want to accomplish after you achieve financial independence?