Immerse Yourself In Discomfort


To improve and grow as a person, we need to continually immerse ourselves in discomfort. As a person striving for early financial independence, there was a point in time, naturally, when I knew absolutely NOTHING about the subject. Since the topics of early FI and investing were so obscure to me, they not only felt uncomfortable, but also intimidating. Looking back, there were a lot of struggles and barriers I had to overcome to get to where I am today.

The Story So Far

In late 2011, I decided to get serious about making a concentrated effort towards building wealth for a better future. I browsed the web, read forums, purchased books, and basically did everything I could to learn more about dividend growth investing. I started officially investing in dividend stocks in 2012. By mid-2012, I decided that I wanted to diversify my portfolio, so I added Rental Property #1 into the mix. It really wasn’t long before I had reached my first month of earning $300/month in passive income, which was an awesome feeling! About six month’s after that, the dividend portfolio had grown to about $70,000, which provided me the capital needed to close Rental Property #2.

So, within just a little over a year of starting the journey to early FI, I had gained experience as both a dividend growth investor and real estate investor. The forward march continued, and at present day, I’ve now also closed deals for Rental Property #3, Rental Property #4, and Rental Property #5. Rental Properties #3-5 are all out-of-state investments.

Self Doubt and Fear

I am not going to lie — investing in dividend stocks was initially nerve-racking and scary. Ditto for buying my first two local real estate investments. And the out-of-state rentals? Those were terrifying beyond measure… which is why I insisted on flying out there to see EVERYTHING for myself, the first time around.

I used to second guess everything! I would always allow myself to get caught up in analysis paralysis because I didn’t have the experience to feel confident in my judgement… I even missed out on a few killer property deals early on because self doubt and fear just kept creeping in…

Live and learn. Now that I have some experience, buying stocks and rental properties are no longer a scary proposition to me. Whether the markets go up or down, I feel like I have the requisite knowledge to know how to deal with it. By no means am I done learning (far from it!), but you can only ever really overcome the fear by DOING.

And I’m so grateful that I did take action when I did… Otherwise, I would have missed out on the most opportune buying window of a lifetime.

Early FI

The focus of this blog is early financial independence. However, I feel like early FI is just a means to an end — it should NOT be the main objective in life. As has been stated on numerous occasions, I feel like the journey to early FI begins for most people when they realize that time, energy, and life are finite. It is when we come to the stark realization that one day we will die, do we really sit down and realize how precious our time on this planet really is.

Thus, early FI is needed to help maximize life… But it’s just a starting point.

My own personal belief is that we should all aspire to LIVE as much as possible. For myself, this means working diligently at becoming a polymath, over time. I feel like if I can’t continue to learn and grow as a person, I might as well be dead…

Learn and Grow!

So, how does one go about learning and growing? Simple…

Immerse yourself in discomfort.

Take a good hard look at your life. Give yourself an honest assessment and figure out what skills you are lacking. Prioritize what you want to get better at, and then make a conscious effort towards improving in that area.

If you only stick with the tried and true, or comfortable, then you will only ever know what you already know. It’s impossible to progress by leaps and bounds if you refuse to undertake any new challenges. And anything that falls outside our realm of competence is foreign by nature, which means that it will probably feel extremely uncomfortable at first.

I for one am not ashamed or embarrassed to admit my own shortcomings and limitations. It does me absolutely no good to play it off, or to put up a front for others to try and mask my own deficiencies. So, let’s keep things real!

Here are the things that I am absolutely terrible at right now, but am working towards improving (both current and future goals):

  • Talking and socializing with women.
  • Dancing.
  • Public Speaking.
  • Leadership Skills.

By nature I am analytical and introverted… I guess this is why I was a good candidate for engineering? Nevertheless, just because I don’t have a natural talent for the above mentioned items, it does not mean that I can’t improve upon my existing skillset.

In the future, I believe I will want to get into the real estate profession. I may elect to try my luck as a sales agent, so I had better improve my social (people) skills!

We don’t get to pick and choose the hand we are dealt with in life. However, if we sit there and elect to do NOTHING to improve our own situation, then we deserve to fail.

Take Action

So, this past weekend, I decided to put my foot down and finally do something about fixing my first problem (socializing with women). I went out with a group of friends to a nightclub (which is totally not my scene) and subjected myself to all kinds of awkward situations…

Just like with early FI and investing, it was initially scary and nerve-racking. I’m at Stage 1 right now, so almost everything seems overwhelming… But I’m willing to put in the time and effort needed to improve myself because I know the end results will be worth it; I will become a better person for it. Also, just like with investing, and basically anything else in life, the learning curve can be reduced drastically if you can find the right teachers/mentors (thanks friends!). Networking is key to helping you reach your goals without having to re-invent the wheel. Leverage off of somebody else’s knowledge, experience, and mistakes, whenever possible.

In many ways, this most recent experience takes me back to the time when I first decided to learn how to play guitar in college. I still vividly remember my first guitar lesson with my teacher… He had to take a step back in his teaching methods because I was so bad! I’ll never forget when he gave me a frustrated look and muttered out, “If you can’t find the beat of the song, you’ll never be able to play guitar…

Harsh, but true… Still, I kept at it, and eventually things started to slow down and make sense. Today, I am so grateful that I stuck with it and didn’t give up… There were so many occasions when I wanted to just chuck my guitar out the window, I was so frustrated…

It Gets Better

As the night came to a close, I started to feel a little more comfortable. Now, I’m not expecting to learn a new skill or craft in just one night, but I do take solace in knowing that the mind (body) is starting to assimilate to the new type of environment.

I’m taking baby steps… but will keep trying! These type of experiences make me feel ALIVE, which is a far cry from how I feel after a day’s work in the rat race game. Next month, I will put myself in even more hot water by flying out to Tokyo, Japan… SOLO! My very first international trip… should be a real eye-opener.

So, bring on the discomfort! One day very soon, I will learn how to defeat you! Then we can start the process all over again for the next set of challenges in life… 🙂

Fight on!


Do you have your own fears and doubts? What are you working towards improving in your own life?

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Brian Mota
6 years ago

Hey FIF,
I enjoyed your article and have learned quite a bit about real estate from your blog. I think you should always be cautious about women, because they are expensive. All they ever want to do is go out for dinner, drinks, and vacations. Most of them have no clue about investing. This is just from my own personal experiences. Dating is great but they will try to get into a relationship and you must be strong and say no. Lol. Thanks for sharing.

6 years ago
Reply to  Brian Mota

You are aware that people can read what you type, right?

FIF is being nice because you’re a reader.
Your comment hit all the notes from ignorance to sexism.

You must be careful and deliberate in regards to whom you share you life with, but you sound like a jaded, terrible asshole of a dude and women around the globe are better off that you avoid them.
Happy Fourth!

FI Pilgrim
6 years ago

Great perspective, Fighter! Like you, my journey to FI is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Who wants to spend their life sitting on their rear end? Not me! Especially with 3 fun kids to help grow up and a wife who is a total joy to spend time with. Fight on indeed! Or, as CS Lewis would say, “Further up and further in!”

Income Surfer
6 years ago

It’s like Eleanor Roosevelt said, “do one thing each day that scares you”. I took a technical sales job to overcome my fear of rejection and gain sales experience. I knew I needed to work on those skills because I am an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurs need to sell! I am a much better salesman and public speaker as a result of that experience.

Ironically, the two fears I’m working on next are 1)being an absentee landlord, and 2) running the investment partnership I was asked to manage. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂


I’m the same way with how you used to be…I always second guess myself. I’ve definitely put turnkey investing as something I truly intend to do. I have be reading and re-reading your posts and well as checking out biggerpockets. I don’t want to be paralyzed by fear and self-doubt which has happened to me. Good for you for pushing the boundaries…live life without regret!

6 years ago

This sounds like a really great attitude – I wish you the best in your new discomforts! LOL As for me, I feel like I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum. I am coming to the realization that, although FIRE is a great goal, it’s still too far away to be the only thing I am working toward. But, when I look around for something new, nothing seems suitable. I’ve already done a lot of what I’ve wanted to do and am having trouble getting excited about any potential projects. What I come up with seems either like a… Read more »

Kathy @ RentalRealities

How does your dividend investments compare to your rentals? We’re 3 investment properties down, and I like the idea of building a dividend portfolio. Only problem: putting that money into another property instead seems like a no-brainer. Are you seeing dividend income anywhere close to what you get with your rentals?


Kathy @ RentalRealities
Reply to  FI Fighter

That makes a lot of sense (particularly the part about your options with and without W2 income) – thanks for clarifying!

Jason @ Islands of Investing

Hey Hi Fighter, I love your openness about the discomfort and challenge you faced to get to where you are now. Definitely a much more inspiring approach than pretending it’s all easy for you, and that you were born to do these things. I also agree with Income Surfer’s quote above (which I think I also read in the 4HWW), and really is one of the most valuable things I’ve learnt. Although the hard part is still making myself do it – when your energy or confidence is low, and all you want to do is sit smack bang in… Read more »

Janine @ Money Smart Guides

Accomplishing your goals is never easy – you have to put everything into it in order to get everything out of it.

Mrs. Frugalwoods
6 years ago

Well said. I’ve tried to assume this mantra as we’ve buckled down and shortened our timeline to FI. Stuff is getting real and to stay on track, my husband and I say to each other all the time: “The safest, easiest thing to do is continue on in our current jobs and not take this risk. But who wants to live life doing simply the safest, easiest thing?” Not us! Or you!

P.S. Mr. Frugalwoods went to Japan a few years ago and absolutely loved it! You’re in for a fabulous trip!

6 years ago

Jealous of the Japan trip, have a good time man.

No Nonsense Landlord
6 years ago

Once you figure out the women part, you will no longer need your investment skills. They will help you invest it in all sorts of ventures, and you will gladly pay for their ‘company’.

Skip that part until you have enough that you do not need anymore.

A Frugal Family's Journey

Great article and couldn’t agree with your more. Win or lose, pass or fail, you’ll never know unless you try. And sometimes taking that first step will mean that you need to step out of your comfort zone. More importantly, if you do fail, make sure to not only get back up but also take note in the lessons learned.

Have a great time in Tokyo. Best Wishes! AFFJ

6 years ago

Great post! Public speaking is also something I’m not great at, even though I’m more extrovert than introvert, so that’s something I’m aiming to conquer.

Enjoy your trip to Japan!

No More Waffles
6 years ago

Inspiring article! Great that you want to put yourself out there and grow as a person, not easy!

With regards to the speaking in public; it’s something you have to practice every chance you’ve got because it’s definitely a skill you can improve! Something that worked wonders for me was speaking in front of a small crowd of people I knew because it calmed my nerves. By gradually increasing the group size you’ll get more comfortable and comfortable. Before you know it you’ll be a seasoned politician! 🙂

Enjoy your trip to Japan, should be an awesome experience!

6 years ago

Warren B. has one investment property in NYC he has never seen in person. He owns a farm in Nebraska not far from his home and he’s only been there once in the past 40 years.

I agree that without growing as a person, you may as well be dead. 🙂


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