Although to a large degree I’m someone who always kind of has enjoyed working hard, I knew within a few years of working in Corporate America that it wasn’t the life for me long-term. When you’re working for someone else and constantly under the microscope, it’s oftentimes not smooth-sailing, and if you’re one of those people who prefers autonomy, there’s naturally going to be a lot of dissonance there with that type of employer/employee arrangement.
Sure, I endured the 9-5 culture for a few years — Working extra hard, never complaining (at least not at work publicly), and just pushing forward with my nose to the grindstone, but after burning out on multiple occasions, I subconsciously knew that “something’s gotta give” around the fall of 2011.
After embarking on a new job in sunny Orange County, I reached a crossroads of sorts around labor day weekend (roughly 7 years ago), when my brother visited me from the Bay Area and we spent some time at Corona del Mar beach, in Newport Beach. I still vividly recall watching little kids playing in the water, carefree, and just having an altogether great time. I soon turned to my brother and said something along the lines of, “Did your life turn out the way you expected?”
So much time has now gone by since our conversation, I can no longer recite things verbatim, but I do recall that my brother had somewhat of a muted response (at least at first), and wasn’t really following with what I was trying to get at…
Inevitably, I think I succumbed to the growing pressures around me (work, friends, family, society, etc.) and kind of just muttered out, “I feel like something’s missing. Something is not right. Life hasn’t turned out the way I expected it to.”
I wouldn’t as go as far as to say that at that exact moment, it was “eureka”, and a major inflection point in my life… but what soon transpired after that day at the beach did in fact alter the trajectory of my life course forever.
Within a few weeks (or month) following my brother’s visit, I did a few Google searches (on God knows what), and somehow, someway, stumbled upon this thing called FIRE.
Financial Independence Retire Early.
Damn, now that was indeed the start of so many things…
Not long after that, I came up with the name “FI Fighter” and by February 2012, this blog was launched, and now you can say the rest is history…
The Relentless Pursuit
From this blog’s inception to pretty much the day I boarded on a plane to depart for Hong Kong in the summer of 2016, you could say it’s been a relentless pursuit to achieve early financial independence. To be perfectly honest with everyone, I never had everything all figured out and planned out, to this day I really still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life, but by at least having that “bigger picture goal”, I was able to really lock in and focus… like at a level that I had never operated at before (even when I was studying my ass off at UC Berkeley, or getting my Master’s Degree)…
Luckily for me, it was a perfect storm of everything:
- The markets had just crashed and buying opportunities of a lifetime manifested themselves across many asset classes.
- I was able to earn a very good salary.
- I learned how to play the game and beat the system. My skills were extremely specialized and niche so it was pretty freekin easy (looking back with the benefit of hindsight) for me to land a job by hopping around to different companies (scoring 20% plus pay raises + RSUs + bonuses, each time).
So, yes, there was no denying that I was most fortunate with the timing of everything.
And during all those years of desperately chasing after early FI, you could say that the rallying cry I always turned to was:
Red Sand Beach, Maui (Hawaii).
Black Sand Beach, Maui (Hawaii).
Wailea Beach, Maui (Hawaii).
Kaanapali Beach, Maui (Hawaii).
Waikiki Beach, Oahu (Hawaii).
Turtle Beach, Oahu (Hawaii)
North Shore, Oahu (Hawaii)
“I can’t wait until I get to early FI so I can just bum around the beach all day long, doing NOTHING!”
Thoughts like that used to motivate me to keep going, keep pushing, keep working harder, and keep striving for that better life one day.
Some more stuff I used to think and say.
And I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise to readers at all that in the intervening years that followed after I had checked out of the rat race, somehow, someway, I did find my way to a lot of different beaches…
Isla Verde Beach, San Juan (Puerto Rico).
For some jet skiing.
Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana (Dominican Republic).
Saona Island, Dominican Republic.
Macao Beach, Punta Cana (Dominican Republic).
Alona Beach, Panglao, Bohol (Philippines).
Da Nang, Vietnam.
Vung Tau, Vietnam.
So on, and so on…
Anyway, you get the idea.
For the longest time I associated early FI as being a transition to this new life where everyday was spent having a smashing (and relaxing) time at the beach.
You can feel free to call my old line of thinking “child-like”, or “nonsensical”, or even “delusional’, but hey, that’s just again, the rallying cry that I always had in my mind that kept me energized and focused on the task at hand… for so many years.
I seriously needed it.
I was over-worked, over-stressed, suffering from severe chronic fatigue. My battery was completely depleted and I needed to indulge in R&R big time…
So I did.
The beach was my escape.
Looking back, I have no regrets with the way I used to think and feel about early FI. Deep-down, I always knew that I didn’t have all the answers and that I would have to make adjustments on the fly, later on in life.
And what do you know?
Here we are now, today, and as awesome as I still think beaches are, I can honestly say that a lot of that initial luster has faded… The novelty has worn off.
All things considered, I’m not surprised at all. The beach is something that is highly therapeutic and a type of escape that we all long for when we’re busy busting our ass all day long trying to make ends meet, while at the same time, also aggressively trying to build up a large enough nest egg so that we don’t have to keep exerting ourselves to the MAX everyday just to survive.
The beach represents an escape from purgatory, if you will.
But in my current state of mind and where I’m at today, the beach just isn’t as required anymore. I mean if I can just be straight up with you all — Everyday feels like a Saturday to me.
No, that’s not in any way me trying to sound condescending or anything like that, but I mean, that’s exactly what early FI is! Everyday feels like Saturday.
I mean, that’s kind of always what I wanted out of life anyway, so I’m definitely not complaining.
Just saying, when everyday feels like Saturday, well, the beach, as great as it still is, doesn’t quite represent that same “escape” that it once did.
Funny enough, way back in the day when I used to tell people about my plans post-FI, a common remark would be, “Won’t you be bored all day doing nothing?”
Plans Change, Adapt
Which brings me to the here and now. You know what, this is how I really feel — If you’re someone who is dedicating all your blood, sweat, tears, and throwing the kitchen sink (and more) into getting to early FI and creating a better life for your family and loved ones, if you’re able to accomplish that task and make it up the mountain, fuck what anyone else says, you deserve a moment (and much more) to just soak everything up, bask in triumph, and just have the time of your life!
If you can get to early FI, you shouldn’t have to feel ashamed about “doing nothing” all day long!
Early FI is an accomplishment that not many people on this planet can say they have been fortunate enough to achieve.
So, my own thoughts are, take as much time off as you need, decompress, and just go with the flow.
Everyone knows that life is unpredictable. Nobody has everything all figured out. We need to all stop pretending that we do! And stop giving people who admit they don’t have all the answers such a difficult time.
Plans change, and we just need to adapt.
So, I guess you could say that I’m at another crossroad now. Granted, like I said, I still enjoy the beaches, but find myself needing to spend less and less time there, and really need to find something more, that certain “spark” that gets me all excited and motivated to accomplish great things with my time (and life).
In ways, yes, I absolutely do miss:
- That hunger.
- That passion.
- That drive.
That feeling you get when you’re attacking a goal with reckless abandon and will do whatever it fucking takes to slay it.
Even today, when I need a wake up call, smack in the face, or extra fuel to feed the fire, I still turn to Gattaca for inspiration.
To move forward:
- I need a purpose.
- A reason for existing.
- A new journey.
Interestingly enough, I even made a new friend this year who digs the movie as much as I do, and it’s one way we’ve connected and bonded.
That’s the context behind the following text message…
Stuff like that (the movie and text) help a lot when you’re trying to re-discover that fire inside… that although may be on temporary hiatus, never strays too far and can be re-summoned again.
In essence, a lot of the feelings, thoughts that I’m having right now are what’s motivating me to try new things with my life, take risks, and attempt to be better than I was yesterday.
Publishing the latest ebook, was a necessary starting point for me.
Be True to Yourself
The beauty of everything, though, is this — Thanks to early FI, I have the freedom and opportunity to be able to dive head first into finding my true passions in life and I don’t have to compromise. If I don’t enjoy what I’m doing, I can stop and do something else.
Further, although it’s always going to feel AWESOME to make more $$$ (for many people, that feeling never goes away, let’s be real), money doesn’t have to be the end all of everything… I don’t have to sell my soul to the devil and compromise the one thing money will never be able to buy — My integrity.
At the end of the day, all the money and riches in the world mean jack shit because you can’t take any of it with you!
But who you are as a person, your integrity, your character, and how people remember you can live on forever.
I keep those thoughts in mind ALWAYS, and that shit keeps me grounded as I look towards the next chapter in my life.
- I don’t want to take short-cuts.
- I don’t want to sell out.
- I’m going to do things on my terms.
Importantly, I need to be able to look myself in the mirror and not feel the need to hang my head in shame. In addition, I need to be able to sleep soundly at night with a clear conscious.
As readers may know, recently I put a lot of effort into putting out my first ebook, and so far I’ve received 18 generous donations from readers. Totally dope feeling! Thank you all so much for all the support!
Sure, one could make the argument that I’m selling myself short, not marketing/promoting my work enough…
It really depends on the perspective and how you want to look at things:
- I’m not reaching my potential and I’m off to a dismal start.
- I’m doing better than I was yesterday. Incremental/baby steps, but progress is progress…
The glass is either half full or half empty.
I’m going to say the glass is half full.
I’m happy with the wins (even if they are only minor and very slow to come by at first) because I do believe in myself, take pride in my work, and am confident that I’ll figure out a way to improve over time.
Right now, I feel like I’m in a nice (very fortunate) position where I can produce quality work, give it my all, but I don’t have to push out content just for the sake of pushing out content to fulfill some ridiculous quota or anything like that. I’m beholden to nobody, and hopefully that “no strings attach” type of deal I got going for me won’t be lost with readers. I’m just gonna tell it like it is and not pull any punches.
I’ll do my best to give it to you straight with no bullshit. There’s no sales pitch from me, just raw, unfiltered “real talk”.
Further, no doubt, I strongly believe that there is a market for the type of work I’m putting out there.
LOL, I guess we’ll see!
In any event, I’m just gonna chase my dreams with reckless abandon and see where the wind takes me.
If everything goes to shit and I crash and burn, as long as I have no regrets, I’ll be happy.
Who knows, if I work hard enough, maybe I will feel like I’ve earned, deserve, and can relish the beach once more, again…
Celebrate good times…
For me, I did already have the time of my life out in the sun.
Perhaps like never before…