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You Only Live Once (YOLO) Every 7 Years

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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.”

Opposite Viewpoints

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.

Be Patient

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
11 18   Student
18 25   Student, Engineer
25 32   Engineer, Traveler
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
60 67   Photographer
67 74   Philosopher/Poet/Reader
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?


{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Fast LetterNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 3:32 am

    Looks great FI Fighter. The idea that you look to transition from the more material, to the artistic, to the more spiritual….. makes me smile. It’s not for everyone, but I can tell you want to be a well rounded person. Best of luck in your journey my friend.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 9:56 pm


      Thanks! It is a goal of mine to become a more well rounded person. I feel like I’ve been unable to progress as much as I’d like due to the hectic nature of work. Looking forward to a time when life can slow down and I can reengage my mind, body, soul, spirit, etc.

      Best wishes!

  • Roadmap2RetireNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 5:47 am

    Thats very interesting, FI. Ive never heard of this saying where it takes 7 years to master something. But now that I think back on my own experiences, I can see why.
    I was at my last job for 6.5 years and I had to leave as I felt like I had come to a point where I had learnt everything and was just cruising without challenges. Although on my personal front with martial arts, I am at a point where I can teach comfortably, but I wouldnt say that I have learnt everything – time horizons for that lasts a whole life. I have started getting into yoga over the last year or so, it’ll be interesting to see if that interest starts waning after 5-6 years.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 9:59 pm


      Yeah, after 6-7 years of engineering, I just feel burned out and everyday basically feels the same. That’s really no way to live life, and I don’t want to continue down this path, even if it is highly lucrative. Eventually you have to draw a line in the sand and declare “enough”. Life shouldn’t be about money, it should be about freedom.

      Good point on martial arts. Even though I haven’t done it yet, I’m sure 7 years isn’t enough time to “master” it. 7 years may get you to the 80% mark? I think the 7 year mastery is more along the lines of the Pareto Principle b/c I’m sure you could spend your entire lifetime trying to get from 95% to 100%.

      Best wishes!

      • Roadmap2RetireNo Gravatar November 26, 2013, 10:43 am

        I hear you, FI Fighter. I am starting to get to a point where working in tech isnt as fun as it was 7-8 years ago. One of my long term goals is to be a writer which is one of the reasons why I finally started blogging, so that I could work on my writing abilities.

        Martial arts – almost everyone Ive spoken always says that reaching a black belt is not the end of the journey, but the beginning. Only time will tell I guess. For now, I just try to break through my training plateaus. But yes, I agree that it is along the lines of the Pareto principle.

  • writing2realityNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 7:15 am

    Fascinating, especially when I look at my professional career. After 6.5 years in accounting, I’m transitioning myself to more of a corporate finance career. Thinking forward, I envision a future where I can manage my own investments during the financial freedom stage of life, while continuing to set stage for travel, family, and other productive expansions of my mind and body.

    Love the triathlete aspiration. Is this something you’ve done before?

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 10:02 pm


      I haven’t tried a triathlon before, but always wanted to. I was an avid biker at one point… and used to run a lot back in the day.

      Hope the corporate finance is going well for you! I am just about ready to throw in the towel when it comes to engineering.

      The journey takes time, but I’m confident we’ll both get there soon enough. Just stick to the plan 🙂

      Take care!

  • JC @ Passive-Income-PursuitNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 8:20 am

    Loved this post. I’d never really thought of breaking it down into separate lives which is a great way to think about it. I have so many ideas for what I want to do once I reach FI and finding a way to focus on them is going to be the difficult part. So often the detractors to FI/ER assume that your plan is to just sit around the house and do nothing. For almost every blogger I know that couldn’t be further from the truth. We all have great plans for things we want to learn and do and I’d bet that most of us that reach FI/ER will continue to create and produce, it’ll just be on things that we’re truly passionate about.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 10:06 pm


      Yes, it’s almost laughable what the skeptics have to say about early FIRE. It’s like they’ll try and find whatever it is they can to rain on your parade.

      But let’s be real. How can achieving early FI be considered a bad thing? What’s the worst that could happen? You get entirely bored with retiring early and decide to go back to work…. so, what’s the big deal? You’ll just be back where you started from… only you’ll never have to worry about being laid off. You’re already set for life!

      I recently had a conversation with a local investor who reached early FI. He told me he absolutely loves it… best decision he ever made. Said, “I couldn’t honestly tell you what day it is today. EVERYDAY feels like Saturday to me.”

      If you’re the type that’s motivated and has goals, passions, dreams, good luck being bored!


  • FI PilgrimNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 11:14 am

    Wow, that’s aggressive! But a very interesting way of looking at things. And instead of “taking the path of least resistance” I think it’s important for me to point out that, since your “spiritual journey” is scheduled for later in life, you could really regret any foundational shifts that will come from that. For me, as a Christian, my purpose in (and views on) life have come directly out of my own “spiritual journey”, and I would not be satisfied with living a self-seeking life instead. I hope that doesn’t sound judgmental, I’m just trying to say that delaying that journey might be something you regret.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 10:12 pm


      Great point and I’m glad you brought that up. Doesn’t sound judgmental to me at all 🙂

      To be honest, my plan isn’t set in stone, and the above doesn’t allow me to get into all the details. Once I reach early FI, I will try and focus on the things I mentioned above. Things like mental growth/health, physical exercise, spiritual journey, etc. should be an on-going, constant work in progress in one’s life. Similar to how I sectioned out Philosopher/Poet/Reader at the age of 67, doesn’t mean I won’t read or write until then. I’m constantly writing now thanks to this blog 🙂 It just means I’d probably focus on that in much greater detail at that point.

      I agree with you completely. The spiritual journey can change a person’s life so it would be a shame to only discover it towards the end. I don’t plan on allowing that to happen. I will do my best to live a life without any regrets.

      I appreciate the comment!

  • MartinNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 6:52 pm

    My stance on this is clear. Work hard when you are young and capable of doing unimaginable things. Take vacations to recharge only. When you retire, early, you will have plenty of time to do whatever you want.

    So, work hard now, while others live up to YOLO and enjoy your YOLO the rest of your life when others have to work hard the rest of their life.

    The recent numbers prove that growing number of Americans will have to work until they die because they have no savings. I do not want to be one of them.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 25, 2013, 10:14 pm


      Well said! Kind of like do what others won’t to achieve what others don’t! 😉

      I’m with you… working till I die? NO THANKS! That’s gotta be the most depressing movie you could ever hope to watch… so sad really.

      All the best!

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful LifeNo Gravatar November 26, 2013, 6:25 pm

    That’s quite the plan! I am a sucker for travel, I want it now AND later. I just try my best to manage costs when I do it so I’m not starting the race a mile behind the start line, but still enjoying myself.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 11:12 pm


      Yes, there’s got to be a right balance between enjoying today and saving for the future. This balance might be hard to strike at times, but one should never have to forsake today completely… tomorrow’s not guaranteed.

      Good to see you are finding creative ways to travel and enjoy!

      Take care!

  • theFIREstarterNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 12:12 am

    Funny… I stumbled across this having had a very similar post up my sleeve.

    My take on YOLO is similar to yours in that most peoples interpretation couldn’t be more wrong. Yes you only live once, so why p**s your life (i.e. time and money) up against the wall (i.e. on stuff and luxuries you don’t need to have a fun and fulfilling life, and then working to pay for it all).

    There is of course a balance and I have plenty of fun right now while still saving for Early Retirement, but when I reach that point and free up all that extra time, I know that is when the realy fun really starts.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 11:14 pm


      I like your philosophy on early retirement! Yep, I agree there’s a fine balance that needs to be found so that today is still enjoyable and the future infinitely bright!

      Our time is short and finite… gotta make the most of it!


  • Dividend BeginnerNo Gravatar February 2, 2016, 9:08 pm

    Hey FIF,

    Wow this is a really great concept. Thanks for sharing with us your life long journey you have planned out here. I should write one of my own!


  • Max Moy-BorgenNo Gravatar October 4, 2016, 1:28 pm

    Have you started doing martial arts, tri-athlete training yet? I have only seen posts about weigh lifting.

    Sounds awesome overall though, enjoy!

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