Let’s say you are new to this personal finance stuff. Maybe you have just started your long hike to F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence and Early Retirement). Maybe you are in a rut with student debt, car loans, spending problems, etc. Most of us have been in these situations. What can we do when the road ahead seems so daunting and difficult?
I’m not going to remind you that a “journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” or start saving money. You know what you need to do to make things right for your life. But the beginning and middle phases can be hard.
The Blue Period
Do you remember learning about Picasso’s blue period? He was somber and depressed, one of his friends had committed suicide and his paintings were not selling. I heard the cheapest paint was blue, so he took the small amounts of money he had and used blue paint to make some beautiful and dark works. The remarkable thing about this story is that he did not stop or give up. He invested in blue paint and worked to create value and something new.
1. NEVER GIVE UP, JUST EVOLVE!
My point is that he kept working and exploring on his own terms. This is precisely what you will need to do to conquer financial freedom. I like to crank up the Tom Petty:
You can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down…
We will need to develop Picasso like grit to succeed. We will all have our own “blue periods”. But just like the good times do not last forever, neither do the hard times. The blue period slowly made way to the rose period, a very positive time in the artist’s life. You don’t have a life, you are life, so keep working and trying new things during a blue period. It might make way to a Rose period.
I had my own blue period financially during the Great Recession. I had divorced, lost half the value in my property and half the value of my small 401k within a 2 year timeframe. It was a huge shocker that things do not just always go up, sometimes things fall apart or stall. This is normal in markets and is known as the business cycle. There are blue periods and rose periods. I just kept painting and experimenting and gradually things got a lot better.
2. THINK ABOUT HOW YOU WANT TO SPEND YOUR PRECIOUS LIFE TIME
Picasso could have spent his blue period time complaining, stewing and blaming the world for his lack of success up to that point. He could have blamed his parents, society, the world, whatever. Instead he worked on his craft and literally carved out his own vision. He continued to evolve and adapt and find what worked for him. If you are in blue period, focus in on what you can control and do for your self and others.
3. PAINT YOUR OWN VISION
Make your own story. Yes we derive lessons and inspiration from others. Yes if we are lucky we have mentors and teachers. But our lives are uniquely ours. Same goes for a financial journey. We will all have access to unique opportunities. We must try to identify the ones that work for us and give them a try or experiment.
4. PLAY WITH & LIVE LIFE
Picasso invented and expanded many genres of art. He did what inspired and interested him in terms of manipulating the visual and emotional world. We will most likely have to take similar action on our financial journeys. We need to determine what we are good at and how to transform that into value to others to make money. But that is only the beginning. From there we have to do the right things with the money we do earn. Investing, saving and pushing back on the siren call of rampant consumerism.
Blue periods evolve
Blue periods can end and in many cases they can be opportunities. What felt pretty bad for me during the Great Recession, turned out to be a great opportunity. But mainly because I did not give up, worked and searched for opportunity during the blue period. Keep painting and exploring my friends!