The Road Less Traveled to FI

Investing and being good with money in many ways can be boiled down to math and numbers. For example, create income streams that exceed your expenses and mission accomplished. But one often less talked about aspect of achieving financial independence or just sound money management is the emotional and psychological aspect. In many ways these aspects of FI or managing money may be more important than the actual numbers in terms of reaching our goals. We are by nature and evolution, emotional creatures. The reason for this is simple. So much of success in life can boil down to our emotional maturity, motivation, psychology, etc. I recently read the book The Road Less Traveled (A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth) by M. Scott Peck. This is a classic book from 1978 about developing emotional and life maturity. I am sure any book like this has its critics, but overall it resonated with me and was able to apply many of the thoughts to financial independence in general. Therefore, managing and harnessing the power of our emotions can be a powerful life building tool.

Why Maturity?

In many ways it is great that we “never grow up”! Be like a kid, be creative, have fun, etc. I certainly enjoy unleashing my inner child when playing with daughter and nephews or collecting comic gold. But if this is all we have then our life becomes limiting. In my opinion the individual advantage to maturity is the ability to wield some power and influence over the arc your life. Maturity can also bring the life satisfaction of taking care of another person such as children or other family and friends. Taking care of others and giving back can be a tremendous source of happiness and contentment.

A Few Gems of Wisdom

As I read The Road Less Traveled, I highlighted a few gems of wisdom and took some notes that I thought specifically applied to the FIRE movement. There are many great examples now of people that have achieved financial independence at relatively early ages in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Hopefully others find these as helpful and insightful as I did. I truly think those that have achieved such ambitious goals had a strong command over their emotional lives which impacted their financial lives.

Discipline

“Life is difficult” is a great little quote from the book. And the beauty of this phrase is that it gives us perspective. Most of us have pretty good lives whether we believe it or not. We are not among the billions of folks that are struggling each day just to get fresh drinking water and enough calories to sustain themselves. This sense of gratitude and wanting to make the world better for people creates a sense of True Wealth for me personally.
Life is one challenge after another, that is just a fact. But discipline can be a tool used to solve life’s problems. “It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually.”
The challenge of financial independence makes us more resourceful, wise and intelligent. And each journey is unique to each person. There is no one age to achieve FI. Whether you crack your code at 30 or 60, it is your code to crack and the journey is the interesting part.

Delayed Gratification

Mr. Peck talks a lot about developing the ability to delay gratification. This is such a key skill to achieving and building wealth we have written about ways to improve the delayed gratification muscle. Basically in the book he says get the hard stuff out of the way first, then you can enjoy the more enjoyable tasks. SEE RELATED: Delayed Gratification – 6 Ways To Improve

Love

A key element of life and wealth is love. All the riches in the world would not mean much if you were the only person in existence.
On raising children: “The time and the quality of the time that their parents devote to them indicate to the children the degree to which they are valued by their parents.”

Fix Stuff

There is a great section in the book about a time when the author thought he did not have the natural ability to fix things. He was amazed by a neighbor that could fix anything. But the friend reminded him that you must take the time and learn.

Responsibility

Part of maturing and become stronger in life is accepting responsibility.
“…the problem of distinguishing what we are and what we are not responsible for in this life is one of the greatest problems of human existence…It is never completely solved; for the entirety of our lives we must continually assess and reassess.” “To be free we must assume total responsibility for ourselves, but in doing so must possess the capacity to reject responsibility that is not truly ours. To be organized and efficient, to live wisely, we must daily delay gratification and keep an eye on the future; yet to live joyously we must also possess the capacity, when not destructive, to live in the present and act spontaneously…”

Seeing Reality

Mr. Peck advocates for seeing things as they are, not as we wish them to be. This way we can address the world and situations in terms of what will be most effective. From a personal finance perspective, it is important to take an honest assessment of your current situation. How are the debt levels? What kind of debt is it? Are there areas where money is being wasted with little added value to your life? Are you throwing money away? Are we saving and investing at a healthy pace?
“The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world.”
Related to seeing reality is the concept of truthfulness. In many ways living a life of truthfulness is an essential element of living in a spirit of True Wealth. Truth allows us to see things as they are and manage challenges.
“The rewards of the difficult life of honesty and dedication to the truth are more than commenserate with the demands.”
We all know the main road to FI. Save and invest. Live well under our means. Seek out ways to make more money, etc. But we spend less time focusing on the emotional and psychological maturity that can lead to greater wealth.  

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