It’s the third time I’ve checked the spreadsheet today, tweaking a few numbers here and there, but nope, not much of a difference on our timeline towards our financial independence. This usually hits during a more boring workday, or when I’m stuck in procrastination mode.
Thankfully, with time, I’ve gotten much better at noticing and accepting that this is a moment where I’m getting caught up on the boring parts of the financial independence journey.
Early journey motivation
For anyone first finding out about financial independence and the idea of retiring early, you’re first motivated to optimize everything. You get busy learning about it, cutting down expenses, increasing your income if you can and you start projecting out when it will happen for you.
This keeps you busy for a little while, maybe a couple of years as you track your spending closer, but at one point, there isn’t much left to optimize to make it come faster. That’s when you realize that the bulk of this journey, at least from the monetary and logistics standpoint, is overall pretty boring.
I imagine it’s even more boring for those who, unlike the spreadsheet loving nerd that I am, are not very motivated by minor mathematical tweaks or simply seeing their numbers slowly growing.
Living in the future
I’ve personally found that I was much more prone to getting sucked up in this boredom when in a less satisfying job and thus living more in the future. This is pretty common for many pursuing the FIRE journey, as it tends to be seen as a lifeline that will allow you to escape a rather unfulfilling job or schedule. You feel stuck until you save enough to live the life of your dreams.
My current job isn’t exactly as fulfilling as I would like, but I do now have a position where I’ve gained more autonomy, largely thanks to negotiating a full-time working from home position, as well as competence and in which I feel connected with others and valued by my colleagues and bosses.
According to Cal Newport’s research for his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, these are the main things that allow people to gain pleasure and happiness thanks to becoming good at doing something.
I’m glad I’m putting a lot of effort in increasing my happiness at work, and encourage anyone that gets caught up in the boring parts of this journey towards financial independence to look into steps that could allow them to do the same.
Nonetheless, there will always remain some parts of me that long for the flexibility of freeing myself from my current job. I simply can’t wait to try out a lot of different activities when I finally gain back this time to apply as I see fit. This sometimes causes me to become frustrated with the repetitiveness and waiting of simply keeping our costs low and investing all that we can in order to hit our FI number, as per our 2025 plan
I also know that some days may be more frustrating at work, and those are the hardest when it comes to fighting the boring aspect of the path to financial independence. As my friend from A Purple Life recently wrote in a post on Battling the Impatience Beast : “Overall my current situation is the best one I’ve found after examining all the factors, but it still has downsides”.
Accepting the boredom
I believe there are various ways to overcome getting bored along the journey to financial independence, all depending on your situation, of course. Perhaps you can look into slowing down on your path to FI, as many have done to find more fulfillment in the present. You might want to look into your current life and decide to challenge yourself in areas completely unrelated to your finances.
Although I do tend to look at various ways to speed up my trajectory or, oppositely, reflect on ways of slowing down to focus a little more on enjoying the present, I’ve come to realize that a powerful tool for me is to simply acknowledge the feeling of boredom. I then accept that I am bored with the current speed at which we are heading towards financial independence.
An interesting chapter in the book Atomic Habits focuses on how to stay motivated in life and work, specifically when you get bored working on your goals. In it, the author explains how he had asked an elite weightlifting coach what is the difference between the best athletes and everyone else, to which the coach had concluded with how it came down to who can handle the boredom of training every day, doing the same lifts over and over again.
“The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. We get bored with habits because they stop delighting us. The outcome becomes expected. And as our habits become ordinary, we start derailing our progress to seek novelty.” James Clear Atomic Habits
I’ve found these reflections really helpful to deal with the boredom I sometimes feel with my objective to hit the gym regularly, and believe it can be applied in this context as well.
Although becoming bored with the speed of the journey towards financial independence doesn’t necessarily mean that I will suddenly give up those habits and not succeed, I’ve found comfort in the idea of simply accepting this boredom. It helps me move on from those moments of just refreshing my spreadsheet and redirects my attention to the present.
Redirecting the boredom
As a final thought, this blog has also been quite a fulfilling way to redirect the attention I sometimes focus on longing for the future. Every once in a while when I do catch myself in such a moment of boredom, after I acknowledge and accept it, I’ll jolt down a quick idea for a blog post or something I would like to research further. It’s been a nice way to counteract the impatience.
How do you deal with impatience or boredom on your journey towards financial independence?