The other day, a young kid on the bus struck up a conversation with me. During the conversation, he said he wanted to make a lot of money because he doesn’t get enough respect from his peers. He thought if he could become rich enough, he could earn that respect.
Thinking about this conversation later, I realised no one really wants money. Money is meaningless. When people say they want money, they really mean they want something intangible which money can help them get. This could be respect, as in the case of this young man. For a lot of people, it probably comes down to happiness, security, love, power, respect or freedom.
Personally for me, I like freedom. I like being able to work on what I want and having autonomous control over my time and activities.
For the past few years, I’ve had dreams of retiring early so I can spend time doing what I want. I follow the blog Early Retirement Extreme of a man who retired in his early 30s by saving 80% of his salary and making smart investments which now cover his humble living expenses. This was the path I wanted to follow up until my revelation after this conversation.
What I really want is freedom. Money is just a tool that can be used to buy my time and freedom. However, if I want to save enough to retire extremely early, I would basically need to postpone life. Postponing life for a few years is a sacrifice to get to the goal. But since money is just a tool to achieve freedom, I should just cut out the middle-man to achieve my goal faster.
After getting laid off in 2009, I ramped up my free-lance work. It didn’t take long for me to find enough work to pay for my lifestyle. I managed to survive just as most people manage to do. It’s human nature to find a way. That feeling of knowing that even getting laid off does not really affect me is priceless.
If you are working long hours or on something you don’t like for money, ask yourself what you are really working for? Remember, you don’t really want the money. What do you want to use that money for? Is it happiness? Freedom? Love? Once you have the answer, understand that you can cut out the middleman and go right for it. Don’t postpone life.