I’m doing something very different in an otherwise ordinary world. I’m trying to become financially independent and retire early in life – before my 40th birthday, to be exact. This journey to early retirement started just before my 28th birthday, making this a road about 12 years long. Keep in mind that I started with $5,000. Oh, and I make a very middle class salary (currently in the mid-$50k range). Is it all possible?
Well, I believe that it’s not only possible but also quite easy if you focus on three innate qualities that all of us are born with. We’re all individual people. We all have unique goals, aspirations and dreams. But what allows some people to excel in life and make their wildest dreams come true, while others languish in their own misery? I think it comes down to The Three P’s:
Definition: the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
Definition: to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, especially in spite of opposition, remonstrance, etc. (from persist)
Definition: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties,obstacles, or discouragement.
I view all three as critical for anyone who wants to achieve financial success, or success of any kind in life. Critical. As in absolutely necessary.
Before I started my journey, I exhibited exactly zero amounts of the above three characteristics. I changed my major multiple times in college, unsure what exactly I wanted out of life. I couldn’t stick with a course load. Whenever I encountered difficulty back then (like learning Spanish), I viewed that resistance as something that could not be overcome and often chose to give up.
My mother died from a drug overdose during my junior year of college and that’s when I finally threw in the towel. I moved out of state and drifted for a solid year as I’ve discussed before. That was a difficult time in my life, as I was failing in college, lost my mother and felt like I was aimlessly floating. I inherited money at that time, which just so happened to be the worst possible time in my life to stumble upon a large sum of cash. You already know how that story ended.
I certainly had no clue about money back then, and even less clue about the innate qualities that lived and breathed inside me waiting for a chance to show me how powerful they really are. You can see how I had no perseverance back then as I was ready and willing to give up at the slightest ounce of difficulty. I also had no patience. Instead of sticking to a plan and seeing it through I would bounce from idea to idea because I felt like everything was taking too long. And obviously I had zero persistence. I didn’t stay steadfast in anything but giving up.
But, a few years ago I woke up. My 27-year nightmare was coming to an end and the light was right in front of me. I knew that the path I was on – one filled with mindless change for fear of failure at something I gave an honest try was unsustainable. If I ever wanted success of any substance in life I would have to wake up and realize what characteristics are necessary to bring my dreams into reality.
And, so with that I’ve learned that Patience, Persistence and Perseverance are the true keys to success.
Patience is absolutely necessary if you want to achieve anything. Almost nothing in life is instant, unless you go out and win the lottery. You have to know that the best things in life are worth working hard and waiting for. Great achievements often take years to attain. My journey to early retirement is a 12-year path. That’s a significant portion of my life. I don’t know how long I’m going to live, but at an average lifespan this journey is a good 15%+ of my entire life. This isn’t instant success, but rather the long, grueling kind that makes it so much sweeter when I actually get there. And so you also must need to have patience. Any great goal you have in life likely requires a long period of sustained effort. If you lack patience, you’ll likely burn out and give up before you reach the promised land. Don’t give up!
Persistence is also key. You need to stick to the plan! I’ve been investing fresh capital from my day job into high quality dividend growth stocks on a monthly basis since I started back in March of 2010. The market goes up? I continue to invest in attractively valued equities. The market goes down? I do the same. I persist because I know that when the dust settles I’ll be collecting enough dividend income to fund my living expenses. Persist. Stick to your plan. Ignore the noise. Keep a spreadsheet on your computer, a picture on your wall, a scale in the bathroom, a checklist on your refrigerator. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you need to keep reminding yourself why you’re doing whatever you’re doing and keep persisting.
Perseverance is the final piece to the puzzle. You think I don’t get strange looks when I ride the bus? Or how about when a grown man (all 190 pounds of me) zips around on a 16-year old 49cc scooter? People often question why I would live in a small, modest apartment when I could easily go out and buy a decent house (in cash, mind you). But I don’t listen to the naysayers. If you want something different out of life, you need to act and be different. If you want the same, if you want the 9-5 till’ 65 then you can act the same as everyone else. Trust me, that’s much easier. It’s easy to swim with the school. It’s much more difficult to swim upstream and go against the grain. But you have to persevere and be more than the average. You need to ask yourself what you want out of life. Is it worth persevering for? Is it worth ignoring the peanut gallery and continuing forth when everyone is trying to force you to give up? I think early retirement is most certainly worth persevering for and I plan on doing so for as long as it takes.
So, let’s continue to focus on the three P’s as we continue down our individual journeys to whatever successes we are striving for!
How about you? Do you find these characteristics keys to success?
Thanks for reading.
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