“Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” – Andrew Carnegie
What do you really want out of life? When’s the last time you asked yourself this question?
I ask myself that very question all the time. Every morning I wake up much earlier than I’d like to trot down to a job that doesn’t align well with who I am offers such an opportunity to evaluate what I want out of life and whether or not I’m doing all I can to achieve it.
What do I want? I want complete freedom. I want to own my time. I want choice. Therefore, I need to become financially independent.
I’ve worked incredibly hard over the last few years to get myself into a great position to reach for financial independence. I’ve lived way below my means and used that excess capital as wisely as I can – investing in high quality companies with enduring competitive advantages, and those who reward loyal shareholders with a share of their rising profits via rising dividend payouts.
And that hard work has paid off.
I have a six-figure portfolio chock-full of high quality companies like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP), Chevron Corporation (CVX), Aflac Incorporated (AFL) and Philip Morris International (PM) spitting out ~$4,500 in passive income via dividends over the next 12 months. I may not be financially independent yet, but I do know that I can count on about $375 in monthly income over the next year without having to go out and work for it. That’s a good chunk of my monthly expenses covered because I continue to believe in the power of frugality. The lower I can get my expenses the more money I have left over to invest with, and then on top of that lower expenses means I won’t need as much passive income to claim total financial freedom.
But as much as I’ve accomplished thus far, and as hard as I’ve worked over the last few years there is still a long, arduous road ahead of me. How do I reconcile the celebratory feelings of having done so much in such a short period of time with the fact that there is still so much yet to do?
I remember that anything worth having in life is worth working for.
Romantic and a quotable statement to be sure, but maybe this isn’t what you’re looking for. I can understand firsthand that it’s tough sometimes to get up day after day and want something so bad – something that is still so far away. While I’ve accomplished so much, and while I’m still young at only 31 years old I also realize that I still have thousands of days full of hard work ahead of me. I’m years away from being even close to financially independent. Disappointing? No. I knew this was a journey that would be over a decade long. But I’ll admit that it’s a bit terrifying at times.
What do I do when looking at what I’ve already done isn’t enough of a remedy to calm my fears over how far I still have to travel to reach financial independence? What do I do when the road ahead of me is still incredibly long and intimidating and my feet are weary from all the miles I’ve already traveled?
I take a break. I stop focusing on the past and the future. What’s left? The present.
When the road ahead of you seems long, maybe it’s time to stop looking at the map. It’s time to live in the present. Be here in the now. The habits successful people build are ingrained to the point where they don’t have to be micromanaged. Great decisions will be made. Money will be saved. Great investments will come to pass.
What is it you enjoy? What hobbies bring you happiness? How much time are you spending with those you love?
I’ll give you a personal example:
I love writing. It brings me personal joy and a sense of accomplishment. I get great satisfaction out of inspiring people. In addition, putting my thoughts down on paper allows me to keep perspective and stay on track. So it should be no surprise that I spend so much time on Dividend Mantra trying to inspire others out there to reach for their dreams, while at the same time holding myself accountable for my own. If I could do nothing but write all day every day I’d be a pretty happy camper. So when the road seems particularly daunting on any given occasion or if I’m having a really rough day at work I try to focus on writing. Sometimes inspiring others ends up inspiring myself.
When the road ahead of me seems grueling I focus instead on living for today. Because, in the end, that long road is made up of a bunch of todays anyway. A decade of hard work is lived out one day at a time. And it’s today I’m really fighting for in the end anyhow. I realized a long time ago that life is short and time is a premium commodity. Why treat the days I have now with any less interest or importance than those I’ll have once I’m financially independent?
If you get down because the road to financial independence seems impossibly long take a break. Be present. Live for today. Because today is all we have, and today is exactly why you’re seeking financial independence. Don’t take any minute in the now for granted. They say tomorrow isn’t promised. And you know what else isn’t promised? Happiness. But if you make it a priority to live the best today you can you’ll have a much better shot at it than most other people do. And you’ll also have a collection of great days that will eventually propel you towards financial independence without needing to ask for directions.
How about you? What do you do when the road to financial independence seems daunting?
Thanks for reading.
Photo Credit: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Special note: This article was specifically written for a reader who recently emailed me and asked me what I do when I feel less motivated, or when the goal of financial independence still seems too far away.