As many of you already know, I started my journey to financial independence back in early 2010. I was deeply in debt, didn’t have much cash, and knew relatively little about investing. Poor decisions with money for most of my life led me to a position I didn’t really feel comfortable being in. The idea of working to earn and earning to spend only to repeat this process over and over again until I was old and used up made no sense to me and I desperately wanted out.
If poor decisions led to a poor financial position, could great decisions then not lead to a great financial position?
I decided to find out.
So here I am near the end of the fourth full year of my path. I’m on pace to earn almost $6,000 in dividend income this year. That’s about 33% of my long-term goal of earning $18,000 in dividend income per year by the time I’m 40. Considering I’ve got eight years to go, I’m definitely on the right track.
But I often tell people I’m already financially independent, and I’ll tell you why I say that.
The Future Me Is Waiting
I explain to anyone who will listen that there’s a me that exists in the future. He’s 40 years old and already lives off of passive dividend income. This future version of myself is simply waiting for the me of today to catch up and become financially independent.
Financial independence is nothing but a foregone conclusion in my mind. It’s actually already happened. I simply have to go through the motions today – leverage the superpower of consistency, stay persistent, save a high rate of my net income, and invest in high-quality dividend growth stocks at attractive valuations.
Every time I buy a stock, it’s like adding a brick to a castle that, in my mind, has already been built.
The me of 2020 already exists in my mind. He’s completely free. He lives without fear of going broke or having to work for the rest of his life. The decisions he makes aren’t based around money at all, but rather maximizing time and happiness.
The Power Of Belief
I truly believe that I will be financially independent eight years from now, that I will catch up to the me that exists in the future. There is no doubt in my mind that the me of today will become this me of the future. Once you envision something and believe in it with all of your heart, it’s almost impossible for anyone or anything to deny you it.
Equally so, if you don’t believe that you’ll reach a goal that you set for yourself, you most likely will fail. The power of belief is real. Every action I’ve taken over the last five years and every action I’ll take for the next five is fueled by belief. Belief that I can save and invest my way to financial freedom. That I can change my own reality. That I can own my time. That the me of today will one day meet the me of the future and they’ll be proud of each other.
Once I realized that there was a me that existed in an alternate and future reality, one where I didn’t have to slog down to a day job I despised until I was 65 years old, I quickly figured out that I had to reverse engineer my way to him. After all, if this me of the future became financially independent, then there were steps that had to be taken to get there. Luckily, I could deduce the steps I had to take by drawing a line from the finish point back to where I was.
But the key is to start small. Focus on what what you need to do today. You don’t climb a mountain by running as fast you can to the top. You plan and plot each move. There’s a map you follow. You can see the end, the beginning, and where you’re currently at. You strategically climb forward and upward with intent, each move bringing you closer to the end and further from the beginning.
When I first started this journey, I put a basic map of my own together. I wrote down all twelve years of my journey with the corresponding age and dividend income I anticipated I’d need to earn to keep me moving up the mountain. Extrapolating that far out into the future is difficult and not necessarily 100% accurate, but it need not be so. One can adjust as they go. The key is knowing where you’re going, how you’d get there by tracing your steps backward, and then making the journey from start to finish.
What I find interesting is that this me of the future exists in my mind. But he will only become reality if the me of today continues to make the moves necessary to make financial independence a reality.
It’s like the future me that’s motivating the me of today to get in gear and do what’s necessary to become financially free only exists as long as the me of today takes those necessary steps to attain freedom. If the future me is a mirage, the me of today is walking in the desert, each step bringing me closer to the mirage and salvation. But it’s only upon actually reaching the mirage that I realize that it was actually me all along; that I was motivating myself to become something greater. And then I actually become what I imagined I already was.
What this paradox teaches me is that I will be whatever I want myself to be. If I want to become financially independent, then that’s what the mirage will look like in my own mind. And that’s what I will strive for, eventually becoming one with that vision.
You are what you think you are. If you think you’ll never amount to anything and you see the future you as broke and working until 65 or beyond, then that’s exactly what you will be and your imagined poor future will become your reality. Likewise, if you imagine yourself to be financially independent and wildly successful, that’s the future that you’ll be making a reality. The future you and the you of today work together toward one common goal. Align them toward financial independence and it will be yours.
This article is a bit different that those I usually put together. I usually write about more concrete examples, as my journey to financial independence is based in the here and now on real numbers. But I think it’s also important to drift a little bit into the more hypothetical and philosophical areas of financial freedom and success, because recognizing and exploring the mechanisms that keep us motivated allows us to stay in control of our destinies.
Although I’ve never mentioned in my writings that I believe this future me exists where I’m already financially independent, I usually mention it to people I meet in person. This vision is a backbone of my own success. I 100% believe in this future me, where I’ve already achieved the wealth and success I’m currently striving for. It’s simply my job now to meet that future me and make tomorrow’s vision today’s reality one step at a time. Though I think it’s a foregone conclusion, I also realize that the paradox that exists means the me of today has to continue to putting in the hard work necessary to give life to the vision.
The power of belief is not to be underestimated. Envision what you want and go after it with all that you have. Once you have complete faith and optimism on your side, nobody can stop you from achieving your dreams.
Are you already mentally financially independent? Does a future you exist, motivating you to become that person?
Thanks for reading.
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