Thanksgiving, whether you celebrate it in Canada or the States, is often a holiday that is already overshadowed by the consumerist binge fest that surrounds Christmas–but for FIRE enthusiasts, it really is the best holiday of the year.
The FIRE path is often a long one, and sometimes a challenging one. While it’s easy to get down about how long the journey is or our personal missteps along the way–in the spirit of Thanksgiving it’s important to cultivate an attitude of gratitude to make the journey a beautiful one.
Track Your Progress, Tally Your Wins
While most of us have downloaded the Personal Capital app to track our net worth and see how our investments are doing–have you really kept score of all the little optimizations you’ve made that are contributing to your progress?
Over time, we forget the many small optimizations we’ve made along the way, which add up over time. Keeping a note in your phone or a Google doc to track progress every time you take action, no matter how small, illustrates your progress and can help you feel empowered and grateful along the way.
Whenever you make strides to lower your expenses, take on a new side hustle, get a raise that you roll into investments or fix an issue that’s costing you money–having a record will help you stay motivated when you feel down.
It can be draining and overwhelming to focus on all of the things you can’t do, or what you’ve had to give up to move the needle towards FI. While sacrifice and change may be par for the course, your efforts can be re-framed as gains instead of losses.
Giving up TV means you have more time to take on fulfilling hobbies. Cooking at home may not be as traditionally exciting as dining out, but you are picking up useful skills in the kitchen. Figuring out how to change your own oil or reroute your shopping habit to a more productive hobby may stir the pains of change, but also can improve your life while you do it.
By taking on a “bootstrapping mindset” and stacking up optimizations, you’re making strides towards FI, taking on new skills, and practicing what you preach. If something you’ve given up or changed still feels too hard to cut, you can employ creativity to have what you’d like. Lean on other community members to find out how to be able to afford that special something, even if you can’t afford everything.
Stay Connected With Your “Why”
If you’re in a FIRE slump or your progress is being met with consistent challenges that make forward motion difficult–circle back to why you started. And if needed, print out your goal on paper to connect with it consistently.
While it may seem a bit “woo-woo” to create a vision board made with printouts and magazine clippings, putting up reminders of why you started on this path may be helpful in reconnecting with your gratitude in facing challenges. Printing out pictures of your kids, a place you want to geo-arbitrage to, or a fake million dollar bill will be a quiet but impactful reminder of the life you’re building when you feel the struggle.
Re-listening to podcast episodes, discovering new ones, or connecting with your fellow FIRE walkers in the ChooseFI Facebook group can also help you feel connected and reinvigorated with your lifestyle. Volunteering, connecting and sharing with people within the communities you dwell in can help you feel grounded and invested.
Your motivation will naturally wane over time, so however you feel most connected to your “why” spend some time getting regularly acquainted with it.
All in all, if you’re feeling in a slump about FI, or you simply want to feel more fulfilled along the way–cultivating gratitude can bring joy back to the journey. Though the progress may be slow, and it can be truly challenging, both the journey and the destination are worth pursuing.