I’ve been thinking about the future a lot while traveling the past four months. My primary focus for the past 3.5 years has been to achieve FI as quickly as possible, and now that I’m basically at my goal, it’s left me pondering what’s next.
I wrote a guest post about my thoughts on this topic which was published earlier this week on the “Rethink the Rat Race” Blog.
An excerpt from the beginning of the post is below. Check out the full post via the link below to read my suggestions for others following a similar path as me!
The Goal of Reaching FIRE
“There is a persistent focus in the financial independence community on reaching FIRE as quickly as possible. This is definitely warranted since a large proportion of the population seems to be very unsatisfied with their profession. Working a job 40+ hours a week that is unfulfilling combined with long commutes and being away from family is a recipe for unhappiness and fantasizing about laying on a beach somewhere in the future. But what about the people who are reaching financial independence at a very young age or have a career that they don’t completely hate? After all, taking up a life of healthy leisure may be feasible for someone leaving the workforce in their 50s, 60s, or 70s after a long and successful career, but for a young person that is driven enough to reach the goal of financial independence with a massive savings rate, it’s probably not realistic to assume that complete relaxation comes next. I’ve found myself in this very position over the past three months after semi-retiring earlier this year and am currently grappling with “What’s next?”
My Journey to FIRE
I finished grad school with my doctorate in physical therapy a little over three years ago at 26 years old, saddled with a nearly six figure student debt burden from grad school alone! I’ve always been a natural saver, and this was supercharged when I found the world of financial independence about four years ago. I initially was just in search of a way to quickly pay down my debt, although that goal changed after learning about the 4% rule and running various hypothetical scenarios. Even though I spent a tough three years plodding toward graduation and enjoyed my clinical rotations, I quickly realized that I was not nearly as passionate about the profession as many of my classmates and fellow PTs. I have many other interests in life and never wanted the majority of my life to revolve around a profession like many PTs seem to be content to do. For this reason, I decided to very aggressively pursue financial independence directly after graduation, with a 85-90% savings rate over the past 3 years. I did everything possible to achieve this goal by living frugally (but still comfortably) and maximizing my income as a new grad. I chose to take travel assignments instead of accepting a permanent job, which allowed me to effectively double my compensation; worked overtime at these assignments whenever possible; took part-time PT jobs when available; started a blog (not only for the income, but it did grow into a small source); and made extra money from taking advantage of credit card and bank account sign up bonuses. After three years of buckling down, with a mostly singular focus, I essentially reached my financial independence goal with assets equal to over 25x my current expenses. I thought this would be the “finish line” of sorts for me, but to my surprise it wasn’t as wonderful as I’d hyped it up to be in my mind. In fact, it felt more like the beginning of the journey than the end. While traveling around the world over the last three months, I’ve found myself doing a lot of contemplation about the future and found that I’m motivated by more than just money. I want to make a difference in the world and leave a legacy.”