The Real Benefit of FI

When we think of early retirement it sounds like a ticket to never ending holiday, endless self-entertainment and generally increased enjoyment of every moment of our life.
In reality, this is not what it will feel like. After a while you will discover that life feels pretty similar. But with a significant difference nonetheless. In my opinion many people pursue early retirement to get rid of something. To avoid the negative feelings associated with their job. And that is one reason to pursue this goal.

Isn't the grass always greener on the other side of the fence?

But the great opportunity is in the free time that this strategy leads too. If you do everything right, you will gain a significant amount of free time in your day to day life.  Most people with regular 40 hour work-weeks spend actually about 60h a week for work, not even including the scheduled lunch break. Commuting to work and preparing for it takes most people about 2 hours a day. But even more significant is the time and energy cost that work takes out of your life. Many people have to rest and recover from the demands of work, so that not much of their mental energy is left to devote to pursuing other goals. If you take that into account you gain even more time and energy each week to devote towards your own pursuits, whatever those may be.

Even though I am not truly FI yet, I took off extended periods from full-time employment to see what this lifestyle has to offer and whether its worth pursuing. And from those month of being relatively retired, I am confident to have gained some perspective of the benefits it provides.

If you are into personal and spiritual development, pursuing FI as your first major life goal is a good strategy. By not having to worry day to day about your basic survival needs, you lay the foundation to pursue higher stages of development. You may still be young and not see those goals as important. But from the insights of one of the greatest psychologist in history, Abraham Maslow, we know that our values and what we perceive as important changes throughout our life. And those personal and spiritual goals usually become more important later in life. But then, most people who haven`t worked towards FI, don`t have the foundation and freedom to devote time towards these pursuits.

Intelligently planning for your future takes these changes in your personality into account. And FI gives you maximum flexibility to work towards those changing and evolving goals. Instead of being stuck with working to cover your basic needs, because you fell into the trap of spending money on things you don’t need, you gained yourself the freedom to craft the most rewarding life-path.

This freedom has the added benefit of making you feel less stuck. You will experience less frustration because you have an easier time addressing the challenges in your life. You will feel less stuck because you planned ahead. It is intelligent to ask yourself, what you can do now in order to lay the foundation for your future self to be most successful. And then laying out the plan (like achieving FI) to achieve those life-circumstances which promote long-term development and adaptability to your own evolving goals.

So what is the bottom line?

The benefit of FI is not so much in the avoidance of the negative aspects of work, but in the positive changes which you can make in the free time that you gain through the freedom from work. To have the basic needs life covered through passive income from your investments is the foundation to devote the time and effort to pursue higher states of human development. Even though those goals may not be on your radar when you are young, you can act with foresight to work on the freedom to be able to pursue those changing goals in the future.

"This my personal opinion of what the real value of FI is. As this is very individual, take it just as inspiration."