Retire by 35 November Progress or “The Doors of Perception”

I had some problems with Quicken in November, and because of this my accounting for the month wasn’t accurate. I could have spent several hours getting it all organized, but I’ve decided not to do that. Six months ago I would have put in the time to reconcile my expenses, but things have changed. Where as 6 months ago I was completely focused on getting my expenses down to achieve financial independence, I feel that I’ve transcended that to some extent. Sure, tracking my expenses is important, but it’s no longer the most important thing. Let me explain…

The more I continue my journey towards financial independence and an extreme early retirement, I’m coming closer and closer to the conclusion that the strict rigidity of the world is just an illusion. It’s been exhaustively asserted that life doesn’t have to be “go to school, go to college, get a job, retire, die” and while this is part of the illusion I’m referring, it’s not the only one. There are illusions all around us that act as guidelines to life, but the truth is that these guidelines are really just restricting what should be an endless supply of possibilities. These illusions get wrapped up and presented as culture, morality, laws and common sense.

  • Culture – A car for every household driver, a TV in every room, the belief that technology and progress is inherently good
  • Morality – Hard work is a virtue
  • Laws – The right to assembly (as long as it’s during daylight hours, no sidewalks are blocked, pot is illegal but tobacco and alcohol are ok
  • Common Sense – Bigger is better, 10 hours a day in a cubicle under fluorescent lights is a perfectly reasonable way to live your life, millions of dollars are required to retire

But once you realize that these guidelines to life are just one way to do things, it’s incredibly empowering. I’m not just talking about non-comformity, either. Non-conformity is fine, but it’s often rooted in rebellion rather than a deeper awareness that these rules aren’t rules, they are just one way to do things.. Some of these “rules” are rooted in old habits, others by a herd mentality, and still others by corporate pursuits. But none of this matters once you realize you can be freed from all of this, and once you do then everything changes.

For me, financial independence was a way to break out of the biggest illusion, the need for a regular job to have financial security. For some more free-spirited types, they can chase a dream while living broke (starving artist), but I’m wired differently and that would drive me into a nervous breakdown. Now that I have financial independence, the chain is broken. And with the chain broken, it’s become easier for me to see the truth about all the other “rules” of life. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

When the doors of perception are cleansed, things will be seen as they truly are. Infinite.

Ironically, I didn’t fully grasp this statement until my doors of perception were, in fact, cleansed.

Think about this the next time you think you need to wear a tie to an event, you upgrade your cell phone even though your current one still works, you pay your cable bill, you schedule the default 30 minute meeting in Outlook when only 15 minutes is required, or you drink bottled water. Ask yourself why you are doing it.. Is it driven by culture, morality, laws, convenience, or common sense? Is it consistent with how you want to live?

(Side note: I will plan on returning to my monthly update next month. I’d prefer to stop, but I have been getting a lot of emails the past few days asking whether I’m going to continue to provide them because they find it inspiring. This means a lot to me, more than any benefit the financial report provides for me. I like this.)

12 Responses to Retire by 35 November Progress or “The Doors of Perception”

  1. AP says:

    Great, great post. Comes at the perfect time of year when there’s pressure to follow the frenzy to spend on the latest and greatest. My wife and I try to focus on gifts that create memories and time spent with close ones and it seems most material things create time and distance apart instead.
    This post will mean different things to different people, but the bottom line is there’s no one right way to do things. Thanks for your words.

    • I’m still trying to figure out Christmas. I think my wife and I did a good job this year with limiting presents, getting things off Craigslist (saves money and recycles) and focusing on the family. The challenge comes when the extended family doesn’t buy in to the simple non-consumerist lifestyle.

      Too late to be helpful this year, but I’ll probably be posting about my theory and strategy on Christmas soon.

  2. Krantcents says:

    I achieved financial independence at 38 years old. I wanted it all! The dream house, nice car, private education for the kids and nice vacations. I did those and still achieved my dream. You don’t have to give up things you must find better ways to increase your income. I did it through investing in income property and eventually businesses.

  3. Mrs. MM says:

    I love this post and the Steve Jobs video… hadn’t seen that one before.

    I think that the longer you live a less conventional lifestyle, the more you learn about the illusions around you. It’s often amazing to me how much we assume is the “right” way to do things. I do this all the time and then have to remind myself that I’ve really just been programmed to think this way.

  4. Nice clip from Steve Jobs.
    The western lifestyle of an office job and the consumerist lifestyle have propagated all over the world. There are some independent thinkers who try to find their own ways, but it’s too bad that most people are trapped in this mind set.
    Once you open your mind up to the other possibilities, you find more like minded people though. It helps that you are independently wealthy now. :)

  5. Oelsen says:

    Funny. This could be extended into the realm of computing and how everything has somehow to be complicated. Facebook? A huge server farm based on PHP to serve basic communication. Yes, there is a need to “stay in touch” or share information with a large base. But come on! Is it really necessary to retire smtp/imap based mail? Or chat? Since when is it wise to chat over HTTP into a Moloch (fb-chat)?

    On another note: We have here a folklore event that didn’t require a tie and suit, but somehow the younger generation decided to wear nice clothes. But only this specific day. And it doesn’t matter to wear an older suit, it just has to be nice and classy. As a collective decision, this doesn’t cost the individual much in the long run, because I can wear the same suit for years and because its only one day, I can reuse a discounted one, since it will be “old fashioned” anyway.

  6. Yabusame says:

    I am far from being Financially Independent but I start a new chapter in my life next week. After being a salaryman (as Jacob from ERE defines it) for the past 15 years for the same organisation I am taking voluntary redundancy. I am moving towards Jacob’s definition of a working man. I will have several income streams and I’m looking for more. Exciting times are ahead.

    • Y – I’m looking forward to learning more. I am fascinated by the idea of several income streams, both passive and active. I’m going down the path of passive streams, but I think there are plenty of active ones you can do on your own to avoid the salaryman position if you don’t want it.

      What forms of income are you pursuing now?

  7. Good stuff. Sheeple, ahem…I mean people tend to grow up believing in imaginary walls because people who have influence over them (parents, friends, co-workers) tell them that they are there and you shouldn’t lean too hard up against them. For the most part, people need these walls. I think people, in general, unfortunately need these walls for order in their life.

    Once you realize, as the great Steve Jobs alluded to in the above video, that these walls aren’t really walls at all…well that’s when the fun really begins.

    It all hearkens back to the “Allegory of the Cave”. Most people need the flashing lights on the wall, the chains, the cave. They would go crazy without the order, and blind in the outside world. I truly believe that. If it wasn’t true, most people would be living much differently. However, once you leave that cave (if you can) life can really amazing. Since giving up a car and taking the bus, I am amazed at how much is really going on around me. It’s amazing to take the time and look around you and watch life happen.

    Good stuff. I liked the Jobs video. He was a true visionary and died before his time.

    • You should check out “Escape from Freedom” by Erich Fromm. Most people desire some for of chains (or rules) to live by. Which is fine, except for those of us who don’t want them…

  8. Sophia says:

    I am not financial independent. Before, I do not pay a big attention on the finance condition, but now I think the income is a important factor would has an influence on your life. If you are not financial independent, you never have enough freedom, you have to rely somebody for finance. This kind of feeling is not good. So I would make effort and achieve my dream.

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