As I get closer and closer to my financial independence F***-You day in Switzerland, I realize how much psychology is an underestimated element of the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) community.
The numbers, the budgets, the investments, the return calculations, etc. That’s the easy part, because it’s rational.
But the psychology, the feeling of leaving the work family, wondering how those around you will react, what “the others” will think, etc. That’s the most complicated part, because it’s purely emotional.
So when I meet someone who dared to take the step of becoming a FIRE, and moreover in Switzerland, you can imagine how interested I am in his story ;)
Dror Allouche, FIRE at 46
Dror Allouche had a career in sales for 23 years. He always knew he would stop working at 40. With 6 years of “delay”, he took the plunge and became FIRE in Switzerland. For the past year, he has been juggling between the pleasure of this financial freedom and the doubts it brings.
I met Dror via the blog (another good reason for you to start one!)
We hit it off because we have a few things in common, especially our professional field and the age range of our children.
When he proposed me a year ago to share his experience on the blog, I told him that I was interested, but after 6 months or even a year. My goal was to have something concrete, something out of real experience.
So here we are at the end of 2022, exactly one year after the beginning of his early retirement.
And he shares with us today his FIRE experience in 6 points.
I’ll pass you the keyboard Dror :)
This is it. One year into my new lifestyle and embracing financial independence.
In November 2021, I left my corporate career with the idea of living off my investments in Switzerland, following the classic FIRE method. My annual expenses multiplied by 25, invested mostly in a global fund (ETF) that replicates the market index.
Below is what I learnt in 6 points.
1 — Calm
Passively investing in the markets is an exercise of calmness. You have to be able to continue, or even increase your investments when everything goes wrong. I learned to do this for 20 years and it was one of my keys to success.
But living off your investments is a different, more complex skill. Usually, we like to be in control. In the first part, I used to increase my investments when the markets went down.
In my new life, I don’t even have that tool anymore😀. And when the markets go down (much of this past year) and your spending continues, it’s another level of calm you have to achieve.
So if you’re dreaming of this life, make sure you work on this skill.
2 — Creativity
There is a link between creativity and quality time. If your schedule is very full, you stifle your creativity.
If you have enough quality time (appointments with yourself), it will naturally develop.
Don’t ask yourself if you are creative, create the conditions to let it express itself.
In the FIRE movement, there are two main parts (Financial Independence/Retire Early), I’ve been thinking hard about the second part, and I think…(caution: affront to the movement 😀)
3 — I will work until my last day
It has become obvious.
I’ve left a “corporate” career and I’m embracing a new one as a “solopreneur”.
I’ve always been attracted to financial independence for what it offers “the freedom to do what I want without financial pressure”, but I’m not/no longer attracted to the pure retirement part.
There are no quick fixes for everyone. The choices are individual and situational. It’s not either/or. It can also be a whole, at different times in one’s life.
I loved my executive career until the last day. I met some amazing people, learned a lot, and grew… But I couldn’t see myself continuing for another 20 years.
And this is where financial independence comes in.
If I didn’t have financial security, I would have jumped at the first job.
Financial independence has allowed me to create a context to unleash my creativity.
In doing so, I found what makes me tick and is likely to do so until my last day.
“Striving to become the best version of myself and helping people who share that desire.”
Writing and coaching are my vehicles.
They fulfill me intellectually and introduce me to incredible people.
Add autonomy and freedom. (I manage my schedule and the people I work with.)
Given that, why stop?
Despite these benefits, I keep the following point in mind.
4 — Work-life balance
When I recently started my coaching business, I was very intentional and put in place a few principles like:
- I work a maximum of 6 hours a day
And here again, my vision on this point has evolved 😀
My life is becoming a whole between personal and professional. I do (mostly) things I enjoy. I have a lot of opportunities to maximize time with the people I love.
So, if I need to sprint to launch a new offering (the case right now), I do that. I create an imbalance that I then offset with a cooler phase. Sprinting and light jogging.
5 — The entrepreneurial life
It doesn’t matter what you do. To make a difference, you have to find customers. And that’s one of the big challenges I see for entrepreneurs and even more for those who sell themselves as a personal brand.
It’s easier to make noise about your product than it is about yourself.
You can have a great service, be very good, but if nobody knows, it won’t work.
Technology today allows you to multiply your exposure. But you still have to gather your courage and do it. Get out of your comfort zone. Tell your network. Create content.
Fear is often tied to false beliefs.
“This isn’t me.”
“I don’t know how to sell myself.”
“When people say no to me, they reject me.”
If you’re dreaming of a different life, that entrepreneurship is part of it, tackle these false beliefs before you do anything within your comfort zone.
- Create your business cards
- a website
But at the end of the day, no matter what you do, salaried, entrepreneurial, or nothing (FIRE purist), make sure you…
6 — Be aligned
If you’ve been in corporate, you’ve heard this everywhere.
“Our mission, our values, our goals.”
And sometimes you get a sour taste of it. It’s relatively easy to plaster them on the wall and harder to live them.
And that’s even more true in our personal lives. It’s easy to talk about life, and it’s hard to live it.
But now you have no excuses. You are not dependent on your boss, or your company. You are in charge.😀
Most people don’t.
In the famous book “The top five regrets of the dying”, author Ware Bronnie, who was caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives, summarized the 5 regrets as follows:
- I wish I had had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
- I wish I had worked so hard
- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
- I wish I had let myself be happier
There are lots of methods to help you do one of the most important exercises in your life.
But none of them can do it for you. You have to give yourself time to reflect.
I like Marshall Goldsmith’s simple but comprehensive approach in his book “The Earned Life.”
Aspiration: my why. There is no end date. By giving yourself time, you develop and refine it throughout your life.
Ambition: my goals. They have an end date. And ideally, they are in line with your aspiration.
Action: what you do every day. Without reflection, they tend to become an automatic response to all the demands and distractions of our days. Without realizing it, you end up spending your life doing them.
If you can gain clarity on these three axes and separate your happiness from the result, you maximize your satisfaction and limit your regrets.
I don’t believe in miracle recipes, but I hope everyone can get something out of it to improve their lives and prepare their FIRE :)
- Work on your soft (calm) and hard (your finances) skills in your project.
- Creativity: create the conditions (time to think) and watch it bloom.
- Every period of life is different. Time to reflect allows you to understand and pursue your desires. A question: do I see myself doing this for a long time?
- Alternate sprinting and recovery. Decided or endured sprint? The first is more satisfying. But in any case, the recovery period is not a choice. Skip it too often and you jeopardize your health and your relationships with the people who matter.
- The sweet entrepreneurial dream: to make a difference, you need to have clients. Assuming you already have a valuable skill. Work on your false beliefs first before attacking your website design and business cards.
- The triple A: you can be an employee, an entrepreneur, or a young retiree (FIRE) and still feel bad. What you do is less important than the meaning you create around it. Going without this reflection is not an option.
Whatever you do, put intention at the heart of your actions.
PS: For those who want the whole story behind my early retirement, this is where it happens.
MP Comments on Dror’s Financial Independence
Reading Dror’s text, it first reminded me of my review of the book “The ONE Thing” (point 5), where the author explains the importance of balancing private life (family, sports, etc.) and “professional” life (personal projects, creative activities, etc.)
I agree with his analysis of how to manage this, i.e. don’t do a sprint-marathon for 1 year and forget about your family life!
The other thing that struck me in talking to Dror beforehand is that we all really seem to be repressed and fearful entrepreneurs in the FIRE community!
As I wrote:
Choosing the FIRE path over the entrepreneur path is therefore more of a psychological choice than a financial one.
Dror also confirmed this point that financial independence frees your creativity, and gives you the space to try new entrepreneurial adventures 1.
Finally, this whole article confirmed to me that the hardest part of the FIRE movement is the psychology! And I believe that gradually reducing my work time (as I’ve started to do) is going to be my way to early retirement.
Note to self: I’m sure there are books on “how to handle retirement” but I never googled it until now, because it was still far away but it’s getting closer and I’ll have to think about it!
And you, how does this FIRE experience sharing inspire you?
Header photo credit: Bouvier Maxence, Stoos - Frontalpstock - Klingenstock
Dror has had plenty of time to try out new businesses in recent months, including coaching based on his 23 years as a leader. As my feeling was good (he is a calm, humble and honest person), I agreed to give him a hand by talking about it here. In exchange, he offers interested MP readers the following:
“I am offering the first five responses an entire two-hour coaching session 1:1 with me. Here is the process.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title “I am interested (from MP)”. And a short presentation of yourself.
I will send a link to my calendar (for the first 5 readers only) with two dates:
- First date: 20 min. Assess if we can work together. (both sides)
- Second date: 2 hours of free full coaching.”