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The Pitfalls of Financial Freedom
Financial Freedom. Ahhhhh. It beckons like an oasis on the horizon.
But let me tell you what financial freedom doesn’t automatically provide:
- Context. If you are just living off of investment income, you aren’t necessarily part of something larger, a context or theme for your life.
- Tribe. Related to the first point, if you are no longer sunk deep into a working context, you may lose your tribe. For some, the tribe comes from elsewhere, but for many, the tribe comes from work.
- Responsibility. Competent people thrive when pushed to use their abilities and handle things that matter. The absence of responsibility for those who are used to having it can create a meaning vacuum.
- Mastery. Becoming a true expert in something is deeply satisfying. With financial independence, the natural need for mastery is less pressing. You may find you miss sharpening your sword day in day out at a craft associated with work.
- Growth. Related to mastery and responsibility, the demands of a work context often force people to grow–confront limitations, learn how to handle people, learn to prioritize, and other matters.
- Productivity. For nearly all people, a level of productivity contributes to their happiness.
- Balance. Have you ever seen a spouse driven to distraction by the fact that their significant other has retired and is around all the time? FI may mean massive amounts of free time while everyone else is out there making ends meet. It can create a less balanced life with quite a bit less interaction with different people.
Of the potential challenges above, the most difficult to address in FI are likely context, tribe, and responsibility. Mastery, Growth, Productivity, and even Balance can be addressed if you are proactive and organized.
Yes, this post is a bit harsh, but it is important to convey that work has to do with more than just making money–a lot more. In my opinion, many of the elements above are crucial to happiness and success in life.
I am a huge fan of Financial Independence. It opens up massive options for your life, but it is important that you remain aware of the above elements that are so often associated with work that will still need attention once remaining at work shifts from one of life’s necessities to one among a number of options.
(See related thoughts here.)