Over the weekend, I was catching up on some recordings of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and I was struck by a conversation that went on during the show. The really short setup is they’re looking for something based on a map they’ve found, and they have been digging holes, fairly randomly at one of the “X” locations. When Todd wants to quit digging and look somewhere else, Dirk points out that they’re in as good a place as any to look for their treasure, so why quit. As he puts it, “What if you’re only one shovelful away from finding it but you stop. You’ll never know, will you, because you gave up. What you’re looking for could be right there, and you walk away right at the worst moment. I’m trying to say, You’ll never know if you don’t try.” That last part really stuck with me in relation to our Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC) journey, recent career changes, and even a new venture concept I came up with a few months ago. Let’s start with the FFLC aspect.
Try and Try Again
When this FIRE (Financially Indpependent Retire Early) idea was first proposed to me it came from the shocked cry of a co-worker that had been using Mrs. SSC’s retirement spreadsheet, years before we knew about the FIRE concept, and it sounded like this, “What?! You guys are retiring at 45?!” This was literally the first I heard of it and dismissed it with a, “Nnnnooo, that doesn’t sound right” because I didn’t believe it either. I didn’t even want to try and believe it, that’s crazy, right?! After a few years of Mrs. SSC explaining things repeatedly, I still wasn’t convinced because it kept sounding like we were trading our nice life for a life of struggling to make ends meet living off of “very little.” Fast forward a few more years, and Mrs. SSC showed me a couple of years of spending tracking that proved we only spent ~$55k/yr. That’s when I finally saw the light and got on board with our FIRE journey. Sorry to take so long Mrs. SSC…
She Kept Trying
What if she hadn’t been so persistent and kept at it, and instead just given up on this whole FIRE concept and embraced our “comfy American” lifestyle? Well, she would be stuck in a miserable job not able to take a 2/3 paycut to go teach. We’d still be on track to retire before 65, but I’m guessing we would be in totally different place financially, and she wouldn’t have been able to “afford” her taking such a dramatic paycut. Much less, be a few years away from our FFLC date. We like FFLC because we’re not really looking to retire early, as others have also come to discover, rather, we want a lifestyle change that suits us better than this crazy hustle bustle one we’ve built for ourselves.
Our first step towards FFLC was Mrs. SSC taking a teaching job at a local university. Since then the schedule change has been amazing, and life has gotten better all around. This wouldn’t have been possible without the first step – trying. Trying to accept we didn’t have to inflate our lifestyle just because we could afford it. Trying to reject the notion of “you work until you’re 65 (or 70) and then retire.” Trying to make our lives better now, because we didn’t like them the way we’d made them.
It started with trying.
Why Quit Trying Now?
A few months back, I went on a field trip to W. Texas and New Mexico and it was awesome! I hadn’t been out in the field really, since I left grad school. I forgot how much I missed it, and how much I liked being out there and seeing geology, touching rocks, and seeing relationships that I normally only see on a computer screen, where it’s easy to lose perspective. During that weekend, I got an idea about a side venture that may turn into something that could be monetized later on, but would let me keep doing geology – field geology after we “change our lifestyle”. When I ran it by Mrs. SSC she thought it was a good enough idea that she’d even front money for it. Yes, Mrs. SSC agreed to invest in my idea! Holy cow!
Then I started researching it, and felt overwhelmed by the prospect of starting it up, figuring out the details, delivery method, etc… I was killing myself with the details, and especially the monetization aspect. I thought I had the client(s) picked out already, I saw the vision for this, and how it could prosper, and after putting more work into it, I’m not so sure that’s the right vision. During this whole process, I came across this quote by Ray Kroc founder of McDonald’s:
“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Rray Kroc
Do. Or Do Not. There is no Try.
I realized I’m attacking this vision all wrong. I’m looking at it from a money making standpoint and currently, it’s failing. I need to put this vision together from a “I love doing this” standpoint and figure out how to monetize it later. I’m the customer, so what would I want from this idea. That’s where I need to start.
I tried and I failed, and after regrouping, I realize, I need to DO. So I’m done sitting in neutral and being stuck in “paralysis by analysis” mode and start working on this. There’s a lot of work to do, and a lot of habit to get built into my schedule to make this grow. It won’t start if I don’t try. What if I’m only one shovelful away from hitting the treasure? What if it’s right there in front of me and I turn around before taking those steps? If Mrs. SSC hadn’t kept trying to get me to see that FFLC is possible, we wouldn’t be where we are today. She kept trying and didn’t quit, so now it’s my turn to do the same. I know it will be a lot of work, but that reminds me of another great quote.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison
Do you have anything you want to try but are stuck in neutral with? What are your thoughts on moving forward with this venture and working the rest out as it comes along? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!