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1. Nobody can stop me from doing what I love outside of my 9-5. No matter how disenchanted I am with my day job, I can still spend my time outside of it however I like. I can still write blog posts, tutor people in statistics, play basketball, hang out with friends, eat Chipotle, and go hiking in the early mornings, late evenings, and weekends. I don’t have to spend my free time outside of work thinking about how much I don’t enjoy my job.
2. Being willing to pivot is a superpower. In high school, I wanted to be an architect. In my freshman year of college, I pivoted to actuarial sciences. Then I changed my mind and pursued statistics. Now I’m realizing that I love data visualization, so I’m trying to break into that field. I have pivoted my career trajectory countless times.
I have also pivoted my financial philosophy. I used to want to make $100k a year and buy a huge house. Then I discovered the concept of financial independence, which made me want to save $1 million by 30 and never work again. Most recently, I have changed my mind and decided that saving up $100k – $250k and transitioning to doing work I enjoy is a more appealing path.
I have learned that it’s okay to change my mind, to pivot my direction. There is no predetermined route that I have to follow. I can forge my own path.
3. Attempting to maintain a fake ideal version of myself on social media is not only
exhausting, but pointless. At the end of the day, I know if I’m happy or not. No amount of likes, favorites, or attention can affect that. Ironically, the happiest people I know are people who rarely use social media. When you enjoy life, you enjoy life. No need to prove it to anyone.
4. It’s better to look straight ahead than side to side. The status game is a happiness killer. Naturally, we don’t care about people below us, only those above us. We focus on those who are doing better, and sadly there will always be someone doing better. That’s why it’s not a game worth playing. I have come to realize that it’s fine to seek improvement, but I should do it for my own edification and satisfaction, not to climb over someone else.
5. Being willing to experiment and fail is a massive advantage. The more attempts I make – the more cold emails I send, applications I submit, articles I put into the world – the more I increase my chances of success. This is a wonderful thing because success has a tendency to stick with us and propel us forward. The successful interviews, emails, articles, and projects all help us advance. The failures just fade away.
6. Gratitude works. I used to read articles about the benefits of gratitude and think it was all bullshit. I was wrong. Practicing gratitude is a serious life hack. The more I consciously become grateful for everything I have – family, health, money, opportunity – the happier I become. Gratitude helps me see just how good I have it.
7. Holding onto anything too tightly is a bad idea. Holding onto anger, past failures, and grudges is like carrying around a hot coal that constantly burns me. It’s better to let go.
Oddly enough, holding onto things like job title, net worth, and material possessions can also be a bad idea. It’s possible that I could lose my job, experience a stock market collapse, or have my things stolen. If I associate my identity with any of these things too tightly, I might be crushed if I lose them. Better to recognize that nothing in life is guaranteed and to be grateful for the good things while they’re here.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
Although the bulk of his net worth is invested in index funds, his favorite place to invest in individual stocks is M1 Finance, a site that allows you to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
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