Seven Realizations That Have Improved My Life

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2 min read

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.


My favorite free financial tool I use is Personal Capital. I use it to track my net worth, manage my spending, and keep an eye on my monthly cash flow. It only takes a few minutes to set up and it makes tracking your finances simple and easy. I recommend trying it out.

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10 Replies to “Seven Realizations That Have Improved My Life”

  1. Pivoting is a good word to use, I have a similar idea. I’ve always used Flail. Like the Pokemon move…(not sure if anyone here plays…) It’s essentially when you’re struggling because it’s the only thing you can do to fight the tides. And it gets more powerful as you get into a tighter and tighter pinch making it a critical hit.

  2. Zach,
    To your first point, I used to blog anonymously in part because I worried my employer would object. However, I started care less as more opportunities came my way. They never found out. But I was straightforward with my new employer who sees it as positive because it fosters curiosity and creativity which is important for overall well-being (which includes not hating your day job). Having gone through a recent unemployment period, I am much more grateful now. Being more grateful has dramatically improved my attitude at work and home.
    -RBD

    1. Hey RBD, thanks for the feedback. I plan to reveal my identity as well once I’m a bit further along in my financial journey. And it’s awesome to hear that gratitude has had a positive impact on your life as well, it really is a serious life hack 🙂

      1. Hi Zach,

        I am of view that you should not reveal your identity until you achieve FIRE. My take is that employers will not take kindly to current employees or prospective candidates having such plans. This may reduce the promotion or employment aspect. No employer will want to give opportunities or pay raises for individuals who do not stay long.

        My two cents worth of advices.

        Ben

  3. Be true to yourself, and be gentle in the process. We often have one way we think our life will work out, but that can change as we push for more happiness. Flexibility and curiosity in life mean it’s easier to enjoy each day or challenge!

  4. “Being willing to pivot is a superpower” – I totally agree here. Part of this superpower is being able to get over the ‘sunk cost’ fallacy, so that you don’t continue on a trajectory you may not enjoy because of what you have already invested into it.

    I also love your point about being willing to experiment and fail often, as each step gets you closer to success. As much as I ‘know’ this, I’m still working on embracing it!

    1. The sunk cost fallacy is something I have seen so many people held back by – the idea that you have to stick with a certain career or path or business just because it’s something you have been doing for so long. It prevents many people from making decisions that would improve their circumstances unfortunately. And I’m still working on embracing the “willingness to experiment and fail” mentality myself 🙂

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