Something pretty unexpected happened during the third month of my unemployment. Amazingly, my anxieties and stress about money, which were always in the background ready to jump to the fore, faded to a quiet murmur. I started to become beyond money.
At least for now.
And when I say beyond money, I mean that money no longer engenders in me the negative emotions as it did in the past. Instead, it allows me to conceive and achieve my goals.
Money Can Weigh You Down
Ever since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, planning and building my investments took upon an almost fetish-like (in the non-sexual sense) fixation.
It was borderline obsessive-compulsive. And it became even more so during the months leading to my termination.
Eventually, it became a burden, a necessary evil, a millstone or an albatross around my neck.
Toward the later years it was the first thing I thought of when I woke up in the morning and the last thing I thought of when I went to bed at night.
Throughout the day, I would check my portfolio constantly and look for opportunities to buy during a dip. And when prices popped temporarily, I saw it regretfully as a lost opportunity to buy more.
I would estimate monthly and quarterly passive income projections. Then I would compare it to expected living expenses as per the book, Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin.
I did a worst case (or best case?) scenario in which, in the event of an extended market downturn, my wife and I would wander around China and SE Asia for a decade or so to lower expenses as our portfolio recovered.
Whenever I had a spare moment, even in my leisure time, I would be planning short term cash flow. All the while listening to podcasts and reading blogs and books to make sure I had left no stone unturned in my pursuit of FI.
Needless to say, it was a bit unhealthy.
But Money Can Lift You Up
But once my employment abruptly ended, I was forced to go into emergency mode. I suddenly needed to put all my painstakingly well-laid plans into action.
As my last paycheck deposited, I knew that it was sink or swim time.
No more one more year syndrome for me!
And guess what?
Our passive income exceeded our expenses. We actually continued to build a cushion of savings and investments so our net worth even grew. My anxieties and worries began to recede.
And now, I changed my perspective to figure out what I really want to do – what will giving me purpose and fulfillment.
Money stopped being an idol to be given offerings of personal time and attention (and buy orders).
Instead, it became a rocket engine to lift me up.
Yes, I still do regular engine maintenance and ensure it’s properly fueled.
But I also know that my wife and I are not at the whim of a capricious idol. And if this particular engine begins to fail, there are always other engines we can build.
But Not Happily Ever After
Now I know that there will be money problems, stresses, and worries in the future. But the point is that I know viscerally and experientially and it’s not the end of the world.
And that’s the point of facing your fears. It’s truly knowing that you can handle what comes. During the storm, it’s being able to say calmly to yourself, “Hey, I got this.”
How about you?
Have you had to face a great personal fear and had your own “Hey, I got this” moment?