Daily Happiness > Future Happiness

Good morning!

If you’ve found yourself in a continual loop of obsessing about the future lately, STOP IT!! Do not wish your days away! Today is more important!!

I know we all want to hit our millions and retire all proud of ourselves on the beach/tiny house/camper van, but don’t waste your precious God-given time waiting for it! It shall come and you shall be just as sexy when it does! :)

I had to remind my own self of this after getting an email asking for advice around precisely this same thing… It was in response to our book giveaway last week on financial fails (winners announced at the end of this post, btw!)), and here’s what it said along with my response back:

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“My biggest regret is not learning about FI, budgeting, saving till 30. I missed critical years in my 25-30 period which could have already made me FI…

The biggest problem I have now is, I cannot wait to get FI and leave my job. Makes it hard to concentrate. I know I should be kicking ass in my job, which I am but can do better. Leaving the job for now is not an option for my plan, but even with a 64% saving rate FI feels so far.

Have any words of wisdom to keep kicking ass in job while still knowing this is just a side step in the grand scheme?”

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I couldn’t think of anything at first, and then it hit me…

“Haha…

Not really, other than DON’T WISH YOUR LIFE AWAY!!!

Yeah FI is going to be great, but once you’re there you’re now gonna be X years older (if you’re even still alive!) so better to focus on the *daily* stuff and lifestyle, and then whenever you hit it you hit it… and I bet you find ways to enjoy life better so that once FIRE does come it’s actually not that much of a difference!

Daily happiness > future happiness”

*****

BOOM.

Was pretty proud of that last line ;)

But it’s true, right?? Who wants to age themselves like that just for the sake of more dollars or titles to their name? Who knows if we’ll even be ALIVE by the time we hit it too?!

And damn. He’s crushing it with that 64% savings rate – that is insane… I shoulda prob told him to slow down a bit and actually use up some of that money now too while he can, but didn’t want to get in the way of his killer system there…

Now it’s just maintaining his daily happiness until the future happiness hits! Which is bound to w/ a savings rate like that – only 10.5 years left according to Mr Money Mustache’s famous chart:

savings rate early retirement graph

That other line I threw in there deserves some special attention too:

“I bet you find ways to enjoy life better so that once FIRE does come it’s actually not that much of a difference!”

This should actually be a prerequisite for ALL of us pursuing FIRE, and not that hard to do if you start years ahead and habit stack. Most things people want to do in their free time can easily be done today with a little finagling… Taking more walks, going fishing, golfing, traveling, volunteering, spending more time with family, grandkids, granddogs, spending more time on your hobbies, writing, thinking, building, creating.

$hit – I was just complaining to myself the other day that I didn’t have enough time to read, and then after sending our friend here that response I decided to shut down the computer IN THE MIDDLE OF MY WORK and pick up a book (Atomic Habits). 30 mins of bliss later I came out totally refreshed! And do you wanna guess if it ruined my entire work day?? Of course not :)

Now you can’t *always* sneak in stuff as some days are more demanding than others, but getting into the habit of at least trying to grant yourself 1-2 small joys on the daily will up your mood pretty handily. This is not an All or Nothing play here as much as it sometimes seems like it is! You do not have to wait until XYZ days/years/months later for happiness! Grab it now and feel more FIREd while you’re on your way!

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I had the following note back from our friend the next morning:

“Daily happiness > future happiness” should be printed and put in eyesight by everyone (specially people pursuing FI) on a daily basis :D Thank you for reminding this, it is just so easy to forget.

Started my work day 1 hour late, with a walk in a park, coffee and croissant. Starting to incorporate more “daily happiness” tasks ;) will incorporate more of this every week.”

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“A walk in a park, coffee and croissant.” Gosh… so magical…. And how hard do you think it was for him to pull this off?? Not very if he did it within hours of my email! I’m sure he had all types of things pre-planned that he just moved around or better yet canceled after realizing it was busy work, lol…

But THIS is the stuff that makes living life so joyful… The big goals are important and you get a bigger boost for hitting them, but they’re sooooo far and few between and if you’re not paying attention enough you’ll speed through life and miss out on everything else.

And believe me – you do not want to Rip Van Winkle it and wish you could go back in time! Even if you’re nice and FIREd by then!

People like to think they want to be Warren Buffett or Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, but if it means turning 92 at the end of the month like Buffett is about to hit, something tells me they’d change their mind quick. I can tell you what HE’d choose if given the opportunity to switch with you ;)

Money can buy a lot of things, but extra time on Earth is not one of them.

Anyways, something to remind yourself of today, and I hope it pushes you to focus more on the present than the future too.

If you’ve got the foundation set and game plan going, your money/business/career goals will eventually get hit. So if you already know you’re going to reach it later, why not shift the focus back on the present and how you can win TODAY as you wait?! There’s no rule saying you can’t enjoy both the present and the future! Go for it all and be a greedy little bastard!!

Happiness today > (potential) happiness later. Pick it up where you can get it and enjoy your damn life 💪💪

j. money signature

UPDATE: From our friend above:

Some more incorporations into my “daily happiness”:

  1. Using Pomodoro at work, concentrated work for 40 mins, 10 mins my time (in which I do some German, read “The Great Mental Models”, meditate or just go and make a nice cup of home made tea (performance is up, happiness is up))
  2. Not checking Slack after hours (shutting it down on my phone gave me mental peace)
  3. Reminding myself about my 8 month emergency fund (so less worry if I get fired)
  4. Not constantly looking for promotion or raise (if it comes good, if it doesn’t also good)
  5. Meditation (been doing this on and off for a year, and this is definitely the biggest one)

* Winners of last week’s giveaway, that should have only been two, but I accidentally picked a 3rd so now one of you got doubly lucky! –> Diane C, Amy Capone, and Katherine Euliano – congrats! For everyone else that was interested, make sure to pick up the book at Amazon or your local library – it’s now out!

Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence,
Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life

(Amazon affiliate link)

taking stock book

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22 Comments

  1. Nora August 11, 2022 at 8:01 AM

    I think this is easier applied after you’ve made significant progress in your FI journey. This mindset can easily devolve into YOLO, which will totally derail FI attempts. Future happiness should outweigh daily happiness UNTIL you’ve reached a financial point where a little daily happiness doesn’t compromise the future. Coming into work an hour late when you’ve been employed at the same place for five years doesn’t have the same reaction as coming in late to your job of five days. That is a point that can’t be overlooked, but often is.

    Reply
    1. J. Money August 12, 2022 at 8:57 AM

      yup yup, easier later in the stage for sure but still plenty of ways to incorporate when just starting out as well… most of the stuff we enjoy doesn’t cost much money and is more about re-arranging time/life/priorities – something that benefits everyone!

      Reply
  2. Lauren August 11, 2022 at 8:31 AM

    I’ve been struggling with this exact concept! FI feels so far away and I don’t hate my job (I think it would be easier if I did- I could justify being a hermit and throwing all my money at FI to free myself of my job), but I find myself saying no to things often because I know I will have more money left at the end of the month to transfer. I’ve been thinking hard on how to increase daily happiness without going spend crazy and just loosening the reigns a little. This post was timely for me and I placed a post it on my computer screen with the “daily happiness > future happiness” sentiment to help me remember that it’s all a balance. :)

    Reply
    1. J. Money August 12, 2022 at 8:59 AM

      YAY!!! Love it!!!

      You’ll have to let me know how it affects you as the days/weeks go by! :) Maybe you can allow yourself one “yes” per day? that way you never go *crazy* out there, but you do have the option to live a little more each and every day? (and no rolling them over either lol… if you don’t use it up one day, all good – you got another one the next! :))

      Reply
  3. Wandering Beach Bums August 11, 2022 at 8:33 AM

    You are so right. Got to make time for the small joys daily along the way. Man, I have missed your writing. Glad you’re back!

    Reply
  4. Financial Fives August 11, 2022 at 2:00 PM

    You’re spot on Jay! One of the beautifies of creating your framework of getting to FI is realizing the little things make you happy, the walk in the park, the coffee, eating a cold peach on a sunny day, or just laughing at albums with your aunt.

    It’s a constant pressure we put on ourselves and due to society. Being busy, “hustling” always looking for that side income. Yes, it’s important but as you say money can buy a lot of things, but not more years to your life.

    Hopefully, money will save more time when are FI by hiring someone to clean your house or fix your car, but you can’t delay happiness and contentment. Hopefully more people realize that before all their friends fade away while they were busy with their side hustles.

    Reply
    1. J. Money August 12, 2022 at 9:03 AM

      That is true about paying people to do stuff for you which frees up time… I think if I REALLY get a lot of money I’d implement a few of those services, namely having a personal chef to prepare tasty (healthy) meals for the fam! Would save time, energy, shopping (!), and probably add some extra years to the lifeline :)

      Reply
  5. Impersonal Finances August 11, 2022 at 3:12 PM

    I’m trying to find the balance between happiness today while ensuring future happiness, and part of that is simply enjoying the journey to FI and knowing that I’m taking the necessary steps to get there (something that gives me a sense of purpose that I’ll have to replace when I do in fact reach FI!). I do wish I started earlier, a common lament of FIRE pursuers, but what’s most important is that I HAVE started.

    Reply
    1. J. Money August 12, 2022 at 9:06 AM

      You know it, brother…

      And if you’re “Coast FI” you should feel better knowing you’re on the right track too – have you ever calculated that? Where everything you’ve already saved is enough to get you to your “number” later once enough time has passed? It doesn’t make waiting any less boring or anything, but knowing it’s just a matter of time until you officially hit FI based on what you’ve already done is pretty damn good feeling.

      Reply
  6. Britt Murray August 11, 2022 at 8:09 PM

    J Money! Longgggg time reader here, and just randomly popped over and saw that you’re back. How awesome! (Not that Joel wasn’t great!)

    I’m pumped to add a dose of money + skateboard + boy fam posts back into my regular reads. Welcome back!

    Reply
    1. J. Money August 12, 2022 at 9:07 AM

      Thanks Britt!

      Anything juicy happen there over the past few years? :)

      Reply
      1. Britt August 12, 2022 at 11:31 AM

        Had a couple kids of my own – up to four little boys and a quarter pipe in our driveway :)

        Reply
        1. J. Money August 12, 2022 at 3:09 PM

          ahhhh!!! you’ve one upped me in boys and pipes!!! Super Mom!!

          Reply
  7. Kalen Houck August 13, 2022 at 7:38 AM

    Man, I needed this one. I also find myself having to fight to live in the present moment rather than fixating on the goals and dreams of the future which feel so much more exciting. Thanks for this!

    Reply
    1. J. Money August 16, 2022 at 9:20 AM

      Future goals are pretty exciting :)

      Fortunately daily goals can be too! And you reach them much faster! lol…

      Reply
  8. Harrison August 14, 2022 at 11:32 AM

    Actually – happiness is a second by second thing in our consciousness. I have to be happy in my own skin. The ability to just sit quietly and be happy in the moment, in that moment – is how we achieve mental health. When we stack or append happy seconds together – we get happy hours (not that kind) and eventually happy days (no, not that one either). In order to maintain this for consecutive days – I need a re-set. I get my reset ~5 times a week by moving my body (whether stretching, aerobic, push-ups/pull-ups/sit-ups) – and importantly – by 20-25 minute sauna at 180 degrees, dip into pool; steam room with eucalyptus, followed by dip into pool, then a jacuzzi followed by dip in pool. These heat / cool cycles create a “reset” of my brain and body. I am pain-free and mobile – and maintain happiness more easily. That’s my secret to being happy in my skin.

    Reply
    1. J. Money August 16, 2022 at 9:23 AM

      Wow – that’s a helluva routine, I dig it! Do you have all those things at YOUR HOUSE??

      Great goal for us all to shoot for –> “The ability to just sit quietly and be happy in the moment, in that moment – is how we achieve mental health. “

      Reply
  9. Corwin August 21, 2022 at 2:21 PM

    Hi J,

    Yeah it’s definitely tough at that stage of a FI journey to enjoy the moment instead of obsessing about your FI future. I remember that very well.

    I try to shoot for a balance, doing things that bring happiness in the short and long term. But achieving that balance for all days is challenging.

    Sometimes I find a good dopamine reset is needed – there are days when little to nothing enjoyable happens, and I try to remind myself that I’ll enjoy the good times a lot more as a result. A classic Bob Ross quote: “Gotta have opposites, light and dark and dark and light, in painting. It’s like in life. Gotta have a little sadness once in awhile so you know when the good times come.”

    A couple tips that I find really help me: 1. Focusing on gratitude, which helps my short and long term happiness levels, and 2. Focusing on being proactive vs reactive, which can help a ton with enjoying a job a lot more (and find new income sources to quicken the pace to FI even further if desired).

    Reply
    1. J. Money August 22, 2022 at 9:10 AM

      Excellent Bob Ross quote 👊

      Reply
  10. Samuel September 3, 2022 at 7:52 PM

    The Mr Money Moustache chart is insane! Only putting away 5% has you on the treadmill the rest of your life. Saving more than half means you’re only a decade or so away from FI.

    Reply
    1. J. Money September 5, 2022 at 8:47 AM

      we should all be forced to look at that chart in middle school 😂

      Reply

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