People seek retreats for themselves in the country, by the sea, or in the mountains. You are very much in the habit of yearning for those same things…When you can, at any moment, find such a retreat in yourself. For nowhere can you find a more peaceful and less busy retreat than in your own soul…Treat yourself often to this retreat and be renewed.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.3.1
The focus of the Daily Stoic Journal Week XII was to understand that there is no better place to retreat to than our own mind. To seek refuge within ourselves. To be renewed through meditation.
As you will see, I’ve moved to a weekly posting schedule. I write daily in my journal speaking to the questions raised, and each week I will summarize my writings from the week, which have nuggets of information for financial independence.
March 19th: What is the real cause of my irritations – external things or my opinions?
I am focusing my time on not being irritated or getting angry.
Both frustration, and anger, are within my control.
Both are my choices.
With my colleagues.
With my children.
I am responsible for how I feel, nobody else.
How can I utilize this understanding to increase financial independence? To attain early retirement sooner?
Irritations, and the behaviors that come with them, in the workplace, or your life, can cause challenges to your finances:
In these two posts, I talk about the negative impact of anger in the workplace and the negative repercussions of divorce on your financial independence.
I also offer coping mechanisms to avoid behavior that would lead to anger in the workplace or divorce.
March 20th: Am I cultivating the virtue that makes adversity bearable?
I am learning to be calm in the face of adversity.
My house is over-budget and behind schedule. What should I do?
Get angry? No, what is the point?
Yet, that does not mean that I cannot calmly ask “how can we speed this up”, nor does it mean I cannot display anger to get my point across, as necessary.
I can also calmly explore the facts and ask the simple question, how can we lower costs?
It is better to have a calm and rational discussion than an angry irrational discussion.
March 21st: What if I sought peace where I am right now instead of in distant lands?
This is an amazing example of where Ms. Stoic is so much ahead of me.
I wanted our family to consider a vacation property on the water somewhere, perhaps across the border in the US.
My wife looked at me like I was crazy.
We lived a stone’s through away from the Seawall in Vancouver, BC.
We were surrounded by beaches, mountains, parks and green spaces.
Why, she asked, would I choose to go anywhere but here? We have everything you could ever want and ask for in our own backyard.
She is right and now I smile to think about it. I can look out my window at work right now and see the ocean, the beach, a green mountain, and a snow capped mountain.
More, I can close my eyes and count my breaths and be in a spot within myself that is far better than anywhere outside myself.
This, perhaps more than anything, is a key to achieving financial independence. If I do not need more than I already have, then I ought to be able to increase my savings rate.
March 22nd: Have I confused schooling and education?
I have, and I have not.
I have spent a fair amount of my life in classrooms, but I have spent more valuable time in books, magazines and other mediums of learning.
My greatest learnings, which improve me, are generally books on self improvement and philosophy.
Buddhism and Stoicism are teaching me to be such a better human on so many levels that it’s hard to describe.
If you knew me ten years ago and met me today, I am such a different man.
Likewise, if you know me today and we don’t see each other for ten years, you would think I was a completely different person.
A relentless passion for improving incrementally, day by day, makes me evolve exponentially with time.
As we’ve said, it is the compound effect and the single greatest driver of your future economic wealth.
I will never stop learning, evolving or adapting.
March 23rd: How can I treat my greedy vices? How can I heal my sickness?
Where am I greedy?
Where am I putting myself at risk?
Am I doing it rationally?
Perhaps, I am being irrational?
Real estate is where my greed with time has gotten me into trouble, potentially immeasurable trouble.
My desire for a large single family home in one of our Country’s most expensive cities puts my family and our financial independence at risk.
Our government has said they are desirous of “cooling the market”. The market value of my assets when complete will be ~ $4.5 million and my equity in the assets will be ~ $750,000 – $1,000,000.
A 20% reduction in the market value of my assets would wipe out 100% of the equity that we have built over the last 18 years and decrease my net worth by 50%.
Should I have diversified?
Like Jaymee, Smart Woman Blog, should I have considered diversifying to Calgary for multi-family units while the economy was depressed? Should I still?
For the price of my two rental units in Vancouver, could I have bought four to five in Calgary?
Over the next couple years, I am going to ensure I temper my greed with defensive investment positions.
March 24th: What philosophical lessons can I find in ordinary things?
As I go through my day, I should focus on how I interact with people and how they interact with each other.
It is amazing what you can see.
Today, a colleague on my team was so frustrated by one of our colleagues.
I was able to sit back and view the situation through a Stoic lens and talk to her about his inability to frustrate her unless she chose to be frustrated.
We then reviewed their communications and came up with a calm, reasoned approach for her to deal with her issues with our colleague.
Don’t let your perception of a person’s intent get in your way when dealing with issues. Stay calm, step back, review the facts dispassionately, and act appropriately on the information available.
March 25th: Would I feel wealthier if I decreased my wants?
Isn’t this the golden question of financial independence?
If you can answer yes, and live it, you should reach financial independence.
If you answer no, how would you ever feel satisfied? Would you have to continue to make more, and more money?
In truth, the greatest takeaway from Stoicism, especially as it relates to financial independence is to be happy with what you have. To not desire more.
It is frugality in its fullest.
I can want more, which will increase my spending and my working life.
I can decrease what I need to be happy and it will allow me to live on less money and reach financial independence sooner.
What is easier? To earn more, or to spend less?
I have written how spending less is the dieting of losing weight and I believe it’s a much stronger piece of the equation than making money is.
If I can satisfy my wants with $50,000 per year and I have $350,000 in after-tax earnings [getting close], I can save for seven years of spending in a single year.
That would allow me to FIRE insanely quickly.
I am very focused on improving my spending. I am not taking exponential steps, but I am making incremental improvements each and every day.
Until next time,