skip to main content
planning across the spectrum logo - special needs certified financial planning services connecticut
  • Posted December 31, 2017

Be Realistic, Please

There have been times when I’ve felt like a wet blanket – throwing cold water on one’s dreams and seeming to be the only dissenting voice. I don’t mean to be a downer, I sincerely try to support one’s dreams and visions; but I think it’s important for those who dream to take the additional steps of working to understand how to make the dreams a reality (if that’s what they really want). More often than not this means exploring the “how” something will happen – and from my experience/point of view this is seldom well thought out.

Many seem to want to retire early, which (to me) isn’t the same thing as achieving financial independence at a young age – at least not the way it’s been described. For one thing, few of those who want to retire seem to have done the work necessary (saving) or have a lifestyle which can be supported by what they have put away. I can understand feeling burned out, or not wanting to work in the job you’re in – I’ve been there on more than one occasion. But make the most of it while you’re there, and that may include sacrificing your lifestyle to save more aggressively – allowing you to leave the situation sooner.

It may also mean doing some soul-searching about what type of work you want to do, or who your “dream” boss would be. Spell it out on paper, and then set it aside for a day or two. When you read it again, how does it feel? Does everything resonate, or do you find yourself making changes? The times I’ve done this exercise, I’ve had 4 or 5 revisions before what I was reading really felt right. Of course I didn’t do this when I first started looking for a job, I jumped right into what I thought I should be doing (and don’t even get me started about how I picked my rate in the Navy).

If your dream job doesn’t pay a lot of money, and you want to retire young, consider your lifestyle. Do you “need” all the bells and whistles? What are those things doing for you and your quality of life? For some, it really does make a difference in how they feel, having granite or marble counters and stainless steel appliances; but perhaps they’re less concerned about what they drive – so they get a used car with low or no payments. This is one example.

Another option – take a job you’re less enamored with, but pays more. Here’s the catch, you still owe an honest day’s work to whoever hired you. If you discover you don’t like the job after you started, but don’t want to leave; suck it up. It’s your choice to stay there. Change what you can, by working within the system, and accept everything else. Remember “why” you’re here – you have a goal (or goals) and this going to allow you to accomplish it (them).

Life is not “fair”. None of us are owed anything, and contrary to popular fiction what we want isn’t going to happen just because we wish or affirm it. We have to be honest with ourselves. It’s okay to dream, but recognize where the line is between wishful thinking and realistic opportunities. You can move this line pretty far if you’re willing to do the work and make sacrifices; this is not me telling you not to have hope or think big. But, and this is HUGE, there is a give and take with every choice you make. Not sure of what possible consequences are, ask a trusted friend or advisor. Getting the outside perspective can often help.