Optimism Isn’t Optional on the Road to Financial Independence

Whatever path you take to financial independence (FI), there is only one thing that is mandatory. Optimism! It’s not optional, it’s a fundamental necessity.

While FI is about future dreams, it’s accomplished in the now. Our daily habits and behaviors are the only tools we have for making those dreams a reality. So, make optimism one of your daily habits. Here’s how!

But first, more on why it really isn’t optional!

It Really isn’t Optional

Ultimately, it’s daily behaviors and habits we set in motion that effect change on our futures. The only thing you can control is what you do today. The only day on which you can invest is today. Undoubtedly, many of these behaviors will involve delaying gratification. And delayed gratification is hard.

The very act of investing or saving for tomorrow requires belief in a bright, prosperous future. Can you pass up spending a dollar today because it’s likely to be worth double in ten years? You have to believe that there will be a ten years down the road. You have to believe that, while you don’t know exactly what things will look like, it will be worth being around for.

If you don’t truly believe your vision for the future is possible, much less likely, you’ve made delaying gratification much harder. If you’re going to be pessimistic about the future, don’t think today is a good time to invest, save yourself a lot of time and frustration and quit now.

Just kidding!

Optimism, is just like any other thought or emotion, it can be taught, practiced, and conjured up at will, with the right systems and practice!

Optimistic, Not Delusional

So, let’s be clear – optimism doesn’t mean ignoring the potential pitfalls or blindly jumping into risky ventures. There’s actually a cognitive bias called Optimism Bias that we should be aware of in our decision making. What I’m talking about is more the plain vanilla type of optimism that gives you the courage to take action and to remain resilient in the face of setbacks.

How to Make Optimism a Habit

Optimism doesn’t come naturally to me. Yet, I’ve managed to reach a lot of my financial goals. I ventured into a successful real estate investment, increased my savings rate for several years, and bravely left my cubicle for greener pastures! All of these required me to practice optimism.

Here’s some things I do to build my optimism habit:

  • Education: The more I learn about finance, investing, and history, the easier it is to have an optimistic perspective. Data consistently shows that, over the long term, both society and markets tend to exhibit overall improvement. While there may be fluctuations, ups, and downs, there’s a prevailing trend of progress.
  • Perspective: I make a point to contemplate the vastness of the universe, bask in the glory of natural wonders, or engage in any activity that helps me feel small in. Bearing witness to the miraculous ‘gobsmacks’ me into euphoric optimism every time!
  • Positive Environment: Limit exposure to sensationalized, fear-mongering news or chronically negative individuals. Admittedly, this is a challenging task in today’s society.
  • Support System: I enlist the help of trusted individuals in my life to keep me in check. I gave them permission to give a throat punch, metaphorically speaking, whenever I am indulging in pessimism.
  • Mantras: I have a few quick little sayings that I tell myself, often out loud, whenever I feel myself in a pessimistic spiral. One of my favorites is “it isn’t a problem until it’s a problem” when I’m thinking of the thousands of ways that something could go wrong.
  • Visual Reminders: I surround myself with visual queues to be positive, keep my long term goals in mind. Pictures, mementos, quotes I’ve scribbled on some paper and taped to the mirror. In my cubicle I had a shell from my favorite beach in Mexico with a fortune cookie fortune taped inside. It said “your investment of time now will lead to success later.” Silly, but effective on days when I wanted to give up.

Like any other habit, being optimistic takes creating triggers and routines, practice, successes and failures. It’s never set and forget it.

My favorite book on habits is James Clear’s Atomic Habits. His methodology, tactics and experience have helped me make actual changes.

Optimism Now!

Let optimism be the wind in your sails as you navigate the uncertain waters of the financial world. Believe in your ability to secure your financial future with solid behaviors and habits. Make being optimistic one of your daily habits that gets you there.

Tell me

Has optimism or pessimism shaped your financial journey? What are your tips and tricks for staying positive on what can be a long, arduous road to financial independence? I optimistically look forward to your feedback 🙂

Master Your Money, Live a Truly Prosperous Life!

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