So Far the Focus has been on those Fully Franked dividend investments in Frankie’s Fund. But all this is meaningless without the universal context that underlies everything we all do – LIFE.
For most of us in this day and age, the journey of life follows a broadly similar path:
As a Child – the Potential of life is boundless
The world is truly a wonder. We are constantly amazed by what is around us, the new things we are always learning about.
We can be and do anything we can dream of. The movies we watch are not fantasies – they are real. You can be that girl that restores the Island of Motonui to its lush, green glory, saving her people. That boy whose joy of music can’t be contained, despite his family fighting against him. That girl with the magic of ice flowing through her. That… fish who finds his family? Sure, even that!
The potential of life is boundless.
As a Young Adult – we start realising some of our potential
Having had a few years to explore the boundless possibilities for our life, we become drawn to a few specific areas that resonate with us, or that circumstances and luck may have placed before us.
This is where many of us start to get hints at our potential. We stop doing things we are terrible at or don’t enjoy (other than the mandatory school requirements!), and spend more time on what we’re naturally good at, or things that bring us joy.
It’s later in this stage that the realities of LIFE start to take hold – we need to make money.
We listen to the wisdom of our parents and other elders who tell us what the best jobs are these days for making money – law, finance, technology, bitcoin trader – and so we focus all our energies on landing one of these prestigious jobs. Other areas of life quickly pale in importance as the pressure mounts on getting a foot in to the beginning of our prosperous future.
As an Adult with Responsibilities – our Job takes over
Having busted our guts to get this coveted job, we arrive and look up as if at the foot of a giant mountain. We are only at the beginning, and there is a long, difficult but well-trodden path to career success we need to start trekking up.
At this stage, any time you hear that word ‘potential’, it’s usually in the context of your job. The job seems to be everything. Your employer, acquaintances, friends, and perhaps your family, are all focused on how you are progressing and growing – in that thing that has become the major hub of life – your job or career.
The concept of ‘potential’ in other areas of life might seem laughable – who has time for anything else now! Most jobs seem specifically designed to absorb most of your daylight hours and energy, leaving you time for sleep, perhaps some important chores at home, and then back again.
But who even cares when there’s still another 12 rungs on the career ladder to climb!
Then some years of trekking up that mountain, all those other areas of potential in life are barely visible anymore.
So many people seem to have forgotten what potential really means, and what it felt like before the reality of the all-consuming job.
- Your potential as a mother / father?
- Your potential as a husband / wife?
- Your potential as a friend? To deepen friendships, rekindle old ones and make new ones?
- The potential creative works that you might be capable of?
- The potential world outside the office to be explored?
- Your potential for financial wealth, outside of your salary?
- The potential contribution you can make to your community and your environment?
- The potential health and wellbeing of your body and mind?
- Your potential to contribute your gifts or skills in a way that is meaningful to you?
- Your potential for happiness, joy, peace?
- Your potential to enjoy and appreciate what you already have?
- The potential to slow down, pause and not feel like you have to be constantly at your best all of the time.
Don’t get me wrong – I think work is a very good thing. A great thing in fact. It provides opportunities to show how we can create value for others, to contribute, and to earn money to look after ourselves and our families. It can provide structure and purpose to our days.
But it tends to very quickly become everything in our society. Our potential becomes defined by it. A recent guest post on Budgets are Sexy by Fired and Free, who shared his personal experience with losing his ‘Job Identity‘ really shines a light on this too.
Ideas like the wide acceptance of a shorter working week would no doubt open up some of these other areas of potential in life, but I fear we’re a long, long way from that being the norm. It’s left to rare individuals who are prepared to ‘break the mould’ and live a little differently to everyone else.
Your lifetime potential
If you take a giant step back from your day-to-day life, what will your potential look like over your lifetime? I suspect for many it looks something like this….
I might be sticking my neck out here, but I suspect for many of you this isn’t the ideal way to live life.
I think it’s for these reasons that the Financial Independence / Retire Early movement has been gathering pace.
I’m all for it, and a big supporter. However I still don’t think it FIRE is the magic answer to all of LIFE.
The hard part is understanding and deciding what that potential looks like for you personally, and where you should be trying to realise it.
No matter how much money you have, or how much time you can buy for yourself, you can’t avoid the hard work of deciding where you’ll get the best bang for your ‘potential’ buck.
And it’s definitely not a one-time decision. It’s a daily battle. There are powerful currents in life drawing us down a given path – expectations from family, friends, peers, colleagues – it’s hard work to go against the flow.
I’m encouraged to see more of this discussion happening, having stumbled across a few recent articles from the Mad FIentist, Tawcan, and some old classics from Mr Money Moustache and Financial Samurai.
The Mad FIentist recently touched on some heavy topics around the meaning of life, and asked his readers to come up with their own ‘life’ mission statement. If I had to try and articulate mine, it would be something along the lines of…
“to continue to explore my potential”
I don’t think potential is something that can be ultimately ‘achieved’ like a goal. It is continuously there to be discovered and realised.
And potential is meant in its broadest sense. Not one specific thing (like a job), and not everything. Just, potential.
I hope one day more of us will look at this concept of ‘potential’ in a different light – not being defined by our jobs.
Until then, it’s up to that small number of (but hopefully growing) individuals to keep fighting for what really matters in their own lives. The world has progress quickly when it comes to science and technology, but there’s still so much untapped potential to lift the standard of all our lives on a different level.
How do you view potential? What areas of potential matter to you? Are you focused on the areas of life that matter most to you? Why are we so obsessed with the potential of our salaries and career progression over and above all else?