Back in September, I wrote a post titled What’s The Point of all This? which, among other things, disclosed just how close I am to  financial independence. Many of you commented, probably because your lives are filled with emptiness and you’re looking for anything to fill the void. Geez, that’s kind of depressing. Get a kitten or something.

One of the comments that came up was this.


September 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm

What I want to know is when you are going to give yourself the permission to start living and enjoy things a little more Nelson. What you say is all well and good, but something tells me that even when you are “financially secure” you will have a hard time spending any money because you’ll still worry that someday somehow it might not be enough.

What do you think? Are you ever going to loosen the purse strings?

Only 3 months to respond to a comment. That’s my quickest time ever. (Does professional golfer wave) Stop pretending you’re not impressed.

No, the reason I took so long to respond to this comment is because I’ve been thinking about it, off and on, for the past three months. In the meantime I’ve been to New York, Toronto and Vancouver, bought an iPad, and dropped a couple hundred bucks in various other entertainment expenses. Nelson from last week is clearly pissed at this activity.

And even though I’ve done all these things, I really don’t think I’m any happier.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret my decisions. Traveling is great. I made a conscious decision to start traveling more, and I plan to continue my globetrotting ways in 2013. All my trips were fun in their own unique way. I met some interesting people, reconnected with others, and so forth. But I can’t say that they really changed me in any significant way.

Okay, so it’s not traveling that makes me happy. How about stuff?

As I look around my place, it’s obvious stuff isn’t my thing. My couch is cheap, my tv is a thousand years old, and my coffee table was left behind in a rental property I bought. Sure, I have the latest gadgets, but even those don’t get used that often, with the exception of my phone and laptop. Stuff isn’t what keeps me ticking either.

So what is it? And why should you care?

It’s simple. I need something to work towards.

For years, it was building my net worth. I’d buy an asset, finance part of it, and then focus on paying off the debt. Then I bought the house I live in, and tackled my biggest debt yet. Now that paying it off is within reach I’m not sure what’s next. And that’s trouble.

Every year we all make New Years resolutions. Some people take the time to write down their goals, while most just blurt them out after a little too much to drink at 11pm on December 31st. I hate New Year’s resolutions, partly because they’re so cliche and partly because the failure rate is 99.8%. I’m happy that people are making goals, except I’d be happier if the success rate is higher.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Let’s get to the point.

I’m happiest when I have a concrete goal to work towards. I’m less happy when I’m stagnating. Working towards a higher goal is what gets me up in the morning and what keeps me up late at night. That goal used to be wealth. Now I’m not sure what it is.

Right now I’m stagnating. My job is secure, and I have little interest in moving up. My saving and investments are on auto-pilot, (by design) the only thing that motivates me is picking stocks to invest in. What should I work towards? What’s the next project? Because I don’t know the answer, I’m struggling.

People often question me about just how much money is enough. And the answer is simple: there will never be enough. But they look at it the wrong way. It isn’t about the size of the pile, it’s about the skill it takes to grow it. The journey is more important than the destination. Working towards the goal is more important than the actual goal itself.

Too often we try to replace this sense of worth with stuff, or vacations, or even children. We try to spend our way out of our funk, a choice that isn’t wise. Replace it with something worthy of your blood, sweat and tears. And if I do that, then maybe my next blog post won’t be filled with so many feelings.

Tell everyone, yo!