Every obstacle yields to stern resolve."
- Leonardo da Vinci
There has been a confluence of events in my life this summer, some large and some small. Together, they have created a quiet resolve to make early retirement really happen.
Assuming that a goal is realistically obtainable, the biggest determinant of success is usually motivation. For a lengthy project, a high level of resolve is at the same time both very easy and very hard. For example, you may decide you are going to exercise 30 minutes today, and assuming you don't have a medical condition preventing you from doing so, this should be quite easy to accomplish. However, suppose you decide you are going to exercise 30 minutes every day for the next year. Everyone knows that is not easy! Each new day presents you with the same small step that is easy to accomplish, but taken together as a whole year, the steps become hard.
Can I stick to a budget again for 5 more years? Can I endure my current employment for 5 more years? Can I resist tapping into my savings and blowing it on something for 5 more years? Can I remain absolutely disciplined in investing my savings for 5 more years?
Each day I can easily do those things, but as a whole, they sometimes look very hard. That tells me that in the end, if I fail, it will likely be that I simply didn't want it bad enough, and that is a sobering thought. Will I look back and see that I didn't want early retirement as much as I wanted a new car, a remodeled bathroom, or the thrill of a penny stock?
A few days ago, CNN/Money published an interview with a Nobel Prize winning psychologist who researches how and why people make investment decisions. When asked about money and happiness, he responded: "Happiness is determined by factors like your health, your family relationships and friendships, and above all by feeling that you are in control of how you spend your time." [emphasis added]
That is a very good description of what I am pursuing with my early retirement goals.