Posted by Tim Stobbs on March 2, 2012
A very common assumption people make is that other people think like you. Thus if you present them with the same facts they should come to the same conclusion as you. This is utterly and totally a false assumption. Everyone’s mind is a unique thing that while it might share some similarities to yours as a culture backdrop, emotional response to information might overwhelm a logical conclusion.
I’ve seen this more times than I can count at my various jobs and heck even I’ve made the mistake sometimes when pulling together a report. I think the conclusion is so obvious that you don’t need any more information to backup the conclusion and then you get a response from someone that doesn’t make sense, because I’ve overlooked the assumption that people think differently than me. On the internet front the classic example is trolls, who have a completely negative response to your writing and lash out at you.
So with that firmly in mind, I was curious about something the other day: what makes early retirees minds different? What common threads weave through our minds that we will consider doing the ‘impossible‘ by most people’s standards? While some early retirees are good at real estate investing, other do well at stock analysis, while others don’t have any particular talent than being a good saver. While each of these may help on the journey of early retirement, they are not the common thread that I’m looking for since that is more of talent than a common thread.
While I might has discussed some particular considerations that are common to early retirees in my book, Free at 45, I realized I might have miss something during my research. What if the common thread is really just an awareness of how you think? A self awareness of your own flaws, strengths and habits.
While this might seem somewhat mundane on the surface, it is an essential skill in order to hack your own cultural programing. Since if you can do that you can replace the desire for ‘more’ with ‘enough’ which then allows you an out of the consumer mindset (and that leads to HUGE savings since you no longer give a crap what everyone else has). So in that regards my biggest asset in my retirement planning might have nothing to do with money, but in fact might be being an expert in my own mind. For example, I know how I react to stress over a longer period of time. So I try to build in the odd ‘relax’ evening into my ‘oh my god I’m busy’ weeks to balance myself out to avoid an excess of spending on food/wine/entertainment after the fact.
So far this is just a rough theory I have so I would appreciate your feedback. What common threads do you see in those involved in the early retirement community?