Rush to Learn Patience

When I walk through the four phases of financial independence, I can’t help but want to run.

Time and again I have to re-learn there are no short cuts. If you want a quick path to wealth through winning the lottery or having a rich relation leave you a fortune, you’re likely going to end up worse off in the long run.

If there’s anything we should rush, it should be our rush to learn patience.

When it comes to reaching FI, we get closer by making 1% improvements. We can fail by making real big mistakes in the matter of moments, such as buying a house we can’t afford or a car that is over our budget.

That’s why patience is key; having patience is paramount to success.

I’m re-learning this principle  with building my blog. My time is often devoted to other important aspects of my life: having a full time job, spending time with my  lovely girlfriend, staying fit, and having some semblance of a social life.

Patience is something I am always learning, especially when I have dozens of articles I want to write and design tweaks to make.

In many areas of my life, I feel like I’ve got a good handle on being patient.

I’m no longer in a rush to pay off student loans because we have opted to maximize our wealth instead. My wealth is actually growing faster than if I had rushed to pay everything down as quickly as possible.

Instead of my focus being on the end goal, I’m instead honing in on enjoying the process of getting there.

Somehow, I wasn’t able to carry over what I had learned in the financial aspects of my life while building this blog. There’s always something to do since I’m wearing so many hats.

To bring myself back, I often remember something Bruce Lee said.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

With this idea in mind, I continue to remind myself to respect the process and enjoy the process.

The same holds true for me when it comes to building wealth in pursuit of financial independent. I’m extremely grateful that I have the means to  continue contributing my money into the market or towards building my cash buffer.

Are you in the middle of the process somewhere and find yourself daydreaming about having the end results now? Do you think it is harmful to waste time wishing for things to be better today instead of taking action? Do you find it frustrating you can only do so much before you have to let time take its course?

Master Distiller

P.S. I’m switching things up a bit this week and will be posting new articles on Monday, Wednesday & Friday. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve posted a new article on every Tuesday, but I wanted to shake things up this week to see how readers respond to three articles during the week, as opposed to 2-3 posted on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday. Anyway, enjoy!

32 comments… add one
  • Martin - Get FIRE'd asap May 16, 2016, 5:56 am

    I reckon that one of the most important lessons to learn in the journey to becoming financially independent – patience. You are so absolutely right on this one. It’s a marathon, not a race and so must be planned as such. Unless you win lotto or have a rich uncle who leaves you a fortune, you are in the majority of us who have to work for what we want and with that will come some sacrifices as well. But once you set your sights on the goal, you start making headway and patience is one of the attributes that will get you there.

    I don’t know where you get the time to do all this writing DD. Three times a week?? I struggle with one a week sometimes. Keep up the good work though – Martin

    • Distilled Dollar May 16, 2016, 6:26 am

      Patience is so critical, especially since the path to FI can easily be derailed overnight by one or two large mistakes.

      Thanks Martin – three times a week is something I’ve built up to, and still not sure if it’ll be sustainable. Part of my trick is waking up at 4:30 each morning — it helps to have a full 2 hours to myself to write & read…plus, my girlfriend has been extremely helpful with being my chief editor and all.

      If blogging was my full time job, I would love to get up a bit later and have most of the day dedicated to reading and writing.

  • Apathy Ends May 16, 2016, 6:45 am

    Can relate! I daydream about what it will be like when we are financially independent, but that would involve skipping about 10 years of our life.

    I used to get a lot more frustrated, now that I fully understand long term investing and have seen some results i don’t get as impatient.

    Lots of frustration over the first few months of blogging, but I like to think that means I am learning and doing something right

    • Distilled Dollar May 17, 2016, 6:04 am

      That’s been my approach as well with blogging. Frustration should be there, since I’m learning a lot of new things, so I should be experiencing some growing pains. It can be nice to look back and see how much I’ve actually done in this short amount of time.

  • The Green Swan May 16, 2016, 7:03 am

    I hear you on patience with the blog. I’m in a similar position and that is definitely the main thing in my life that is “in process” with lots to do. It will slow down at some point I assume once I’m done tweaking etc, but I do need to remind myself occasionally to slow down and enjoy the process.

    With all that said, I was surprised to hear you say you are going to 3 posts a week! Don’t know how you do it all, but it is good you have found a balance with everything else in your life. Keep up the good work!

    • Distilled Dollar May 17, 2016, 6:07 am

      It has taken a long time before I felt comfortable shifting to 3x/week. Even then, I’m also comfortable willing to shift back, which might sound easy, but I know I need to adapt and react quickly if the quality begins to suffer. Often, I’m more in a rush to commit to a prior goal than to take a breathe, reassess, and come up with an alternative game plan that would actually be better in the long run.

  • Amanda @ centsiblyrich May 16, 2016, 10:35 am

    I find myself incredibly impatient lately as well – with the blog and with financial independence. It seems I’m not alone. When I take a break and spend time in nature and with my family, I realize the importance of slowing down and being mindful of today. Thanks for sharing.

    • Distilled Dollar May 17, 2016, 6:09 am

      Nature is a great example! My girlfriend and I took a long walk the other day along Lake Michigan and it helps to bring back that level of serenity into our lives. It is crazy how we can be so stressed out about this or that, but then everything shifts into perspective when we’re just out and about for a few hours. It definitely helps us to clear up the mental fog every once in a while. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  • amber tree May 16, 2016, 11:49 am

    In the past, I used describe myself as follows: “Patience is not my middle name”. A bad start to investing. I have found out that I can be patient when needed. 2 reasons
    1- kids: it is useless to rush them into something they clearly do not understand or have planned out otherwise. 5 years of morning routine with them has fought me to be patient once and a while
    2- understanding investing: since I studied investing and started to understand it, I know that patience is the key to good returns and early retirement. On this are, I am patient

    All other aspects in life: no change, still no patience

    • Distilled Dollar May 17, 2016, 6:12 am

      Oh man, I can only imagine how much patience I’ll muster up if/when we have kids one day. I see it a lot on the faces of a few of the younger parents at work. They go so many sleepless nights and they’re adjusting to a different lifestyle altogether.

      It sounds like you have patience for when it matters most! Sometimes, too much patience can be a negative thing, especially when we should be doing something. Knowing that balance is likely going to be a lifelong pursuit.

    • FinanceSuperhero May 17, 2016, 9:54 am

      I have no problem generating patience for other people’s kids. I am concerned I won’t have the same patience with my own children when the time comes. 🙂

  • KH May 16, 2016, 1:42 pm

    As a person who has probably reached stage four because most people I know would probably consider me able to be financially “independent”, I’d like to offer some advice. Maybe they should be called “corollaries”.
    These are things to keep in mind at all times.
    I’ve had emails with Mr. $ before because I see a lot of the way I’ve lived in his postings. For the majority of my career, I’ve walked to work and for a number of years, when I couldn’t walk, I bicycled. I’ve enjoyed health and recreation benefits by taking these non-conventional ways to work. Walking, in particular, gives you time to think, which allows you to plan what to do at work, or allows you to think about your financial independence plan.
    Now, for “corollaries”, here are some things I’ve “learned” over time…
    1) Buy less than what you think you need – our consumerist society here makes us believe we need anything and everything to be happy. My wife and I made the “mistake” of buying a summer/weekend condo a number of years ago.
    It didn’t feel like a mistake at the time. We had been scrimping and saving and living well under our means for years and had enough to comfortably afford it. Were even able to pay cash for it.
    It was nice, is still a nice place, but after about six years of faithfully traveling to it many weekends, and with changing job demands, it both hit us almost simultaneously that there was plenty to do on weekends nearer to where we live. We’d like to sell the place, but real estate prices are still lower than when we bought, so we turned it into a rental and that’s actually contributing to our income at this point. So, that wasn’t all negative, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to get a vacation home if that’s in your plans, but one very big thing we did notice when we were first prepping it for rental in August of 2013 was that we had furniture and other things in the place that we really could/should have done without. In our first few years, since it was only a getaway place, our furnishings were minimal, but then we gradually started buying furniture we could have easily done without. We didn’t spend much time inside when we visited the place anyway, so it would have been to our advantage, in this case, to keep a minimalist approach in what we bought. Luckily, our first tenant was new to the area and starting out almost from scratch, so he actually liked a lot of the furniture and bought it. But, the point here is, if you buy/have too much (by buying over time and not realizing you’re doing so), you’ll never realize you have so much “junk” until it’s time to move or clear out a place. A lot of people rent temporary storage spaces to hold the way-too-much-stuff they bought. To me, that’s just another money waster. Buy less, have less, you won’t suffer, really, and you’ll have far less of a headache if/when you ever decide to move. You won’t regret it, and you’ll have more money to do the things you really enjoy.

    2) Have a definition for “Financial Independence (FI)”, but include all facets of financial independence in that definition – FI can mean different things for different people. For some, it may be “I must have $x Million dollars to feel financially independent”. But don’t consider ONLY net worth, because you could have your entire net worth in, say, growth stocks, not generating any income whatsoever. Yes, your net worth may be growing, but also add “Income” to your definition of Financial Independence.
    So, Financial Independence should be a combination of both “Net Worth” PLUS “Net Income”. And by “Net Income”, I mean not only passive income like dividends or interest, but if you consider yourself to be financially independent where you look forward to a “job” where you just sell soda or water on the beach in the summer without a worry in the world, that’s fine, make it part of your FI definition.
    The reason I say you have to consider both “Net Worth” and “Net Income” in your definition of FI is because if you fail to work “Net Income” into that definition, then you’ll come to a point where you’re looking at your “Net Worth” and thinking, “If I want to go on a nice long expensive vacation, I will have to spend x% of my net worth to do so. If you’re a true long-term “saver”, you will find it difficult to think that you have to spend down assets you’ve saved for so long just to enjoy yourself in a big way. So, the point here is, make sure your definition of Financial Independence includes a good income producing component, so you know that the money can/will come in, just as though you’re sitting at the job you once had, but were able to walk away from now that you’re FI.

    I hope this made sense to all, I apologize for the length of the comment.

    • Distilled Dollar May 17, 2016, 6:23 am

      Whoa! Haha, thanks for taking the time to share this comment!

      I 100% agree with the walking/biking approach. This past year, I moved close enough to work where I can walk and it has been amazing. Not only am I getting a slight bit of exercise each day, but it is a nice time to clear my head, listen to an audiobook, or as you mentioned, plan out my day.

      Excellent point about needing to consider income as part of the FI picture. There isn’t much point to having a high net worth, if it sits in illiquid assets or assets designed to have a long term return.

      You could draw down on these assets, but maybe the wiser mover is to invest in different types of assets earlier on the path. For us, we have been looking into real estate as an option. We still have a long way to go before reaching FI, so this is just one option we’re exploring to see if it makes sense.

      Another aspect of FI, ‘net income,’ would also be hobby income or income from work after you reach FI. I think many people want to quit the rat race, but then I’ve seen a lot of early retirees end up doing some type of work for compensation. Sure, it might be at less than half the rate they were making before and they might be working only a few days a week, but they’re still adding income to their financial picture. This again, isn’t for everyone since some people do want to completely walk away from all forms of income, but it is one thing to consider depending on the individual plan.

  • Mr. PIE May 16, 2016, 2:21 pm

    The adage that says
    ” The best solution for a quick fix is to slow down”
    is appropriate here. 😀

  • Biglaw Investor May 16, 2016, 4:55 pm

    Lots of good comments here. When I think about “patience” I think about “waiting”. I don’t particularly like to wait which implies “not really living, just killing time”. I just do other stuff and find that time passes whether I want it to or not. So, I’d reconsider thinking about it as “being patient on the road to financial independence” and more in the lines of Earl Nightengale’s thoughts on achieving success – “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

    In other words, you’re not being patient, you’re just being successful.

    • Distilled Dollar May 17, 2016, 6:26 am

      Yep, exactly! I heard a similar quote from Warren Buffett about what he’s looking for when investing in a business.

      “Inactivity strikes us as remarkably intelligent behavior.”

      If we’re moving forward at a steady pace, then sometimes our search for the next thing might only jeopardize the momentum we’ve built up.

  • Financial Slacker May 16, 2016, 8:17 pm

    When I started a business a few years ago, my initial focus was on what it would look like next month, next year, in five years. Instead, my focus should have been on what it looked like today and focusing on execution.

    But as you say, I lacked patience. I wanted it all to happen right away. But the benefit is not the end game, it’s enjoying the ride.

    Be patient and persistent. Itwill come.

    • Distilled Dollar May 17, 2016, 6:27 am

      Great point. It is smart to have a path and set of goals, but we shouldn’t let them defer our attention to executing on today’s tasks.

  • Latoya @ Life and a Budget May 16, 2016, 10:42 pm

    This is so good and came at what seemed like the perfect time. I’ve just been focused on getting out of student loan debt and my focus on that one sole outcome has created a shift in me that I’m not liking. I’m neglecting other things that bring me fulfillment and it’s creating an urgency in me that wasn’t once there. I’m heading over to read about why you put your wealth over your student loan payment…you definitely piqued my interest there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and giving me a glimmer of another perspective this evening. It’s much needed AND appreciated.

    • Distilled Dollar May 17, 2016, 6:30 am

      Glad to hear it!

      As for our student loan approach, it is working for us. It helps to know we’re planning on retiring early and we’ll be in a position to capture the vast majority of our pre-tax savings accounts via an IRA conversion ladder. Even if you don’t plan on retiring early, there are still a lot of benefits associated with building wealth as you pay down student loan debt. I detail most of those in my other posts, so I’m curious to hear what you think.

  • The Personal Economist May 17, 2016, 6:00 am

    Yep, patience is not a virtue for me. Love your suggestion to rely on the process to work, and it will! embrace your inner tortoise….

  • Pamela May 17, 2016, 7:00 pm

    Patience when it comes to financial wealth building and blogging is c something that I continue to struggle with. Now that we have paid off our student loans and have no debt we over $2k a month towards our financial future. However with planning for a child I would love to save even more in anticipation of a reduced income. My middle ground is to find balance in everything.

    • Distilled Dollar May 19, 2016, 11:18 pm

      That’s some great progress so far! Falling into that trap of always wanting more can be harmful. I catch myself doing it every time I wrap up my quarterly #’s for assets and liabilities. I’ve been a lot better lately at just taking a breathe and enjoying the positives.

  • Psychic Nest May 18, 2016, 9:42 am

    Hi Matt,

    Oh my, after reading your post, it definitely reminds the situation I am right now. My website is fairly new but there are times that I get caught up with expecting too much in such little time. I am not the most patient person in the world but I am still working on it! Good to know that I am not the only impatient one when it comes to personal goals and business.


    • Distilled Dollar May 19, 2016, 11:08 pm

      I find it my feelings between wanting success and focusing on the work comes and goes throughout the week. I’ve steeled myself to not expecting anything at least in the first year or two for my site, but then I catch myself hoping to hit it big with a specific article or tweet. These things are all about playing the long game right, and that’s the best we can hope to do. Thanks for the comment!

  • Lisa May 19, 2016, 3:12 pm

    I ALWAYS do this. I get impatient with my progress because I’m looking at the end goal. It’s easy for me to get discouraged because my now doesn’t look like me (supposed) future (yet), but I also need to remember that this is part of the process. Thanks for this!

    • Distilled Dollar May 19, 2016, 10:52 pm

      I def think we deserve a pat on the back for making goals/plans for our future, but then it becomes a problem we lose sight of what needs to get done today/now.

      The post serves as a reminder to myself just as much as anything else. I’m glad you got some value out of it!

  • PatientWealthBuilder May 27, 2016, 5:56 pm

    Patience is key – thats the name of my blog www. I think by rushing people make a mess and end up making poor decisions – often leading one to have to do things twice! Patience is the key. I think there are so many more opportunities to grow personally and professionally by doing things patiently and soaking in everything along the way.

    • Distilled Dollar May 29, 2016, 10:02 am

      I hate that feeling when I rush through something, only to have to do it again. Too bad patience isn’t something we learn about once and its permanent. I feel it always requires some mental awareness and energy to know when to slow things down and proceed patiently.

  • Pamela Aug 31, 2016, 7:30 am

    One of the biggest ways I learn patience was when we were paying off our six figure student loan. Even though we did it in a short time it did not feel that way at the moment. Now we are fortunate enough to invest $30k towards retirement a year but still I find myself eager to see my financial nest egg grow but need to remember that is not how markets work and financial independence takes time.

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