Do you sometimes feel trapped in your daily work routines?
Do you feel like you need to break out of your 9-to-5 so that you can go do the things that really matter to you?
Are you wondering what is the purpose of life, what is the meaning of everything we do?
Do you feel joy and fulfillment when you have a positive impact on someone else’s life?
Then you’re in the right place. Because I have found a way to extract myself out of the traditional employment system and to free up my time for the rest of my life. And because having a positive impact is what drives my decisions every day. And this is what we’re going to talk about.
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I quit a job that I loved
Don’t get me wrong. I used to love my job. I was lucky to work with a great team and in a very dynamic environment. I was surrounded by super smart people, all experts in their own field and we used to work on some of the most important sustainability challenges at the country and regional level. I even got to present the result of our work to some of the most powerful people in the region (a Saudi Prince and Minister!). We were having an impact in our small industry. My management was very supportive and trusted me. With time I was given more responsibilities and I climbed the corporate ladder. For most of my career I was often the youngest leader and manager among my peers and I was recognized (and decorated!) for my capacity to lead people, work smart and get things done. I was identified as high potential and brought into the succession plan for the regional manager position for a team of 40 consultants and engineers. I was 30 and had just 5 years of experience.
But despite the success I felt that something important was missing. I was deeply involved and passionate, but there was still a hole in my heart. I was longing for something different, for something more.
I wanted freedom. I wanted more choices. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to travel and meet people. I wanted to learn and explore things. I wanted to have a bigger impact. I wanted to help more people. I was touched by more than just the issues in my industry and I wanted to work on the causes that really need attention. And I wanted to do that effectively.
But to do all that I needed time and energy, which until now were going towards my job. I needed time and energy to enjoy my freedom, to explore the world and figure out the best way for me to contribute and make it better.
And that is when I discovered the concept of financial independence and the power it could give me.
I learned to invest in a simple and effective way following the Bogleheads’ approach. Then, with simple choices and a bit of math, I soon realized I would not need to work until I was 65. This new and simple knowledge completely transformed my life. It had such an impact on my life that I decided to launch the non-profit community SimplyFI.org to help others do the same.
I first thought I could reach retirement at 55! A few months, a few books and a bit of optimization later, my forecast showed that I only had to work until 45!
As I continued to progress in my career and continued to optimize my finances, I gradually improved the situation and found myself at a point where I didn’t need any more money from my employer. Because I had built my perpetual money making machine. A machine which would produce value and sustain my life until the day I die without me having to earn any more money through work.
I reached Financial Independence at 33
It was a crazy time. I sent my resignation letter on the day of my 33rd birthday. And 3 months later, exactly 7 years after starting from 0, I left my job and “retired”.
Best. Life. Hack. Ever.
All of a sudden, I had reclaimed back and freed 9 to 10 hours of life per day. 5 days a week. Every week. For the rest of my life. I had “retired” 32 years before the traditional age. That is 32 additional years of life (or 11,704 days or 280,896 hours). I had just unlocked 32 full years of freedom that did not exist in my conception of life just a few years earlier.
32 additional years to be present and live fully with my family.
32 additional years to learn, think, explore, travel, discover and live life to the fullest.
32 additional years to learn, focus and take action to make the world a better place, in the most effective way.
For me financial independence is not just an armor, it is a true superpower.
And by the way, none of this needs to stop when I am 65. I intend to be in better health than the average employee thanks to my newfound freedom time and energy, and I intend to continue having a positive impact way past my sixties.
I want to make the world a better place
During my last few years at work, I knew I was going to get this superpower at some point. And I realized how it could help me make the world a better place. So I started researching. I read books and listened to podcast that talk about finding meaning and purpose. I discovered that often the advice was similar and well summarizes in the Japanese concept of ikigai.
From the very beginning I knew that making a positive impact was my main drive. That is where my passion and my energy comes from. I get excited every time I discover a new way to do things more effectively or a new way to make things better around me and for others.
During my research I found out about Effective Altruism. And this too completely changed my life. I was desperate to find ways we could optimize for impact and all I could find where framework that were optimizing for finances (even the most famous charity evaluators and comparators focus on some financial aspects instead of considering and comparing the real impact of the charity activities).
Effective Altruism brought me 3 very important things, on which I am now going to build.
- A framework to help me think effectively about prioritization problems/questions. How do you decide what is most important? How do you decide what is most effective? These are the questions that EA helped me answer in a very well structured way. [post on selection process]
- A wealth of information on what are the best ways to do good in the world. Their research is a goldmine for someone who wants to have a true positive impact. Their work helps people donate more effectively but also helps people decide what to do with their time and competences when they want to do good effectively. They can literally help people x1000 their positive impact. And this means saving and improving the lives of countless people around the world in an effective way.
- A great place to start thinking about how to do the most good with my life.
In summary, Financial Independence gave me a superpower to do anything and Effective Altruism is teaching me how to use it to make the world a better place.
And these are the two main topics we will be exploring together.
The reason I am documenting my journey and sharing my experience is because I want to help you build financial security (hopefully all the way to financial independence) and help you unlock your capacity to do good effectively. The more we are the more change we can bring to the world!
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In case you want more…
A few more things you might want to know about me:
- I started my career in the field of sustainability as this is where I thought I could have the biggest impact. I am now re-evaluating that choice.
- I am an ex-manager and senior consultant in energy management and climate change mitigation. I used to lead teams of senior and principal consultants on country-wide critical energy and climate change projects in the Middle East.
- I learned to invest on my own, following the simple and practical approach of the Bogleheads®, an investing approach that truly benefit the individual investor. I now help other people do the same.
- In 2015 I founded SimplyFI.org, a non-profit community of volunteers that empower each other to invest in a simple way to achieve financial independence. SimplyFI is also the UAE chapter of the Bogleheads® and ChooseFI. To learn more and meet like-minded investors, I invite you to join the SimplyFI Facebook group.
- Starting from “nothing” (aside from a getting the most amazing education and being blessed with a loving family), I went from broke to financially independent in 7 years, investing in the stock market the Bogleheads®’ way.
- In 2018, I was the lead for the UAE chapter of Effective Altruism, organizing meetups to spark discussions on how we can do good better.
You can also find me and connect with me on LinkedIn.