Using the FI mindset to do good

As we’ve seen in part 2 of this series, people in the FI community are incredibly gifted with time, abilities, money and thinking freedom. In addition to that we have an incredible mindset, one that help us question the status quo, focus on specific goals and achieve big things!

This mindset is what sets us apart from our peers and what enables us to pursue and reach FI. We use this mindset also to do some other big things, including to have a positive impact around us. We also have a few challenges, but I am optimistic and I believe we can overcome them!

That’s what we’re exploring in this article.

How we can use the FI mindset to make the world a better place

We’re determined and diligent

You cannot reach FI if you get easily tempted by mundane pleasures. It takes solid will and determination to pursue a long-term goal such as FI and it takes diligence to manage one’s finances and stay on track. We’re blessed with an ability to make long term decisions and to actually stick with them. We see the bigger picture and we are willing to make sacrifices to attain a bigger goal.

Making the world a better place is a long term goal and it needs diligent and determined people to make it happen.

We know how to optimize our finances

We know how to look at the numbers and optimize. There is a minimum of math involved in the planning of FI. And financial optimization is essential to building an FI plan that works. Most of us know how to get the most out of every dollar we earn and how to get our money to work for us. The same optimization can be used to ensure we make the world a better place effectively.

Instead of jus optimizing for personal benefit, why not optimize also for positive impact? Let’s just keep optimizing.

We’re used to being unconventional and ahead of our peers

We are more likely than the average to shift to rather unconventional positions and activities if there is a good reason for it. You cannot reach FI by following the masses and doing what everyone else does. Cutting expenses and actually stopping work goes against all conventional wisdom. FI people are able to challenge popular wisdom as well as the establishment and go against the current. We know what we want, we figure out a way to do it and we go for it even if it means being different than everyone else around us. We’re ok being different because we know why we’re doing what we do.

Doing good effectively also requires going against some of the more established practices of charity and philanthropy. And we’re ok with that. We’re used to doing things differently. Let’s continue being unconventional and make a real difference.

We have consistency of belief and action and we follow through on our ideas

Being convinced that an idea is good is not enough. It is essential to actually take action and change our behaviors to implement the idea. Knowing about FI is not enough to actually reach it. Taking action is what is needed. In the FI community, we know how to take action.

Once we understand how it can be done, we can design a plan of action and actually implement it, consistently progressing towards our goal. We work on our habits, we automate where we can, and gradually make it happen.

The same approach is needed to do good effectively. Understand the problem, understand the solution and its method and then go do it. Taking action is essential to making a difference.

We’re able to achieve big things

We have to recognize that reaching FI is not a small achievement. It’s pretty unique. It takes strong values, commitment, careful thinking and planning and then energy to make it happen.

And this is the not-so-secret recipe to achieve anything big really. Including making the world a better place.

We’re available to start on a new path

When we reach FI, we’re in a position to start something new. It’s really like a second life, but better. We don’t need to make money anymore, we have all these freedoms and we can decide to pursue almost any path. We’re in the perfect position to think about what matters most, about our lives, about the future, and start something new. It can be an entirely new career in a different field, or involvement in a new organization, for money or not.

We’re free and available to start on a new path, including a path where we make the world a better place.

We’re in search of meaning

One of the reason we’re often pursuing FI is because we are looking for meaning beyond day-to-day work. A large portion of people who are near FI or have reached FI are asking the question: “Ok, then what next?” Getting to FI forces us to ask questions such as “What would I do if I didn’t have to go to work?”, almost inevitably leading to the question “Where do I find meaning and purpose?”. At the very least that is how it went for me. I knew I was going to get Time Freedom, Abilities Freedom and maybe even Money Freedom at some point. And I realized that Thinking Freedom was going to play a big role in answering those questions.

I find that helping others and making the world a better place brings me meaning and fulfillment. I have also found that while it may sometimes be forgotten in our consumerist societies, most ancient and modern wisdom recognize that there is an important aspect of service and contribution in the pursuit of meaning and fulfillment.

It helped me and I am pretty sure it can help other FI people as well! Doing good makes you feel good!

If we combine all the characteristics described above, and decide to apply this mindset to doing good, tackling big problems effectively seems to be the natural way forward!

We have a few challenges but we can overcome them

Are we selfish?

From the outside, it is easy to assume that we seek FI purely for selfish motives. We want to escape the pains of our current normal lives. We dream of the freedom to do what we want, without having to constantly report to a boss or a client. We want to travel or spend more time on our hobbies. In a way, it is true that building FI serves us above everyone else.

But we also have altruistic motivations. We want to be more present for our loved ones, to be able to spend more time with our kids and to take care of our parents or friends. We want to have the time to truly connect with the people around us. And connection really is the source of altruism.

We start by taking care of ourselves and later we have the choice and can decide to take care of others. And as we expand our circle of compassion and care, we help make the world a better place! It may not be true for all of us. But it is for most of us.

We like to make money, and keep it

We’ve worked really hard to get to where we are. We’ve worked hard for the money and we’ve worked hard to create this amazing opportunity called FI. We’ve won against consumerism and we’ve won against the most common wisdoms. Don’t we deserve to enjoy our wealth? Why would we give it away?

Well… we don’t really have to give it away. There are many ways to do good in the world and we have other things to offer.

On the other hand, we also understand that money is merely a tool. We used it to get to where we are. We can use it to do other things. I think most of us are mature enough to recognize if and when we have more than we need. And we can recognize that it can be much more efficiently used in some other places. That is why many of us are already donating to charities or specific causes. There is no right answer. It is up to each one of us to find the right balance. We’re free to use Money Freedom the way we want, but it has definitely the potential to do help us do a lot of good!

We’re not specifically trained to work in high impact area

Most of us have tremendous skill and experience in a particular area. Many of the high impact career or jobs require very specific skill that can only be acquired through rigorous education and training. Only some of us will fit perfectly in these.

For those who don’t, we can still take on roles that are less “niche” but still needed. Certain expertises are more likely to have high potential in doing good, but changing the world also requires accountants, managers, admin, analysts, writers, podcasters, community builders, etc. An for those of us who want to dive in more deeply, we are blessed with the gift of Time Freedom and Abilities Freedom. We can choose to retrain, take on new studies and increase our personal contributions by specializing in a high impact area.

In conclusion, it seems that our FI mindset is rather well suited to tackle even bigger challenges and make the world a better place. Some of use may encounter challenges, but in most cases our wisdom and freedom can help us overcome them.

Overall, I am pretty excited by the potential we have to apply our fierce approach to personal finances to more altruistic goals! Exactly how we can do that is what we’re going to explore in the upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

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Special Thanks

I would like to thank Brenton Mayer, Co-head of coaching at 80,000 Hours for his support in brainstorming on these mindset ideas. His coaching was also particularly helpful in helping me figure out how I can best do good. The coaching team is very busy, but I highly recommend seeking 80,000 Hours’ advice and coaching if you’re serious about making a difference.

Check out the rest of the series!

Sebastien Written by:

Founder at Founder at (UAE chapter of ChooseFI and Bogleheads) Aspiring Effective Altruist Former manager in energy management consulting

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