According to Wikipedia, a “mantra” is a sacred sound or group of words believed to have spiritual powers when repeated over and over again. Apparently, the continual repetition of mantras can induce an altered state of consciousness.
The earliest mantras were composed by Hindus in India and are at least 3,000 years old. There are ancient temples in which the same mantras have been repeated by monks over and over: day after day, week after week, month after month for thousands of years.
Yet even these ancient mantras are said by critics of The Escape Artist to be less repetitive than the long-running series Now That’s What I call Financial Independence!
Yes, The Escape Artist is back once again in the guise of a music critic from the NME…armed with earnest prose, tortuous metaphors and psycho-babble to review more classic songs about financial independence.
1. Living in a Box (Living in a Box)
Getting to financial independence is simple but not easy.
If you are going to do something difficult in life then it helps to tap into your most powerful motivation.
Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. So people who grow up with a fear of poverty are often strongly motivated to accumulate wealth. They dig a well before they are thirsty. I grew up with a fear of being homeless. This encouraged me to pay off my mortgage in 6 years. I’ve been mortgage free since I was 32.
I did sleep rough a few times in the 1980s but, to be fair to Margaret Thatcher, I can’t really blame her economic policy…it was more the result of excess alcohol combined with a limited night bus service in provincial Britain.
2. Loaded (Primal Scream)
One of the old chestnuts of financial independence debates is whether the aim is traditional early retirement or not.
Is it cheating if you continue to earn some income after quitting the day job? I say not. Ironically, for someone that writes a FIRE blog, I’m not really that into the idea of retiring in the traditional sense. Not if it means doing nothing and slowly waiting to die.
The way I see it, it’s more about financial independence (FI) than retiring early (RE). In other words, it’s about getting to the point where you can do what you want. To the point where work either becomes optional…or it’s not really work any more because you enjoy it so much. As Primal Scream put it:
We wanna be free to do what we wanna do
3. A change would do you good (Sheryl Crow)
One reason why there are so many grumpy people in the world is that many are trapped in their jobs and they’re bored.
They’re trapped in a rut by debt. They’re trapped by their spending. But, most of all, they’re trapped by fear of change.
Yet humans are the most adaptable species on the planet. Hunter gatherers live and thrive in the rainforest, in the arctic and in the desert. And, in our natural state, we experience great variety from day to day. We’d have had to cultivate a wide range of skills to catch food, building a shelter, make tools, find clean water, trade, negotiate, make friends and attract mates…without online dating.
In modern society, specialisation is the route to earning more. It can lead to people doing the same job for 10, 20, 30 or 40+ years. Problem is, its unnatural, boring and ultimately soul-destroying.
Free-range living is for people, not just for chickens.
5. Sitting on the Dock of The Bay (Otis Redding)
In this soul classic from 1967, Otis Redding extols the virtues of just chilling out on a summers day. Apparently, Redding started writing the lyrics while sitting on a rented houseboat in California.
Its funny how so many people engineer constant busyness into their life. They do this with jobs, children, dramas, outrages and with passive entertainment. For example TV and radio have their uses but they are also a way of distracting yourself from your own thoughts…people use them as filler to avoid blank “airtime” when they might otherwise have to sit and reflect.
I sometimes wonder whether all this activity is just a way of avoiding introspection…a way to ignore their demons.
Blaise Pascal put it this way:
All of humanity’s problems come from mans inability to sit still quietly in a room alone
To quit a full time job and reclaim your freedom requires you to do some work on yourself and be fine with some quiet time.
6. Fools Gold (Stone Roses)
Few people are wholly immune from the temptation to gamble. Guys in their 20s and 30s are particularly prone to this sort of irrational behaviour.
Its both frustrating and hilarious to me that even after The Escape Artist has explained to everyone how to invest sensibly, I still see people who should know better asking about the latest get rich quick scheme.
Take Bitcoin and the whole crypto thing (as far away as possible please). This seems to have a similar effect on males under 30 to fast broadband plus internet porn.
Did these guys not read Day Trading : Frankie Goes to Vegas???
7. I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers)
It would be wonderful if everyone could get to financial independence just by being nice, normal and agreeable…and if all the children could play nicely in The Sandpit together.
I regret to have to inform you that it doesn’t always work that way.
Firstly, just being normal is not enough in a world where the normal person is fat, broke and weak. To get results that are better than average, you’re gonna need to do something different to the average.
Second, the world is full of pressures to conform. Other people will try to control and influence you (and your spending). This is the basis of the gigantic marketing and advertising industries.
But its not just the pros that do this. For example, one of the hilarious things about writing a blog is that all sorts of clowns think they’re entitled to tell you what you can and can’t write. Yet when I’ve invited keyboard warriors to meet me in the real world face to face, they’ve melted away. Funny that.
You can’t please all of the people all of the time and you shouldn’t even try. You have to be ready to stand your ground.
8. All That She Wants (Ace of Base)
One of the biggest life decisions you will ever make is whether to have children and if so, how many. Advertisers and marketers exploit our hard-wired affinity for making and caring for babies.
The counter-arguments are more subtle and often difficult to make. Who could be against motherhood? Or apple pie for that matter?
But this is such an important decision that both partners should be fully committed before bringing another person into the world. Real world experience tells me that this is an area where Nice Guys often get steam-rollered. As the old saying goes: All’s fair in love and war.
8. Murder On The Dancefloor (Sophie Ellis Bextor)
Talking of love and war, Sophie Ellis Bextor here hands out a lesson in what it takes to get to the top of a competitive field.
The people that make it at board level or partner in professional services firms or as entrepreneurs are usually talented, driven, competitive and incredibly hard-working. And far more skilled in strategy than the average Joe. This is why I often give my coaching clients the book The 48 Laws of Power to read.
It is perhaps fitting that this masterclass should be given by an alpha female like Sophie. The average Nice Guy (or Nice Girl) doesn’t understand the game, so they tend to get left bruised and confused on the floor, wondering what happened.
You have to watch the video carefully a few times to see the full range of tricks deployed by Sophie. She looks like a princess but she fights like an alley cat.
9. Loving Each Day (Ronan Keating)
As I may have already mentioned, financial independence gives you choices and ultimately freedom. But you have to start saving and investing or you’ll be trapped working forever.
One thing that puts some people off saving is the idea that this will mean deprivation and penny pinching.
People attracted to living with joy, passion and mojo don’t want to spend their life penny-pinching and they want to have some fun. That’s fine…you can get to financial independence whilst enjoying the process.
Remember the difference between cheap and frugal. You can party along the way if you do it right.
The next London FI meet up is Thursday 2 August from 5.30pm onwards outdoors at the Anchor Pub, Bankside SE1 9EF. We’ll be joined by special guest Brad Barrett of the popular Choose FI podcast. More details here. All welcome. Hope to see you there 🙂