Focus on the Present, not on the Past or Future

The Retirement Manifesto has an excellent post on not focusing on the past (or too much on the future). Enjoy the present.

In it, he discusses some family issues with Alzheimer’s (living in the past) and the tendency of FIRE folks to focus too much on the future, at the expense of enjoying how you live currently. He also introduces a new phrase – TPA (time phase allocation) where you determine how much time you want to spend on the past, future and present, and what it might mean for your mental well-being.

This harkens back a bit to the reading and work I’ve been doing on Stoicism. The stoics are very big on not focusing too much on past mistakes and issues. They are gone and outside your control. Stoic philosophy really is about focusing on what you can control (often times, just your thinking and emotions) and to let go of things outside of your control (other people’s action, historical events, etc.).

For many FIRE folks, this can be a real stumbling block. We find out about FIRE, do a lot of reading, run the numbers, set up our savings, get our FI number, and then……wait. We keep reading, adjusting, tweaking our investments, savings and plans. We should also be living for today, and budgeting money to live for today (rather than living like monks).

I have a deferred account at work, where I can put a portion of my salary away (in addition to my 401K) that I can get paid later, or after I leave the company. I dropped it this year from 25% of my salary to 20%, just so we’d have a few extra dollars for travel and enjoying life now.

What are you doing to live for today?

Mr.39 Months

6 thoughts on “Focus on the Present, not on the Past or Future”

  1. This is a great point. We train ourselves in saving and investing which take discipline and planning for the future. This seems at odds with being present in the moment and allowing for spontaneity. An F. Scott Fitzgerald quote comes to mind, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

    1. Good quote and excellent thoughts. As an engineer, I’m a planner by trade and that is how my mind works.

      We are going to go to the jersey shore for a week (first time ever) and I am going to try and just relax, read and detox. Almost all of our vacations I tend to plan out in detail where we are going, how, how long, etc. This will be a first for me. I hope I do OK at it.

  2. In truth the F.I.R.E. movement is about self-discovery, our authenticity, experiences and our journey towards personal mastery. The mastery of being able to better define, develop and live our own authenticity and to add value to others.

    Many individuals of the F.I.R.E. tribe self-promote their successes of achieving financial independence sooner and sooner in life.
    My fear is many in the F.I.R.E movement maybe more motivated to achieve the goal of financial independence and brag about it, than being motivated by the opportunity to behave more authentically and be of greater value to others.

    Which brings me to my final thoughts and observations of many within the F.I.R.E. movement.


    Escapism and its attainment is a fallacy. None of us are escaping, none of us are getting out of here alive.

    Financial independence on its own, is not our solution. For many its allure and the effort required for its attainment is like every other form of escapism.

    True fulfillment and mastery in life is attained through embracing all of it and its daily challenges including the unknown rather than seeking to escape it..

    We are purified, strengthened, polished, attract and are appreciated more by others not for the things we have achieved but for the value we add to them and ways we have improved their quality of life.

    Living each day in truth and expressing “our way of being”, we not only improve our own quality of life. We fan a universal flame and legacy for the F.I.R.E. movement, inspiring others throughout the world as a living example how we CAN make it a better place for all and our children’s children.

    1. Excellent points. I see many comments in the FIRE movement about not doing this to “escape” but to do what you love. We should be moving towards something, not away from something

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