This moment, right now, is a moment you’ll never have again.
Every second that passes is one second less you have in your “bank” of seconds. You’re constantly making withdrawals, yet it’s impossible to make a deposit. Many of us are becoming richer in money terms, but we’re simultaneously becoming much poorer in time terms.
I think we’re all aware of this, if only at a subconscious level.
But to constantly be consciously aware and cognizant of one’s one mortality/eventual demise would probably cause some kind of short circuit in the brain. We can’t operate like that as human beings.
Moreover, it’s kind of depressing to think about that stuff.
And it’s a waste of that precious time I just spoke about – to worry about an eventuality we can’t control wastes resources we could instead divert toward things we can control in order to better our lives while we still have them.
As an eternal optimist who’s incredibly grateful to be who I am (even with how much I suck at) and where I’m at (even after the numerous mistakes I’ve made), I don’t constantly think about the siphoning off of my bank of seconds.
But I do think it’s useful to occasionally remind ourselves of a simple fact about life: we’re all dying.
As Led Zeppelin succinctly put it:
All that lives is born to die.
While we can’t and shouldn’t constantly think about this, occasionally taking a quick moment to remind oneself of this is motivational and inspirational. And sometimes an event will remind us of our mortality, giving us perspective and a little extra oomph to move forward and make the most of our short lives.
RIP David S. Fish
This article is one I’ve been meaning to write for some time, but it was the untimely passing of the great David S. Fish that motivated me to write it at this particular moment.
I’m incredibly saddened by this news. My thoughts are with his friends and family. And may he rest in peace.
David Fish, for anyone unaware, was a real pillar of the DGI community.
He tirelessly and selflessly collected invaluable data on dividend growth stocks and freely shared his efforts with the world at large via his Dividend Champions, Contenders, and Challengers list. Almost unbelievably, he updated this monstrosity of a spreadsheet every single month, for years.
His CCC list has long been regarded as one of the best resources for anyone interested in investing in high-quality dividend growth stocks. And it’s a resource that I’ve personally used over and again as I’ve gone about my investing activities, not to mention all of the times I’ve linked to this spreadsheet over the years in countless articles.
David would also graciously respond to any questions anyone might have. And he frequently wrote articles related to his great CCC list and dividend growth stocks in general.
Of course, he was more than a spreadsheet. And he was more than a writer or investor. He was a guy who was clearly following his heart. That’s something that not everyone can say as they hurtle closer to the great beyond. It’s something I certainly admire and aim to do in my own life.
I would encourage anyone who feels inclined to head over and sign David’s guestbook, especially if you’ve somehow benefited from his work.
We’re All Dying
David passed away on May 12th, which is my birthday.
What makes it a birthday for one person and a death day for someone else?
While I was celebrating and enjoying pizza, David was dying.
Of course, I’m much younger than David was… for now. However, I’m withdrawing from that bank of seconds just like everyone else. And I’ll one day be an old man close to death.
But we can take away so much from the realization that we’re extremely mortal.
Just think for a moment how you would feel if you were immortal. Think about life eternal.
At first, it’s obviously quite appealing. Very few people want to die. Death is not something to look forward to.
But think about the sense of urgency you’d lose if you were immortal.
What’s the rush for anything? Why, in essence, ever do anything at all?
With immortality, there’s always another day. There’s no urgency to get anything done. How tough it would be to savor any moment if you were given unlimited moments. Time would lose all meaning.
Mortality is, simultaneously, our greatest gift and our greatest curse.
Our short lives means everything is ephemeral. Life is fleeting.
But our mortality gives rise to a real appreciation for time itself. And it forces urgency upon us, which we must be aware of and use to our advantage.
Don’t Value Money Over Time
It’s the urgency that is limited and dwindling time that motivated me to become FIRE in the first place.
I didn’t like my job very much. I didn’t like not being able to live my life on my terms. I didn’t like someone else having control over me, which is what’s essentially happening when you have to go out and job for money.
Most of all, I didn’t like not owning my own time – especially in consideration of the fact that there’s so little of it to begin with.
To have very little time to begin with, yet then easily and cheaply trade it away, is totally crazy to me. And to own so many things, yet not own your time, is even crazier.
So I stopped owning things. I instead started to own my time.
And now that I’m financially free in my 30s, I have the rest of my life (or whatever is left of it) to live on my terms. I can structure my days as I wish, spend time with the people I really enjoy being around, and work on projects that I’m passionate about.
I’m able to work and spend time on things I like, when I like, with people I like.
Indeed, we’re spending time every second, whether we want to or not. We might not have to spend money all the time. But we surely, absolutely have to spend time.
And this is why we can’t let anything hold us back from striving toward, and achieving, our dreams.
Time stops for no man.
We have to thus make sure that we put ourselves in a position where the spending of that time is occurring under circumstances that most behooves us and makes us happiest. We have to create a favorable structure under which to use our most valuable and limited asset.
This belief system is something that I started to build many years ago, which is why it’s hard for me to relate to people with OMYS (one more year syndrome, or working almost purely in order to accumulate more money past the point of necessity).
The constant stockpiling of money (something that, for all intents and purposes, is limitless) in exchange for the spending of time (something that is extremely limited and becoming more so every second) under inauspicious circumstances is a mindset that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully comprehend.
(Now, if you love your job, that’s one thing. But few people, especially those that are aggressively striving toward FIRE in the first place, are in this position. Numerous studies and surveys back this up.)
Money, I believe, holds too many people back. They let it control them to the point of bending their minds. They become convinced that it’s money, not time, that is most valuable. And that’s the complete opposite of what’s true.
Time is your most valuable asset. And you’re forced to spend it until it goes to zero.
So make sure you’re spending it as you wish. Make sure you’re living the life of your dreams, because the clock you’re given is not infinite.
“Championing” Dividend Growth Investing
Of course, we need money in order to set ourselves up with the kind of life we want. We can’t pay bills with inspiration and good vibes.
Money is time; time is money. Or something like that. One is far more valuable than the other, as I’ve done my best to show over the years (including with this very article).
But we need to have money in order to reclaim our time. Our time is very expensive. If you want to own your own time, you’ve gotta have the passive income necessary to go about life as you please.
And that’s exactly where dividend growth investing comes in.
David Fish “championed” this investment strategy for years. And I’ve tried add my thoughts to the conversation by proving out what’s possible with dividend growth investing.
It’s wonderful because it can allow just about anyone to become financially independent, own their time, and customize their lifestyle to their specifications.
You simply buy up shares in some of the best businesses in the world, sit back, collect (and reinvest) your growing dividends, and let compounding work on your behalf.
The totally passive and organically growing income that comes your way from high-quality dividend growth stocks sets you up for a very free and enjoyable life. I’m living out that eventuality right now.
I have an article coming out next week that will delve into dividend growth investing as it relates to all of this, so I’ll stop here.
But thanks to David’s tireless work, his message will continue paying dividends for many years to come. I’m sure of that.
He’ll always be a “Champion” to me.
It’s the passing of great people like David Fish that gives me that occasional and necessary jolt of a reminder of my own mortality.
I see people I grew up with getting older. I’m getting older. Many people in my life have died. This is always unfortunate, but it’s the hand we’re dealt when we’re born (with birth, by the way, requiring incredible luck).
Maybe it’s a dealt hand that not everyone likes. But I think our mortality is actually an incredible gift.
The forced spending of our time gives rise to a sense of urgency to own our limited time – or, at least, it should.
Claim ownership of your most valuable asset and create the circumstances under which you thrive and blossom as a human being. Strive toward your potential. Be happy. Make the world a better place.
Spend time on the things you love, when you love to do them, with the people you love.
Live the life of your dreams.
We’re all dying, but not everyone truly lives.
Inject more life in your days, because your days will only give you so much life.
What do you think? We’re all dying, but does everyone truly live? Does the untimely passing of someone ever give you motivation to strive for more time, freedom, and happiness?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: Ben Schonewille at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
P.S. If you’re ready to claim ownership of your time and live life on your terms, check out some amazing resources that helped me become financially free at 33!