The Ultimate Life Coach

Almost  nineteen years into early retirement now, I’ve come to realize that the complete freedom of this lifestyle can be a double-edged sword.

You’ve already heard me raving plenty about the upside: having the freedom to raise a son from the day he was born to beyond his eighteenth birthday with no compromises. And then to put thousands of hours into everything else I value as well: family, health, friends, adventures, building stuff, and even writing the occasional blog post. No complaints about any of this.

But if I can indulge you to play me a brief Tiny Violin of First World Problems solo, even this perfect life comes with one flaw: I never have to do anything I don’t want to do.

To most people, this sounds like a dream come true. Especially if you combine total freedom with plenty of money, life is just a non-stop blissful playground of self actualization, right?

Well, maybe, but maybe not. In reality, the answer depends on who you are.

 Freedom and money reveal a person’s true strengths and weaknesses, and the result is a spectrum with “Unlimited drugs and booze on the couch” at one end, and “Create and manage a series of nonprofit foundations which employ thousands of people to research and invest in medical advances and clean energy” at the other.

For most of my journey so far, I seem to have found the balance pretty naturally. My Dad job was very intense for the first decade, but somehow I also had time to build and restore quite a few houses in the neighborhood, take plenty of intense trips to interesting places, give some talks and make some videos, and still write a few hundred blog posts. 

But in these last few years, I have started slowing down, and it has become more and more difficult to wrangle and focus myself to get these things to happen as often.

Instead of constantly bouncing around the construction site building cool things, or falling into laser focus on the keyboard finishing an article that I just had to share with you, I found myself retiring to the couch earlier and earlier each afternoon, seeking distraction on the phone and wishing I had the energy and focus to do those other more enjoyable things.

So I fought back, by learning more about health and wellness. Trying to study and train my way into more energy and focus and motivation. And you’ve seen some of the results here, in articles I’ve shared about daily habits, steering clear of excessive comfort, and more.

And all of these things really work, IF you take the knowledge and actually put it into action. And therein lies the problem:

I kept learning effective new things, and successfully incorporating them into my life. They would work for a while, but gradually my brain would invent various excuses to stop doing them consistently, leaving me with plenty of knowledge but far too little accomplishment to show for it. 

Until finally, just a few months ago, I realized that I had been sabotaging my own progress by turning my biggest life advantage into a disadvantage:

I have been using my freedom too much – in order to avoid doing things that I didn’t feel like doing.

See, freedom is great if it frees you from leaving your children at 5am so you can drive an hour through a traffic jam to sit in an office building for nine hours. But that same freedom goes to waste if you then just plunk the kids down in front of a playlist of cheap cartoons while you lounge in the corner to scroll Facebook all day.

You need to use it to do things that are even more valuable than the job you just quit. And if you can’t do that, you might as well just keep the damned job.

This is what I was doing, while lying about it to myself. I would focus on the easy things which are still good for me, like taking care of the house or hanging out with friends who live nearby. But I avoid doing the harder things – which for me means the things that require more planning, energy or focus. Even though these are the things that allow me to lead the life I enjoy most.

Let’s use workouts as an easy example. I already know that on a minute-for-minute basis, this is the single most effective thing almost anybody can do with their time because it drastically improves every other area of life. But despite knowing this, I was still following this pattern:

I want to get in a really good weight training workout today.
But I don’t feel like doing a workout because it’s hard.
So I’ll try to grease the wheels for myself so it’s easier to achieve. 
I’ll pick the perfect time of day when the weather is nice, and my energy level is high.
 I’ll set up my gym in advance the night before.
And when that golden moment of perfect conditions hits,
I’ll hit the gym!

But between you and me, that moment didn’t always come. Some weeks I’d achieve it 2-3 times, some weeks I’d get “busy” and make excuses like “well at least I walked a lot today”. Some days I would complete a great workout, but when recording it in the journal I’d see that the previous one was over a week ago.

And the results of this lackluster effort were exactly what you’d expect: lackluster fitness.

Then something changed and I learned that there’s a much better way to get those workouts done. It’s by replacing the long, meandering, frankly wussypants dialog above with this one:

I want to work out today.
I don’t feel like it.
I am now already putting on my shoes and walking to the gym.

I’m using workouts as an example because this is the behavior I managed to change most successfully, but the exact same technique applies to everything else that you or I want to do, but fail to do regularly. 

The key is learning to watch over yourself like an Eagle and identify that exact moment of hesitation.

And then instead of using it as a trigger for excuses, you use it as a trigger for action.

It’s so counterintuitive at first, but then obvious in retrospect. Hesitance feels shitty in the moment, and it really can ruin your life if you listen to it too often. But the ultimate solution is usually to run directly towards, rather than away from, the stuff you don’t want to do.

So really, Hesitation can be the ultimate life coach.

Using Extremely Badass People as Fuel

As part of writing this article, I shared the idea around with friends to test it out first. And I was initially surprised to get mixed results. About half of them could relate with me: they felt they were underachieving in life and wanted to do more. The other half though I was crazy: these people feel they are already doing too much, raising multiple kids and managing multiple businesses and training for ironman triathlons in the mountains.

The overachievers go through life nicely buzzed but often stressed. When hearing them describe their schedules, I was absolutely not envious. At the same time, they weren’t impressed with my schedule either because it’s too easy. We could both benefit from making adjustments towards the center.

Enter Goggins

Typical Goggins results on Youtube

Impressive overachiever friends are one thing, but the thing that really flipped the switch for me was hearing a podcast interview with our planet’s most extreme example of driving yourself beyond your former limits, David Goggins.

I learned about his life story with a mix of awe and horror. Severely beaten as a child, he grew up with a looming wall of psychological demons and issues, but his reaction was the unique part: he has been driven to compulsively seek out and overcome extreme hardship, not just to unimaginable levels but hundreds of times beyond that.

From pushing through several near-death experiences just to qualify for a Navy SEALS career, to breaking his own legs, heart and lungs from the constant exertion of things like running 240 miles over four days without sleeping, to setting a world record of 4025 bar pull ups over 24 hours (shredding his hands to look like ground beef in the process), the man does things I would never have thought are even close to possible for a human.

And that flipped a switch for me, by putting my own incredibly easy, under-achieving life into perspective. 

Because while I absolutely do not want any part of the Goggins life, and I would gladly live my life never having run more than 10 miles at a single stretch, I do find it incredibly helpful to learn that pretty much all of our barriers are entirely mental, not physical or placed upon us by the outside world. 

Sure, we do have different starting points and different amounts of luck. But instead of thinking of life like this:

I now realize that things are more like this:

And that’s a really empowering way to think about life, that feels like the sky has opened way up.

Ongoing Inspiration

So the podcast was just an introduction. I wrote down the particularly concise quote “You already fuckin’ know what to do.” on a piece of cardstock, stuck it to my bathroom mirror, and started acting on it immediately.

Suddenly, I was able to hit the gym every single day because I had two ways to approach it: wanting to put in a workout, and not wanting to put in a workout, either of which became a trigger to work out immediately.

And of course, once I finally put in the effort, it started working. Even though I’ve been sorta into this type of training since I was a teenager, I have mostly floated along on a plateau for years. But with this change in attitude, I gained ten pounds of lean weight over the first four months, returning to the strength and flexibility that I had at age 25, and every single joint in my body feels like it has been upgraded to a study, well oiled spring.

Middle aged man reclaims youth through motivation.

I also used the “catch yourself at the moment of hesitance” trick to get myself to run instead of walk more often (over 20 runs since I got back to Colorado last month), get over to the MMM-HQ coworking space for more work and socializing visits, and even to sit back down at the computer to write this post for you. While I’ve found that too much blogger work (and internet “success”) is a bad thing, there is still a right level that works for me. But it takes a lot of discipline to be willing to do it, because of all the other easier and more thrilling activities I could be doing with this same stretch of time.

Refilling the Inspiration Tank

For me, fully internalizing this one powerful piece of inspiring profanity has been transformative. But I still find that returning regularly to the well makes all this work even better. So I downloaded both of the Goggins audiobooks and worked through them in little chunks on my morning walks over the period of a month. Then I moved on to Peter Attia’s Outlive, and Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership

While the intellectuals fret about the perils of “Bro Science” or the “Toxic Masculinity” of today’s tribe of health podcasters and question their motivation, I simply absorb the messages that work for me and discard the rest. Find people who make you reach a little higher, and feed on their energy.

And for me, being exposed to successful, strong, athletic people who squeeze a lot of work out of themselves is a big source of inspiration. It helps me do more with my day, which is exactly what works for me right now at this phase of life.

And I wish you more of what works for you too!

  • Chris S. May 18, 2024, 7:09 pm

    Thank you for this post, MMM. Currently struggling with similar situations in life and I hope to put this to good use.

  • Commoner May 18, 2024, 7:29 pm

    Great write up. Everything in life is relative. When you are busy, stressed, and overworked nothing sounds better than taking time off to do nothing. Likewise, when you have too much free time and do nothing, a little focused work with a deadline sounds good.

    Everything is relative.

    Outlive changed my perspective on healthspan and what I want to accomplish in my time. Likewise, MM blog changed my perspective of personal finance for the long term. Any interest in writing a book?

  • JT May 18, 2024, 8:10 pm

    Who’s going to carry them boats? Mr. Money Mustache is going to carry them boats.

  • HeadedWest May 18, 2024, 8:25 pm

    Thanks for this. Having recently reached financial independence for the second time (its complicated) I was wondering what the old MMM was up to, checked out a couple of your more recent podcast interviews on YouTube, and then came here just as I was procrastinating about doing some pushups! Guess it’s time to clear some space on the floor – please keep up the personal motivational stuff for those of us who already know about the 4 percent rule :)

  • Beachbum May 18, 2024, 9:03 pm

    Great post and very relevant to my situation! I am retired and have no time constraints or stress however I am aware that I need to use my time more productively as I’m over 50 and time is short. A combination of info from Goggins, Vonda Wright, Peter Attia, Rhonda Patrick etc motivates me to get off the couch and hit the gym, cycle, walk & move more to try to avoid the main diseases. I also sometimes re- read your old posts which keeps me motivated. And some time spent on the couch having a beer must be good for my physical/mental wellbeing, right?

  • Alimark May 18, 2024, 11:02 pm

    They always say, if you want to get something done well and on time, give the task to a busy person, as they now how to manage their time to get it done. Idol hands and minds typically don’t ever get around to it.

  • Louise May 18, 2024, 11:54 pm

    “Well, at least I walked a lot today.” :) :) I’ve said that, along with…
    “Well, at least I watched a video in German/Italian/French” [instead of spending serious time on focussed study or reading an advanced level novel]
    “Well, at least I did the most important item on my Want To Do list” [instead of knocking off several in the more than adequate available time]
    “Well, at least I phoned a friend today” [instead of planning and enjoying an activity together]
    Etc, etc

    “Well, at least..” phrases are a giant red flag and remind me of the wisdom of the Raptitude post about the ultimate futility of shortcuts https://www.raptitude.com/2024/03/the-shortcut-is-probably-too-long/
    Just do the thing, the actual thing, no fudging, no shortcuts.

    More articles like this please!

  • Ty May 19, 2024, 12:08 am

    After watching Goggins on the Huberman podcast I read both his books. That man is pure inspiration, truly unique. Thanks for passing on his message of constant striving and self-improvement. Watch the Huberman interview and read his books. If Goggins has no excuses for pushing himself forward, no one else should either. Thank you for staying hard!

  • Carrie Reininger May 19, 2024, 1:29 am

    Thanks – I needed this!

  • Enzo May 19, 2024, 2:14 am

    “You already know what to do” reminds me a lot of Ryan Holiday’s “the obstacle is the way”. If you know there’s a problem then you automatically already know what to do: solve the damn problem?
    Don’t know how? That’s the new problem! Go solve that.
    It’s a really empowering mentality that together, with the “extreme ownership” principle that every problem is your responsibility, is a great antidote to excusitis and wussypants syndrome!

    Thanks for the blog post :D

    • Ken May 19, 2024, 5:05 pm

      The Obstacle is the Way–exactly what I thought of when reading this article. I first read that book last year and already plan on reading it again this year!

  • jochen May 19, 2024, 2:16 am

    Thank you MMM!
    That message fits for me also, after 5 years of being free from the 9to5 office job.
    One additional perspective: if you’re very old, do you want to die with a soft, not used body? Or do you want to die with a crashed, heavily used body with scars, full of live, experiences…
    Every time when it hurts a bit and I hesitate, I remember that.

  • surFI May 19, 2024, 2:42 am

    Love it! Looking jacked MMM!! I am constantly reminding myself not to be a b*tch and then doing something difficult!

  • Chris M May 19, 2024, 3:55 am

    Thanks MMM, this was the right post at the right time. I’m 56 and retired from a Fortune 25 company, but then started my own consulting business to keep busy, as my wife still has 4 years to go until she retires from her job. It is going well, but I sit too damn much. I do workout almost daily, but I don’t push myself enough. This post is great inspiration to relook at my workouts and push my candy ass a lot harder.

  • Bryan May 19, 2024, 5:13 am

    With Memorial Day coming up might I humbly suggest you knock out the MURPH WOD. You can Google it if you’re not familiar but it pays respect to Lt. Murphy (SEAL) and will definitely challenge you both mentally and physically. All you need is a pull up bar and recommended 20lbs body armor or plate carrier. I see you’re doing your farmer’s walks, I like those as well while wearing the 20lbs of body armor. Cheers!

  • Giovanni May 19, 2024, 5:13 am

    I think I know which part of the podcast you refer to, because it hit me right to the core.

    “No, you’re lazy, you know exactly what to do, exactly what to do. Because even me, in my state of, I can’t read and write, I knew exactly what to do. It just sucks doing it, it sucks to do it.”
    (From Huberman Lab: David Goggins)

    There must be something in how David says these words that just strikes.

    I’ve been journaling on this single sentence for weeks, and gone through the podcast for at least 10 times now.
    This has reshaped my life as a type -1 diabetic, and I have written some articles on my own blog to explain how. Taking care of my own health is my single most important mission in life, and I realized how much me being lazy at times was putting me in danger.

    I know what to do to be better and healthier type-1 diabetic. Sometimes, it just sucks the idea of doing that work.

  • Nitsan Avni May 19, 2024, 6:11 am

    I need this. Thank you!

  • JBreezy May 19, 2024, 6:14 am

    I am also in a similar position needing motivation not to waste my time. Thanks for this. A quote I often think of is “True freedom is turning your values into action” which is always the tough part. As we all know what the f**k to do we just need to get it done.

  • Michael May 19, 2024, 6:43 am

    I know this is a common refrain from the complainypants with excusitis but it seems relevant to a blog about flagging motivation in middle age — aren’t a lot of these guys on TRT (or, colloquially, steroids)?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 19, 2024, 9:34 am

      Yeah, I agree that is a relevant subject! I’m pretty sure my reduced energy and focus is at least partly related to hormone changes, because those things can fluctuate greatly from one day/week to the next for me.

      With the help of my very Attia-like doctor, I’ve done a few extra detailed blood panels and everything is pretty normal, although TRT is always an option if that parameter were to drop or if we felt it was worth experimenting with.

      However, I know there are downsides so for now I just work with all the natural options to keep the levels high – outdoor exercise and light, getting the heart rate up to maximum pretty often, jumping into cold water, mostly avoiding alcohol and sugar, etc.

      • Sergei May 19, 2024, 11:43 am

        Hello MMM. Have you considered that it might be wiser to work on your fear of death, let go of the ego and start accepting the fact that the body is naturally breaking down with time? And maybe stop flogging the dying horse and welcome the fact that death might be right around the corner or in twenty years. Memento mori.

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 19, 2024, 1:40 pm

          Hahaha! No.

          Maybe we can have this conversation in another fifty years or so.

        • James A May 19, 2024, 8:47 pm

          I assume this is a joke, but it is such a funny internet thing to assume that folks who lift a finger to better their condition only do so because they have an unexamined fear of death. As opposed to, you know, a well examined fear of not *living* as well as we could.

    • James A May 19, 2024, 8:45 pm

      A lot of the really huge guys are. However, there are plenty of middle age dudes in very reasonable shape simply from lifting weights and doing some cardio five-six times a week.

      • Ellen May 20, 2024, 1:15 am

        Exactly! Ever seen a pic of John Robbins (Baskin Robbins heir who rejected the ice cream business and became a health promoter) He is in phenomenal healthy muscular shape at 76 and no signs of slowing, steroids not required.

  • Romeo Jeremiah May 19, 2024, 7:48 am

    Thanks for sharing this story of vulnerability, Pete. I always advocate for doing “every thing every day”, especially working out. When people say they want to work out 3 days or 4 days per week, it provides too much flexibility and decision making. I feel it’s actually easier to go 7 days per week than to wrestle with the questions of “which days should I go”, “I missed yesterday can I double up today?” etc. I think the drive for your continued motivation is just this. You’re not giving yourself an excuse to take a “time out.” Good luck with your continued fitness success!

  • Republic DC-9 May 19, 2024, 8:16 am

    Great article and advice, thanks MMM!

    Put it to use immediately by heading out to do yard work and give myself a haircut.

    We just hit our “number” this AM, so actually retiring needs to be added to my hard to do (in some ways) but need to do it list.

    Please keep these articles coming, and as the poster above mentioned writing your own book on the many facets of FIRE would be enjoyed by many of your fans.

  • Dude May 19, 2024, 8:39 am

    I find myself in a similar situation to MMM. Although I probably spend more and have a larger environmental footprint (all w/ guilt), I recently faced a lack of motivation after returning home from a year of traveling around the world with my family of five. I’ve always been a dedicated runner, but I’ve recently recommitted to an all-around healthy lifestyle. One additional change that I initially thought was good advice for others, but not for me, is this: read Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Stop Drinking” and just lightly consider not drinking alcohol or using cannabis. It might sound preachy, but give it a try and see if your life improves. Or don’t and just read the book and say it’s not for you.

  • Daniel Albarran May 19, 2024, 3:45 pm

    Good observation on the “Bro Science” and “Toxic Masculinity” of health podcasters. Yes, some guys mingle valuable advice with machista crap, but it´s a matter of discerning what is worth, and remembering that the good advice applies to any human. Besides, there are many healthy lifestyle promoters that never vindicate toxic masculinity, on the contrary, their approach is super friendly and sensible (like some Mr. Money Mustache guy).

  • H Yu May 19, 2024, 5:51 pm

    “Almost nineteen years into early retirement now, I’ve come to realize that the complete freedom of this lifestyle can be a double-edged sword.”

    Funny how that is. Freedom is hard. No freedom is hard.

  • Chris May 19, 2024, 7:02 pm

    MMM, thanks for sharding this post, it realliy hit home and was perfectly timed for me. I’m sure it is hard to guage the impact you have given the mostly one-direction nature of blogging, but stumbling upon your website about 7 years ago was THE catalyst for a change in my approach to money, spending, and life more generally. I’m sure I speak for others who also apreciate you sharing aspects of life that have been more of a sruggle… along with what has (and hasn’t) worked for you. That’s infinitely more helpful than some veneered ‘everything’s perfect all the time’ social media personalities. Thanks again for making a postive impact.

  • James A May 19, 2024, 8:51 pm

    Since you mentioned scrolling on the couch: I recommend to you the challenge of completely blocking YouTube, Reddit, TikTok, or whatever your poison is, on all your devices. And then additionally take up the challenge of seeing how high your phone battery can still be at the end of the day without charging it. I feel like 80% is a good bar — I sometimes hit that number on days where I stay really focused on the present and the people in front of me.

    Embrace boredom. It’s another sign that there is something else you should be doing, and you do not want to press the mute button by opening up your social media feed!

    • Jeremiah May 20, 2024, 8:54 am

      This is great advice.

    • Ben May 23, 2024, 6:34 am

      “Embrace boredom” is such pertinent advice in the modern world of endless access to entertainment and stimulation. I’ve discovered that boredom, if I sit with it, helps me build up energy and motivation to do the things I WANT to do. And I sure as hell don’t want to squander the gift of boredom on mindless social media, YouTube, TV, etc.

  • Kevin May 19, 2024, 9:33 pm

    Nice! Discovered Goggins right about the time I discovered you in 2018. I can see why you would appreciate his message. I was actually inspired to run a 100 mile ultra-marathon and picked the hardest one I could find. Ultimately, I got lost in the forest at night and then injured myself so I wasn’t able to finish, but the mindset I have cultivated from reading your blog and seeing the human potential in Goggins has made me into a much happier adult. Great to see your fitness back but remember to keep the potential for injuries in mind! I have overdone it often in the last 5 years and have had a myriad of injuries. Comes with the territory, but just something to be aware of and I have needed to learn how to back off.

  • Elliot May 20, 2024, 6:00 am

    Hey MMM,

    Started reading your blog in 2018 and it has been a constant source of inspiration and help. I am 32 and left the relatively high paying banking job at 27 to build a start up. Ultimately the businesses haven’t been financially successful over the last 5 years but your wisdom ensured I kept my expenses low enough (even while living in London) that I haven’t felt the need to rush back to get a stable salary.

    In fact, my girlfriend and I have done the opposite. We converted a van ourselves and are travelling around Europe in it. Naturally our expenses fell even further.

    Despite being ‘only’ 32 and not financially free in the absolute sense (i.e. 25x spend invested), we have enough invested and our need to spend is so low that I feel a lot of what you have described above. I have spent the last 3 months frustrated with my lack of productivity and took the wussy approach of thinking ‘ah I have just been too lucky, I have the big safety net of a great family and an education. And my needs are so low that I don’t have the desire to make loads of money therefore I don’t have the motivation to do the work’.

    This, of course, is rubbish. I know deep down we want to be creative, productive and a service to others but it has just been tricky finding the ‘why’ to do it. Your article here will be a great help. It is incredible how timely your articles seem to be in my own life.

    Only this week I seem to have overcome the first hurdle a little and have started writing my own newsletter. An interesting stat that I read recently that has really helped with my motivation was this. People that do ‘hard’ things for long-term reasons, i.e. ‘I exercise to live longer’ or ‘I exercise to be healthy’, do 30% less exercise than people who exercise for the immediate benefits like ‘I want to feel better today!’ or ‘I exercise to feel more energised TODAY’.

    I gave this reframing a go for sitting down to write. I changed from ‘I want to write so that in the future I will have a newsletter that serves others and makes me money’ to ‘I want to write because of the state of flow I will feel in the moment and the sense of achievement I will feel TODAY’. It has completely energised me and increased my motivation to do the thing I have been putting off because ‘I don’t have to do it’.

    I will implement your advice above alongside this reframing and hopefully soon you will be reading my newsletter in the same way I have read yours over the years :).

    Thanks again MMM!

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 20, 2024, 8:05 am

      Nice to hear Elliot! And thanks for sharing.

      It’s interesting how the money game can be motivating for many of us, to the point where it “fools” us into doing things that are great for other reasons. This was definitely the case for me – I grew up in a place with very little money and was wired from an early age to want to have more of the stuff.

      Strangely, my own son has the opposite wiring: despite the fact that we have kept his upbringing pretty simple and avoided “rich kid syndrome”, making sure he earns and pays for the material possessions he wants himself, he still doesn’t have the same drive to earn and accumulate Green Employees that I had. Yet he’s still SUPER motivated to work on his own stuff regardless.

      It’s weird. I’m watching the situation and learning from it. It’s always helpful to see other people who run on different fuel than ourselves, in order to gain a bigger perspective.

      Good luck with the newsletter!

      • Elliot May 22, 2024, 4:12 am

        Thanks for the response MMM!

        Definitely. The motivation to earn money (alongside some MMM wisdom) can really encourage positive behaviour.

        I think it sounds like I had a similar upbringing to your son. I wasn’t spoilt but my family was always comfortable and as I spent time with my parents in my 20’s I experienced some of the ‘finer things in life’ through them. I think the incredible good fortune of growing up never worrying about money or feeling like it was absent has meant I struggle to find motivation to work simply for the accumulation of wealth. This, coupled with a life I love that costs me very little, means that when trying to be productive without the structure of a job, or other motivation like peers at University, I can sometimes drift along a little bit.

        I have to admit it is a very privileged challenge and I am enjoying working out how to overcome it and produce something of worth for society that I can be proud of. Once again, articles like yours are super helpful with that so thank you.

    • Lisa May 20, 2024, 1:04 pm

      MMM’s post about noticing the moment of hesitation came at *just* the right time for me as motivation has been a struggle lately. Your insightful comment (reframing the need for those short-term emotional rewards in addition to those long-term results) was just the “a-ha” moment I’ve been needing. Thank you!

      • Elliot May 22, 2024, 4:15 am

        Hey Lisa,

        Thanks so much for sharing and I am delighted that my comment has helped provide that a-ha moment. The hit of joy I have just received by knowing something I shared has helped someone has just provided extra motivation for my work. So thank you right back at you!

  • April May 20, 2024, 8:03 am

    Long time follower here and somewhat cruise half FIRE but still in the journey of rediscovering oneself and the other half. Thankful for the bad assity but learned the FIRE journey needs to be sustainable, and FIRE is a tool not the goal. The goal is to regain yourself from the overwhelming and over scheduled modern lifestyle that values how many things you do but not how well you think. Also during the journey we discovered a good inspiration about health and wellness and human emotions, Dr. John Sarno. His books are amazing and get down to the bottom of human diseases (especially the chronical health issues western society is experiencing now).

    • Jamie June 2, 2024, 5:43 pm

      Hi April
      I loved your reference to Dr Sarno. Healing Back Pain was possibly the most important idea(s) I ever stumbled across aside from MMM, The Power of Now, The Goal, the Economist, Feeling Good (Dr Burns) and Simple Numbers (for business).

  • KC May 20, 2024, 10:43 am

    This is just the motivation I need right now. I stopped working over two years ago and can relate to it feeling like a double-edged sword.

    Some things that make me feel healthy, happy, and strong that I know I should do more of: weight training, mountain biking, backpacking in the mountains, keeping my house and garage workshop clean and organized, designing and building things, helping other people with home projects, cooking.

    One thing I do that helps me stay focused on these things is turn off ALL notifications on my phone, then selectively turn on the few notifications I actually want to know about. I only get notified for text messages, voice mails, calendar reminders, and a few other things. There are often days when I get zero notifications on my phone.

    This may not be for everyone, but I also don’t use any social media or read/watch hardly any news. I do watch youtube, but no facebook, instagram, twitter, tik tok, etc. For me all of these things feel like they are vying to “steal” my focus and make it harder to have a calm mind and energy to focus on the things I know I should be doing. I highly recommend people at least try this for a while and see if they feel different. You can always add things back in that you actually do miss. I think MMM wrote an article about this “low information diet” a while ago.

    Now it is time to go to the gym!

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 21, 2024, 9:29 am

      Great techniques KC!

      I think what you are recommending is good advice for everyone: ALL phone notifications off except for direct texts/calls from your closest friends and loved ones.

      And, no social media apps should even be installed on anyone’s phones. You should have to sit down and open up your olde fashioned laptop or desktop computer to get access to this info, and it shouldn’t happen more than once a day after your walk/run and your work and your lifting is done.

      Funny story: Instagram has a deliberately crippled user interface so that you have to use their phone app to post videos and do certain other things. I don’t have a personal instagram account, but I do like to share some MMM stuff occasionally because it helps me find new readers for the website/newsletter. So every time I want to post something of that type, I have to re-install the app, post it, and then delete the app again.

      A person with more willpower than I would be able to just leave it on his phone and simply never open it. But I find that just like having a cheesecake in my fridge, if it’s there I will start indulging. So I avoid the temptation by just not having it available.

      • ChrisD May 21, 2024, 10:50 am

        I’d get a spare phone for that situation, kept in a locked drawer if necessary.

      • Ben May 24, 2024, 9:16 am

        Wow Pete I am incredibly impressed at your ability to repeatedly delete Instagram. I resisted adding the Facebook app for many years, but once I needed to install it in order to sell a lot of old equipment on Marketplace it just sort of stayed and keeps annoying/distracting me ever since. Here goes deletion!

  • Dave May 20, 2024, 2:02 pm

    That was a good read and struck a chord with a lot of what I feel; it’s hard to be productive (physically, mentally, socially) without being very intentional about it all.

    By the way, I am also a Canadian computer engineer who lives in the front range. The big difference between us is that I’m allergic to lifting (booorrriiinnngg) but am happy running 100 mile races. Go figure.

  • Jake May 20, 2024, 3:23 pm

    Frugality has worked very similarly for me. Embrace the suck. Seek out hard work. Intentionally challenge myself, beyond what is necessary. Enjoy the journey above all, because results alone are not a big enough motivator for me. Financial and physical fitness need to be habits, not choices based on daily willpower. Like brushing your teeth, it’s just something that gets done.

    It’s great to see an OG and many in the “finfluencer” community to translate this to fitness lately. Pete, you’ve always (I’ve been following 10+ years) been on the forefront of this with your transportation that many would call extreme :)

    But small sacrifices today for the promise of a brighter tomorrow is exactly what both physical and financial fitness mean to me.

  • Aaron May 20, 2024, 7:03 pm

    Great article. I’ve also read Goggins’ books. What a compelling story!
    I came away with inspiration and a touch of sympathy.
    He was abused as a child, and I’m concerned he is now his own abuser.
    I hope he learns to love himself also and not just break his body trying to out Goggins Goggins.

    Health and fitness aren’t just about being a badass, and like you said…there’s a balance to be struck.

    For instance, 5 years in a row I’ve run/hiked a 50 mile trail race near my home in Ohio. This year, I injured my foot at work and will be rehabbing it instead of hurting it further by entering the race.
    Next year.
    Building strength is just that. At a certain point, overtraining can lead to injury and debilitation, just as quickly as couchsurfing wussypantsings can.

    If you’re getting into running now, I highly recommend:
    Born to Run by Chris McDougal (and the follow up training manual Born to Run2)
    Any podcast interview or book by Dr. Phil Maffetone.

    Rock on!

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 21, 2024, 9:16 am

      Yeah, Goggins is definitely his own abuser.

      While I know Internet Psychoanalysis is a silly pursuit, it does make you wonder if he feels that being in control of his own pain is a way of dealing with all the uncontrolled pain of his childhood.

      And on top of that, there is a chemical addiction thing that happens in many ultramarathon athletes – I remember a Rich Roll podcast episode where he and a doctor talked about how his previous addiction to alcohol may have just “rolled” over into an exercise addiction.

      And I’m wired in quite a different way: I had a profoundly NON-traumatic childhood with the most loving and empowered (but also hands off and independence-building) parents and siblings in this great, small, safe town with lots of nature. This may have contributed to the fact that I think the world is a safe and prosperous place overall, and I’m prone to moderation in all areas rather than addiction.

      Thanks for the recommendations Aaron and congrats on the runs and the recovery!

      So the only problem is when I get TOO moderate about things that would be good for me to work a little harder at :-)

  • Steve A. May 21, 2024, 1:27 am

    Thank you so much for this post! As your writing has become less frequent, it feels like even more of a bonus to get a rare gem in my inbox. I really liked the vulnerability about how you don’t always do it all perfectly. Perfection is the enemy of progress, and sometimes I get discouraged when I read all these awesome posts from people and I feel like there’s a vast chasm in between us, but at the end of the day, we’re all people. Nobody is perfect. We all mess up sometimes, and that helps me feel like awesome results are that much closer. Consistency is SUPER powerful, but consistency is not perfection. Every the most consistent world-class athletes miss shots and mess up sometimes. They usually do things right, and that’s a much more attainable objective I can strive for.

  • Allen May 21, 2024, 1:31 am

    Admitting you have been lazy while not working at a real job like rest of us. I yearn for the days I can have a lazy day at work where there are no politics or stress on that particular day. In my case, laziness is a work day with no stress while still producing something. In your case, laziness is not accomplishing anything. Maybe you should assign artificial dollars to your daily activities of value, and you use those dollars to eat and pay your bills. Sounds like work, doesn’t it?

  • Thomas May 21, 2024, 8:23 am

    Hey April, Hey MMM,

    A long time follower too, since 2020,
    FIRE is a TOOL yes, not the end goal… because when you are retired… what to do ?

    Actually, i had a close feeling as yours MMM, but before being retirerment.
    Reducing your needs, earning a little bit of money, and that’s it… But then what to do ?

    I think a lot of rich people don’t work anymore for money. They are drived by something inside them which push them to work and to achieve things.

    This techniques of FIRE ( cf : your post about “why you will never run out of money”) tells you that maybe it will be allright and that you can look today for other things.
    Stuff like sports, arts, education…

    As other said, I like to be in the flow, to feel it. Working a 9-5 job procures me that feelings some times, but more often it doesn’t.
    Building stuff like kitchen gives me this feeling, coding and writing email not really.
    And maybe the balance is important too, half handworks and half intellectual work could be a good equilibrium.

    I think, at some point in life, I just realized that I will work all my life, even when I will be “retired”. There is something inside which want to be productive. Even if it doesn’t earn money. Be FIRE allow you to do that.

    So much to say !

  • Andrew May 21, 2024, 9:58 am

    Do you ever have any physical pains that are recurrent or persistent for more than a couple weeks? Things like tendinitis, repetitive stress injuries, any kind of back, neck, or extremity pain, or pains from injuries sustained long ago. How about frequent infections such as colds? Headaches, allergies, or gastrointestinal complaints? I have a few reading suggestions for you if you do, which may be of help, and particularly relevant to Mustachian living.

    • craig May 22, 2024, 7:20 am

      I’d be interested to see those suggestions.

      • Andrew May 23, 2024, 7:49 am

        hi Craig, I’d suggest reading these books by Dr. John Sarno in order:

        – Healing Back Pain 1991
        – The Mindbody Prescription 1998
        – The Divided Mind 2006

        They cover all those conditions I mentioned and more. Anyone with an open mind can understand the books, however, it does help if someone has knowledge of biology, anatomy, and medicine.

  • ChrisD May 21, 2024, 10:40 am

    Completely agree that I need a job to motivate me to do things. e.g. I would never have learned R if I wasn’t using it for my job, though I did then manage to do 20 mins of practice every day for three years.
    There is so much I’ve learnt to do only because I had to, sometimes I was up till 1am until the stress of not going became stronger than the stress of doing it. But then I know how! (not too often, but sometimes).
    I think I absolutely thrive in a more structured environment than ‘retired’. And if I was retired at 30 I would have never have been able to find the volunteering work that I would be able to do about 1-2 days a week now (If I wasn’t stil working).
    Gretchen Rubin talks about ‘obligers’ who can only meet other peoples expectations. This is ~ 40% of humanity and I think this is key to who thrives when retired and who doesn’t.
    In your work out example I would use focusmate, book an appointment, and then I would have to meet the person on time (online) to do the workout.

  • Gary Grewal May 21, 2024, 10:52 am

    Nothing wrong with taking things easy once you’ve “made it” but you bring up a good point around self-actualization. We all (well most maybe) want to feel like we are living our best life, and striving for something, whether a workout routine or starting a business, can do that. I do think it can be dangerous though to listen to people putting up their best game face and saying they run 50 miles a day while being CEO and charity president etc, as everyone is wired differently.

    I think FI is wonderful because it enables you to do what you want and contribute your best skills to society. The face that you’ve volunteered and helped with construction projects is great. It’s a lot better than most people who just want to indulge and travel the world while contributing as little as possible to taxes and society.

    We do need more people to be citizen voices in politics rather than full-time lobbyists, so people-centered legislation can pass instead of that which benefits the Uber-wealthy and corporations. I hope more early retirees can be advocates of causes important to them and spark change while the rest of us are still at work.

  • Patrick May 21, 2024, 11:24 am

    I find myself confused regarding what is actually good for the body. For about a 2 year period, I lifted weights regularly and stuck to a program. I got results and gained some strength but I injured my knees and eventually gave it up. Furthermore, I’ve been following the Blue Zones work by Dan Buettner, and these studies show that the longest lived and healthiest people in the world do not work out in the gym at all, they simply do physical labor naturally (walking up and down steep hills, gardening, etc…). That being said, I wonder if these super muscular gym rats / ultra marathoners are actually living longer and healthier lives. Is there any evidence of this?

    • Ricky May 21, 2024, 8:17 pm

      There’s always going to be outliers in either direction but I’d say people who go to the gym or do some sort of scheduled routine exercise definitely are in general healthier. Now if you’re juicing or going for PBs all the time then maybe that’s not so healthy but otherwise it’s pretty easy to say that moving more is healthier than moving less. Also the gym is not just

      Getting your exercise in while working would be nice but a lot of people either don’t have or don’t want that option because they can make way more from a computer but I agree it would definitely be the ideal way to live if gardening and physically hauling stuff away paid well.

    • Ricky May 21, 2024, 8:19 pm

      I left out… also the gym is not just physical but also a mental challenge to keep it up.

      But personally I dont see the point of getting super large because the cost in maintaining it is too high.

    • Steve in Colorado May 22, 2024, 8:43 am

      I have wondered about this myself. What is the scientific evidence?
      Extreme exercise does not seem to increase lifespan/healthspan.

    • Andrew May 22, 2024, 11:44 am

      I saw that April mentioned Dr. John Sarno’s work in her comment. Patrick, it’s highly likely that you were suffering from TMS as described by Sarno. Most pain in these scenarios is not caused by injury, it is caused by the brain/mind. Almost no physicians or other healthcare providers have any understanding of this concept, so whatever the diagnosis was, it was likely based on ignorance. Dr. Sarno wrote these books I suggest reading in this order:

      – Healing Back Pain 1991
      – The Mindbody Prescription 1998
      – The Divided Mind 2006

      The knowledge in the books may well get you back to lifting weights again. Also in the books is probably the answer to your longevity question.

    • Guillaume May 30, 2024, 1:38 pm

      Patrick, your knees problems are entirely solvable. Look up @Kneesovertoesguy on social medias, he’s the knee rehab / legs strengthening expert. I don’t know how not to look like a paid shill 😁 I just got results so good from his training that I want the whole world to know

      To answer your question I’d say marathoners and gym rats do live longer and better lives than sedentary people yes. (At extreme levels, bodybuilders on heavy doses of PED do die young though)

  • Kelly Monaghan May 21, 2024, 12:47 pm

    Perhaps you are already aware that this little exercise . . .

    I want to work out today.
    I don’t feel like it.
    I am now already putting on my shoes and walking to the gym.

    . . . is pure Stoicism, a topic you have touched on before.

    That little voice in your head that says “I don’t feel like it” is what the Stoics called “an impression.” You have clearly learned to apply “prosoche” (mindfulness would be a good translation of this Greek word) to interrogate that impression. Then you applied natural wisdom (one of the Stoic virtues) to reach the logical conclusion that surrendering to that impression would not be in your best interest.

    There is another Stoic echo in your rediscovered commitment to exercise. The Stoics strongly believed that it was crucial to constantly test oneself, whether that meant fasting, walking barefoot in the now, or undertaking difficult or unpleasant tasks.

    So well done! You are proving an apt “prokopton” (one who is making progress to becoming a Stoic sage).

  • John May 21, 2024, 3:19 pm

    As a retired person I can really relate to this. For me it’s not the lack of desire to do hard things, it’s the easy distracting nature of the phone. I get bored, pull out my phone, then wonder where the last eight hours went.

    People with jobs and young kids have to put down the phone to go to work, or take the kids to school. I could spend 100% of my time on YouTube, and my brain will do that if I let it.

    My retired quality of life improved immensely when I started keeping my phone and computer in my office out of reach.

    Now I get bored, feel uncomfortable, then go and do something. That feeling of boredom and discomfort is critical to making me do the things that actually bring joy to my life.

    Boredom is a signal that I have spare energy that should be used for something. Phones alleviate boredom and kill motivation

  • rh May 21, 2024, 4:51 pm

    Little off topic, but what were your final thoughts of Culdesac in Arizona? Would you ever consider moving there? Was there a sense of community and collaboration?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 22, 2024, 8:19 pm

      Hey RH, thanks for following along with that. Throughout my stay there, I kept this page updated, and it’s now in its final form with all my thoughts so far: https://mrmoneymustache.com/culdesac/

      Summary: there is *some* community forming there, but not as much as I expected going in – they’re still working on building out the neighborhood so it’s a tough chicken-and-egg problem to crack. How do you attract people who really want to hang out with their neighbors rather than just people looking to hide away in their apartments? The Culdesac team are fantastic however, and of course the physical architecture of the place is beautiful. So I think they are doing the right things to build it out.

  • Max May 22, 2024, 8:22 am

    Glad to hear you’re picking up Extreme Ownership! As someone who is still in his working years, it’s made the way I think about getting work done much better. In software engineering, sometimes shit just goes wrong. Knowing that almost everything can be avoided by us engineers doing a better and robust job has improved the way I work and has made me _less_ stressed, because the work I do is better and more well thought out from the start. Even when something does go wrong, it’s just a learning experience that allows me to avoid those pitfalls in the future.

    This book is even better for your social relationships though! Most of the time, you can be the ignition to a better relationship with someone. I’ve seen it many times where relationships you want drift away because neither side initiates social interaction enough with the other. “If they really care, they’d reach out.” Turns out, if you take ownership and reach out, you’ll see them a lot more and be happier as a result. The same thing applies for someone toxic in your life. Tired of this person bringing you down? Take ownership and remove yourself from the equation. (Obviously there are circumstances where this doesn’t apply, but you’ll know it when you see it).

    Plus the narration of the audiobook is just great. Jocko has that Seal Team motivational way of speaking that makes you get your shit together!

  • Luigi Simpatico May 22, 2024, 2:17 pm

    I was in a similar situation. Thank you for writing this post. I thought everyone else had their act together, so hearing that you had similar challenges made me feel ‘normal’. I also discovered Goggins, and have been using it to do things I know I need to do, but procrastinated on

  • BobJ May 23, 2024, 5:38 am

    I have noticed a lot less posts over the past year.. Is this part of of “not doing” what you want to do.. or something else?

  • Jeff Magaw May 23, 2024, 6:58 am

    Try a HappyLight by Verilux or similar product. Helped me a lot, especially in the winter months.

  • dave May 23, 2024, 7:24 am

    Thank you for posting this and articulating ideas many are feeling on this blog. I’ve been facing much of this same internal dialog from the perspective of working 20 years at a career I enjoy that pays well. With that job I enjoy I still think about quality of life and wonder about meaning as my children grow older and my spouse and I get closer to financial freedom.

    It’s a weird place to be to doubt internally whether I actually want to retire as the feasibility becomes more real. Anyone else feeling the same and concerned not putting myself in the situation explained in the blog is actually easier than having to deal with the procrastination?

    Secondly, a coworker in a similar situation volunteers for local search and rescue. It gives him a bigger picture reason to stay in great shape. It’s got me thinking about doing the same as I approach my late 40’s.

  • Kathy O May 23, 2024, 7:50 pm

    I have found a social approach works best for keeping me motivated to work out. My partner is training for a canoe trip in Canada, so we both ride our bikes to the gym twice a week. On both days I go to a weight training class for older adults. I like the work out, the instructors and my classmates. Oh yeah, and they play Beatles music.

    I also get yearly DXA scans. Last year my scans were horrible and that motivated me to start regular strength training. This year I have improved and that motivates me to keep working out.

  • Asim Sheikh May 25, 2024, 11:25 am

    Not everything is mental unfortunately. I have all kinds of motivation and willingness to push myself, but no matter what I do, my body is just not in the condition that it was 10 – 15 years ago, and the aches and pains that result from pushing myself prevent me from doing anything more than walking at this point in my life. So, this advice is great if you don’t have any medical conditions preventing you from pushing yourself, however, I believe that there are many people out there like myself who are not built like Goggins.

  • Longquest May 26, 2024, 6:13 am

    I realise you have said you don’t swallow the whole Goggins creed, Mr. Moustache, but Goggins? In any measure? Really?

    I am surprised you haven’t learnt by now that always pushing your limits, redlining your body, is not a formula for health, fitness and well-being; it is the road to injury and burnout.

    There are countless examples of exercise fanatics who started off thinking, with Nietzsche, that ‘That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’. They end up realising that ‘That which doesn’t kill me can still cripple me’.

    Just look at poor old Ronnie Coleman. https://youtu.be/kq0Sm4kAp4Y?si=_ma2zjT_WoWVi4wC

    For many deades I subscribed myself to all the bluster of: No pain, no gain; Pain is just weakness leaving the body; If a thing is worth doing it is worth overdoing.

    But after many injuries, all self-inflicted and therefore avoidable, I have developed a different philosophy: Progress over perfection; You won’t improve from something you can’t recover from; Little by little, step by step, work on your weaknesses and limitations; No brain, no gain.

    Could your procrastination stem from thinking that exercise is a gruelling, penitential task? Why not just resolve to show up everyday and just do something — some mobility work, an easy jog, a few sets of easy pull-ups and hanging leg raises? Some days that will put you in the mood to push harder, go further— fine. Other days you can stop there — also fine. Just keep showing up and making deposits into the Bank (or ETF, or whatever) of Fitness. They will add up, and sometimes compound, just like money. Health and fitness is a long game, just like saving and investment.

    There is definitely a time and place to test your mettle — generally in a competition or emergency. But suffering is not how you get fitter. ‘The ability to suffer during a workout is just one skill. Don’t over-focus on it. You also need to train a hundred other skills’.https://youtu.be/0h23IANIg6Q
    For most workouts, the goal should be to finish feeling better than when you started. Energised, not exhausted. If tired, sore, and injured are the side-effects, is it worth it?

    Of course, who am I to say what will motivate you? But I know that when I changed my outlook from struggle-&-suffer to small, manageable steps, every day my hesitation vanished and I became keen to show up.

    All the best

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 26, 2024, 11:41 am

      Exactly, I think we’re saying the same thing here. If you read the article, you’ll notice I have no interest in any of the Goggins-style self flogging. It says right in there “reasonable effort”, and I also mentioned that I don’t even need to run ten miles at a time. I’m well aware that overdoing it in any one physical activity leads to injury!

      And an interesting side note: doing a healthy amount of strength (weight) training has the opposite effect – it serves as the ultimate injury preventer. I first took up the practice at age 14, making do with those flimsy plastic hand-me-down barbell plates in my tiny bedroom at home. And since then I’ve never had a real physical injury, my knees and back have been miraculously perfect despite all sorts of skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, moving around wheelbarrows of concrete and carrying washing machines and pianos up and down staircases. My body is a piece of work equipment and I really want it to keep working hard for me for decades to come!

      So anyway, I’m only using the Goggins mentality to catch myself when I want to skip out on a difficult thing – whether it’s showing up for what might be an easy workout, or making the phone call to the repair company to get my windshield fixed. Small manageable steps, but I have to DO them.

      • John June 14, 2024, 12:52 pm

        I, too, went down the YouTube Shorts rabbit hole for a few months from Huberman, Goggins, Tech Founder Billionaires, Podcasters, Mark Manson, etc. What starts as an innocent curiosity of self-improvement should very quickly reveal itself to be toxic. The self-flogging of all these people was off the charts. I was never addicted to TikTok, but I could feel the YouTube Shorts algo gripping my mind and I found some settings on YouTube browser + app to disable auto-recommendations. From watching hours of shorts went down to less than 5 minutes / week. I suddenly have zero interest in Goggins, Tech CEOs, and the like. And started to carve out my own path.

        What is my identity? What is your identity? I’ve always been someone who works out relatively frequently, so that’s who I am. There is no need to extra motivation, I just go. I want to run, it’s fun, I want to lift, it’s fun and makes me look better. It’s like from Dodgeball: Global Gym vs Average Joe’s. You want to improve yourself a little bit, great, but not everyone needs to be super elite perfectionist Global Gym. Taking all of Huberman’s advice is ridiculous. Just be healthy and do you, improve things a little bit. Or find your own goals and do them.


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