Chautauqua UK is a magical place where people at all stages of the journey to financial independence meet to discuss ideas, validate numbers, play football in the pool, and fly drones (check out the video below). I just spent the last 2 weeks in bloody England. I started out at the first ever Chautauqua UK hosted at the beautiful Ettington Park hotel near Stratford Upon Avon (birthplace of Shakespeare) and the second week exploring London with my girlfriend and another couple.
During Chautauqua I felt empowered like I could do anything I wanted as long as I put in the time. I was burning to get back to my day to day life and apply all the inspiration from my experiences. There were so many ideas running through my head. Maybe I would start Spanish tutoring on the side, get my savings rate up to 50%, live more intentionally, or all of those things and more. Spending time with like-minded incredibly smart people can do that to a person. When they are vulnerable with you and empathetic when they listen, you can easily build up confidence to take charge of your life.
This was exactly what I expected out of Chautauqua. I had heard all the stories about how attendees came back to their lives with a new vigor for life. But this…this was so much more than what I expected. It was… BRILLIANT! The inspiration was bursting out of me like when I get over zealous filling up a burrito.
I wanted to share my amazing experience with my girlfriend so I sent her a text immediately after I recorded a podcast with the Mad Fientist and Vicki Robin (podcast will be out next spring coinciding with the rewrite of Your Money or Your Life). I just couldn’t hold in my excitement anymore. Not only did I get to meet and spend a week with my heroes, I got to participate in a podcast with them. O. M. G. I thought she too would be over the moon.
When my girlfriend and I met I was already on the path to FI. We both swiped right and on our first date she gave me a Ninja Turtle (Donatello for those wondering). So you know it was pretty serious from the start.
Although my girlfriend supports my odd FI ways, we’re not on the FI journey together and my habits and behaviors sometimes hurt our relationship.
When I texted her about the Mad Fientist podcast, she asked if this was my dream vacation and if I would ever do a second Chautauqua. I told her that I probably wouldn’t attend a second one because even though I had so much to take away, I didn’t think that I’d get as much out of a second one. But if she was interested then we could attend one together. This was her response:
Herein lies the problem. The Marshmallow Test sums up the differences in how we view money. It studies people’s ability to delay gratification with the promise of two marshmallows in the future if you can resist eating one in the present. As part of my FI journey I delay gratification and wait for the two marshmallows (portfolio income). When I reach FI I plan on relying on my portfolio for income instead of my job. She doesn’t envision a future where she wouldn’t work because she loves her job and career. So for her, there will always be another marshmallow (employment income) so why wouldn’t she eat the one now? There’s no reason to wait for two in the future!
The unintended consequence of enthusiastically sharing my Chautauqua experience with her is judgement. The simple act of my attending Chautauqua makes her feel judged. Because the FI community is a group of people that get together to shame others about the purchases they make, right? There’s no way in hell that I want to make her feel judged. Who wants to be around a person when they feel judged all the time by a pretentious asshole? I sure as hell don’t!
Self-awareness is at the core of all happiness and success in life. It is the ability to see yourself as others see you. The moral of the story is that even without actively judging someone, our actions can make them feel judged. Think about going out to dinner with a group of friends and one of your friends is on a diet. When they order the salad and skip dessert do you feel like they are secretly judging you for your decisions? I do. I imagine their superior thoughts like “If only Brandon could live like me, this world would be a better place, he is such a glutton who doesn’t care about his health at all!”
Judgement comes in many forms. Like this little encouraging nugget from my mom recently “Why don’t you follow Christ. It’s a life or death decision.” Just a little judgement text to let me know I’m living my life for nothing and everything I do is meaningless. I love you mom, so subtle.
Or how about when you show up at a friend’s place dressed like…well, dressed like me in some stylish old New Balance mall-walking shoes, ripped jeans, and a hoodie while everybody else has on their crispy button downs, designer jeans, and fashionable shoes? I feel really out of place in those situations and that’s my own damn fault. I bring that judgement down on myself.
So it could be passionately sharing ideas that don’t resonate with others, a shitty text from your mom or simply feeling out of place with your friends.
Yes I want my girlfriend on the FI journey with me but I don’t want her to feel pressured into it. I’m beginning to learn that sharing FI is more about the person that I’m sharing with than the idea or how I feel about it. Self-awareness is the ability to realize how what you share affects others.
This blog is about personal development and I took a pretty big step over the past couple weeks. Personal growth never seems to come easy but I’m thankful for it all the same. Our relationship is stronger than ever and we even used the “L” word! Do I have all the answers? Nope! Not even close. But I sure as hell know I’m going to think of her first when I talk about FI and make sure I understand how my actions and words affect her. Getting judged feels shitty and the last thing I want to do is make her feel guilty about how she lives. Who wants to be around somebody that makes them feel like shit? Not me!
Stayed tuned for a future post about
driving on the left side of the road LIFE IN THE LEFT LANE and what I learned from that! All the round-a-bouts…
Are there people in your life that feel judged by your actions and words?