Moments. We all have memorable ones, both good and bad. We instinctively recognize that these things define us. Hitting rock bottom. Achieving a pinnacle. That time our parents said something that always stuck with us. Moments impact us.
I had a trusted colleague tell me, “All educators should read The Power of Moments. It’s sooo good.” I dove into the book eagerly with my educator lens. I quickly found it also intersected well with my other passions: financial independence and making solid decisions.
So, I’ve pulled some of my favorite quotes from the book and I’m adding it to my FI quotes series. I tag my favorite quotes from the book and relate them to the search for financial independence.
The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath (affiliate link) is absolutely worth reading. I’d suggest buying it or getting it from your library (my preferred form of reading.) You won’t regret it.
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Quotes from The Power of Moments
“Defining moments rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world. In a few seconds or minutes, we realize something that might influence our lives for decades.”
The essence of the book. Moments matter. While true transformations always take time, most begin with a moment of insight, inspiration, or motivation.
This is absolutely true for financial independence. There may be a few people that just always had a plan and got their money right from the start. That’s not usually the way it works though.
Our society glorifies and rewards spending and consumption. Most of us pursuing financial independence have a moment when we realized the hamster wheel we are all on.
I can remember vividly sitting in my office and realizing I was trapped. The simultaneous feeling of despair and a desperate need to act. That moment changed everything, and five years later I’m on a very different path.
Have you had your moment yet?
“If you’re struggling to make a transition, create a defining moment that draws a dividing line between Old You and New You.”
If you haven’t, can you create yours? This quote is far more powerful than it seems. Too many of us wait for those moments of inspiration and assume we’ll just change. It takes more.
If you want to change, but haven’t summoned the motivation yet – you may be able to create that moment, that break, that transformation.
If you’ve had your inspiration moment, but are still struggling with lasting change – create that transition moment.
Old You spends every dollar and sees money as a means to buy more. You aren’t going broke, but you aren’t getting ahead. (Oh wait, that was me and lifestyle inflation…)
The New You automates savings, spends on what’s important and adds value, and sets financial goals.
Old You planned to work until your health failed. New You will work only as long as you need – and then pursue other passions.
“Beware of the soul-sucking force of ‘reasonableness’ otherwise you risk deflating your peaks. Speed bumps are reasonable. Mount Everest is not reasonable.”
My favorite quote in the whole book for so many reasons. Education is too often grounded in what is safe or reasonable. It’s why I work to challenge the system.
The same is true for retirement planning. Mainstream financial and retirement planning is based on “reasonable” goals like saving 10% or working until full social security.
Early financial independence (optional retirement) sounds so unreasonable to many. It’s a worthy Mount Everest. Even if you don’t reach your goals, by shooting for unreasonable things you’ll go so much farther.
Indeed, simply starting the pursuit changed my life for the better.
“Research has shown, again and again, that we tend to obsess about problems and negative information.”
This one hit me as it relates to investing and risk tolerance. Building financial independence requires making your money work for you. The most common ways are starting a business, investing in real estate, or putting your money in the market.
In all three, you’ll have waves of negative information coming at you. You’ll feel the losses more. In modern media, the sky is always falling. It’s easy to fixate and succumb to money fears.
Acknowledging this reality, can help you overcome the fear and doubt. Build the systems that help you avoid reacting in those moments when the problems and negative information overwhelm you: automate savings, define your decision points, invest within your risk tolerance.
“By breaking the script, we can lay down a richer set of memories.”
One of my motivators for financial independence. I don’t want to be reasonable and safe. I want to be able to take risks and stretch both personally and professionally.
Financial independence allows you to pursue purpose and memories rather than just survival or accumulation. Financial independence itself is breaking the script.
Even better, it allows you to break the script for the rest of your life. What memories can you lay down?
“To produce moments of self-insight, we need to stretch: placing ourselves in new situations that expose us to the risk of failure.”
“The promise of stretching is not success, it’s learning.”
I combined these two quotes because I couldn’t let either go. Stretching is important, motivating, and powerful. Even if you don’t reach all the way, you’ll go farther than playing it safe. (Remember the soul-sucking force of reasonableness!)
For financial independence, setting good financial goals and improving your understanding of money doesn’t guarantee success. But, it will give you the tools to make meaningful change, understand your wants and needs better, and design your life.
You might stretch and learn and dramatically improve your goals. Our original financial independence goal was 12 years away. After making mistakes, learning more, and making big moves (like reducing our monthly housing expenses by 80%), we’ll get it done in five.
Others have started down the FIRE path and realized they didn’t want to go that hard and retire early – instead they wanted to change their work.
Whether you’re successful or not, you’ll stretch into new things, learn an amazing amount, and then use that to make your life even better!
“How do you make moments of pride? The recipe seems clear: You work hard, you put in the time, and as a result, you get more talented and accomplish more, and those achievements spark pride. Simple as that.”
I mentioned earlier that simply starting the journey improved our lives and job satisfaction dramatically. We went from completely clueless about money, with retirement nowhere in sight to having a plan and feeling in control.
We felt pride each time we hit a new milestone – positive net worth, lower expenditures, maxing out tax-advantaged accounts like our 403b or 457.
We got better along the way too. We understood our options better. Defined our needs and wants better. Automated things. Refined our goals and targets. Reduced our initial timeline from 12 years down to 10, then 7, and now 5.
So many moments of pride. You can create those same moments for yourself.
“To experience more defining moments, we need to rethink the way we set goals.”
Goal-setting isn’t the strength of this book. But, it makes an important point about goals – setting a far distant goal without emotional impact will not serve you well.
I don’t believe you can just create moments and be successful. You do need goals, and a plan. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Set effective financial goals by pushing for a long-term goal that motivates you. Then, break it down into actionable measures and actions that keep you moving, and celebrating, along the way. You’ve got the perfect combination of goals and moments!
“Shouldn’t couples acknowledge and celebrate what they’ve accomplished together?”
One of my biggest financial advantages is having a partner who is on the same page with me. We blew it financially for years, but when we finally started talking about money and getting aligned – everything changed quickly. Now, we get to celebrate lots of accomplishments together.
We’ve hit seven figures in net worth. Downsized our home and improved our life. Increased our savings rate to 70%. Together.
We’ll be financially independent together. For so many couples, finances are a source of friction and fights. Now, it’s a source of celebration. Our quarterly net worth checks and annual goal setting are some of our favorite moments each year. We created them.
If you’re in a partnership, take the time to acknowledge and celebrate those wins! They will multiply.
“Success comes from pushing to the finish line. What milestones do is compel us to make that push, because (a) they’re within our grasp, and (b) we’ve chosen them precisely because they’re worth reaching for.”
“But here’s the best part: We’re not stuck with just one finish line. By multiplying milestones, we transform a long, amorphous race into one with many intermediate “finish lines.” As we push through each one, we experience a burst of pride as well as a jolt of energy to charge toward the next one.”
Two more quotes that I combined because they’re both important and related.
Milestones create moments. Bursts of pride and memories will keep you going even when it’s a challenge.
Some important financial independence milestones:
- Creating your first financial plan / financial goals
- Debt freedom
- Positive net worth
- Six figure net worth
- Mortgage Freedom
- A million dollar net worth
- Financial independence
These are just suggestions. Set your own milestones – then cruise past them!
“The good news is that if even one person is brave enough to defy the majority, we are emboldened. We’re not alone anymore. We’re not crazy.”
The importance of the financial independence community. It provides both individual examples and a collective community of people bucking the prevailing trends of debt, overconsumption, and delayed retirements.
There are examples of people from almost every background and profession pursuing financial independence. There are nearly infinite paths, timelines, and approaches. You may not find your exact doppelganger out there, but you can certainly find an individual model.
The community will support, inspire, and educate you. It has me.
“The outcome is clear. Purpose trumps passion. Graduation speakers take note: The best advice is not ‘Pursue your passion!’ It’s ‘Pursue your purpose.’”
My why of financial independence. I don’t want to stop working, and I love my chosen field of education. I’m fortunate that my day job is related to my passion. But financial independence will give me greater flexibility to focus on those things I love most about it – and reduce those things I don’t. It’s why I embrace FIOR (financial independence optional retirement.) I won’t stop working, but I may stop my day job.
“Often, what looks like a moment of serendipity is actually a moment of intentionality. What . . . others experienced as the shock of an insight was actually, we came to believe, the whiplash caused by realizing they could ACT and then willfully jolting their lives in a new direction. They were not receiving a moment, they were seizing it.”
Seize your moment. The most powerful moments aren’t just inspiration, but motivate you to action. You can control your financial life more than you’ve ever realized.
Act now to take charge of your money. I’m here to help – feel free to reach out, or subscribe below.
And don’t forget to check-out my other FI quotes pieces if you like great thought-provoking books tied to the search for financial independence: