On retirement, happiness and life

On retirement, happiness and life

Listened Navel Ravikant’s podcast and his interview with Joe Rogan, and Shane Parrish this week. The interviews were absolutely mind-blowing. Throughout both interviews, Navel delivered compelling wisdom on almost all aspects of life – retirement, happiness, education, etc.

In today’s post I will share my biggest takeaways and my thoughts.

On Retirement

“Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for some imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete in and of itself, you are retired”

I don’t care how rich you are. I don’t care whether you’re a top Wall Street banker. If somebody has to tell you when to be at work, what to wear and how to behave, you’re not a free person. You’re not actually rich.

Navel Ravikant

For Navel, retirement is not receiving a cheque every month at 65 years old. Retirement is achieved when you can be fully present, today. And there are 3 ways we can achieve retirement:

  1. Save up so much money that your passive income covers your burn rate
  2. Drive your burn rate down to zero and become a monk
  3. Make a living doing something you love

There are multiple ways to achieve retirement. Most of us don’t give much consideration, or have the courage to pursue option 2 or 3.

Option 1 has been the most popular choice for most of us – trading in hours to make more money in a linear fashion. Because most of us were taught to work for other people and climb our way up the ladder. And hopefully, we will reach that promised land.

There’s a great story to illustrate this – the Mexican Fisherman.

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

This story reminds me not to lose sight of the forest for the tree. One of the biggest mistakes people make in their careers is to treat work primarily as a means to an end. Whether that end is money, power, or prestige, this instrumentalization of work leads to unhappiness.

Since young, I have always practiced delayed gratification to eventually arrive at the promised land – to be able to spend more time with loved ones, pursue meaningful work, and to be present.

This is a reminder to me that the time is now. That doesn’t mean that everything has to change immediately, but start building joy into your life today.

On keeping up with the Joneses

Social media has degenerated into a deafening cacophony of groups signaling and repeating their shared myths.

Navel Ravikant

In today’s day and age of technology, the impact of signaling has been amplified. Posting on social media when we go on holidays, fancy restaurants, working out, volunteering, or reading books.

Rather than looking at ourselves, we are looking at how other people look at us. It builds up a strong self-image based on likes and compliments. Which could easily be torn down. It doesn’t take many insults to drown out all the compliments.

“As you get older, you just realize that there’s no happiness in material possessions.

“I think a lot of us learn as we get older that happiness is internal.”

Navel Ravikant

Happiness and fulfillment come from within. When we are trapped thinking all about how others view us, we stop living our lives. It disrupts our journey to retirement and prevents us from being present. To quote Dave Ramsey – We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.

Acknowledging that I have been guilty of this as well and to stop myself from falling into this trap, I have refrained from posting on social media. To avoid subconsciously doing things for the sake of signaling.

A good question to ponder when making any spending decision – Would I do this if no one else will know of it?

“The eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture”

Ben Franklin

On education

“The ability to learn, the means of learning, the tools of learning, are abundant and infinite. It’s the desire that’s incredibly scarce.

Naval Ravikant

For Naval, our current education system has been made obsolete. Today, we have the internet. If we have the desire to learn, we can attend online courses from Khan Academy, MIT, and Yale online lectures. We can read blogs and books published by brilliant people. If it is purely learning we are after, it can be done through the internet or by uniting through the internet with like-minded groups.

In the age of Google and smartphones, memorization is obsolete. Our education system still places undue weight on it just because that’s the way it has always been done in the pre-Google world.

As a one-size-fits-all model, the current education system is like a cookie-cutter. Many who don’t fit into this mold would feel inadequate at a young age. Everyone has to go through this model regardless of their strengths and interests.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Albert Einstein

On being yourself

“Looking forward to holidays takes the joy out of every day.”

Naval Ravikant

Many of us will tell ourselves we need to do this.. we need to do that. But what we should be doing more often is asking ourselves what we want to do. If we can’t wait for work to end or if we find ourselves always looking forward to the next holiday, we may want to stop and listen.

Stop trying to figure out how to do things the way other people want you to do. Listen to that little voice inside your head that wants to do things a certain way and then you get to be you.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

No one in the world is going to beat you at being you. To Naval, our goal in life is to find the people, business, project, and art that needs you the most. There is something out there just for us. And we need to discover that for ourselves.

On compounding interest

“Play long-term games with long-term people. All returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.”

Naval Ravikant

Compounding is a concept at the very heart of this blog. This applies not just to wealth. But to everything else in life – relationships, business, knowledge, and fitness.

Establishing long term relationships – be it romantic or business – makes life easier because you know that person’s got your back covered. If we want to be successful, we have to work with other people. And trust is the core for any successful partnership. Mutual trust makes it easy to do business.

This applies to health and fitness as well. The fitter and healthier you are, the easier it is to stay that way. Whereas the more you disregard your body, the harder it is to come back. Even clawing back to the baseline would require insurmountable efforts and willpower.

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