What are you optimizing for?

What are you optimizing for?

Time, give me TIME!!! Any time! All the time!

I was reminded recently of the finite time that we each have on this planet by an article from Tim Urban at Wait But Why. It shook both Mrs Mofi and I to the core. What a wake-up call…

The article brutally laid out the facts of life. Life. Is. SHORT!

By presenting stats on the remaining units of your life using boxes representing 10 minutes each I found myself much more carefully considering my choices in life. In general, I would consider myself someone who thinks rationally about my human mortality but here I was freaking out about how to spend my precious remaining hours. What to do…?

Our daily actions are ultimately derived from the values we hold. The choices we make actively or by omission cause an outcome which add up over time to become the life you experience on a daily basis. Here’s where my rational mind kicked back in and I started to break down the problem.

Here are the facts as I see them:

  1.  Time is finite
  2.  Time only flows in one direction
  3.  Making the most of my time is incredibly important to me
  4.  I currently hold conflicting priorities for the application of my remaining time

 

Cue: OPTIMIZATION!

Optimization is an approach to achieving a specific point (usually some global max or min) on an objective function. A simple case would be; 

Arrive at (some destination) in shortest time possible

There are likely to be a couple of constraints upon that objective such as the following:

  • Minimize the likelihood of being killed in the process
  • Minimize the likelihood of infringing the law (a speeding ticket may result from speeding in a car for example)
  • Utilize the means immediately available to me (do I have a helicopter parked out back or maybe just a Datsun 180B?)
Obscure reference to a car known to be a bit of a joke in my youth. Can't go past an old-school 80's ad though!

Obscure reference to a car known to be a bit of a joke in my youth. Can't go past an old-school 80's ad though!

As humans, we make these kind of optimizations all the time but mostly in an unconscious manner. Rarely do we take the time to consider optimizing our life at the higher level. Sure, people have dreams but dreams suck from the perspective of being actionable. For that to change, we needed to get to work on defining our life’s objectives and (real) constraints. 

 

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? - Define the objective

As a kid, I was a pest. Let’s just say that I was a little inquisitive… My favorite question in the world was, ‘why?’

The habit of challenging assumptions and questioning literally everything has been a huge part of making me who I am today. It helped me discover Mr Money Mustache in 2015 and set me on the path towards achieving Financial Independence. Still a long way to go but I digress…

After applying my habit of asking ’why?’ over and over again to our own thinking we discovered three important things:

  1.  We want to control 100% of our own time
  2.  We want to give our time generously to people and causes we care deeply about
  3.  Doing the above needed to happen ASAP!

 

Knowledge is Power

…and with great power comes great responsibility. Facing our own fundamental truths for the first time was at once liberating and terrifying. From that point on, doing anything other than marching inevitably towards the stated goals was not an option. It was quickly realized that deeper thought was required to establish a credible plan for achieving what we’d discovered about ourselves. 

Fortissimo FI is our place for developing, iterating and sharing the progress that Mrs Mofi and I are making towards our goals. This is a place where ‘why’ is expected, challenge us and our crazy ideas. Strong debate is healthy. In turn we look forward to challenging both ourselves and the incredible ideas we’ve already discovered in the FIRE community. 

 

What’s Possible if We Optimize for Time?

Using the helpful yFIRECalc 2.0 calculator, we were able to put together the following:

Hours of Freedom Gained--FIRE vs. Benchmark Retirement:        73050     hours

Days of Freedom Gained--FIRE vs. Benchmark Retirement:            4566      days

Weeks of Freedom Gained--FIRE vs. Benchmark Retirement:           652      weeks

Months of Freedom Gained--FIRE vs. Benchmark Retirement:           152     months

Years of Freedom Gained--FIRE vs. Benchmark Retirement:             12.49    years

Percent of Extra Freedom Gained--FIRE vs. Benchmark Retirement:      79.63%

Benchmark Retirement--Percent of Free Hours Remaining in Life:          43.70%

FIRE--Percent of Free Hours Remaining in Life:                                              59.57%

Status quo: 37.5% of rest of life spent working, 25% as free time.

Status quo: 37.5% of rest of life spent working, 25% as free time.

FIRE from age 37: 8.75% of rest of life at work, 53.9% of rest of life as free time.

FIRE from age 37: 8.75% of rest of life at work, 53.9% of rest of life as free time.

The Role of probability

Since the future is more uncertain the further out you project it helps to constrain the time domain to a short enough duration. What is short enough? Well, that depends on how specific you are trying to make your predictions.

How specific do you need to be when trying to optimize for your most precious finite resource? Again, there is going to be an optimal point where digging deeper will not make sense . Random outcomes will overtake your predictive power beyond that point and you receive diminishing returns for your effort.

In addition it is important to balance time spent planning/making predictions with actually living in and enjoying the series of moments through which you experience your life.

 

Staying on the path

We'll be using this forum at Fortissimofi to share our journey. In particular we are keen to learn more from all of the wonderful people we've met so far on the path to FI. Expect quarterly progress updates and discussion of new (and old) ideas as we try to optimize our way to FI ASAP!

Thanks for joining, we'd love to hear from anyone below who made it all the way here!

The $$$ Maps

The $$$ Maps