The Essence of FIRE and Minimalism

"Blue Water" by fox_kiyo is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Maybe I'm just bored but I've been thinking. I've been thinking about what is the purpose of doing this FIRE thing and this minimalism thing. It was just over a year ago that I decided to document my FIRE and minimalism journey. Now I begin to question the foundation of both movements from a personal level.

First of all, I want to say that it's great if someone has reached his or her FIRE number and has the option to retire early from work. I'm still on that path to reach my FIRE number. Judging by the speed I'm going, it'll take me about another 3 to 4 years. However, my mind always wants to experience novelty and I have a hard time sitting still. Thus, I always want to learn something new, do something different, meet new people, and travel somewhere. Recently, my determination of reaching my FIRE number has wavered. I can see myself not reaching FIRE according to my current plan and continue to live a life I want.

Let me rewind to the time that I was the happiest: living in China when I was a child. My grandma and grandpa were not rich by any means. In fact, my family, and everyone I knew, were on the same social economic level. We didn't have a lot of material goods. But I didn't know it. What I did know was that I was happy. We got by with what we had. And I always had food for every meal in my life. I count that as a blessing. I yearn for that level of happiness.

Now, I'm still happy. Except I have obligations, with work and whatever else that comes up. By comparison, this current period is probably my second happiest moment after my childhood. But I think I can do better.

I still embrace minimalism. To have fewer things is like having less burden on my shoulders. I don't have to make many choices that will hurt my mental wellbeing. Rather, I can take that extra energy and focus on the more important things in my life. Having only the essentials will take me back to that time in China.

What FIRE means to me is financial freedom. The freedom to do anything I want without any monetary limits. And the things I want to do that bring me the most happiness don't require a lot of money and many possessions.

My most recent memory of that freedom was the 2018 cycling trip across America. It fulfilled many things I was interested in, such as meeting new people, exploring new places, learning new things, and thoroughly enjoying every moment. I carried the most essential items on my bicycle, not the things I want but the things I need. I was forced to be a minimalist for those 100 days on the road. And they were among the best memories I have in my adult life. If there was a calling, I think that is it.

I can see myself abandon my current FIRE journey and go on a journey of cycling the world. Only if Covid was under control. I should also count this time period as a blessing. For now, I can settle myself and be more stable to work, save, and invest.

I won't be surprised if I don't reach my FIRE number in the short term and I won't be surprised if I do reach it. I think life is unpredictable and it's better to be like water and follow the flow.


  1. Hiatt, I think it's good to question what you're doing always. If you don't reach the FIRE number in the original time frame that's okay. Keep enjoying life every day! Don't forget you were a child in China, and your grandparents probably had responsibilities and obligations that you may not have been aware of. Keep doing what you like....

    1. Good point, Anne. I know for a fact that my grandparents did their best. As for my FIRE plan, I'm keeping the option open. LOL!


Post a Comment