The Best and Worst Thing About Financial Independence

I’ve never had a paragraph smack me in the face before.

This one did and it hit me like a brick…

Here is Maggie, the aspiring writer:

“I recognized that when it comes to artistic or creative endeavors I had internalized a fixed mindset. I believed that people were inherently artistic or creative and that you could not improve through effort. This directly affected my life because I have always wanted to be a writer, but have been afraid to pursue any writing classes or share my creative writing with others. This is directly related to my mindset because any negative criticism would mean that I’m not a writer inherently. I was too scared to expose myself to the possibility that I might not be a ‘natural'”

Maggies’ internal monologue used to say: Don’t do it. Don’t take a writing class. Don’t share your writing with others. It’s not worth the risk. Your dream could be destroyed. Protect it.

When I read that last paragraph, it became clear that I’ve been sabotaging myself my entire adult life.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamt of creating something (more on that below).

What’s crazy is, I hadn’t worked towards achieving that goal.

It wasn’t until I read that paragraph in Mindset by Carol Dweck that I realized what had been happening.

Like Maggie, I hadn’t taken any steps towards achieving my goal because I didn’t want to risk losing the dream completely.

But not working toward the goal would guarantee failure so why would I choose that?!

My Goal

Before I discuss why I was sabotaging myself, I first better come clean with this big goal…

I want to write, record, and release an album

It’s crazy I’ve never talked about this before but I’ve been reluctant to share because then I’d finally have to try (and possibly fail).

Music has played such a huge role in my life.

From dancing to Michael Jackson as a toddler…

Mad Fientist Jackson

I sadly didn’t have a sequin glove but you better believe I had a tube sock

…to getting into grunge as a pre-teen…

Mad Fientist Cobain

My Grandpap used cutting-edge 90’s software to put my 12-year-old face on Kurt’s

…to exploring more experimental music in my early teens…

Mad Fientist Angst

Wearing a Sonic Youth shirt while playing guitar
(my goofy brother didn’t understand my teenage angst)

…to having bands like Brainiac and Polvo change the entire trajectory of my life.


Brainiac’s aesthetic inspired me to embrace my math and science skills, which lead to me studying computer science

Music has enhanced my life in so many ways and it’s been my dream to take my love of music even further by writing and releasing my own.

I don’t have grand visions of becoming a star or anything and I have no desire for the fame, money, or other “benefits” that mainstream success in the music business would bring.

I simply want to make weird music that I enjoy.

To hear some of the incredible bands that influenced me most over the years, check out this Spotify playlist I created.

And make sure you click the heart button in Spotify to save the playlist to your library because I plan to add more music for my next article (and will hopefully be including some of my own soon!)

This goal isn’t overly-ambitious and it’s obviously important to me so why wasn’t I working towards achieving it?

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

Turns out, I had a “fixed mindset” when it came to making music.

I had built up this identity of being an analytical “math and science guy” but that is the opposite of the creative musician I wanted to become.

I could sit down and study for hours until I learned a programming concept but I didn’t think hard work would help me be creative.

I thought I either had it in me to write good songs or I didn’t.

So rather than throw a bunch of hard work at the problem, as I did in other areas of my life, I was too scared to try because I didn’t want to find out that I didn’t have what it took (which would kill the dream).

Do you have anything in your life like that? Are there things you want to do but aren’t even trying to do?

Thankfully, Dweck’s book made me realize that songwriting is no different from anything else and I can get better at it with practice, just like I can get stronger by lifting weights or I can learn more about math by studying.

Although my body is a bit too old to achieve my boyhood dreams of becoming an NHL star, my mind is still capable of changing.

Mad Fientist Lemieux

More of my Grandpap’s handiwork

Dweck’s Mindset showed me that brains can form new connections and improve existing connections through practice and repetition (a great example she gave is how the brains of blind people start using the visual cortex when reading Braille, even though their eyes aren’t doing anything).

This helped me believe that it is possible to get better at something creative like songwriting so I’m finally giving it a shot.

Unhappiness Before FI

Looking back, I can now see that not pursuing this dream for all those years was a big source of my unhappiness.

Even though it seemed like my brain was quite content tricking itself into inaction, deep down I must have known what was going on.

Actually, I know for a fact that I knew what was going on.  Check out this quote from an article I wrote in 2013:

After achieving FI, I won’t have full-time employment as an excuse anymore. Will I find other ways to procrastinate or will I finally start pursuing some of my creative goals? If I do start working towards my goals, will I fail? Has my procrastination been a way of keeping my dreams alive even though, deep down, I realize they are probably not attainable?

I knew what was going on but I was able to fool myself because I had something to blame for not making any progress – my job.

“I’d be writing music if I didn’t have to work 40 hours a week!”

“My commute tires me out so that’s why I’m not working on anything after I get home from work.”

“Watching TV isn’t getting me closer to releasing an album but can you blame me for needing to unwind after a hard day in the office?”

I had a perfect scapegoat and it allowed me to continue down the path of doing nothing (yet keeping my dream alive).

Then came FI…

No More Excuses

I wanted to achieve FI so that I didn’t have to have a job and could instead work on music full-time.

It’ll be great! I’ll have all the time in the world and then I’ll finally do it, after all these years of thinking about it!

Sadly, my brain kept ruining that plan too.

I couldn’t get started. Even though I had all day to work on music, I’d still find other things to do instead.

The problem is, I didn’t have a scapegoat to blame for this. I didn’t have a boss telling me what to do. I didn’t have anywhere to be or anything I needed to do.

I only had myself to blame.

But brains don’t like blaming themselves for things.

So that’s when I started trying to put the blame elsewhere…

“Ugh, replying to all these emails is taking up my entire day.”

“I can’t do anything in this small apartment in Scotland…I need to move to a house and get a proper studio to work in.”

“If only Jill would stop planning so many events with friends and family, I could finally get something done.”

“Once I get a new synthesizer, the songs will start pouring out of me.”

Those excuses were obviously bullshit though.

And even though I realized deep down that my job wasn’t the reason I wasn’t making progress before, these new excuses were even flimsier so it was more obvious that I was the problem.

Hazard of FI

This is a potential hazard of post-FI life.

If you’re unhappy when you’re working and you blame your job for all your problems, you may struggle after FI if you’re still unhappy.

What do you do when your biggest scapegoat disappears?

Your job doesn’t have feelings so you can blame it for all your issues and it won’t care. But when your job is gone and you start blaming your wife, your friends, or your kids instead, it’s not going to go down as well.

You’ll hopefully realize that those external things aren’t the reason you’re unhappy but, as I mentioned before, it’s very hard to do…especially when it’s you that’s the problem.

Thankfully, I realize now what had caused most of my unhappiness both before and after leaving work – I wasn’t making progress on these types of important projects.

The Best Thing About FI

This leads us to the best and worst things about financial independence.

They’re actually the same thing…

Financial independence gives you the freedom to do anything you want with your life.

Let’s explore why this is good first…

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

You don’t have to worry about money and you have the time and freedom to accomplish almost anything you want to.

During last year’s Winter Olympics, I was at my brother-in-law’s house and we joked that it’d be amazing to compete in a future Winter Olympics together in curling.

I thought about this more afterward and realized that this could be achievable now that I’m FI.

When you’re financially independent and you decide you want to become a world-class curler, you could:

  • Practice all day while everyone else is working to pay the bills
  • Volunteer your time at a local ice rink in exchange for more ice access and more practice time
  • Use some of your savings to pay for a coach so that you progress even faster

If you are persistent and dedicated, there’s no doubt you could excel.

Reborn after FI

Achieving FI is like being reborn.

Who you were before FI doesn’t matter and who you are after is completely up to you.

I am already quite different than the person I was before I quit my job and I imagine I’ll change even more in the years to come.

Shifting your identity is difficult and takes time (more on that in future articles/podcasts) but it is achievable.

The Worst Thing About FI

These benefits are amazing but the best thing about FI is also the worst thing:

Financial independence gives you the freedom to do anything you want with your life.

Now, if you aren’t living the life you want, you only have yourself to blame.

We are all great at making excuses and fooling ourselves.  How many of you are putting off pursuing your big life goals because you “don’t have time” or you are “waiting until you hit FI to start”?

Do you say you don’t have time to go to the gym but somehow, you’ve been able to watch all the Game of Thrones episodes?

Guess what…

When you achieve financial independence and you leave your job, you’re going to have all the time in the world.

That means those convenient little excuses that have kept you from feeling bad about yourself go away.

You finally have to put up or shut up.

You have to become the person you’ve planned to be (or already thought you were).

It’s amazing how a person’s image of themselves in their heads differs from the actions they take.

As I mentioned, I think this is the cause of a lot of unhappiness. I know it made me unhappy but I’m only realizing that now.

What to Choose?

Another reason that having the freedom to do anything can be problematic is because it’s hard to choose what to do.

What’s a good use of your time when you don’t have a normal script to follow? What motivates you now that money doesn’t matter as much?  What brings you happiness and fulfillment when the normal goalposts and measuring sticks people use no longer apply to you?


So what should you do?

Don’t wait until FI to start these important things.

Start exercising now.

Eat better now.

Start making progress on the things that matter to you now.

Work on improving your happiness and mental health now.

Start building your ideal life before you hit FI.

Yes, it’ll be a bit easier to do everything when you don’t have a full-time job taking up so much of your time but FI is not a magic bullet and it’s not going to instantly change you into a new person.

You’re still going to have to do the hard work to change yourself into the person you want to be so you might as well start doing that now while you still have a nice scapegoat to blame when things don’t go exactly as planned.

And if you’re already FI and are struggling with similar challenges, know that the struggle is worthwhile.

There’ve been many times I wished I could forget about this dream of mine and just enjoy my job-free life to the fullest (instead of struggling so much with completing difficult tasks, battling self-doubt, maintaining motivation, etc.).

I’m glad I persevered though because I’m a lot happier now that I’m finally doing what I’ve always known I should be doing.

In his book, Ultralearning, Scott Young (who is my next podcast guest!) shares the following:

Your deepest moments of happiness don’t come from doing easy things; they come from realizing your potential and overcoming your own limiting beliefs about yourself.

I am in the process of tackling my most-formidable limiting belief and although I still have a long way to go, I’m thankfully starting to see what he means.

What do you think?

Have you struggled with similar issues? Do you have a fixed mindset about certain topics? Do you have any advice for tackling tasks you don’t feel like you can accomplish?

Please share in the comments below!

And if you’re a musician and have any songwriting tips, I’d love to hear them because I still feel like I need all the help I can get!

I’d also love to hear what you think of all the music I shared on the Spotify playlist.  Are there any Brainiac fans out there?  Anyone into similar music?

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122 comments for “The Best and Worst Thing About Financial Independence

  1. Mr. CC
    September 19, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    You said it my man. Put up or shut up. Great book, by the way.

    • Chris Brown
      September 22, 2019 at 11:39 am

      But what if I want to be and not want to do. That’s why I retired, to drink my coffee and listen to the rain, and let my mind wander…..

  2. Carrie
    September 19, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Isn’t is weird how that limited mindset around creative endeavors is so pervasive? I wonder why that is and if its a US thing only? Do UK/Scottish kids grow up thinking they can’t be actors or writers or do they all get a part in the Christmas pageant and just go with it?

    I like to draw and paint and I do it now, but i strive for that to be my full-time job in FIRE. When i tell people that’s what i’m shooting for they always say they wish they could draw. I am constantly telling them its practice just like anything else.

    In the same vein though, I can’t imagine someone coming up to me at work and telling me they’d love to be a IT Release Manager but can’t because they don’t think they could manage or learn how to do it. Sad what people stop themselves from pursuing.

    Good luck with your music!

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:10 am

      I imagine it’s the same here in Scotland. For most things, you can sort of draw out a step-by-step plan for success but creative stuff seems to be like pulling magic out of thin air (at least at first) and there’s no manual for doing that so people struggle to get started. As you said though, it just takes practice and doing it a lot (just like anything else). Good luck with the drawing/painting!

      • Shannon
        October 1, 2019 at 3:56 pm

        I think people think creativity is inborn. They think you are just “born” creative. We always hear about those who are born with talent (and it happens) but we don’t always hear about the cases where people work really hard to get where they are. Even those who do work really hard and “make it” seem to come out of nowhere. It is not much different from writing a computer program: it takes all the lines of code to make a great program, and that one, final line of code for everything to fall into place. Those who make it in a creative field finally have that final line of code fall into place and they are “suddenly” successful – after years of hard work.

        That being said, I think creativity being inborn is partially true. Some people have a terrific ear for music naturally, while others have a knack for putting colors together. And some people are tone-deaf and color-blind (literally and figuratively.)

        Where natural talent and hard work merge is where greatness happens. You may not even know you have a natural talent until you try. (For example, a guy in my hometown decided one day to pick up a chainsaw and see if he could make a carving on a tree trunk. He now makes his living as a chainsaw carver.)

  3. Juan
    September 19, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks for another solid article.
    I’m so happy for you for going after your music dream.
    I could see how much music lights you up when we had a few drinks in Durham a few months ago and talked about the music festival you were attending.

    Just added the Spotify playlist to my favorites and will be listening over the next few days. I’m exited to check it out since growing up abroad, none of this music crossed my radar before.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:11 am

      Thanks, Juan! Hopefully see you again next year when I attend that same festival!

  4. Gwen @ Fiery Millennials
    September 19, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    I can’t wait to see what you produce! Keep at it!

  5. Eric
    September 19, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Nicely said. Thanks for the read.

  6. American Pika (Greg)
    September 19, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Seth Godin wrote this on his blog today:

    “Creative people
    “There’s just one way to become one:
    “Do something creative.
    “It’s a little bit like leaders. What they have in common is that they lead.
    “Simply begin.”

    I’m excited to hear your music, Brandon! Maybe we can collaborate?

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:16 am

      We’ll be heading through Colorado in January so it’d be great to try to get together, if you’ll be around?

  7. Arjun
    September 19, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Right on. I smiled harder and harder as I read through your post. I’ve developed such a fixed mindset that I felt that my life was pretty much over already. Sounds incredibly dumb to type out. It’s a big challenge overcoming it.

    Looking forward to your music. Added your playlist. IIRC from one of your podcasts, isn’t your brother doing music? Has he been living the life you secretly wanted? :P

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:22 am

      You’re just getting started!

      Yeah, my brother is doing music and he’s doing it full time now as his career, which is great. He’s a percussionist and is about to start another nationwide tour for a musical. Like me though, he also wants to write his own stuff so hopefully I’ll get him going alongside me soon so I have someone else to collaborate with.

  8. Stuart
    September 19, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    I know several hard core math nerds that are also drummers. Not exactly musicians… but close :)

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:17 am

      Haha, I hope my brother sees this comment (he’s a drummer) :)

      • MW
        October 13, 2019 at 8:58 pm

        What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
        A drummer.

        How many drummers does it take to change a lightbulb?
        Five: One to screw the bulb in, and four to talk about how much better
        Neil Peart could’ve done it.

        This attitude has plagued me my entire life. Playing guitar, woodworking, applying to work at google,even doing my taxes. All things that I should’ve done, or done sooner, but I fear the results. Like the old adage, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”, but used to keep myself from learning or pushing my own limits.

        So I also use my job as an excuse, but I also have two active kids, and use raising them as an excuse too.

        I did finally get back into guitar in my late 30s, even playing out in a band. I still want to do more. I bought a digital drum kit. I’m actually close to starting on vocal lessons too. I see my FI day coming, and I want to be doing all the things before, so I can just ramp them up in intensity. (In the home stretch paying off the house before college for the kids; spending in the next few years is really hard to judge,so I’m suffering a bit of “one-more-year-ism”

        Also I don’t know if your style of music lends itself to playing out, but if it does, you have to get out and play too. It’s scary as hell the first time, but it’s worth it.

  9. Dave V
    September 19, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    The Stanley Cup photo hits pretty close to home. I still force myself into late night beer league ice hockey and we hoist our crappy trophy like it’s the hallowed chalice. Maybe if I ever make it to FI; skating at 10:30 pm, beers in the parking lot after, and then up at 6 for work the next day won’t be so brutal…

    The real point of consideration for this article is one I still struggle with. I like the intentionality of FI, but I don’t despise my job (just the lifestyle inflexibility a bit). But I haven’t as of yet worked out what I am running from or to yet. I guess I still have some time though.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:28 am

      Hahaha, nice :)

      I just played beer-league hockey this week for the first time in 2019 and almost passed out so it’ll be a little while before I even hoist a beer-league trophy but I’m sure that day will feel like a Stanley Cup win.

      I feel like I’m Mario Lemieux out there on the ice but one time, Jill recored one of our games and I couldn’t believe how different it looked on video. We didn’t even look like we were moving, haha!

  10. Elisabeth
    September 19, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Thank you for this thoughtful and thought-provoking article. It strikes a lot of chords (see what I did there?). It’s really helpful to hear about your thought process and the mental obstacles you have encountered. I’m so happy you’ve found a way through them and are now engaged in living your dream.

    I’ve been really interested in Carol Dweck’s work as well, but to my surprise the growth-mindset language caused a lot of stress for my daughter because she got the message that she is never allowed to fail at anything. I proposed a slight modification to Dweck’s approach I call the “long-term growth mindset,” inspired in part by the stock index. If you’re interested I posted about it here:

    • LKM
      September 19, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      Elisabeth, I read your post on LinkedIn and really appreciated it. I actually resonate with your daughter’s perspective quite a bit! I can see how she might feel (in US culture especially) that failure is somehow not allowed, not okay. And your points about the benefits of attempting things are excellent. If we could let ourselves experiment and explore without always worrying about “succeeding,” we would have a lot more fun, still learn a lot, and discover what we truly like doing, and weed out what we don’t … whether or not we excel at any of it. Practice can lead to mastery, but when it doesn’t, that’s OK too. Thanks for sharing.

      • Elisabeth
        September 19, 2019 at 6:08 pm

        Thank you for your reply, LKM, it is great to read your thoughts on this topic and see that this sort of approach makes sense to you, too! Huge yes to this: “have a lot more fun, still learn a lot, and discover what we truly like doing… whether or not we excel at any of it.”

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:40 am

      Great post! I wouldn’t have expected a growth mindset to have downsides but you’ve obviously experienced some. Hopefully your daughter is enjoying the long-term growth mindset more!

      • Elisabeth
        September 21, 2019 at 8:41 am

        @The Mad Fientist thank you for giving it a read! Yes, the new framing has really helped actually.

  11. Steve
    September 19, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    100% accurate. I’ve had the same thoughts. I used the excuse of work and family commitments keeping by me from my interests for decades. Now I’ve been “retired” for a couple of years I find I’m still using excuses of other commitments that fragment my “free” time and prevent me from doing the things I enjoy most. I hope your music making continues for a long time and look forward to hearing more about it.

  12. Lorie
    September 19, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Really on-point article. I struggle with this every day, even though I’m not yet FI.

  13. Ms. Mod @ Modest Millionaires
    September 19, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this! The reflections you’ve done over the last few years, as well as the great interviews you’ve had, have greatly influenced how I am now approaching my trajectory to FI with a more balanced approach. Our family’s life is so much better thanks to this! Sharing your own struggles must not be easy to do, so really a huge thank you is in order.

    I also believe these reflections are so important for those of us still on the journey and we are seeing a great shift to a more balanced approach to reaching this goal, such as the SlowFI series by the Fioneers demonstrates. Keep sharing and I’m so excited to see what you create going forward!

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:41 am

      Really glad to hear that :)

  14. Noah Parker
    September 19, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Well put! As a fellow musician/music producer, I’m glad to hear you want to release your own album. It’s something I’ve been struggling with myself. I’m far from FI, but even now I’m trying to minimize those little excuses I give myself to put something off. I think it’s important we objectively analyze our own lives and determine where we can make time for the things we want to do, and if we don’t do them that’s simply on us. It’s so rewarding pursuing your own projects.

    There doesn’t have to be utility in everything we do, and I believe that’s difficult to see for a lot of us. We put off hobbies because there’s really not an end goal, we don’t plan to achieve anything from them – I believe that’s what makes them beautiful. The real measure of productivity is what you’re willing to do with your own willpower; what are you able to produce when no one else is telling you to do it?

    A bit of a tangent, but here to say: good for you! Release that album, I’ll be looking out for it.

    As far as songwriting tips go, take breaks when you’ve hit a roadblock, find some inspiration. You’ll know when you’re ready to pick it up again and it could be within a couple hours if the right song strikes you. I think the biggest things are not being hard on yourself when you’re not getting the outcome you want, avoiding imitation, and letting things FLOW.


  15. MARK
    September 19, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Famous Quotes come to mind…

    “I embrace the uncertainty.”

    “Uncertainty is where new happens.”

    “The desire for safety stands against every great and
    noble enterprise”

    “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can
    do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong
    thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:45 am

      I like that last one!

  16. Ali Rodgers
    September 19, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Awesome post–thanks for sharing!

    We hit FI this year, but our new side hustle has been so successful that it’s turned into a new full time job. That’s ironic, isn’t it?! We love it, but it is taking up a lot of time, and has become an excuse for me not pursuing other goals like sewing and doing more artsy-stuff. We are taking December, January, and February off, so that should be some good time to get priorities in order and get rid of the excuses!

    Thanks for calling us out on our excuses–sometimes it has to be someone else that tells you, before you realize it.

    Keep up the good work, and thanks again for the podcast–yours was the first FI article/podcast/website that I ever encountered, which lit the “fire,” and helped us change our lives for the good. Thank you!!

    • Nancy Perez
      September 19, 2019 at 7:57 pm

      We hit our FI number this year and I have transitioned to part time work. It is quite a mental change for me and has allowed me to explore a new field (blogging at and following some other pursuits I had abandoned.
      I appreciated your post because for me facing responsibility for my goals in a clear way is so necessary now. I really can’t blame anyone but me for what I do with my time.
      I find my new found freedom a bit scary at time. Stepping away from the daily grind is disorienting and a bit lonely. It is exciting too.
      Thanks for sharing your journey and the soul searching. How privileged we are to be able to choose our life paths in a conscious way! A sincere thanks to you for the tools and the forum to these life changes.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:49 am

      Ha, that’s what happened with the Mad Fientist!

      Congrats on hitting FI and hope you enjoy your ER sabbatical :)

  17. Michelle @ FrugalityandFreedom
    September 19, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    This post definitely speaks to me! Taking my one-year miniretirement trip around USA gave me plenty of free time to pursue my goals (currently, writing on the blog and building up freelance event coordination work). However, I still managed to make plenty of excuses and didn’t make as much progress as I’d hoped.

    Now I’m back in a full-time day job for 9 months, the potential excuses are coming thick and fast!

    I’m working to combat this and keep chipping away at those goals, even if it’s slow-going. Articles like yours are great motivation, like “a voice from my future”. Bookmarking!

  18. Megan
    September 19, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    It’s funny, you’re a math and science guy who is realizing you’ve been holding onto a fixed mindset about music, and I’m a musician who’s recently realized I’ve been holding on to a fixed mindset about science. Over a year ago I gave up my music career and all of my savings to go back to school and study medicine instead. How fascinating to see it going the other way.
    Songwriting advice as requested: a good song has an arc. It takes you to a point of tension or conflict – not just lyrically but harmonically, melodically, maybe rhythmically or in terms of texture – and then carries you home, just like a good story does. Songs that don’t travel anywhere are boring, and songs that go careening too far off the path they started are disorienting. Feel free to reach out for more thoughts or direct feedback – I do still teach music lessons and am happy to help you reach your goals.
    Good luck in your musical endeavors! It is absolutely something anyone can learn to do.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 3:55 am

      Whoa, no way! That’s crazy you’re on the opposite side of this annoying coin, haha.

      Big thanks for the tip! I’ve added it to my list of stuff I look through when I get stuck or discouraged.

      And I’ll be sure to reach back out to you if I get really stuck so thanks :)

  19. Jennifer
    September 19, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    I wonder if there’s a driven component to FIRE folks that then interferes with our ability to pursue what might be considered as less rational and/or more creative pursuits. We know what got us to where we are. Now we’re wanting to switch gears, maybe trying old successful strategies to a new endeavor that’s not amenable to that approach? I’m in a similar boat and really struggling with it. I thought I’d apply the same highly structured, focused mindset to creativity. But that doesn’t work. My best creative thoughts are when I’m falling asleep or on a hike in the woods, both times when I either don’t have the ability or means to document a stream of consciousness. And that wasn’t my day at all before now.

    I also struggle with folks assuming our lives are so charmed. And, indeed, we have such privilege. But that doesn’t make it easy (but I wouldn’t feel comfortable admitting that).

    My biggest challenge in the last 1 1/2 years of FIRE is to not feel guilty. And to embrace leaning into what else might be out there, even if I don’t know what it is.

    Best wishes and keep it up!

  20. Life Outside The Maze
    September 19, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    As someone who is FI and has also done a couple music albums, I am totally with you on this. My first studio album was at the same time my first son was born and that was a vivid time of questioning my identity and self doubt. My advice is to workshop your songs with a few people that you trust that also understand the process (your bro?). Not just friends who don’t write music because that can be frustrating. Maybe ask for feedback on a song or 2 and keep going with the voices that seem useful. I would love to attempt to help as a thank you for the value I’ve derived from your podcast over the years if you find you’d like some other voices. Feel free to drop me a line and keep creating…excited to hear it.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 4:01 am

      Yeah, I share everything with my bro because I don’t get embarrassed with him. Once I get a bit more confidence though, I’d love to get feedback from others so thanks a lot for your kind offer!

  21. Robin
    September 19, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    This is an important article. I stopped working two and a half years ago (I was at FI) and have been pretty good about getting on with things, but it is not as easy as one expects, and what you described is very real. Interestingly, it is reminiscent of an experience I had in university where I recognized that, being a good student, I had no one to blame but myself if I was not successful in my career. The realization that my ability was not the limiting factor was a bit scary, like I was all alone in this. After I stopped working I knew the world was my oyster, so if I didn’t seize it, then how sad is that. No pressure.

    Although I am actively working toward my goals, I don’t feel that I have really hit my stride. I suspect this is a common complaint and that more discussion about this would be welcomed. Your podcasts and articles truly resonate with me. Thanks for sharing them.

  22. Troy
    September 19, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    Wow this post really hit home for me. Approaching fi has actually become an existential crisis? Who am I? Who should I be? What difference do I want to make? It’s a question that’s so easily ignored when you’re just working your job watching TV and distracting yourself with the next gadget purchase.

    There seems to be a theme developing in some circles of fi which is the creative artist type who has suppressed that part of their personality in order to fulfill society’s need for a singular specialized expert professional. I thing that one of my fundamental reasons for fi is to be able to satisfy all of these elements. I’ve been going to shows for the past 15 years resigned to being part of the audience, since I told myself that engaged audience members are an important part of sharing in an art form. Realistically though everyone wants to engage in the things they love in a direct active way. With so many personal interests, entrepreneurship, music, skating, electronics, radio, travel, film making, sailing, husbandry, family, community. It’s hard to attempt any of these while still being a full time corporate drone as well.

    I think that many FIers are renessance folks who have a deep need to be more than a cog, and Im willing to bet that the world benefits from this overall.

  23. Al
    September 19, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Hello Mad fientist,

    I definitely relate. I’m an independent financial advisor and have been semi retired for the last 7 years. I’ve spent that time learning to play the drums which was a life long dream. I started a blog a few months ago so I think I’m doing things in reverse order than you did. I always thought of myself as structured and self motivated but when take away the ultimate excuse of work, you feel like the world is going on around you. My blog is
    Look forward to talking with you in the future.

  24. UnderFIRE
    September 19, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    Wow, I could have written this article myself! I am still at the point where I am working and do have a lot of excuses. Every day the question “What am I really going to do after work?” keeps becoming bigger and bigger in my mind. I have a slightly different take on what makes me though. Everything I’ve done, good, bad, things I am happy with and things I am ashamed of are all the things that make me today. Tomorrow I will change into whatever I will choose to add to that stack. I’m not sure where I will wind up but I am sure that I want to live a life where I do what I want to do. Great article!

  25. LKM
    September 19, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing this and being so open with your struggle. I’m facing a similar issue and it’s incredibly rough going trying to get myself into a different a mindset, or else to just move forward despite the deep discomfort and strange background fear.

    The “just do it” pep talks really don’t work when you hit these types of internal barriers, and not enough people who have succeeded at something (or at least given it their all even if it didn’t work out) are up front about the mental muck they may have had to wade through to get there. So we end up with all these inspiring stories of people doing great things, but rarely do we get a good look at the deep internal work that might have had to go on alongside external actions.

    Last week I took a chance and shared my shit with a group of women I’ve just met through a networking group. We were assigned to groups based on goals we wanted to pursue, and one of mine was dealing with stuckness and fear when trying to launch a business. So, I just poured out the truth about the stuff I keep *mysteriously not doing* (?!?!) and was open about my experience. It turned out great. One woman in particular had previously had a similar style of biz and situations/fears around it, and she made it clear that she had to do a LOT internally along the way to her external success.

    Just knowing this is not unusual actually helps. I was so tangled that I kept thinking that even feeling this stuck was itself a significant — in my case, that it meant I was not a true entrepreneur. Now I can recognize that it’s actually not uncommon, and that experiencing it has nothing to do with my talents or potential or destiny. (Funny the stories we tell ourselves without noticing we’re doing it.)

    Thanks again for being so open about this, and for also encouraging those of us struggling to have some faith, that the effort it worth it. I’ll be re-reading this periodically!

    Btw, I’m not FI, but left my job mid-2018 with a big savings cushion and have been amazed at how much I’ve lagged in working on my goals. You said it all in your description of how the job stops being the excuse, but magically other excuses come along! It’s only once you start realizing that this is ridiculous and makes zero sense, that you begin to understand that the trouble is happening on the inside.

    Have great FUN mastering music!

  26. Sonia @ Money for the Modern Girl
    September 19, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Great post, and thanks for the book recommendation.

    Have fun with your music, we are more creative than we initially think.

  27. LKM
    September 19, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    One add-on to my earlier comment: Thanks also to all the commenters who have said they also face this!

  28. Murray
    September 19, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Great article. I think your realising something important. I could write more but its probably summed up by reading and *practicing* The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. It’s a real gift for people interested in being the best all round person they can be…and it might surprise you as to what you need to do, and also what you don’t need to do.

  29. Mike
    September 19, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Name a great artist. He/She did a lot of drugs. Find a drug that works for you, and you’ll be on your way to your album.

  30. Adam @ Brewing FIRE
    September 19, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    I had a Jag-Stang too! Sadly, I just sold it last month (Marie Kondo > Kurt Cobain?)

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 20, 2019 at 4:09 am

      No way!! I still have mine and there’s no way Marie Kondo or anyone else is going to make me get rid of it!

  31. Adam @ Minafi
    September 19, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Growth vs fixed mindset is suuuch an important topic. I seriously wish I had learned about it back in school because it would’ve helped shift my mindset for many years.

    Like you, I also had a fixed mindset around myself as someone good at the tech side. My fixed mindset was originally around:

    * Never being able to create a good design (reason: didn’t come naturally / didn’t enjoy it)
    * Not being able to learn languages (reason: got bad grades in foreign languages in school)
    * Never being a good athlete (reason: asthma as a kid)

    And a bunch more for sure. Back at Code School we did a lot of activities as a team, and one was around fixed/limited mindset. I thnk in the year after that I started doing yoga, taking piano lessons, taking olympic weightlifting classes and started Minafi haha. It’s funny how many things a mindset shift can influence.

    > There’ve been many times I wished I could forget about this dream of mine and just enjoy my job-free life to the fullest

    I’m right there with you on this one. It’s like an open loop, or an open GitHub issue – you can’t just ignore it!

    One of the hardest parts for me since I stopped working was figuring out what progress looks like on these dreams/goals. I’ve found making progress on many things at once is mostly impossible, and I get much more enjoyment from throwing myself completely into something and being OK NOT making progress in other areas.

    Sure, that means only one thing is explored at a time, but better one thing than nothing! Being able to look back at a year and know that a few goals were reached, or ideas were explored/closed is an amazing feeling.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 3:07 am

      I’m right there with you with focusing on one thing at a time. I’m taking that idea to the extreme over the next few months (more on that in my next podcast episode). Hope you’re doing well and look forward to getting together in SLC in January, hopefully!

  32. Perry Cameron
    September 19, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Awesome read. Some great introspection.
    Keep the articles coming

  33. Justin
    September 19, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    So glad that you’ve come out about your music goal! Nothing like public commitment. Hope the Moog synth is coming in handy.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 3:07 am

      Oh, it is :)

  34. Northerner
    September 19, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Wow! Great timing for reading your post. Being ‘FI’ish’ I recently opted to go to part time work, in my long term job, so I have more time to do what I enjoy. I had never been into playing musical instruments but I recently got the ‘bug’ to learn guitar and last week I bought one and am practicing with it now. It was a lot of money to spend, with the guitar case and other accessories, but so far I’m really enjoying practicing with it. I’m in the ‘painful fingers’ part of the learning curve and not getting discouraged at all. Your post has further encouraged me to keep practicing! And it really was just having the extra time on my hands that opened up the door to actually buying the instrument and practicing with it. If I was still working full time there is no way I would of made the jump to buying a guitar!
    Well, we’ll see how good a guitar player I become someday!

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 3:09 am

      That’s a great hobby (once you get past the sore-fingers stage) so hope you enjoy it!

  35. Eddie
    September 19, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Full time recording, touring and teaching musician here. YES, you can do it! There are few things as satisfying and fun as writing/recording songs. I’ve certainly made a lot more money playing other people’s songs, but recording my own stuff is SO much more fun. Being a full time producer would be a dream job.

    Songwriting advice:
    -Keep at it. The more you do it, the easier it gets (or at least you get more used to how awful it is).

    -You’ve got to write some absolute crap in order to get to the good stuff. I believe it was George Harrison who said that he wrote 100 shite songs before his first good one.

    -In that same vein, sometimes something that you were really excited about initially will turn out not to work. When this happens don’t be afraid to set it aside and take a walk or work on something else. It might get better, or you might have to just let it go. I have a fantastic melody that I’ve been carrying around for about 15 years trying to find the right place to put it!

    -The corollary of the above is that sometimes some little weird idea that you weren’t excited about at all will turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever written!

    -If you really believe in one of your ideas but it’s not coming easily and it feels like some sort of horrible nightmare/pit of despair/”I suck. I suck so much! My ideas are junk and everything is awful!” that’s totally normal. Welcome to the arts!

    -If you’re up for it (and why not, eh?), try and find some other musicians to play with. Doesn’t have to be anything uber-serious (maybe open mics, song swaps, cover band, whatever), but to me some of the deepest magic of music comes from collaboration and doing awesome things as a group. There are also some things that just can’t be taught/read about, that only come from experience. Being in a band is an education like no other and teaching one of your songs to other people will definitely put it to the test.

    -DON’T be a perfectionist. It’s much easier to get some stuff down on paper then come back later and make changes than it is to write a perfect song right out of the gate. This is a piece of advice that I could stand to work on myself. The best songwriters I know are the ones who just crank ’em out and don’t worry too much about it rather than agonizing for two months over the Lost Chord or the Ultimate Rhyme for “her face”.

    Sorry to be so long winded, I’m usually a lurker on FI blogs and forums and such but they also rarely (never) have to do with arts, creativity, inspiration and the like! I hope the above helps. Some of it is self-contradictory, but hey, that’s life; it ain’t as simple as index funds! Good luck! Get the first album finished so you can move on to the next one!

    One final thing:
    -My favorite quote about putting in the work every day:
    “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” (W. Somerset Maugham)

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 3:15 am

      Haha, “get more used to how awful it is”…I’m thankfully getting used to this and working through it now, rather than just giving up or procrastinating like I was before, so progress!

      Really appreciate the tips and encouragement so thanks for taking the time to respond!

  36. Michael | Uncommon Dream
    September 19, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    Hey Brandon,

    Repeating UnderFIRE’s sentiment above, I feel like I could have written all of that and really appreciate the it took to actually write it and click publish — bravo!

    One of my most pervasive goals since my teenage years has been to record and release an album. And I’m about to hit the 3 year anniversary of my early retirement. What am I waiting for!?

    I have finally begun taking steps in the right direction and, as we’ve discussed, I’ve brought along a simple (yet complete enough) music setup with me here to Colombia. What better time/place in my life than now to finally move this lifelong goal into the done

    I’ve been telling myself late October is when I’ll get serious, beginning with a collaboration with American Pika (also commented above — a great guy from NoCo).

    What would you think about establishing an arbitrary date that we both need to have summoned the courage to click publish on our respective albums?

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 3:25 am

      I’m so pumped you’re finally writing your album too so we should definitely help each other, hold each other accountable, provide feedback, etc.

      Even our little G-Funk-whistle Twitter exchange gave me so much energy and motivated me because it was the first time in a while I interacted with another musician. Definitely need more of that!

      • Michael | Uncommon Dream
        September 21, 2019 at 9:14 am

        That’s so great to hear — it was every bit as energizing and motivating for me!

        FinCon 2020? We could organize a little “CD release party” and subject a group of supportive friends to our respective albums.

        And maybe we could play each other a track if our paths cross this January in Colorado.

  37. Justin
    September 19, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Hey Brandon, super cool to hear about your music ambitions! Music has always been a big part of my life too and I had a short period around 2006 where I was experimenting with making music. I got more into other hobbies (mostly programming) and businesses after that so I haven’t made much since, but I hope to again sometime. I built up the courage to post some of the tracks to Soundcloud a few years ago:

    Godspeed :)

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:12 am

      Nice work! What kind of equipment were you using back in those days?

  38. Cary
    September 19, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Keep going. I’m excited for you. I went through similar issues for a decade at work and then one day realized what my biggest regret would be later in life if I never wrote and finished a novel. It became my why and what drove me to keep the discipline of pursuing FI, which was not easy. I used FI, including a lot of your good info, as a means to free up brain space and time on my life to write. I took a couple of months off after I left work to decompress, and when the kids went back to school in early August, I got to it and have been writing almost every day. I take confidence from doing the hard work of achieving FI and realize no matter what, what I’m doing now is so much better than going to a stressful job. I have a daily word goal I try to hit (maybe there is an analogous goal for music), but I don’t get hung up if I don’t hit the goal. Some days I just brain storm and write nothing but that’s okay. I’ve learned not to beat myself up and just be content with it because I’m doing what I’ve always dreamed of and I’ll get there. Daydreaming and tiny naps and long walks help the creative process I’ve learned. I also realized during my FI journey that there is a lot I can learn from others, so I’ve embraced that mindset with my writing and am taking some creative writing classes.

    I can’t wait to hear your music when you’re ready to share it, but you don’t need to take anything from this except encouragement.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:16 am

      Thank you for your message, best of luck with the writing, and please share your novel when you get it finished because I’d love to read it!

  39. Mike Gibbons
    September 19, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Great post – probably the best I’ve read on Mad Fientist. Certainly mirrors my feelings of, “So, umm, this is it? I thought I was finally going to write that novel I’ve been talking about!” Nice to hear I’m not alone. And while you haven’t completed the album, you’ve accomplished a lot of other stuff. (I’d love to have achieved half what you have with Mad Fientist.) Keep up the good work!

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:17 am

      Wow, thanks a lot, Mike!

  40. Jacq
    September 19, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I have been working on bringing FI goals into normal life. At work we had a schedule with alternate Fridays off. I really enjoyed it, and used many of them to spend time with friends and family, which is a reason I want to get to the RE part of FIRE. Change in management has put alternate Fridays on hold for now, we will see what the future holds.
    It’s good to hear you have identified an interest and are pursuing it!
    I’m going to have to check out the mix tape.
    All the best! !

  41. Caleb
    September 19, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Still waiting for the link bro, I wanna hear some weird mind melting modular sounds! peace

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:19 am

      Haha, soon hopefully!

  42. Rose
    September 20, 2019 at 4:20 am

    I’m quite the opposite actually but my wife on the other hand sees in first impuls bears everywhere. Luckily she’s aware now and know to think longer to switch to possibilities & opportunities. But her primary reflex is obstacles. Inherited by blood.

    Good luck and keep reflecting and move with water.

    Regarding making music, start with the feeling everything is allowed even an imperfect result, even a non professional approach, just the fun and passion. No high standards just enjoy the making. Sometimes perfection obstructs the action and start. Life’s too short to be serious.

    I have not much talent but a lot of drive and enthusiasm, i did my own one woman studio band engineer musician thing. Never will make the charts or spotify … is not the goal. And the journey always delivers extra’s unforeseen what brings you benefit.

  43. Pauline
    September 20, 2019 at 4:40 am

    Great post! I’m not waiting till FI, but decided to compose two songs in the coming months. Performance is already set: end of January, so there is no way out. :)

    About songwriting as an engineer ;) – I wanted to learn more about chord progressions and how they work, and found this wonderful website:
    The chord maps are really great to get a hang of the system, and why things sound good: (and on the website you can find maps for all major and minor keys).

    Good luck! Looking forward to hearing your music!

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:23 am

      Wow, good luck with the gig!

      And thanks for the links…look forward to checking them out later today!

  44. Chris
    September 20, 2019 at 4:50 am

    There is a great Dylan Moran sketch, about the strained weirdness and angst that afflicts us if we don’t give voice to stifled drives. Re small flat, I think it can be better to take first steps in much more modest surroundings. A studio can be an amplifier of effort, but if you don’t have the drafts, it can be counterproductive. Small lofi drafts can be best. Perfect is enemy of good etc. I went through this a bit. I moved to Spain to paint, and to London to start bands after FI, which while inspiring, didn’t leverage my effort in a way that compensated for the massive resources it took. I live in Edinburgh now also, and it’s not ideal for electro live music honestly, But i play a bit of folk, and compose for fun. I like how music is now pure for me, uncolored by angst about unexplored avenues. Turning your treasured hobby into a job doesn’t always go down well .Post your drafts here on the blog for feedback!

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:26 am

      Nice, thanks for the message and if you ever want to grab a pint or coffee, shoot me an email!

  45. Renae
    September 20, 2019 at 7:15 am

    I’m not yet FI, but well on the way. I wanted to make relaxation spoken word recordings. I’ve been taking baby steps for the last 5 years, in fits and starts. First I got a qualification so I know what I should say. Next I started writing wordscripts. So difficult and time consuming, and so shite. But they’ve had a lot of edits done and are gradually feeling less cringeworthy. Next because I have a naturally horrible recording voice, I took voice speaking lessons for nearly a year to get rid of the worst voice afflictions and can now just about stand to hear my own voice talking back at me. Then I decided I need to make my own backing music. So I bought a MIDI keyboard about a year ago at the same time as taking a lesson on a new recording program… and got totally stuck. I’ve just about coaxed myself into getting a keyboard stand second hand so I can put it right in the living room where I have to walk past it every day. There is still so far to go and I don’t know when i’ll ever get one completed. The softly softly baby steps approach. I’m a scientist so have always wanted to create but never have and I have a lot of internal criticism.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:34 am

      Is writing your own backing music really essential for achieving your goal of making spoken-word recordings or is it just a way to put off the difficult thing (i.e. releasing what you create) while still feeling productive? Surely there is some great (and probably even free) ambient music clips online you could use instead?

      I’m a pro at finding ways to “productively procrastinate” so that’s why this jumps out at me.

  46. Itay Neta
    September 20, 2019 at 7:44 am

    Great realization! A few artists I know have some song-a-day challenges where the goal is just to crank something out every day. You don’t have to love the final product, but the act of doing this will really get the creative juices flowing….

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:35 am

      Yes, this is something I’m trying to work towards!

  47. Barb
    September 20, 2019 at 7:48 am

    The article resonates so much with me. I was very creative as a kid, but put all that away to pursue a career in software. I don’t regret it because my software career provided stability and financial security that an arts career couldn’t.

    I was really focused on FIRE the last few years, but it only increased my anxiety and misery with my career. Not because I was worried about money or frugality, I was anxious because I was telling myself “once I retire, THEN I can get back to creativity”. I was making FIRE a condition to bringing back something I really needed in my life.

    A few months ago, I ‘gave up’ on FIRE. I deleted all the podcasts from my phone (except for Mad Fientist), and I deleted all my shortcuts to the FIRE blogs and reddit. Instead of waiting for FIRE, I’m pursuing my creativity NOW. Not as a side hustle, not with the goal of it becoming an income stream, just to bring it back into my life. I’ll still retire early at some point, but it’s no longer a condition of getting back to my creative side.

    I’m so much happier now! I no longer hate my job (so much), because it’s not the main focus of my life. It’s the thing that funds my creative pursuits. I give it my “very best second-rate energy” My job gives me the ability to buy any books or art supplies or classes that I want, and that’s awesome!

    If anyone out there is also a stifled creative, I recommend the Creative Pep Talk podcast. I was telling myself that I wasn’t creative enough to listen to it, but that was a limiting belief. It’s perfect for someone trying to get in touch with their creative side and gives practical steps for how to develop your unique style. My favorite episode:

    The Mad Fientist introduced me to the concept of FIRE, but I read and listen to it now for the insights into a post-FIRE life that doesn’t involve side-hustles and income streams. I love hearing these insights and look forward to every post and episode.

    -PS, are you doing any meetups in Colorado? I’ll be in Boulder in January, and moving to Durango in the spring.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:51 am

      It’s great to hear you changed course and you’ve obviously made the right decision.

      I just want to pull out a quote from your comment because I want more people to see it…


      “A few months ago, I ‘gave up’ on FIRE. I deleted all the podcasts from my phone (except for Mad Fientist), and I deleted all my shortcuts to the FIRE blogs and reddit. Instead of waiting for FIRE, I’m pursuing my creativity NOW. Not as a side hustle, not with the goal of it becoming an income stream, just to bring it back into my life. I’ll still retire early at some point, but it’s no longer a condition of getting back to my creative side.

      I’m so much happier now! I no longer hate my job (so much), because it’s not the main focus of my life. It’s the thing that funds my creative pursuits. I give it my “very best second-rate energy”. My job gives me the ability to buy any books or art supplies or classes that I want, and that’s awesome!”

      Great stuff.

      I appreciate the kind words and the podcast recommendation (I look forward to checking that out tomorrow in the gym).

      As far as Colorado is concerned, still trying to figure out our itinerary but I’ll keep you posted!

    • greg
      December 13, 2020 at 9:29 am

      This is REALLY awesome to hear. I think a lot of people go through this but might not realize what’s actually going on. Thanks for commenting, and the post is SUPER helpful too, of course!

  48. Davey P
    September 20, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Great article. I too am FI and “retired” 3 1/2 years ago. The things I always made excuses for are now able to get done and explored in depth. I run our church food pantry, service in various other ministries and have become a financial advocate for many seniors that I know and that trust me to help them. Also, given my technical skills I patiently help them with their computers and all that goes with it. I have had a couple consulting gigs over these 3+ years and all came from my HR contacts at my former employer. My wife and I are exploring setting up a small part-time business helping seniors navigate many aspects of their financial lives. It comes naturally for us and is a way to give back and not charge an arm and a leg. Heck I even worked doing personal taxes this past year for pay and volunteered at the local VITA program. Way more rewarding than I ever thought to help those that need it most. All the best with your music career. You got this!

    • Kumar
      December 29, 2019 at 5:33 pm

      Hi Davey,

      Quick question for ya – you said you worked for personal income tax preparation but also volunteered with VITA. How were both possible? I’m a volunteer with VITA and would love to slowly get into personal tax preparation. Was the $/hr worth it? I do a ton of hours with VITA so I’m ready to slowly take on income generating clients as well without it cutting into my VITA time. Any help on how to get started?


  49. Physician on FIRE
    September 20, 2019 at 11:20 am

    You should absolutely put your heart and soul into making that album.

    Curling, though? I’m going to have to shoot that dream down. I’ve been a curler for four seasons now, and it’s not a sport that anyone can become world class at just because they want to. Do you have to be an amazing athltete? No. But thinking you can be great at it if you just try is no different than thinking that time and effort will make you an incredible golfer, bowler, pool player, or dart thrower.

    Jared Allen and some other former NFL players are pursuing that curling dream. It’s not going as well as they had hoped. But it is a lot of fun, whether you’re world class or not.

    And good curling.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 4:58 am

      Haha, no way!! I had no idea you’re a curler!

      Ever since we lived in Vermont and I saw a bunch of guys out curling on a lake with a six-pack of beers stuck in the snow, it’s been on the list of things I know I need to get into. Definitely don’t want to put in the time/effort to even attempt to be world class though so beer-league curling is fine for me!

    • seattlecyclone
      October 2, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      I have to agree with Physician on FIRE. I’ve been a recreational curler for about ten years now. I began FIRE this summer at age 34, and know full well that competing in the Olympics isn’t a reasonable goal for me anymore.

      For the first three curlers on the team where you have to sweep, the level of athleticism you need for that has been increasing every year. Even if I did spend all my available time trying to improve my curling, I’d still be competing against the latest crop of 25-year-olds who have been curling since they were barely big enough to push a stone down the ice. Not going to happen.

      What *might* be feasible is becoming competitive at the senior (50+) level. They have national and world championships for this. I’d have 15 years to practice, and would eventually be competing against folks my same age or older. Will I actually want to do this? Hard to say. Maybe! Improving my curling is one of many goals now that I’m FIREd. I’ve got plenty of time to see how this interest develops compared to other things.

      I’ve also gotten a toehold into the world of curling officiating. These are the folks who run the timers at competitions and operate the fancy measuring device (, among other things. I’ve done this at the past two national championships that took place in the Seattle area, and I’ll probably go out to Spokane to help out at the upcoming national championships there in February.

      If I make a habit of officiating at these events for several years, eventually graduating to lead official at some, opportunities to officiate in international competitions can become available. While I may have no real shot at being an athlete at the Olympics, the measuring device could be mine if I spend a couple decades honing my abilities, traveling to events around the country and the world, and forming positive relationships with folks in the curling community.

  50. Matt
    September 20, 2019 at 11:27 am

    When you say…
    “I don’t have grand visions of becoming a star or anything and I have no desire for the fame, money, or other “benefits” that mainstream success in the music business would bring.”

    Are you sure? If your music became incredibly popular you would turn down the fame? Not tour? Not sell your album? Just checking to see if this is your doubting brain talking again

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 5:37 am

      This is a fantastic question and I’ve actually thought about this a lot…

      Why am I putting myself through this? What do I actually want to get out of this whole music thing? What is my ideal outcome?

      The main reasons I’ve come up with are 1) this is something challenging that I want to get better at and doing challenging things is worthwhile, 2) it’s a perfect creative outlet for my interests and skills and it’s something I can hopefully do for the rest of my life so it’s a great thing to try to master, 3) playing music live would be a great way to have fun with my brother and meet other people with similar interests so having enough success to have an audience pay to see us would be great, 4) it’d be amazing to work with some of my heros so having some success and respect in the industry would make it more likely that that could happen.

      So I stand by the not wanting fame part (the small amount of dorky internet fame resulting from the Mad Fientist has shown me that I have absolutely no desire for any greater level of fame). Obviously I’d never say no to free money but that’s definitely not necessary at this stage either so I stand by that statement as well. The “mainstream success” part of that sentence though, I should probably backtrack on.

      Achieving mainstream success would open up doors to play music festivals, which would be fun, and would bring more people out to the other shows (which would make those a lot more fun too). And it would make it more likely I could meet and interact with musicians I really respect. So mainstream success would help with numbers 3 and 4 above so that is still desirable. I can’t control that though so that’s why I’m just trying to focus on numbers 1 and 2 (and a little bit of 3, since I can start playing music with my brother now and already have).

      You’re right though…my doubting brain is probably also playing a part in all this. Still some work I need to do on that :)

  51. Maria
    September 20, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    I love this article, I really do. It really hit home when you said that the person you thought you were in your head and the person you are in real life differ. But you’re right, in many ways, actions speak louder than words, our life’s work is what defines us, not our righteous internal monologue, which is something i struggle with too.

    Your post reminds me of a lot of the themes picked up in “Magic Lesson”, a podcast hosted by “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert. If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommend it to all creatives out there who have let fear stand in the way of them diving into their creative passions. Hopefully giving it a listen, and picking up the book on which it is derived, can help fuel and inspire your artistic journey.

    Thank you for sharing your dreams with us, and sending you lots of encouragement and support and you begin your next adventure! Let us know how it goes :-)

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 5:40 am

      Look forward to checking out the podcast so thanks for the recommendation!

  52. JC Webber III
    September 20, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    This article (and another one recently over at GRS by JD Roth) got me thinking about my attitude towards my life and how I feel about it. I am content and reasonably happy at this stage of my life (and have been for most of my life). I believe I can attribute this attitude to my conscious decision in my mid 20s to not be concerned with becoming famous or of ‘make a name’ for myself. I became FI before I ever knew what FI was (achieved it back in late 2007). Been retired now for a dozen years and our portfolio has supported us all these years with an upper-middle-class lifestyle (spending ~$90k per year) and it is actually a tad larger now than it was when we retired. And that’s after retiring just before the financial collapse of 2007-2009 (we were victims of the Sequence of Risk, but held on and things recovered). I guess if there is anything I am proud of at this point in my life is how well I’ve managed our portfolio these last dozen years. Retired at 57 and turning 69 this Nov. Life is, and has been, good. You don’t need the world to recognize your accomplishments. You just need to be happy with what you’ve done. 8^)

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 5:43 am

      Completely agree and congrats on your happy and successful retirement!

  53. Nathan Steinke
    September 20, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Great article. I worked on songwriting for 5 years, took a 10 year break from it feeling a bit intimidated by it and that I wasn’t progressing to write songs I felt were good.

    I’ve been back at it for 5 months.

    1. Write a song and get it completed… someone said to write 100 songs and then you’ll be in a place to branch out and have a good foundation for writing
    2. Do you play any instrument? Sing?
    I play piano and sing some. So I got zynewave podium (free) and use it for recording
    3. Listening to the songs from your Spotify you might consider ezdrummer2 ($150, but I tried a free demo to get the idea if it’s beneficial) to help with drum rhythms
    4. Consider strongly how you are getting contrast in your song as it progresses to keep it interesting. I’ve struggled with this for years and continue to struggle.
    5. Listen to songs and after the first two lyrical phrases, pay attention to what they do the same and what they do differently and if you like the change and why. Is your interest rising/dropping or what.

    Those are my thoughts. I’m not claiming I’m a great songwriter/authoritative here but this has helped me make progress where I feel I am improving, trying to avoid thinking of myself as inherently good at it or inherently awful, as you’ve mentioned in your article about the mindset.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 5:47 am

      Thanks a lot for the tips and glad to hear you’re getting back into it!

  54. Kris
    September 20, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    This is a fantastic read and hits super close to home. My wife and I quit our careers last year to travel even though we aren’t FI ye and we’re in a very similar situation. We don’t have enough to live on forever but we have enough that for the next few months we can do just about anything we want to start generating income. It can be overwhelming when your options are essentially infinite, even if it’s not forever.

    Thanks for all the hard work, Brandon! Ironically, your blog/podcast are a main part of the reason we started chasing our dream BEFORE reaching FI.

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 5:49 am

      I’m really glad to hear that! Hope it’s going well

  55. Jmk
    September 20, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Every permutation of Sonic Youth;)

    • The Mad Fientist
      September 21, 2019 at 5:50 am

      Haha, I didn’t actually include a Lee Ranaldo track :)

  56. Dylan Cannon
    September 21, 2019 at 12:09 am

    Good for you Brandon! One of your most insightful articles, at least for me. Can’t wait to listen to what you come up with. Since you asked… in my songwriting experience some of my best ideas would come at the most random times. I could sit for hours working on something and… nothing. Then one morning pick up the guitar and in 10 minutes it would flow out. Point being, always be equipped to catch that inspiration when it hits ya!

  57. Kierra (Miss Unconventional)
    September 21, 2019 at 2:44 am

    I’ve struggled with this so much! When I was working full time, I used to blame my 10-hour work days on why I couldn’t work out and lose weight. I used to make all kinds of excuses. I even made excuses that cost me money: for example, saying things like “I need a personal trainer to get started” or “I need to buy these nice work out clothes” or “I need to buy this book on intermittent fast”…..

    None of it got me any closer to making a huge difference with my body. Then I came across the book, “The War of Art” and it OPENED MY EYES! Resistance was trying to sabotage me and I was letting it. Now that I’m not working, I can’t use work as a lame excuse anymore. Just like you said! I read Ultralearning too and I’ll tell you this much, nowadays my happiness is coming from my absolute hardest activity-a 75 minute Hot Yoga class where I feel like I’m dying and my limbs won’t flex, but for some reason I keep going back for more because it’s visibly making me better, stronger, and leaner.

    This was a great article! Thank you!

  58. David
    September 21, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Great article Brandon – looking forward to hearing that you’ve released your album – I have no doubt you’ll do it!

    I’ve always had the dream of writing a best-selling fiction novel. I’ve never even written a chapter. The excuses I’ve told myself were: I don’t have enough life experience yet to be a good writer, I don’t have any good story ideas, what if my writing really sucks, what if I do all this work and the book never gets published or read?

    Well, I’m older now. Anyone can publish a book on Amazon. I have no more excuses. The only thing stopping me is … me.

  59. Ann
    September 22, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Oh gosh… we’re nearly FI and this hits home. At least I’m not alone. Thank you.

  60. Jen
    September 22, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    I really like how your podcast and articles delve into issues related to living our best life after FI. Like you said, achieving FI is like being reborn and you are the only one who can make it meaningful.

    I retired at 47 years old late last year after a couple of years of indecision. Before I retired, I imagined that I would pursue my love of art in retirement and become an artist. I wanted to study art when I was younger but decided on a more practical path, which I am grateful for, because it took me to FI.

    As I approached retirement, I was self aware enough to know that it would be hard for me to self motivate and be creative because I did not have the confidence and know-how to do so. So, after retiring, I enrolled in a full-time Fine Arts program. It has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences. Not only have I developed skills and confidence, I’ve been exposed to so many disciplines that I love and people from all walks of life.

    If you have the opportunity, I would be interested in hearing a future podcast about someone who transitioned to becoming a visual artist (not me) or someone who has gone back to school post retirement.

    Thanks to you for a great podcast and article. They have inspired me. I hope you continue on your path to writing your own album!


  61. Demetri
    September 22, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Great article, I do think about this topic a lot as I am unhappy and assume/act like its due to the job which it does partially affect your mood when you are doing something you dont really care about for a living. But truth is I never really found something I enjoyed doing for a living as money was always a top priority and while I make a good income now and nearing FI, I need to start focusing on that something else that provides meaning etc.

    But we are taught to just follow orders and processes in schools and so we go through life (at least white collar/corporate careers) with little outlets for cultivating our creative side. So one has to work that much harder to get into that headspace again from childhood.

  62. Kristina
    September 22, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Less than a year since I “RE’d” (to part time, 2 days a week) and last night I performed my very first “show” of (mostly) my own original music!!!! Two solid hours, I was exhausted and my fingers are calloused and killing me…. and almost no one there was actually listening to me (except my husband, god bless him, he’s heard the songs a hundred times!) But I still felt so proud! I only began song writing about a year ago, and this music festival that I signed up for (on a whim) helped motivate me to keep writing.

    I didn’t even know that song writing was a goal until recently, when my unhappiness at work served as initial inspiration for my songs (“I Hate Everyone” and “Retirement Song- Get me the F*** Out of Here” two of my first!) More than 20 songs later, how amazing it’s been to see my songs transition into happy themes as my shift to part time has allowed me to re-discover myself.

    Truly serendipitous to come across your post! Song writing tips: don’t ignore 2 am ideas that pop into your brain (jot them down!), use downtime (eg. long drives, bike rides) to brainstorm, find a mentor (I started guitar lessons with an amazing musician/composer and I run my new stuff by him).

    Next goal: an album (and I am already planning to play again at the festival next year but this time with my husband drumming, he RE’d too! :) )


  63. Dominic
    September 23, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Thanks for the insight, I think this is something a lot of us in the FI community or those of us who are on the FI track struggle with.

    I have always struggled with creativity. Things like math and science always came so easy for me because you just plug the numbers and follow the process. But creativity required creating something that means something out of nothing. Now, I have decided to step outside of my comfort zone by signing up to be a haunted house actor this Haloween season. There is no script, just create a character and scare people with it. This will force me to be creative and provides a little extra income which of course will go into VTI. If this works out, this will be an excellent creative outlet and a source of income post-FI.

  64. Jeff
    September 23, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Yeah I really should start exercising now… However I did start working on my music career and I’m also using most of my free time on the weekend traveling to live music and most of my free time during the week doing things with my SO or working on music myself. So at least I’ve started in on my dream. Time is very hard to find for me right now, sometimes I dip into my 8 hours of sleep in order to work on music. It’s worth it though, I’m progressing so fast!

    My biggest tip for aspiring creatives is to keep a journal. Write in the journal every day, preferably immediately after you open your eyes in the morning so your brain is not fully driving, and you can write down some subconscious thoughts as well as whats on your mind, your plan for the day, etc. It helps get your brain in the creation mood and gets your thoughts organized, like tending a garden. Other mindfulness techniques work great for getting in the creative zone as well! Good luck!

  65. Kelly Fuette
    September 24, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    I finally got around to reading “Atomic Habits.” Since then (about 2 months now) I’ve been slowly and steadily strengthening some habits like 1- yoga in the morning before breakfast 2- 5 minutes of French on Duolingo before leaving for work 3 – cook healthy dinner when I get home 4 -5 minutes of writing “the book” after dinner 5 – create artwork (I’m a cartoonist) after “the book” 6 – practice violin before getting ready for bed 7 – journal 1-3 pages before going to sleep.

    I’m some years before FI, but I’m glad I’m developing habits now. When my husband and I were paying our debt off, we did it like MMM suggested, as if our “hair was on fire”. During that year we only worked and I got rather depressed. I thought I’d be on cloud 9 after the debt was paid, but I was still struggling. That’s when I realized what you did, that you have make your life great for yourself no matter what stage you’re in.

    We’re now paying our house off. We could work a ton more if we wanted and neglect our hobbies, families and free time like before, but that’s not what we’re doing. We pay a huge chunk every month on our mortgage, but we leave a lot of free time to ourselves to pursue our passions. My husband is becoming an actor, me the cartoonist and violinist. We’re both involved in groups and projects outside of work. We spend lots of time with our families and friends. This might be the slower boat to FI, but we’re happy now. And isn’t that the point?

    I’ve listened to your whole podcast, and I think you’re the most honest and introspective personal I’ve encountered in the FI community. Thank you for all the work you’ve invested in yourself and in others!

    Good luck with the album!


  66. barrie
    September 24, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    I find a daily tracker (I just start bullet journaling, but you do you) holds me accountable to creating habits. As they say, practice makes perfect. That’s why there’s nanowrimo for writers, the artist’s way for creative folks, and I’m sure some sort of equivalent to aspiring musicians. Why not find people you can meet with regularly to hold yourself more accountable? Go to more concerts to get you excited. If you want to write songs, maybe meet with like-minded songwriters once a week and share your ideas. You can also write out all the steps to making those meetings happen (find the group, start a meet-up, schedule a time, etc) if you like to cross things off. Whether it’s writing a list or just getting up every day at the same time and putting pen to paper (while using an distraction-free app), find what works for you. I believe in you!

  67. Jeff Underwood
    September 29, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Hey MF! Huge fan and loved seeing you in your recent appearance in “Playing with FIRE.” I have slightly different music taste than your Spotify list, but I totally resonate with your goal of self-producing an album and not for the possibility of money but doing it for yourself. I think you mentioned in a podcast episode that you were an INTJ a while back, too, which is my Meyers Briggs personality type, so maybe there’s something there with the deep-rooted things that drive us. Ten years ago, I’ve produced a few dozen songs of so-so music (with original lyrics, vocal, and combined mostly with loops) using Apple’s GarageBand software. My mental hurdle for many years has been with learning Apple’s professional software upgrade, going from GarageBand to Logic X. I purchased Logic several years ago, but have yet to learn it. I think GarageBand was perfect for me when I got started about 15 years ago, because I could dive right away and play, but Logic feels like I need to be “serious” and overcome the huge learning curve of a legit sound engineer. I keep telling myself that I’ll focus more on upgrading my software, vocal skills, etc. in my retirement years, since I’ve already taken the baby steps with GarageBand. For now, I’ve felt more driven by other side projects, like self-publishing a book and pursuing public speaking gigs. Just wanted to suggest a user-friendly piece of software like GarageBand, though, in case that might help you along in your parallel journey!

  68. Nancy
    October 1, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    This post was spot on. I’m pretty sure I’ve uttered every excuse you wrote out under ‘No More Excuses’ almost verbatim. “I just don’t have time to pursue any of my passions”, although my Netflix and Hulu histories would strongly suggest otherwise. So then I turn to the “I don’t have the mental bandwidth after a day of mentally taxing work” excuse.

    I’m thinking of tracking a week of where my time goes in 15 minute increments (just like I do for my work hours) to get a better sense of how I’m truly spending my time, and then come up with a plan to move towards how I want to be spending my time. Even if it’s only a few hours a week set aside to start on some of those items I’ve been meaning to do for years but “never have the time for”, it will be a big improvement over close to zero hours in the last 5 years.

    Thanks for an important reminder! Now that most of my finances are on auto-pilot, I’ve been focusing on how to make my pre-FI life as close to my ideal life as possible, and this is exactly the kind of shut down for my excuses I needed!

  69. Celia
    October 5, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s easy to think “if/when I have more time…” but I have lots of time now and yet don’t always reach for the things I’d like to explore.

    And your grandfather’s inspirational photo editing made me smile!

  70. Dan
    October 8, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Love that you’re branching out (or back into) music!! I’m still plugging away at FI (actually in a temporary-partial-retirement now to spend more time with my toddler), but have been making a little music as I go along.

    What has worked for me is keeping it fun. I play with some great friends, and it gives us an excuse to get together now and then. We don’t take it too seriously, which helps avoid the ‘fear of failure’ thing. We aren’t doing it to succeed or become famous, just to have some fun and get a little better as we continue to write. We’ve written some total garbage, and we’ve written some stuff we’re kinda proud of.

    You can listen to some of our stuff here:

    Hopefully, it’ll inspire you (or anyone) that they can make music, too. As in, “If these idiots can make a record, I can too!” Which is true. They say every kid knows how to sing and dance, but at some point as we grow up, most of us “learn” that we can’t sing or dance. How does that make any sense? Congrats on getting back into music and living life on your own terms. Rock on, man!

  71. Mary
    October 15, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    You can do it! Thanks for the inspiring, awesome article. I’m also a musician and constantly struggle to continue pursuing this dream. 30 years ago music was my full-time gig before work and motherhood took the spotlight.

    Last year I finally released a single that took several years to get to the finish line. How? I got a coach (who wound up becoming my producer) and re-wrote it dozens of times. The day I recorded it live with some awesome NYC musicians was one of the happiest days of my life. Check it out here:

    Now that FI is within reach I’m slowly building a catalog of instrumental stock music – but always procrastinating. Your article is a solid reminder that my dream is possible, but only if I put in the work. Thanks for that kick in the pants. Now get back in your studio!

  72. Christina
    October 17, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    YES! I love everything about this post from the tube sock glove to grandpa’s handiwork to your experimenting with music again. I grew up in Chicago in the 90s and had some delightfully weird musical influences as well. As for creativity, I just finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s a little wordy for me but offers some good inspirations on everyone tapping into creativity as well. Don’t know what your passion is? Follow your curiosity. As someone with lost of interests, I really appreciate that. I also remember something along the lines of “let other people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. . .just remember that other people’s opinions are none of your business.” Have fun and good luck from another recent retiree pursuing her creative curiosities!

  73. Christina
    October 17, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    I appreciated your comment on the limitations of making music in a small apartment in Scotland too. :) Have you listened to much Belle and Sebastian? There is a documentary on them, maybe available on youtube. I also recommend it if you haven’t seen.

  74. Nic
    October 17, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Such a great post, thanks Brandon for saying out loud what everybody is thinking deep down. I myself am just starting my FI journey, and tend to see FI as this ultimate goal and happy ending. But I need to put all my energy into living the best life I can live and being the best I can be right now

  75. D FIRE
    November 3, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Mad Fientist-

    Very inspiring post! So great to hear about the connection between FI and music.

    I’ve been a musician / producer / DJ for about 25 years. Recently, I’ve taken a step back from music to focus on a job in software and pursue FI, but I can’t wait to get back to music soon!

    Great mix, lots of quirky mad scientist / electroclash indie stuff on there. We’ve got some common ground on: Crystal Castles, Out Hud, Duran Duran, a lot of the indie stuff.

    I would love to help out any way that I can on songwriting. What style of music are you looking to make? Do you want to do everything yourself, or work with a band? How far along are you now? Is there a particular point in the process that you feel like you’re getting “stuck” on?

    A couple of ideas: I think working with other people can be very inspiring and motivating. If you’re already a guitar player, maybe join a band as a player / performer just to have fun and meet people. You could pick up songwriting tips from your bandmates. Then if the band is open to it, maybe show them one of your original tunes, and go from there.

    Or if you want to go solo (playing in a band is definitely a “lifestyle”), here’s a few more tips: Improvise, compose, experiment, play, create, but don’t worry too much if something is “good” or not. It’s often hard to tell in the moment anyway. Record it, and forget about it for a while. Then go back later, pick your favorite ideas, and develop them a little more.

    I could give more specific tips if I knew what genre, and where you’re at right now.

    Congrats on being a musician on FIRE ! I’m jealous!

  76. Brent
    November 21, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    Wow, this really hits home. I would love to achieve FI so I can get out of teaching. I’m likely stuck until I reach 62 for pension purposes though. Will I all of the sudden be happier when I am able to quit teaching? After reading this, maybe not? Some deep thinking needs to be done.

  77. Never2Late
    October 22, 2020 at 9:15 pm

    You could be the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life

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