Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Overcoming the maybe "One More..." Syndrome

As a legitimate human being on this planet, I think many of us have been in a situation where we are suffering from a "One More..." syndrome. 

Take a drug victim for example, he may be so addicted to the drug that even when he promises that this will be his last use, he will never comply to it and uses it again the next time.

Similarly for us, we may be guilty of such syndrome at times, even myself admittedly.

Take the example for myself 3 years ago, I promised at that time that the next job will be my last and I would be comfortable with a $5k/month salary that would meet the needs of my financial freedom. I took it for granted, get used to it and perhaps realised that I've got more responsibility to care for than I originally had planned and suddenly I was awaiting for the next higher paying job. Maybe I was suffering from the "One More..." syndrome and I know many people too did. 

I had devised myself a 10 year roadmap plan to financial freedom and I've 6 years left to go for before I turned 35. If everything goes to plan, I'll probably have around $1.5m yielding me about $90k/year, which is an equivalent to about $7.7k/month. By our current spending pattern, the amount should be more than enough for our family to live comfortably. What I am worried is I do not know if by then my "One More..." syndrome will kick start another roadmap plan for me. If so, this is a mental block, more than anything else.

There are a couple of reasons that might relate to why many people are having this "One More..." syndrome. The most obvious reason is greedy. Humans tend to be greedy in nature and especially in the society we live in, it is almost inevitable that we look across our neighbours to compare and see how each other is doing. For a more conservative reasoning, we could perhaps look at how people tend to perceive a higher margin of safety net which enable them to be more comfortable. Take for example, if I decide to work for an extra year until the age of 36, it would give me an additional 6-figure sum which would placed me at an even better stead. But the million dollar question remains, how much enough is enough?

Overcoming The Syndrome

Overcoming the syndrome is not the easiest thing to do and as much as we tell ourselves this can be done, many people still failed to do so. Here, we look at how we can potentially overcome this syndrome:

1.) Get the mental block out of the way

Almost everything we do starts from the mental and getting the mental block out of the way is one of the foremost important reason we need to convince ourselves before we can start overcoming this syndrome.

2.) Think of the upside

Many times, when we forego a certain situation, we tend to think more about the opportunity cost rather than the upside benefit to it. For example, if someone foregoes another year of working, the first thing that came up to their mind would be the opportunity loss of their active income for that one year. But they failed to see the upside. Think more of the upside of how you can potentially use the time you spent on working your ass off in the office to spending more time with family and friends. Remember, time is irreversible, what is gone is gone and you are always ticking closer to death as each second past.

3.) Stress test your expenses

If you are worried that the money you have will not last you a lifetime, perhaps a good thing to do is to stress test your expenses while you are still working. Test yourself in a situation where you do not draw out your active income and instead you will only use other passive income as a means to support your monthly expenses. If that works well for you, then hoola... you are ready for financial freedom.

Remember, happiness is a given and everyone in this earth can make it happen.

There will be a positive correlation for level of happiness against income but to certain point, a gradual increase in income does not lead to a corresponding gradual increase in happiness. This shows that even if one day you become a billionaire or trillionaire, nothing else will change. It is what you do that makes the situation around you and life even more special. To end off, I would like to show a simple story that might have been shared before:

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

The Mexican replied, "only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, "but what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell  directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

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

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then?"

The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions.. Then what?"

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

The moral of the story -- Know where you’re going in life — you may already be there.


  1. Hi B,

    I totally understand this syndrome since I was "supposed" to continue in my line for at least another year to build up my savings.

    And interestingly, this line of thinking happened the year before too. Well... guess that explains why most people procrastinate on major changes.

    From my observation, it seems that you have probably landed the new role with a bigger paycheck (which also comes with heavier responsibilities)?

    It sure does take great courage to reject a promotion but then as they say "one man's meat, another's poison".

    1. Hi 15Hww

      I think we are not alone ;)

      It appears that you have now quit your job following your posts saying that you are now looking to spend more time in singapore. Is that true?

      For me, contrary, I had actually rejected the role even though they are offering me a higher pay. There are just something that I wasnt very comfortable at in the clause agreement hence decided to stay put.

    2. Yup, I am going to be unemployed real soon. =p

      It does take courage to reject a higher paying job, but your savings make it easier?

      Since you have already asked me a question, I am curious to know whether you are "planning" to retire at 35?

    3. Hi 15hww

      Wow... thats a big move for you, especially that you still have fixed costs every month you need to incur. But I will be curious to know your reasons and the next move you are planning to make. Maybe I shall wait if you decide to discuss this in one of your next post.

      My plan at 35 is to ensure my systems are all in place (prudent debt, insurance protection, emergency funds, sufficient passive income, etc). By then if all of these criterias are met, then I can start planning on embarking a whole new journey which I hv never experienced before - maybe setting up a small business, giving seminars, helping out at church or simply teaching tuition to my kids at home. It could also mean that I continue working if it adds value to my learning. Its just the flexibility that I can adjust better by then :)

  2. "I had devised myself a 10 year roadmap plan to financial freedom and I've 6 years left to go for before I turned 35. If everything goes to plan, I'll probably have around $1.5m yielding me about $90k/year, which is an equivalent to about $7.7k/month."

    Well done for your good planning. You are many miles well ahead of many others on the road to financial independence.

    clap clap clap

    1. Hi uncle cw

      I think we all know that even if the plan goes well for the first 9 years only to have one incident ruined it all and it will be all back to square one.

      I think you posted about how you were trying to reach your absolute figure goals only to be demolished by the gfc in 2008.

      Lesson learnt and point noted on your incident. I will keep that in mind ;)

    2. Ya. Don't be too aggressive to chase the Last Mile to reach it on time.

  3. Agreed with you as it is human nature to feel "never contented" but feeling contented is the key ingredients to happiness. Loved the story at the end of your post, very true... many a times, we are already in living in heaven but we failed to see it.

    1. Hi richard

      Good to see you around.

      Compared to many people, we have indeed lived in heaven but failed to recognize most of the time. Constantly we are trying to find a better heaven and the search continues...

      Human beings... what can we say...

  4. I think it is ok to want more if not we'll be too comfortable and stagnant in life. However, there's always a time to stop if not wanting more is never ending. 7.7k a month is definitely enough to live comfortably. That's if you've paid down all your debts and loans. In fact if no debts, 5k is more than sufficient to live a comfortable life and even travel around.

    1. Hi SGYI

      I think one way or another, most of us suffer from this syndrome actually. It may not necessarily be for money related but also our diet or going to gym or simply promises that you make but failed to achieve them.

      Barring unforeseen circumstances, $7.7k would be suffficient for raising a family with one or two kids probably. But the system needs to be ready by then and foundation (which includes things such as insurance protection or emergency funds) needs to be equally strong.