Many Roads, One View

Many Paths, One View

There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but only one view.

This was my fortune cookie from a catered work lunch a couple weeks ago. This one simple idea has so many facets. Here are a few things I’ve realized:

Everyone’s Path is Different

We continue to harp on how personal finance is personal, but it’s true. There is relativity in finances as well. You and I may have the same numbers, but that does not mean we are the same. You will go your path and I will go mine. Some of us are starting on opposite sides of the mountain. Are some paths easier? Yes. Are any of the paths wrong? No! If your path is going up, you’re heading in the right direction!

This also means your story is important. And my story is important. Every story has a place. And maybe ONE person out there will be changed by my blog and my story. To you, dear reader, you are important and I am here to cheer you on!

Watching the FinCon Twitter coverage made me realize that every voice counts… even if we’re all talking about money. Money is big, but money is also personal.

Stop comparing your path to someone else’s.

Your Path Up Will Impact Your View

The view from the top may be the same, but the way you got there will matter. The process is part of the product. If you’re proud of your accomplishments on the way up, you’ll enjoy the view even more.

On the flip side, if you’ve gotten up the mountain by pushing people down on the way up, you’ll get to the top and ignore the view. You’ll be too busy looking over your shoulder to see who or what is coming up behind you. Remembering ethics on the way up is also important.

If the journey is hard, the reward feels greater. A friend of mine told me about a hike she took her younger siblings on. Somehow, they turned off the well-marked trail and were bush-whacking up the mountain. They finally arrived at the top to find a broad, easy gravel trail everyone else had taken. Maybe there was an easier way, but if you spend too much time looking back down the mountain, you’ll miss the view entirely. 

You Can’t Take Every Path

It is possible to switch paths, but if you’re going up one path, you’re inevitably missing out on another one. You sacrifice some paths for others. What’s most important to you? If the answer is “being rich” or “money” (have a better dream), you’ll certainly make it to the top of your mountain, but, like Scrooge McDuck, you’ll be alone swimming in money!

I’ve chosen to be a stay at home mom. That means I’ve given up the main career path. I do work part time, but I will never be important at work. Luckily, I don’t want to be. Every mountain comes with sacrifices. And there isn’t a “right” path. Remember how personal finance is personal? You and I are not the same person. Some paths include more things than others. And some paths are just downright hard.

Climbing a Mountain is Hard

When you forget what’s at the top of the mountain, it’s really easy to talk yourself out of going up. If you don’t have a clear idea of where you want to end up, you may find yourself drifting off the trail. Pick a path and keep moving forward. Remember what’s at the top!

In the end, we’re all blazing our own trails. But the view from the top will be grand!


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  1. So much good material packed into this post, I’m not sure where to start!

    Your statement about never being important at work really resonated with me. It sometimes feels like there’s something wrong with me because I don’t feel driven to career “success.” As if I’m a traitor to the feminist movement or throwing away my graduate education. But just because we have to option to pursue a career, doesn’t mean we should force ourselves to do so if it doesn’t align with what is in our heart. And, it’s okay to change our minds along the way to the top of the mountain and search out a different path.

  2. TJ

    Well said!

    I just don’t think I am going to have the most life fulfillment by embarking on a quest for the most possible money. I’d like to think that I’m smart enough to have pursued being a doctor or a lawyer or a pharmaceutical sales rep or whatever, but my “enough” number is a lot smaller than what those people make. I’d get to FIRE faster, but I’d also have a lot more stress and temptation to inflate my lifestyle.

    I’m still searching for my optimal life path, but I can tell you that getting filthy rich isn’t it.

    • MaggieBanks

      That’s exactly our outlook… it’s going to take a longer, but the road is an easier one up… a more gradual climb with some views along the way. 🙂

  3. I was just talking to some guys at lunch how Mrs. SSC left her corporate job for teaching and they were shocked she’d leave that much pay to teach. They were more shocked when I told them the long term plan was for her to use this as a springboard to a “better” state/climate and I’d quit to be a SAHD.

    Money isn’t everything and she could have stayed at her job and we could have most likely hit our goal number in 2017 instead of 2018 and then used that extra year for me to pad the account before quitting, but her dream job is teaching. Sometimes money can’t replace feeling good about what you do.

    We’ve done a great job of building a crazy busy, no free time, hustle and bustle life, and we don’t feel it’s sustainable. I feel like we bushwacked up the hard side of the mtn and are now stepping out onto the broad gravel path to the top. With her new schedule and our new amounts, yes, plural, of free time, it’s been an amazingly freeing feeling. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Free time on the way up is totally worth it in my opinion. And there’s no point giving up dreams if they show up earlier than anticipated along the path!

  4. I love the quote “If you’ve gotten up the mountain by pushing people down on the way up, you’ll get to the top and ignore the view. You’ll be too busy looking over your shoulder to see who or what is coming up behind you. Remembering ethics on the way up is also important.”

    I have seen too many people climb the corporate ladder and get paranoid at the top because they’re afraid of getting stabbed in the back or toppled by the next person. It’s honestly sad.

    We all have a financial and life journey that we’re on. It’s not how soon we get to the top of the mountain it’s how did we enjoy the scenery as we made it to the top.

  5. Matt @ Optimize Your Life

    I love that you took a sentence long fortune cookie message and turned it into a 600 word post while successfully carrying the metaphor through the whole thing. I agree with everyone else on how powerful this post was and how many useful thoughts are within it as well, but I wanted to note how impressive it is as a feat of writing.

    • MaggieBanks

      Wow. Thanks Matt. I was actually feeling a bit self-conscious about this one. 🙂

  6. YES to all of this! I’ve had this on my mind lately, especially at FinCon when I met a bunch of younger folks who were at different points in their journey, and saying things like, “Wow, I wish I could be on your path, but I have debt to pay off.” My answer: You’re paying it off, and that’s what matters. I had debt too, I spent too much money at one point too, but those were at different points in my journey. Don’t compare where you are now to where we are many years down the road. Better yet, don’t compare the road at all!

    • MaggieBanks

      Agreed, but also I think it’s helpful to see people that are higher up on even different roads… comparisons help me know what’s possible even if we’re not on the same road!

      • Okay, good point, so long as you know they are farther along on the road and you don’t compare your in progress to their after. 🙂

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