‘Why? Why? Why?’
As a child, I was constantly asking ‘Why?’
Of course, my father or grandfather would respond ‘Why is a crooked letter.’
It wasn’t until some time later, when I learned to form letters myself, that I understood this wordplay.
Like many who begin their blogs with this same anecdote, I never really stopped asking ‘Why?’
At school, with the aid of an excellent teacher who used the scientific method to foster a love of learning, and later at university, where I studied linguistics (the scientific study of language), I learned to ask even more questions—developing ‘research questions’ that served as a point of departure for exploring both fundamental and complex issues.
Learning to ask questions
As I encountered books and blogs and online communities devoted to saving and personal finance and early retirement, like Jacob Lund Fisker of Early Retirement Extreme (a blog that changed my life) I began to ask questions about lots of things—why do we consider people successful instead of wasteful if they have a surplus of things (like a spare room or an extra couch that no one uses)?
Why do people work in jobs they don’t enjoy if they don’t really need the money?
Why do I only feel alive when I’m on holiday instead of in my regular life?
Why am I buying this? Because I need it, want it, or because I think it will improve my image or fill some hole?
Why have we decided that working is a virtue even if it involves the creation of useless and polluting things?
Why are we supposed to spend as much as we earn when we all earn different amounts yet have the same basic needs?
Why do we consider someone earning big bucks in a job that damages society or the environment more successful than someone who raises children? Who looks after the elderly, volunteers with the disadvantaged or makes creative works?
Why does everyone assume that I need to upgrade my house now?
Why does a rich person apparently need more in retirement than I do?
Why do we work until we’re almost dead?
After 12 years working at the same university, encouraging my students to ask big questions, and after much deliberation, I followed in the footsteps of one of my heroes, Joe Dominguez (author of Your Money or Your Life) and resigned just before my 31st birthday. While I was (and still am) passionate about language learning, the power of technology to connect people, research, and critical thinking, I was looking for other ways of making a difference.
I realised that I wanted to help people learn a different language – the language of money. And I wanted the freedom to spend my life doing the things I want to do – writing, travelling, and helping others. Today is my first day of working towards that goal.
Finally, given my passion for languages and finance, I want to explore the question of ‘Why can’t we talk about money?’ But before we do that, we need to define our terms, and ask the more basic question, ‘What is financial literacy?’
This post is the first of a 10 part series over 10 days introducing Enrichmentality.
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What is your ‘why?’ in life? Let me know in the comments.