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View Poll Results: How much of your current or future ability to FIRE is/will be due to luck?
All of it. (I won the lottery, was born rich, found a suitcase full of cash by the side of the road, etc.) 4 2.90%
None of it. (I worked hard, practiced LBYM, darned my socks, counted my dryer sheets, and finally made it.) 43 31.16%
Some of both. (I was working at it, but a lucky break pushed me the rest of the way.) 46 33.33%
You make your own luck. (I got lucky, but it was only useful because I had already spent years accumulating knowledge and assets that let me take advantage of it.) 45 32.61%
Voters: 138. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-01-2011, 10:57 PM   #61
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What I admire about the folks who minimize the role of luck or fortune in their lives is that they accept personal responsibility for outcomes even when those outcomes are negative and seem to be events that were not in their control. No whining. Just acceptance of unplanned for negative events as their own personal responsibility.
+1

When life deals you a lemon, make lemonade.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:03 PM   #62
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Not near as much as keeping my eyes open, my feet on the ground, and my mind in gear.

Ha
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:08 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by Westernskies View Post
+1

When life deals you a lemon, make lemonade.
Yep, even on those worst of days, like when you find out the wife has breast cancer, a child is born with a serious birth defect, your teenage daughter is raped or your doc tells you that a heriditary condition will kill you by your 50th b'day, you just suck it up and know you make your own luck.

Emmmmmm..... tasty lemonade........ Delicious with a little vodka!
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:40 PM   #64
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Emmmmmm..... tasty lemonade........ Delicious with a little vodka!
Whatever gets you through the rough spots, I guess...

As for the events you mentioned, they are tough breaks but have nothing to do with creating your own luck; making lemonade would be using them as catalyst opportunities for personal growth through fundraising, victims advocacy, or volunteer work on behalf of the mentioned causes.
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Old 03-02-2011, 12:16 AM   #65
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As for the events you mentioned, they are tough breaks but have nothing to do with creating your own luck;
I think you're missing the point. It isn't a matter that you make your own "good luck" but that "bad luck" is something else such as "tough breaks." When you make your own luck, you make it all..... good and bad. There are no tough breaks.
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making lemonade would be using them as catalyst opportunities for personal growth through fundraising, victims advocacy, or volunteer work on behalf of the mentioned causes.
Yes, excellent responses when some of the luck you created might require some redirection. Based on your other posts, I'm a bit surprised to hear you suggest fund raising, advocacy and volunteer work. Would you do some sort of grasshopper vs. ant test to ensure that no grasshoppers got a penny?

If you can't accept bad luck in the same way you accept the good fortune of being born bright, being born the right race and to good parents, being at the right place at the right time in your career, etc., then you would be a "I make my own luck" hypocrit. I think you're not.

I understand that OP intended the discussion to revolve around good luck: the events and circumstances that allowed folks like us to be financially independent and, on this forum, retired early. And I do admire folks who espouse to "make their own luck." I'm only partially bought in on that concept and personally believe in more of a combination of personal determination, luck/fate and random circumstances.

But when the "I make my own luck" crowd handles extreme bad luck with that same attitude without a hint of that "why me?" attitude, it is impressive.
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Old 03-02-2011, 12:38 AM   #66
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Extreme LBYM and short period of accumulation so not dependent on returns. My choice of career (research scientist) was a blessing and a curse: On one hand the pay was pathetic compared to the hours, on the other hand, the hours and the fascination with the work and the constant moving around meant that I never developed an affinity for bling-bling nor did I get caught in the loan-traps of cars and homes. I basically kept living like a [increasingly enlightened] student.
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:12 AM   #67
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I recall to have read some piece of research, probably in behavioral economics, that people tend to attribute all positive results to their own abilities whareas they blame bad luck for all negative outcome.

Would the results from those of us who see no chance to ER be different from those who are certain to achieve ER or have already achieved it?
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:15 AM   #68
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The phrases I bolded are what confuses me. Seems like only a very small minority are saying luck wasn't an issue (or maybe it is their phrasing) - are you addressing those few (2 or 3?)?
Well, I see one third saying luck plays no part and another third saying you make your own luck. To me that is more than half saying luck has limited or no effect.

The wording, though, and the whole concept of “luck” may lead us to disagree on meaning. I would agree with youbet when he wrote
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I understand that OP intended the discussion to revolve around good luck: the events and circumstances that allowed folks like us to be financially independent and, on this forum, retired early. And I do admire folks who espouse to "make their own luck." I'm only partially bought in on that concept and personally believe in more of a combination of personal determination, luck/fate and random circumstances.
The thread is not whether we can stoically accept misfortune or accept the good and the bad equally. It is about whether our becoming financially independent and retiring early was the result of our personal effort, external circumstance, or both.

Compared with co-workers and other people we knew (even family), DW and I saved a great deal more, worked longer hours, made intelligent choices and persevered when faced with adversity. Relative to them our prosperity later in life has very much been the result of choice and effort.

Nonetheless I cannot understate the importance of external factors. My views on this may be unduly influenced by having worked in a different country most of my adult life where so many people have far fewer opportunities, cannot enjoy the benefits of the choices they make or are affected negatively by actions of others.

In the US a social, legal and economic structure has been created that enables opportunity and allows people to benefit from the choices they make. My generation (baby boomer) has also enjoyed three unique generational golden moments: accessible and affordable higher education, well-rewarded labor, and a dramatic expansion in capital markets. Never before, and perhaps never again.

Hard work, personal sacrifice and dedication are common characteristics of achievement. So is good fortune.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:26 AM   #69
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Lucky - in hindsight. Layed off at age 49. Ticked me off so much I haven't worked a full time job since.

My projected 'early retirement' had been age 63 for which I was saving/investing.

heh heh heh - have I mentioned I used to be a 'really really cheap SOB' ? Her words not mine.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:45 AM   #70
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It had to be 100% luck.

I've had folks tell me for decades that I was not that smart, from the Penguin's (sorry - Nun's) in my early years to my various employers later on.

Dosen't matter. Whatever the reason, I retired before "traditional age" and doing quite well (thank you very much) ...
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:15 AM   #71
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A tribute to all those participating in this thread.

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Old 03-02-2011, 10:37 AM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50
The phrases I bolded are what confuses me. Seems like only a very small minority are saying luck wasn't an issue (or maybe it is their phrasing) - are you addressing those few (2 or 3?)?
Well, I see one third saying luck plays no part and another third saying you make your own luck. To me that is more than half saying luck has limited or no effect.
OK, I was basing it on the comments in the thread (that's where I got the 2 or 3), not the poll.

Quote:
Nonetheless I cannot understate the importance of external factors. My views on this may be unduly influenced by having worked in a different country most of my adult life where so many people have far fewer opportunities, cannot enjoy the benefits of the choices they make or are affected negatively by actions of others.

....

Hard work, personal sacrifice and dedication are common characteristics of achievement. So is good fortune.
Agreed. It is a combo. And bad fortune can sometimes be overcome by hard work (and sometimes not), and sometimes laziness can be overcome by winning the lottery.

But I still disagree with your post #44.

-ERD50
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:55 AM   #73
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No luck involved at all.
Half the reason I could FIRE was my own life habit of savings. The other half of the reason was a survivor pension with health benefits. The combination of the two allowed me to FIRE 1 year 10 months years earlier than the early out I was planning to apply for at age 50.
I turned a case of lemons into lemonade. And came out as a much stronger person at the end of the journey.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:27 AM   #74
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No luck involved at all.
Half the reason I could FIRE was my own life habit of savings. The other half of the reason was a survivor pension with health benefits. The combination of the two allowed me to FIRE 1 year 10 months years earlier than the early out I was planning to apply for at age 50.
I turned a case of lemons into lemonade. And came out as a much stronger person at the end of the journey.
Now, freebird, c'mon... You were LUCKY to have been born with the saver gene, and LUCKY to get that survivor pension, and LUCKY that you didn't choose to mix vodka and sugar with that case of lemons and end up a penniless alcoholic with rotten teeth. So, LUCK had everything to do with you being able to retire early. Others were not so lucky, and you need to share your largesse with them; the IRS will be contacting you for a means testing interview next week.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:36 AM   #75
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Luck is always a factor, I'm lucky that I read my horoscope right before heading out the door one morning when I was in my early 20's. My horoscope told me to be wary of traffic lights. The first light I came to had an obstructed view of the oncoming traffic, so I waited just a few extra seconds. A cement truck came roaring through the red light, any other day I would have already been out in the intersection, and surely killed.

I'm lucky that my parents (while paying for my siblings) could not afford to send me the middle child to college, and that I had to pay for my own. I started working at the age of 15, which I believe gave me an early appreciation of money that my siblings will never have.

I'm lucky that I chose the right company to work for, and have stayed with for 25+ years in part because of the tremendous benefits. They offer a Cadillac health insurance plan at very low cost to the employees, a 401K match, ESOP, dividends, excellent wages, pension, along with early retirement at the age of 55 with basically the same health insurance.

I'm lucky that I've made enough over the years to buy my mother a house, and support her when my siblings could not.

I'm lucky that I found a wonderful DH.

I voted: Some of both. (I was working at it, but a lucky break pushed me the rest of the way.)

I've had too many lucky breaks to remember, but avoiding the cement truck, and working for a ESOP company sure helped!





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Old 03-02-2011, 01:26 PM   #76
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Luck helped me survive birth, my childhood, getting into a car everyday and countless other things. Without this survival I would not be able to retire early. However, this luck has nothing to do with advancing my early retirement. Advancing early retirement is self-driven without apology for the genetics or the socioeconomic status of my ancestors (both of which are exceptionally modest relative to the time period in which they lived).
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Old 03-02-2011, 01:52 PM   #77
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Voted some of both...
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Old 03-02-2011, 03:03 PM   #78
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But I still disagree with your post #44.
-ERD50
You mean you don't agree that forum members are all above average?
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Perhaps forum members are like the children of Lake Wobegon - all above average.
Excepting your truly, I'm certain they are. No doubt in your case.

This thread has run its course for me. Thanks for the lively discussion.
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Old 03-02-2011, 03:22 PM   #79
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It would be interesting to start a thread on this subject. You have mentioned it from time to time, and it is clear that it is the center of why we see things from a different angle. I understand what you say to a point (I think), but you seem to state it in such extreme terms that it seems to totally negate any personal responsibility for anything. It's as if we shouldn't reward anyone for doing anything exceptional, and we shouldn't punish anyone for doing anything reprehensible - it was just their destiny.

Jonas Salk and Bernie Madoff were both just following their destiny? There is no room for personal choice in any of this? We should just shrug if we were to meet each of them, and say "whatever"?

Sure, we all have some innate abilities and some innate challenges. But we can let those rule us or we can try to overcome them. You don't believe that?

-ERD50
Where do the personal choices come from but your nature and your circumstances? I know that this is tough to get your arms around, you might want to read some on naturalism. Basically, what I don't believe in is contra-causal free will. Instead I believe that we are part of the natural world and everything that happens to us is caused. Our character and our choices all have causes which come from nature--our genes, our exposure to various environmental agents, our education, etc. When we do something exceptional it is caused. When we do something horrible it is also caused. The way I think of it is if I had been born someone else and had all their life circumstances why in the world would I think that I would have made different choices than they made? The only way I could have made different choices is if I believed in contra-causal free will. But there is no support for such a concept.

So where does this leave moral responsibility? I don't think of moral responsibility as coming from the ability to have made a different choice, which is the contra-causal free will argument. Instead, holding people personally responsible is important for a well functioning society. It is a cause that can have an affect on people. Teaching children good habits and other skills that come under what we call personal responsibility is important for them to be happy and well adjusted. We are social animals, we need to have personal responsibility. Punishing bad behavior may cause better behavior in the future, teaches moral norms of a society, keeps people safe from wrongdoers and may be a deterrent to others. But punishment for retribution reasons is wrong, because that implies the person in the circumstances they were in could have made a different choice.

I think believing in free will brings out the worst in people. We blame people for failures. (Fat, lazy, slob. . . ). We are arrogant about success. We do not work on creating the best conditions for people to make the best choices. After all, if they just squeezed their brow real tight and worked really, really hard they can come to the "right" choice. We are too hard on ourselves.

What I think is personally important is that it is easier to control external circumstances than my nature. It is my nature to plump out so I try to alter my external circumstances by making it hard to overeat. I regulate when I go to the grocery store. I have a list. I stick to it. But if it doesn't work does that mean I am at fault? Not really. It just means that there wasn't the right combination of causes to effect a change in behavior. But I have the ability to reason which is also a causal agent. Maybe I will figure something else out. I am also driven so my bet is on me.

This all is rather counterintuitive because it feels like we have choices, we feel like there is something in us separate from our physical selves. Many of us come from mind/body dualistic traditions which reinforces our belief in free will.

“The mind is determined to this or that choice by a cause which is also determined by another cause, and this again by another, and so on ad infinitum. This doctrine teaches us to hate no one, to despise no one, to mock no one, to be angry with no one, and to envy no one.”

Baruch Spinoza - Wikiquote
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Old 03-02-2011, 04:59 PM   #80
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Wow Martha, you've taken this discussion to an entirely different level. I'm not well versed in this philosophy, but I'm curious as to the first cause?
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