Experimentation: The Guide to the Good Life

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the biggest challenges that followers of the FI movement encounter is what to do with their newfound time.

As many in the FI movement have said, it’s not what you are retiring from, but what you are retiring to. In essence, what is your why of FI? In steps…experimentation!


Let’s say you thought travel would make you really happy. You diligently save and invest, reach your FI number, and start a 3-month-long global adventure. However, 2 weeks into your international trip you realize you miss your friends and extended family that may not be with you.

Wouldn’t it have been better to find that information out earlier before you had put down your hard-earned money through an experiment?

My own Experiment

Recently, my wife and children just received dual citizenship in Italy. As a commonly flexed muscle within the FI community, geographic arbitrage (or geo-arbitrage) has appeal to us.

Italy being part of the EU, gives us location flexibility to travel across Europe and solve common problems that plague the US such as rising college costs, healthcare costs, and just the general cost of living.

However, I think it would be quite foolish to turn around and sell our house, cars, and other possessions and move across the world without knowing if that would be enjoyable for us.

My family’s own personal experiment is to try it out and take an extended trip to Europe to see if that would ever be something we would like to try. As I heard at my own local ChooseFI chapter last night from another attendee, I certainly don’t want to live a life of wondering what if.

What’s your Experiment?

Is there some facet of your life that you are unhappy with? Your career, health, adventure, etc? These are all opportunities that are ripe for a new experiment. It also doesn’t have to be some massive earth-shattering change either! The FI community constantly talks about getting 1% better and I can think of no better way.

The Process

  1. Perform a self-assessment on what is ripe for change
  2. Brainstorm ways to make that situation better
  3. Select an option and form a hypothesis
  4. Experiment
  5. Post-experiment Review

One final note is that the experiment doesn’t have to be a long process either. Alan and Katie Donegan spoke on this topic at EconoMe during their Mainstage presentation and recommended a span of 2 weeks.

In closing, my challenge to each of you is to seek out what your next experiment should be. It can be as simple as performing a self-assessment. But in the spirit of 1% better, work towards your next experiment and how it makes your life better.

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