The Secret To Your Success: 10 Years Of Unwavering Commitment

The secret to your success is not giving up. I strongly believe if you do one hard thing for 10 years in a row, you will achieve results far beyond your expectations. Don't quit before giving your effort a chance to produce amazing results. Talent is overrated. Grit is underrated.

My belief of working on something for 10 years to achieve mastery first came from going to high school for four years, college for four years, and then finally business school for three years part-time. It wasn't until after I went to business school that I felt like I had a solid grasp of finance.

10 years also comes from my experience working at one firm from 2001 – 2012. After 10 years, I realized a lot of good things can happen to one's career and net worth.

10 years also comes from investing in the stock market and real estate market. Unless you're extremely unlucky, chances are high that you will earn a nice return on your investments in any 10-year period.

10 years also comes from my adventures in achieving a 5.0 tennis rating at age 39 after starting with a 4.0 at age 29. Tennis ratings generally plateau or go down after 30. But after hundreds of hours of practice, it's possible to get better.

Finally, 10 years comes from publishing 3X a week on average between July 2009 to July 2019 on Financial Samurai. I expected there to be a correlation between effort and growth. But I did not expect this site to grow to its existing size.

In this post, I'd like to share some personal thoughts to help you stick to your craft for 10 years or longer.

You Don't Have To Be Special To Succeed

Regular people get ahead all the time. It is an absolute myth that you have to be smart or highly skilled to succeed. Sure, these things help, but what's more important for success is grit.

I came to America when I was 14 years old, where only 5.6% of the population looked like me. I had no mentors or connections. Starting over and finding new friends was hard. It was very hard at first because all my classmates had grown up with each other since elementary school. I was a misfit who constantly got in trouble.

Growing up, I lacked the ability to think quickly on my feet because I found my thoughts constantly juggling between English and Mandarin. It would have been nice to get my English language fundamentals down as a kid.

My grades and SAT score were nothing to write home about. As a result, I went to a public university after attending a public high school.

The only reason why I got a job at a major investment bank coming from a non-target public university was because I got on a 6 am bus on a Saturday. The career fair was two hours away in Washington D.C. Thirty people signed up to attend but I was the only one who showed up. Seven months, six rounds, and 55 interviews later, I finally got that damn job.

There is absolutely nothing special about me. Not my looks, intelligence., physique, wit. writing, voice or my personality. My parents were squarely middle class who drove beater cars. The only thing I do is keep on going, no matter what.

Grit is by far the most important attribute for achieving your goals. Don't think you need to have special skills to get ahead. Who you are is good enough already.

You Will Eventually Catch Your Lucky Break

The great thing about doing something for 10+ years is that you will eventually catch some sort of “lucky break.” It is practically impossible to dedicate so much time to a craft and not get noticed by somebody.

Success is a numbers game. I have a friend who admits he's not very attractive. But he's always on a date with someone far above his level because he's constantly putting himself out there. Finding luck is truly a numbers game. If your success rate is 1%, you've got to ask 100 people to go on one date.

My lucky break came when the LA Times profiled an article I wrote in 2010 about the importance of getting an umbrella policy if you have teenagers. I was writing about my experience driving in SF when a teenage driver side-swiped me and almost crashed. This lucky break was so random.

Once Financial Samurai got featured in a legitimate newspaper, other journalists started reaching out. From there, things snowballed.

When people see that you plan on sticking around for the long-term, they tend to give you more credibility. The more credibility you have, the more good things tend to happen. You can read my who is Financial Samurai post as well.

Cherish The Criticism

The secret to your success is having a thick skin. If you are getting criticized, know that what you are doing is making a difference. People who don't care, don't criticize. Listen to what your critics are saying and make any necessary changes.

For some reason, any time someone says something nasty to me I get pumped up! I love criticism. It's like getting a dose of Popeye's spinach that motivates me to keep on going.

One time, I got mobbed on Twitter for saying I was a high school tennis coach making $1,100/month when looking for other educators to interview.

I then got inspired to write a new post about raising a family in pricey SF as a tennis coach. That post ended up generating a tremendous amount of new traffic.

Criticism helps improve weaknesses and shines a spotlight on blindspots. Use criticism to get better and prove your critics wrong. It is very easy to get into an echo chamber for self-confirmation purposes. If you do, you will make suboptimal decisions in the future.

Be A Super-Optimist For More Success

When an ambulance wails by do you feel sad or happy? I used to feel very sad knowing that someone was suffering until a friend changed my perspective. She said, “Instead of feeling sad, feel happy that help is on the way!”

You must believe in your mission. If you don't, nobody else will. Do your best to see the positives in every situation.

Sprained your ankle? Be thankful you didn't break your ankle!

Got screwed by a client who didn't pay? Be thankful you got screwed sooner rather than later when the stakes are larger. If you never got screwed, you never would have dedicated more time to diversify your clientele.

Your pet only has six months left to live? There's no escaping the sadness. However, think about how much happier you guys have been due to all your time spent together.

If you practice seeing the positive side in every situation, you will live a happier and more fulfilling life.

Make Sure You Focus On What Matters Most

There are many shiny objects on your way to glory. Try to ruthlessly focus on just one or two things at a time. The secret to your success is focus.

The one thing I need to do is write three times a week without fail. I can get easily distracted by social media, e-mail requests, PR requests, backend tech stuff, conferences, and money.

As a result, years ago, I started spending less time on social media, created a massive e-mail autoresponder to answer 90%+ of the inquiries, and outsource tech issues to a guy I have on retainer.

Print out a reminder of one thing you must do each week. Do that one thing first before doing anything else. This is the same concept of paying yourself first before spending any money.

Reduce Your Time On Social Media

Social media can be a real time sink where nothing really productive gets done. Some people even ruin their careers based on what they've said online. Try to limit your time on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. to 30 minutes a day or less.

In Nasim Taleb's book Skin In The Game, there's a great quote that says, ‘You don't want to win an argument. You want to win.

Instead of spending time on Twitter or Facebook trying to convince someone you're right, just spend time living your life exactly the way you want.

Focus on your offline relationships 10X more than your online relationships. They are so much more important.

Give As Much As You Can Without Asking For Anything In Return

The more you give, the more you will get. Too many people ask first and then (maybe) give. Even more people just take, take, take.

Find ways to endlessly help someone in your field that you admire. I promise he or she will take notice and eventually help you out.

Realize Some People Will Always Hate You No Matter What

You cannot expect to be universally loved. Therefore, do not try to please everyone. Instead, be true to your own principles. People who share your principles will eventually gravitate towards you.

Every week, someone will tell me over social media, in the comments, or over e-mail how bad of a writer I am. If they don't denigrate my writing, someone will say something negative about my race, my sex, where I live, my attitude towards XYZ, etc. But I keep going because of my promise to last 10 years.

Now that I have a podcast (Apple, Spotify), people have left reviews saying that I have a terrible voice, have too many pauses, am out of touch, etc. But I keep on going because the only way I can improve is if I continue to practice my delivery.

Years from now, I'm sure my podcast will be better. Besides, I'm determined to build an audio library for my children in case I die before they become adults. I finally learned how to use the podcast interviewing software in 2023, now a new world of fun has opened up!

I've accepted the fact that some people will always hate me for who I am. So should you. It's not our problem if they don't like us, it's theirs. No matter what, you will feel great knowing that you're living a life true to your principles.

Related: Way Of The Samurai: Core Principles I Follow

Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

The secret to your success is having fun. Learn to laugh at yourself, especially during impossible situations. You'll loosen up and be less offended by random things.

Learn to make others laugh as well. They'll appreciate you more for making them feel good.

Below is funny audio clip I made when I was consulting with Personal Capital (now Empower) part-time in 2014. I was given a massive amount of copy to read in under a minute for an ad on Sirius Satellite Radio.

I kept telling the radio ad agency and my colleagues that what they were asking of me was impossible. But they told me I could do it, so I gave it my best shot! After around 20 attempts, they finally agreed to cut it down. You can hear my wife laughing in the background.

The more fun you have, the greater your chances of reaching the 10-year mark.

Change Your Inertia

You can always find ways to minimize or solve your pain points to help you focus.

One of my worries is publishing a post full of errors. Often times, no matter how often I review a post, I cannot catch all the errors. As a result, I enlisted my father to help edit most of my posts for the past several years. He's helped a lot and I've also changed the way I send out my e-mail RSS blast so that it doesn't capture the entire post with errors.

Another pain point is getting bombarded with incoming requests on Mondays since nobody seems to work on the weekends. Thus, I like to relax Monday – Friday and do more of my writing on the weekends. By publishing on a weekend, I free up time for other things on Monday.

If you have nagging problems, stop letting inertia force you to do things the way they've always been done. Take some time to see if you can do things differently.

Good Enough Is Good Enough

Stop feeling like you need to be perfect in order to launch. There is no such thing as perfect.

The largest, most resourceful tech companies in the world are not perfect. If they were, they wouldn't push out app updates every week to fix bugs you had no idea existed.

If you can get 80% of the way there, ship it. Once live, continuously work to make your product better. Have tenacity and faith everything will work out in the end.

Find Your Competitive Advantage

If you have a competitive advantage, you can last far longer than those who don't. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.

As someone who worked in finance for 13 years, got an MBA, and actively invests in multiple asset classes for the past 20+ years, writing about financial topics comes naturally to me.

I'm also not as driven by money because I had already made enough money before I started Financial Samurai. As a result, it's much easier to write for free for so long.

If I started a cooking site, I'm sure I'd quit within 12 months because I have zero competitive advantage and no great interest in cooking. I'd rather go out to a restaurant and eat food from an expert than spend an hour or two eating food prepared by myself.

Do what you're good at and outsource tasks in areas where you lack interest and expertise.

Related: When People Doubt You Just Keep On Winning

Pivot If You're Not Growing Or Getting Better

After about three years of working on your craft, if you're not getting better or growing, you've got to change your approach.

When it comes to growing a business, if you're not growing the way you want, you're simply not adding enough value. Find new ways to add value.

When it comes to getting better at a sport, if you're still losing to the same types of players, then you need to find a new coach and/or work on a new skill.

When it comes to increasing your net worth, if you're falling farther behind, it's important to do a deep dive on your income, savings rate, types of investments, and returns.

You can't do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.

Think Much Bigger

Whatever your vision, think much bigger. When we're in high school, most of us just dream about getting into a great college. When we're working, we dream of getting that next promotion. Instead, how about dreaming about being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a lifestyle entrepreneurship, or the next mayor of your city?

When I started Financial Samurai, I had a small goal of making enough to fill the gap between my passive investment income and my desired lifestyle expenses.

After I started thinking Financial Samurai could be a billion dollar business, the site started doing better. It's nowhere near a billion dollar business today, but it's large enough to fully provide for my family, my parents, and my in-laws.

The bigger you dream, the more you will achieve. Having a strong money mindset will help you take action to achieving your financial goals.

Recognize How Lucky You Are

The more grateful you are, the more you will appreciate what you have. The more you appreciate what you have, the harder you will work because you will never take what you have for granted. After all, great wealth is mostly achieve through good fortune.

Because I grew up overseas where I witnessed a lot of poverty, I feel blessed to be able to live and work in America today. Living in America is truly like living in paradise compared to living in so many other countries.

Over 10 years, plenty of other websites have grown far greater than Financial Samurai. But I am thankful for Financial Samurai because it has kept me intellectually stimulated in my post-work life. I've also met plenty of online and offline people from Prague to Honolulu thanks to Financial Samurai.

We're living in an age where technology doesn't require us to work in an office for the rest of our lives. If you've come from a pre-internet era, this new way of life is simply incredible.

Recognize how lucky you truly are by writing out the things you're grateful for each day.

Always Know Your Why, Your Ikigai

Knowing your why will help keep you focused. Your ikigai will help drive you toward doing purposeful things you're good at.


In the beginning, I wrote on Financial Samurai to cope with financial loss during the 2008-2009 crisis. As the site grew, I began to write for the community and to help figure out how to escape work. Now, I write mainly to keep intellectually stimulated while also building an archive of content for my children.

Money is a difficult primary motivation to have. Money will disappoint you because it will either never feel like enough or you will be sad when you realize money doesn't make you happier once you reach your financial goals.

The pandemic has been rough for most of us, especially parents of two young children. However, my children are what kept me focused, motivating to publish three times a week on Financial Samurai without fail.

Thinking about my children one day bringing my book to show and tell was also a great motivator. I can't believe I ended up writing up WSJ and Amazon bestselling book during a pandemic!

I hope you pick up a hardcopy of Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your way To Wealth And Freedom. It will be the best personal finance book you'll ever read.

Know That Things Get Easier

The great thing about doing something for 10 years is that you finally become an expert at your craft. No longer do you take as long or have to spend as many resources to produce the same results. You won't feel like an impostor either.

The problem with becoming an expert is that you can end up doing way more because things are easier. When I wake up, there are at least five new topics I can write about because there is so much going on. Eventually, you might burn out if you're not careful.

Make sure to take lots of breaks. Force yourself to throttle down your workload. You want to produce a steady stream of output over the long run instead of big spikes and then nothing.

You're Stronger Than You Think

You can do more than you think. It's only after challenging yourself to the extreme will you realize your true abilities.

I remember running track in high school and puking my guts out after a 200-meter race. My coach offered no sympathy. She said, “Now you know what it's like to give everything you got. Now go run a cool-down lap.”

I thought working 60-70 hours a week for 13 years in finance was hard until I decided to go to business school part-time as well. Adding another 20-30 hours a week of classes and group projects made my life hell for almost three years. When I finally graduated in 2006, working 60-70 hours a week in finance felt like a walk in the park!

I used to think that publishing something interesting on Financial Samurai 3X a week while also responding to comments and e-mails was a grind. But after my son was born in 2017, I realize now that writing on Financial Samurai without children was like getting a full-body massage compared to full-time fatherhood!

Now, I've got to do both. Trying to write when you've got a toddler who just wants to play with you is impossible. Therefore, I've been forced to wake up by 5 am for the past two years to write before he wakes up. Damn, I thought my days in banking were over!

The Ultimate Goal

My one motto in life is, “Never fail due to a lack of effort because effort requires no skill.” The saying helps remind me to keep on going whenever I feel like making excuses. I hope this saying will help you too.

Your ultimate goal is to be proud of your effort. No matter what happens, so long as you know you did your best you will be at peace with the results.

Do your best to stay committed to something you care about for at least 10 years. If you do, great things will happen.

Update On 2024 On Business And Success

I've decided to return to semi-retirement life before Biden's term is over. It was good to make extra money after the Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed for 2018+, but I'm exhausted. Two young kids and a pandemic don't go well together!

I will use the extra capital earned to build more passive income to take care of my family. Because I can no longer give 100% effort, quitting the hustle seems like the best thing to do for everybody. Besides, I'm happy with the money we have. It's really time to live our best lives today.

I'm also going to invest in more private growth companies run by brilliant and hard-working entrepreneurs. I figure, if I'm going to take it down a notch, I might as well use the capital I made to invest in great entrepreneurs.

Check out the Innovation Fund, which invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence, which I'm extremely bullish about. In 20 years, I don't want my kids wondering why I didn't invest in AI or work in AI!

The investment minimum is also only $10 while most venture capital funds have a $250,000+ minimum. You can see what the Innovation Fund is holding before deciding to invest and how much. 

For more FS, join 65,000+ others and subscribe to my weekly newsletter for more real-time, unique content. I've been helping people achieve financial freedom since 2009.

92 thoughts on “The Secret To Your Success: 10 Years Of Unwavering Commitment”

  1. Reading this article I know there is a lot of work to be done. But luckely I have the time!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. Thanks for this inspiration! Really show’s hard being an entrepeneur is and how much work and luck is involved.

    Im currently a 21 year old starting out to be an entrepeneur as it is my dream job because of the grit involved

  3. So inspiring, man! I remember hearing Jim Belushi say he’d known so many people funnier and more talented than most of the cast on SNL, Second City Main Stage, etc., but they gave up too soon. Committing to writing 1 paragraph a day first thing in the morning has allowed me to write five books the last four years (It ends up being more than 1 par.) Don’t give up, people!

  4. Thank you for this post!

    I am inspired by your work ethic especially, being able to consistently being able to publish 3 articles per week over the years. I have 4 kids that are older now but would like to put in the same effort.

    Can you tell me, would you say that most of your articles averaged 2000+ words as many suggest. I have a hard time trying to publish 3x per week with that size and working…

    Thanks again, I am learning a great deal.

    1. Hi Bret,

      4 kids are a lot to manage! What a blessing!

      Probably 90% of my posts are over 1,500 words nowadays. 40% are over 2,000 words. I just like to write thorough posts to cover as many angles as possible. I also always go back to my posts and edit/add new insights from readers.

      I like learning from the community as much as possible. It’s fun!

      You’ll find that writing gets easier over time. Your mind and your body gets a custom to a certain style and a certain length. And you just go ahead and do it. But as I get older, my endurance fades a little bit. So now, I like to revisit post after sleeping on it for a night or two. There’s always something new that comes up.

      Never fail due to a lack of effort! Because effort requires no skill.

      Best to you and your family.


  5. This post is awesome — I’ve been feeling so discouraged and about gave up. This post has given me a lot to implement. I need to commit to consistently writing like you did. I think that’s key!

    1. Thanks Chandler. Things are definitely tougher now during the pandemic. However, if we can find some way to not be defeated, we are going to really benefit once things get back to normal.

      I’m just using the lockdown as time to update a lot of old posts and improve my site. I’m also spending as much time with my kids as possible.


  6. Hey Sam,

    I just read this article, and a few others on your site. Fantastic reads! Really inspiring stuff. I love the fact that you sound like a very open and honest person, and that shows through.
    You obviously know exactly what you’re talking about with the financial side of things, alot of which is outside my scope, skills or knowledge.

    If I could, as couldn’t find anywhere else to reach you, could i please just ask any recommendations you may have for someone like me, who, now at the age of 39, have been working since age 12, and supporting myself since leaving home at 16.
    Because of this, it meant I had to teach myself alot of life skills, and things like money were, and still are, very much a bit HIT AND MAINLY MISS experience. I have done a ton of research, reading and homework on a wide range of different online business models in the past 6 months, as i just REALLY want to make a life for my wife and 1 children, in a passive way, that allows us to eventually quit our regular jobs, to spend more times with kids, & give my family everything they deserve.

    I like the idea of a blog, and trying to tie the likes of affiliate marketing into that, as I do enjoy writing a lot (in case that wasn’t obvious by this novel!), I’ve read every piece of advice on blogs of the likes of harsh agrawal, matthew woodward etc, and even had feedback from both of them on recommendations.
    But again, I just LOVE your honest approach, so any advice you can give a guy trynna make all this work for his family, would be eternally appreciated.

    I have interests etc, but i dont really have anything I think I could establish myself as an ‘authority’ on, enough to make people wanna read my work. Any and all feedback appreciated. I’m not just a guy who worked a couple jobs then got bored and wanted something better, truth is I’ve worked in over 40 different employment positions! I’ve tried almost everything, yet still searching for that fulfillment, inspiration and freedom that running your own income streams can only bring.

    Thank you x a million if you’ve read this far.

  7. Thank you again for writing this! Inspiring and exactly what I need right now! I don’t know a lot of people that are doing what I am trying to do now-be financially free-so I’ve really had to look online. Take care and pls keep posting!

    1. You bet! Whatever you first start out doing, many people will not understand. Many people will doubt you. You will often doubt yourself. But over time, things get better if you keep at it.


  8. It was worthwhile reading your posts. As immigrant I feel like I am going through some of the things you mentioned above. Thank you much for sharing your story with us.

  9. Reverse The Crush

    Another fantastic post, Sam! Very motivating and great perspective on life. I do agree that it takes 10 years to become an expert at your craft. I completely agree with every single point except for the social media one. Social media can be a waste of time, but there were other time wasters, such as TV, prior to social media. Plus social media can be extremely valuable for businesses if used correctly. I’ve learned a lot about it from Gary Vaynerchuk. I will admit there are a lot of downsides though. Thanks for sharing! Awesome post.

  10. Just started reading your blogs and I’m absolutely enjoying your writing style and all your content. This is one of my favorite posts. Love it! Keep up the great work :)

  11. Wow! This is my first time reading your blog. . Just wanted to say thank-you! I have been working for 22 years, I’m married with 3 kids, and going to be 40 years old in a few months. I have always felt that what you say about doing something fearlessly for 10 years is a key to success, but I have been too lazy to apply it in my own life. Things are going to change today. . . Making the commitment to retire in 10 years or less and I am going to eliminate everything that could possibly hinder this achievement. . . If what I’m doing is not helping me get to early retirement, then it will be eliminated from my lifestyle. Thank you, you planted a seed in my mind that was always there it just needed a little water and sun to grow. :)

  12. Great write up Sam, took a screen shot of a few paragraphs to reread and think on later!

    On what others think of you, I always think of the quote “it is none of your business what other people think of you” when I read that quote years ago just starting my career it jumped out at me and has helped me a lot.

    Paragraph on gratitude was great to read as well, so easy to get caught up in the chase.

  13. These kinds of posts of yours are my favorite to read.
    I noticed in your more recent article you were disappointed that there weren’t as many comments. That is a skewed perspective though since this article was so dense with useful and inspiring information that I read it in bits. I bookmarked it and read a bit at a time and took time to thnk about things.
    Another article that I loved of yours was this one for example:

    Keep going please! Thank you

  14. Randall Johnson

    I am new to FS. It is a treat to read! Your perception of the world (not just finance) is intriguing. Intended or not…you can be quite inspirational.

    Congratulations on the impending sale and I hope you continue being a big part of FS for quite a while longer.

  15. Been a follower for a few years now. Fantastic post! One of my biggest challenges is finding practical passive income sources & learning about them from respectable people. As you know there are SO SO SO many scammers out there. I also really don’t want to be a residential landlord in MA (super anti-landlord state) which unfortunately knocks out 75% of the sources of passive income that I’ve seen. Thank you for being a beacon of honesty in an otherwise swamp of snake oil salesmen known as the Internet. I hope to be a subscriber for many years to come. Keep up the great work!!

    1. Thanks Kevin. One of the great things about not selling anything except for my service negotiation but is that it’s almost impossible to scam anybody.

      I really enjoy the business model of not accepting money from readers, and having the corporations I like or think are interesting pay.

  16. Alex Goumilevski

    This is so accurate, I think one of the best posts on the site (among many other great ones). All of the people that I know that have reached tremendous success pushed for it for 10-15 years without giving up, and got the great results and more for what they were seeking. Thanks for writing this and putting this point out there!

  17. Leonardo Candoza

    Being able to make long term plans, execute, and delay gratification are the most important things. This is why kids that do better on “the marshmellow test” tend to be more successful later in life.

  18. Congratulations, not many people can stick with something for 10 years especially at this level of quality

  19. Just had the chance to catch up on your posts in the last week, and this one was my favorite! Especially the clip with you and your wife cracking up. It really takes character and drive to stick with a project like this in the long term. When you first started out I bet it was tempting to get discouraged and probably felt like you were shouting into the void. Good for you for choosing to monetize your blog more too – enjoy the benefits of all the hard work! I love the longer posts and the additional commentary you provide on the podcast episodes. I am selfishly excited you’ll be sticking around longer so I can keep learning from you!

  20. Hi FS, I don’t read all your posts but just a few and i never comment on any of your posts. I enjoy reading your posts, they are all good ones. Sadly, i landed on this post after reading about your other posts “Up Next For Financial Samurai: Less Retirement, More Entrepreneurship” where you wrote that nobody really cared about this post. This is one of the best posts i have read. Looks like you already made the decision to move on after your 10 years and the perceived lack of response to this post is just an excuse for you to sell it. Just say so, nothing wrong with that.

  21. Investor Trip

    Consistency is key. Great tips on overcoming obstacles and reaching success no matter what. I truly agree with your points about focusing on your content. It’s the main reason why people visit your website. Simply focus on what’s important and delegate the rest. This is a good tip for solopreneurs! BTW Grammarly is a really good tool for catching typos. I think you mentioned it in a previous article but I’d like to mention it again :)

    1. Key points are made and are well motivated. After all, financially independence is only one aspect of much more complicate of “living happily,” than one hopes to mastering it. No one should claim to be an expert on how to live happily. We were born with different deficits, hence we define happiness and prioritize what important to us differently, at different stage of over life. Due to its multidimensional and interdependency, a pursuit of happiness along each dimension can only be summarized as “Live is an unending pursuit of happiness.” One should never expect to enjoy the end results (because there is no end result) but to find moments to cherish as we pursue to accomplish the following: financial independence, family happiness, good health, comfort social status and peaceful mind.

  22. I was wrong. You were right! A few months ago, you were considering selling FS in order to spend more time with your family. I thought it was a good idea because expanding FS was going to move you to a new level, requiring staff, commitments, contracts and new “bosses”. But I see now that you have improved FS, but balanced your life. You seem more content than ever; like all men, you need an outlet for your creativity and drive. By helping others, you receive more energy to love and serve your wife and son. You are also providing an example to your son of being a successful person, man, husband and father.

    I think that the quality of FS has improved and it has become even more helpful.

    I am a retired 72-year old grandma in Canada (with family in California). I have been troubled by the excessive drive and consumerism of Californians, with a resultant lack of peace and joy. When I see how someone like you (who will or already does reside in Hawaii) has been able to be successful financially without sacrificing his family or life in the midst of unhealthy lifestyle environments (California and NY), I am happy for you and your family. Your example will help many others to see what is truly of value in life.

    You are doing what you are born to do. And doing a wonderful job of it.

    I enjoy your newsletter. It is refreshing, optimistic and helpful, as well as having financial insights that most financial newsletters lack, probably because you do not seem to have bias about the various factors affecting the economy.

    So glad that you decided to keep FS. You and your letter are unique. Nobody else could do what you are doing as well as you do it.


    1. Appreciate the kind words Donna! Selling FS would actually not entail all that cumbersome stuff. It would involve me being a good steward for a year or two and then completely letting go. Maybe I could get hired back as a staff writer for a nice salary though :)

      Thanks for reading and giving me some renewed motivation to keep going!

  23. Financial Nordic

    You truly have the work-ethic of an Asian!

    Fantastic post. “I’m never going to be more skillful than anyone, but I’ll outwork them all”.
    You are grinding everyday like it would be the last day of your life. Remember to have fun also :)

    – Financial Nordic

    1. Tell me more about this “Asian work-ethic” and how Nordic folks view Asians!

      You would be proud of me. I’m on vacation for another week after being in Hawaii for a week last month.

  24. oh wow! did not know we have the same background in Chinese and English, I always just assumed you were Japanese lol anyways, as someone who just turned 29 I must say this was better than all of the birthday presents I have received, we just gotta keep grinding but sometimes we all need a little love and motivation, thanks for the post Sam!

    1. Happy 29th! My dad is from Hawaii and my mom is from Taiwan. I grew up in the Philippines, Zambia, Japan, Taiwan, and then Malaysia for the first 13 years of my life due to my parent’s jobs in the U.S. foreign service.

  25. Trying to get ahead

    This is unquestionably the best post ever written on FS. Just goes to show you how good you get after 10 years. Thanks for your thought leadership.

  26. One of your best posts in the history of your work.

    “There are many shiny objects on your way to glory.” <== Best.line.ever

    Well done!

    1. Thanks Rudy. It took forever to write b/c I had to recollect a lot of stuff that happened. I probably could have kept going for another 1,000 words, but had to cut it off.


  27. Alison W Darnell

    Great article. And a great reminder to keep going. I recently lost my umbrella policy due to having too many real estate properties. It doesn’t matter that they are small, I was told I needed commercial insurance. Does anyone know anything about this? Any suggestions?

    1. yes exactly the same thing happened to me. I had one via Geico, but when i hit 4 rental properties + the property i live in (and rent) they wouldnt cover me without commercial insurance. Many of the big companies said the same.

      I managed to find someone who would cover me (ARROYO INSURANCE SERVICES – LA) but it costs me $600/year for $2m coverage vs only ~$300 previously with Geico.

  28. Sarkis Chobanian

    Your best post ever Sam. Congratulations on a job well done! The 10 year comment is spot on. Becoming a gastroenterologist takes 10 years: 4 med. school, 3 residency, 3 fellowship. But that just gets you in the door. True mastery takes at least another ten years in the practice of medicine. In medical school we were told that 90% of the time the diagnosis could be surmised simply by taking a history, i.e. listening to the patient’s story. It is now only after so many years in the profession that that admonition rings true. Carry on helping people as long as you are able.

    1. Thanks Sarkis. It’s amazing how education doctors need to go through just to get themselves through the door. Truly one of the most admirable professions. The kind and patient doctor is the best in the world.

      Thanks for doing what you do!

  29. My first read from this site, glad I found it! Great points with an inspirational message. Hard work and persistence pays off every time!

    Thanks for sharing

  30. *Standing ovation*

    I certainly hope I can master blogging after 10 years. I’m almost at the 5 year mark and still not getting anywhere. At least, not to where I’d thought I’d have been by 2019.

    Congrats on all your successes, Sam. You’ve earned them.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. There’s definitely some strategy involved to propel yourself farther forward. I would suggest going on an “ARB guest post tour” where you contact 10 of your favorite larger sites and see if you can write the most amazing guest post possible and build some momentum.


    2. happy retail banker

      I think your topics need to be more interesting, people are more interested about life in itself, not how a bank is structured

      1. Hey HRB,

        I appreciate you giving feedback on the topic of topics.

        You say that you find my topics boring and that they need to be more interesting. I can always get behind more interesting topics, though as a banking blog it’s only natural for the topic of how banks work to be broached at some point.

        What topics do you think I should write more about? Genuinely asking.

        ARB–Angry Retail Banker

  31. The truth is in your texts,you do it with your hart,not like 100 other fakers, with instant bla bla bs.
    Thanks for motivation!

  32. Thank you sam. Great post, one of my favorite. I love the 10 year idea. Never thought it would take so long, but if I look back it does take that long to master and be really good at what you do. Keep writing.

  33. TheEngineer

    Do not commit 10 years plus to financial independence unless you have a clear understanding of RELATIONSHIP.

    The most destructive force to financial independence is – your spouse!

    Statistically, fifty percents of you will be with a different mate by the time you are in your 60’s.

    Not by coincident, your wealth is reduced 50 percents in the same time frame.

    The 50 percents of divorce data is tabulated from the average people who live average an average life with little foresight of their future 10 to 20 years in the future.

    Once you have decide to take on the FI track, you can no longer live an average life with the average pace – this must be clearly understood by you and your spouse prior to the taking of the first step toward the FI endeavor.

    Good luck!

  34. Because of you I started about a year or so ago. Right now I would classify this blog as very basic. However, because you keep motivating me, I will work on it more.

    Through your wiring, you are definitely changing my life of the better.

  35. Your content is by far some of the best out there. Thank you for all that you do in providing actionable advice in a crowded world of fake “gurus”.

  36. This is one of my favorite posts of yours since I began reading FS 3 years ago! I love your humbleness and honesty; grit is such a critical quality for success. Thank you for the excellent advice

  37. What an awesome reflective and resourceful post! A huge congrats on achieving 10 years!! That is truly a remarkable achievement and not an easy task. I haven’t done too many things in my life for 10 years in a row. The few that I did include playing piano and violin, and working at one firm for a decade. Right now my active 10 year goal is parenting. I’ve learned so much in 2+ years that I think I’ll know a lot more once I hit 10 years and I’m sure there will be even more I’m still learn since it’s such an ongoing and ever changing journey!

    1. Thank you! The great thing about getting older is that we will eventually end up doing more things 10 years in a row. Haha. Optimism!

      Parenting is everything. Fingers crossed 10 years in a row of good parenting will make good kids. I hear from the majority that a child’s outcome is mostly nature! But perhaps that what parents who aren’t full-time parents tell everyone to make themselves feel better.

      Who knows, until we get there!

      1. The best investment you can make is spending quality time with your child(ren). A parent’s influence on them is very meaningful. Show them they are loved and important! Set consistent and appropriate limits. Instill in them the right values (best by example, less so by lecture.) Children learn what they see and experience. Be honest with them, don’t treat them like babies that only warrant a dismissive answer. Take time to listen to them and respect what they say, so they will seek you out for advice with their problems.
        And thanks for this inspiring piece you’ve written! I’m really having mid-life doubts, and this has given me a lot to think about!

  38. Incredibly motivating post and just what I needed.

    You are right that it takes about 10 years or so to become an expert/proficient at what you do. Even after years of training in medical school and residency, it is very challenging as a new attending in medicine. The first couple of years you feel like an imposter. With time things become more second nature, you have developed a workflow/rhythm and the stuff you encounter that you do not know diminishes quite a bit.

    After a decade you are essentially at the peak of your medical career with a great balance between experience/intelligence and physical ability.

    What you have said about blogging is what I am trying to take to heart. It is hard for me to take criticisms (thankfully haven’t had that much) because I have thin skin and take things personal. The first few were hard (it is like someone calling your baby ugly and stupid, you feel the need to defend). After awhile I realized you cannot please everyone. Stick with what makes you happy and the tribe you are meant to belong to will eventually find you.

    I am about 16 months blogging now so I have an uphil battle to reach 10 years like you have but hopefully I can continue because I get a lot of satisfaction and joy creating something out of my head that hopefully many can enjoy. They say the average life of a blog is something like 6 months because people give up quickly when they don’t get the traffic (or even money) they think they would have early on.

    Rome was not built in a day. I have had some major breaks come my way (best was having a guest post on your site with my divorce story) that drove a lot of traffic to my website (best single day I’ve had of traffic) . Hopefully things like that continue in the future as it truly is a remarkable feeling when it does.

    It is remarkable you have been able to publish 3x/wk for 10 years. I have that schedule currently and it is amazing how quickly it burns through your content. Hopefully I can keep pace.

    1. I definitely wouldn’t go to a doctor without 10+ years of training either!

      I’m glad to have helped you boost traffic to your site.

      Listen to all feedback and experiment with change.


  39. Very true! I’ve been writing my whole life, but it was only in 2015 that I decided to try to write a novel. In the first years I persevered to the end of a few drafts (while working full-time), but most of what I wrote was bad and I abandoned a few projects. It’s only in the last six months, after taking courses and doing multiple rounds of revisions, that I am beginning to feel that I’ve written something I can be proud of. If I had given up on writing, or not tried to learn as much as possible about writing, I wouldn’t have anything more than some unreadable first drafts.

    Of course, I haven’t been at it for ten years yet – I look forward to seeing what I can accomplish on my next projects.

    1. Ah, writing a novel has to be one of the hardest things ever! I’m glad you’ve kept on going and have built momentum.

      I’m sure you’re going to surprise yourself on the upside if you keep on going.

  40. I’ve lived in the US for college and work, for about 10 years, and now I’ve been living in Indonesia for about 7 years. I have been reading your blog for a while now. I started reading, since before you got married and before you have children. Now that I have three boys to take care of, I still find it interesting to follow and read your posts. Keep on going, writing and growing!

    Reading your post, reminds me a great of the quote below:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

    Please say hi if you read this :). Thanks Sam!

    1. Hello! And thanks for reading for so long and sharing TR’s quote. Yes indeed! I agree. Get in there and make something happen. Doing is much better than just pontificating.

      Next time I go to Indonesia, we must go eat at the finest mamak stalls! Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singaporean food are my FAVORITE after liking in KL for 4 years. Yum, yum.

  41. Ten Bucks a Week

    I’m at a company that has an IC and manager track, but you are free to switch between them. Do you think ten years should be done in just one of these functions? The two tracks are fairly equivalent in pay, but the downsides of a manager is there are only so many positions up high.

  42. This is probably one of my most favorite posts you have written. A lot of people give up quickly after someone becomes to hard to do or when they reach a roadblock. Sucess does not come easy and staying focused and committed for a long time is the only way to separate yourself from all the quitters.

    Early on in my career I thought it was the dream to move to the buyside after banking. After working my tail off for three years I managed to move to the buyside at a multi-manager hedge fund. Littled did I know that in just one year, I would burn out and quit that job despite the potential to make a ton of money in that career path.

    If I quit there and left the investing world, I would not be in the position I am today. I transitioned to another fund that I thought aigned more with the investing style I identified with and absolutely love what I do now. If I gave up after realizing that first job on the buyside was not right for me, then I do not know where I would be today.

    Your post is spot on. Stay focused, be optimistic, find what you are good at, and think big.

  43. This might be one of my favorite post from you thus far. The main thing that I would add which you touched upon in taking criticism is to never stop learning. In Charlie Munger’s book, “Poor Charlie’s Almanac,” he states that it does not take above average intelligence to succeed. What it takes it the persistence to always learn. He mentioned one fellow who was widely successful but as he put it, was average to below average intelligence. What set him apart was that he was a learning machine. I personally attribute a lot of my success to hard work and that I am constantly reading and looking for ways to improve. If you are always improving, then you can’t help but be successful.
    Another great point that you made is focusing 10x more on your offline relationships. I don’t think this can be stressed enough. The benefits are immeasurable. In addition, give and you will receive. All around, you made many great points. It would be nice if you can expand on each in future post.
    As for the 10 years to master a craft, I don’t necessarily disagree, but for those who are truly talented, it can be done in half the time.

    1. Ah, to be blessed to master something in 5 years instead of 10 years. Unfortunately, I’m not that smart or dedicated!

      What is something you’ve been able to master in 5-years?


  44. The 10-year thing can be related to working out. I wished I worked out consistently for 10 years. I can come up with excuses all day. But if I did, like you said if I didn’t notice major results in 3 years I’d switch up my routine. And then by the remaining 7 years, I’d probably have a six-pack and be ripped. I’m on track now but need to make some improvements, particularly on food choices.

    By the way, did your friend ever end up settling on a special someone far above his/her level? :-)

    1. True. 10-years of not taking care of yourself can really take its tool. You look at yourself in the mirror or in a picture one day and wonder, where did it all go wrong!

      Yes, my friend found someone and has three kids now.

  45. Very true. I’ll humbly suggest a few more:

    – Listen to advice from successful people:
    We got very sage and timely advice from 2 friends: one told us to invest in real estate in 2010. One told us never sell my company stocks because it’s growing earnings XX% yoy. Compare to our other friends, who are more talented and work harder, some panic and sold stocks in 2009, some put everything they had into primary home before 2008 financial crisis. 10 years later, even if their homes are worth more, it still under-performed stocks by a factor of ~4x with decades of mortgages payment left and no savings. By keeping most of our net worth in stocks, it has quadrupled since 2009.

    – Planning is overrated
    “Man plans, God laughs.” Most of our plans didn’t work out and the thing that kept us optimistic was our faith. Rational people put too much burdens on themselves :)

    1. Rational people are rare, and they allow for plans to go awry. Now, rationalizing people, on the other hand, are quite common. They put all their effort into justifying poor behavior/actions (like selling in Fall 2008).

    2. I agree on listening to others who’ve been there or who have more experience.

      I think planning for multiple scenarios is a must. Why? Because planning is free and fun to do! the more you can pre-mortem various scenarios, the more prepared you will be when such a scenario hits.

      A good example is having a checklist/plan for when you get in a car accident, god forbid. In dire times, our minds tend not think straight. Going through a pre-mortem plan will help.

      Can’t plan for all scenarios, but you can plan for some of the most difficult.

  46. You are a great example of achieving at the highest level in several areas of life. I did very well in my engineering and management career and always felt it was because I chose a profession that fit my particular brain and personality very well. Is that the case with you? Would you just as successful now if you had chosen to be a doctor or an engineer? And if you had focused on golf and soccer would you be as good at those as you are at tennis and softball? In other words are you successful purely because of tremendous grit and determination or did you also select areas of focus that fit your mental and physical talents?

    1. Thanks Steveark. I have always followed what I’m most interested in. I was a stock market fanatic in college, so I ended up working in equities as a couple big investment banks. I’m blessed to have done what I wanted to do.

      Then, in 2009, I became a blogging fanatic as well as a tennis fanatic again.

      I’m pretty sure if I dedicated the same amount of time to golf as I do to tennis, I would get under a 5 handicap. When I was really into golf for 1.5 years back in 2010 or so, I got down to a 9.8.

      I think it’s probably 70% grit, 30% fit if these are the only two variables.

  47. Ten years is an optimal time frame to measure progress for many commitment.

    The problem for many is the lack of the life framework!

    Ten years is a long time to chase after something – ARE YOU SURE?

    Every ten years, each and everyone of us physically and biological changed so much that we are a different person – birth, 10 years old, 20 years old, 30 years old, 40 years old and forward.

    Every ten years we see ourselves and the world around us with a different perspective.

    The question is – do we have the right framework to grow us along the way for the new you and the new world.

  48. Great post, Sam. You are such an inspiration. Hope to meet you one day! Best regards to you, your wife and son.

    Ada Fang

    1. Christine Minasian

      I agree! What a great post!!! Especially the part about limiting time on social media…it’s a waste and not very healthy. Keep up the great work Sam!!!

  49. This was a great post. It makes me think of the 10,000 hours to mastery idea mentioned in Gladwell’s book. I’ve been writing for about ten years and now parenting for that long so I can see the skills that build over time. We’ve also owned our house for eight years and bought during a perfect time in 2011, so we have seen it almost double in value. Thanks so much for all you share here. I’ve learned so much!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *