boring middle FIRE

How to Handle Boring Middle of FIRE

Are you wondering if the recent dip in your enthusiasm for FIRE means that you have hit the boring middle?

You were making rapid progress on your journey to financial independence, but things have slowed to a crawl lately.

Nothing you do seems to be making a difference. Add to that some doubts have started playing at the back of your mind.

Am I doing this FIRE thing right?

You know there is this thing called the boring middle but is the journey really supposed to slow down by this much?

Is it just me or does everyone on the path to FIRE face this big dip?

What is the Boring Middle of FIRE

The boring middle is the disillusionment phase that sets in after the early excitement on the long path to financial independence.

It is characterized by excruciatingly slow progress towards your FIRE goal even though you are doing everything right.

This boring middle is an inevitable phase in every FIRE journey.

It is what separates the true devotees of FIRE from the FIRE tourists.

Also known as the dreaded plateau, it is the longest and toughest phase of the road to financial independence.

Signs of Hitting the Boring Middle Plateau

There are some common signs to look for that will tell you if you have reached the boring middle of FIRE.

These include:

  • Your net worth is hardly budging from month to month even though you are saving and investing regularly.
  • You begin to doubt the math behind financial independence and early retirement.
  • You notice a dip in your enthusiasm for the whole concept of FIRE.
  • Temptation to splurge on a big purchase to break the monotony of just saving and investing month after month.
  • You start rationalizing your cheat days because who knows if this whole FIRE thing is for real.

While these are the most common signs of the boring middle there are some others as well.

This includes the itch to pick some riskier investments on the side to speed up your FIRE journey.

Combine that with a recurring doubt if you are sacrificing too much in the present for a future that may or may not happen.

How to Survive the Boring Middle of FIRE

Acknowledging, accepting, and adapting to the boring middle of FIRE is the secret to getting through it.

It is an unavoidable phase of every FIRE journey. Those who survive this phase can look forward to the rewards that come once you reach FI.

Here are some things you can do to break through the boring middle:

Let FIRE Run in Background

Imagine you need to download an exceptionally large file on your device. You hit start download and the downloading process starts.

There is a pop-up telling you it will take about 2 hours for the download to complete.

You have two choices now:

Option A – You can keep staring at the pop-up showing the download progress for the entire 2 hours.


Option B – You can switch tabs and continue with your other work while the download happens in the background.

Most people go for option B, since we know that just staring at the pop-up does not make the download happen any faster.

You just need to ensure that there is a constant power supply and network connection in place.

You will get notified once the download is complete.

Apply the same mindset to break through the boring middle of FIRE.

Once you have selected an appropriate low-cost investment product and automated the investing process, there is not much left to do.

Now just let the compounding run in the background and do its job.

You just need to ensure you keep investing each month till you break through the boring middle and come out on the other side.

It is ok to take a quick occasional peek from time to time to check the progress. That is all there is to it.

If you spend any more time managing your portfolio, you are more likely to cause it harm by trying to tinker with something that is not broken.

An annual review of your FIRE portfolio is good enough to keep track of your progress.

Redirect Your Focus

Once you let your FIRE journey run in the background, you will have the opportunity to redirect your time and energy to other career pursuits.

Focus on upskilling yourself and continue to look for career opportunities that will allow you to increase your savings rate.

The boring middle phase offers you the opportunity to take your professional competencies up by many notches.

Spend your time taking professional upskilling courses, networking, and honing your human capital.

The biggest impact on your financial independence corpus comes with how much you invest each month.

It is much more powerful compared to the investment returns that your portfolio is generating.

This is particularly the case when you are less than half-way to your target early retirement corpus.

The greater your savings rate, the more you can afford to invest each month.

Prioritize Your Relationships

The boring middle phase is typically the time in your life when other personal priorities will loom large.

It is time to realize that you may have limited time left to spend together with your parents before they move on.

Similarly, you may have just a few more years left to enjoy your kids before your communication with them narrows down to an occasional emoji.

Treasure these moments. A few years from now you will have the money but not the time to spend with your loved ones.

The boring middle is a blessing in disguise.

Use this opportunity now so that you do not have regrets when you look back 10 years from now.

Spend more time with your partner and find time to do things together. In a few years it will just be the 2 of you together.

Do not let the boring middle weaken the joy of doing things together with your partner.

Your partner is key in deciding if your FIRE dreams will pan out the way you imagine them.

Do mini versions of the things you plan to do once you reach financial independence and retire early.

Rekindle old friendships and keep them alive.

Once you are done with your corporate career, your friends will be the core of your daily life.

Do not wait till you reach retirement to rebuild those bonds. Use the boring middle to strengthen your bonds of friendship.

Reconnect with Yourself

There is a reason that the idea of Financial Independence Retire Early resonated with you when you embarked on this journey.

During the early exciting phase of the financial independence project, you may have made some lifestyle changes to speed up your journey to FIRE.

The boring middle phase is the time to test out if this new lifestyle is a true reflection of you as a person or just a fad.

Depending on your starting point, the boring middle phase is likely to last for a decade or longer.

If you are comfortable with the lifestyle choices you have made during this time, there is an incredibly good chance you can maintain it once you are FI.

On the other hand, if you are not naturally programmed to live a different lifestyle it will come to the fore during this boring middle phase.

This is a good thing. It is much better to find out what is important to you in life.

There is little point in sacrificing so much for a decade, only to realize you do not like a FI lifestyle in the first place.

Use the boring middle to set up a life that is a true reflection of you as an individual.

Use this opportunity to reconnect with yourself without bothering about the excessive consumption template this world has set up around you.


The boring middle is the toughest phase on the path of FIRE.

It is what separates the true devotees of FIRE from the FIRE tourists.

You may find it easy to cut down on lattes and popcorn during the early excitement phase of the journey.

It is during the tough grind of the boring middle that your true character and dedication to FIRE will shine through.

Rest assured that everyone who has achieved FIRE has had their own version of the boring middle.

For some it may last decades, while for others it may be a few years.

Acknowledging, accepting, and adapting to the boring middle of FIRE is the secret to getting through it.

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