Jan. 5, 2022

59 : Finding Her Dream Job In Sustainability & An Entirely New Relationship With Money (Part 3) with Julia Li


Welcome to the mindful fire podcast where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond.  I'm your host, Adam Coelho and I'm so glad you're here.

If you're new to the mindful fire podcast and you haven't yet checked out the other parts of our 3-part series with Julia, you can find the full series at mindfulfire.org/julia.

On today's episode of the podcast, we dive into part three of our three part series with Julia Li. This series has followed Julia's journey of making a huge life in career change of leaving Google after six years to pivot into the field of sustainability.

What I really love about this series with Julia is just how relatable and actionable it is for me and for anyone who listens to it.

Many of us want to start this new year with more intention and alignment with our values and our purpose. These conversations with Julia provide not only inspiration, but also practices like journaling reflection and envisioning that we can use to get clear on what we really want and to begin walking down that path.

I hope you've enjoyed this series with Julia as much as I have and I would love to hear what it's inspired you to do in your own life.

You can reach out to me on Instagram @themindfulFIREpodcast and drop me a DM and let me know what you're planning for 2022. I really would love to hear it.

Today on part three of my conversation with Julia,  we dive into the final chapter of her pivot out of Google and into the field of sustainability after taking three months off to rest and reflect.

In today's conversation, Julia shares her mindset and practical approach to identifying which area of sustainability she wanted to work in.  She then shares how she went about identifying potential companies and ultimately connected with those companies to begin the interview process.

There's a ton of practical advice Julia shares that can be applied to any career moves you've been thinking about making in 2022.

And finally Julia shares with me how her entire relationship with money has changed over the last year since we recorded our first conversation together, before she left Google.

In that conversation, I recommended a book to Julia called The Simple Path To Wealth, which you've probably heard me talk about numerous times on the podcast. The Simple Path To Wealth by JL Collins is really my go-to recommendation for anyone looking to understand their money better or improve their financial situation and certainly to anyone looking to get on the path to financial independence.

Julia shares, how reading this book and another one called Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin, changed her mindset and relationship with money. Her new insights about money. Really got me thinking about my own relationship with money and I think they'll do the same for you.

If you haven't already, I recommend listening to the full three part series with Julia which you can find at mindfulfire.org/Julia.

Books Mentioned

Connect with Julia

Each Tuesday I release a guided meditation or inspiring interview on the topics of mindfulness and financial independence. Subscribe for future meditations and episodes!

Transcript

[00:00:00]

 

Adam Coelho: Welcome to the mindful fire podcast where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond. I'm your host, Adam Coelho and I'm so glad you're here.

Before we jump into today's episode. I just want to take a moment to wish you a happy new year.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I hope you're staying safe and I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead.

Thank you so much for being here and being a part of the mindful fire community.

On today's episode of the podcast, we dive into part three of our three part series with Julia LI. This series has followed Julia's journey of making a huge life in career change of leaving Google after six years to pivot into the field of sustainability.

If you're new to the mindful fire podcast and you haven't yet checked out the other parts of our conversation with Julia, you can find the full three part series at mindfulfire.org/julia. That's mindful [00:01:00] fire.org/j U L I a.

What I really love about this series with Julia is just how relatable and actionable it is for me and for anyone who listens to it.

Many of us want to start this new year with more intention and alignment with our values and our purpose. These conversations with Julia provide not only inspiration, but also practices like journaling reflection and envisioning that we can use to get clear on what we really want and to begin walking down that path.

I hope you've enjoyed this series with Julia as much as I have and I would love to hear what it's inspired you to do in your own life.

You can reach out to me on Instagram @themindfulFIREpodcast and drop me a DM and let me know what you're planning for 2022. I really would love to hear it.

Today on part three of my conversation with Julia, we dive into the final chapter of her pivot out of Google and into the field of sustainability after taking three months off to rest and reflect.

In today's conversation, Julia [00:02:00] shares her mindset and practical approach to identifying which area of sustainability she wanted to work in. She then shares how she went about identifying potential companies and ultimately connected with those companies to begin the interview process.

There's a ton of practical advice Julia shares that can be applied to any career moves you've been thinking about making in 2022.

And finally Julia shares with me how her entire relationship with money has changed over the last year since we recorded our first conversation together, before she left Google.

In that conversation, I recommended a book to Julia called The Simple Path To Wealth, which you've probably heard me talk about numerous times on the podcast. The Simple Path To Wealth by JL Collins is really my go-to recommendation for anyone looking to understand their money better or improve their financial situation and certainly to anyone looking to get on the path to financial independence.

Julia shares, how reading this book and another one called Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin, [00:03:00] changed her mindset and relationship with money. Her new insights about money. Really got me thinking about my own relationship with money and I think they'll do the same for you.

If you haven't already, I recommend listening to the full three part series with Julia which you can find at mindfulfire.org/Julia.

You can also find the full show notes for today's episode, including the books I just mentioned any links and resources we talk about in the episode at mindfulfire.org/59

Let's jump into today's episode.

 

Adam Coelho: Julia. Welcome back to the mindful fire podcast. It's great to have you here.

Julia Li: Thanks Adam. It's great to be back.

Adam Coelho: So Julia, in our last conversation, you shared how you took three months off to rest and to clarify your vision of what you wanted this next chapter of your career to look like. I'm really curious what all that [00:04:00] reflection led you to and what you're going to be up to.

I really don't know. And I'm excited to hear what this next chapter is going to look like for you.

Julia Li: I'm happy to talk about what I'm going to be doing next. So I am joining this company called Afresh and they are a company based in the bay and their company. That's leveraging AI in order to help grocery stores reduced fresh food waste.

Basically 40% of the food waste in the U S occurs at the retail level. So restaurants, grocery stores, et cetera. And the way that, produce is currently being bought in grocery stores is extremely outdated. So grocery stores have their ordering systems, but these ordering systems are geared towards packaged goods and with fresh food, typically what it looks like is a store manager walking around with a clipboard and counting the apples and say, oh, I have this many today.

Here's how many I should buy tomorrow. Let me write that down with my pencil on this piece of paper, based on my intuition from 20 years of knowledge in this industry. But what that leads to you know, if you're predicting incorrectly, [00:05:00] is it leads to waste and all of this waste, obviously leads to greenhouse gases.

According to project draw down, which is this book that lists all of the different solutions to climate change, in one of their scenarios, they say that reducing food waste is the number one solution to solving for climate change, which is pretty freaking cool. And for me, I love food, I'm passionate about food, but really why I wanted to get into food sustainability is I think there's so many different, other upsides to solving for food challenges within our system, right? First of all, you're solving for climate change, but you're also solving for food insecurity. You're helping food, get to people where it needs to be. Food is communal brings people together.

There's just so many amazing things tied to food and completely necessary to our survival. Like we can't live without it. Anyway, that's all a long story to explain, food and why I want to get to food and the amazing thing that a fresh is doing because their AI solution essentially takes historical data predicts based on your historical sales data, here's how many [00:06:00] apples you should purchase. Here's how many oranges, bananas, et cetera. And then the store is just follow these recommendations. And today they've already reduced millions of pounds of food waste, which is incredible. And for these stores, every pound of food waste reduced leads to direct profits for them. So it's a win-win win solution all around.

I'll be joining their team as a customer success lead. So they are building out their customer success team right now. And basically customer success is going to manage all of these large retail partnerships. They have. It's pretty exciting because I'll be working with the director of customer success essentially to build out what that team looks like, what the structure and the operations look like.

And yeah, it's really exciting looking back on it, because all of my time at Google it's like I was working in advertising, was working with clients and I just had this very vague idea of how my skills could eventually transition into sustainability. And now that I'm here, I'm like, wow, like getting to work for a company that is going to solve one of the biggest challenges of climate change.

[00:07:00] And I am directly taking my Google skills and applying them here and they're going to be useful. So I'm so excited about it.

Adam Coelho: That's amazing. I have some follow-up questions there.

But first I'd just say so cool how your skill set that you built at Google as an account manager translates into this customer success skill that every SaaS company out there needs, and you're going to be able to go in and be that actual relationship manager that makes sure the companies are getting the most out of that so that they can reduce food waste, which does all of those things that you mentioned before.

So that's awesome.

Julia Li: Yeah. Thank you. I'm so excited about it.

So I'm curious why food waste is the number one thing. Is it all the things that go into producing the food that ultimately just gets wasted.

Yeah, definitely. So basically, one, third of all food produced is wasted. That is a [00:08:00] huge amount, right? It's one third. So it's like you go to the grocery store, you spend a hundred dollars on groceries and then you come home and you throw $30 directly into the trash.

So that's a huge problem. So yes, definitely one side of is exactly what you mentioned, where all of the food produced. It takes land, it takes water, it tastes fertilizers. It takes, trucks to transport it from one location to another. It takes fuel in order to process and package it. So all of the emissions associated with every single step of that food production supply chain is wasted when one third of that food is wasted. So that's a huge piece of it. And then the second piece of it is when food goes into landfill, because most food is not composted. And if you're composting something, you're returning the nutrients back to the ground, they can enrich the soil for the next generation of plant life.

But most food is thrown into landfill and food is an organic material. And when an organic material is decomposing in landfills, because of the anaerobic conditions and the lack of microbes that break down the components. [00:09:00] What happens is the organic materials decompose it to methane. And so methane is actually a greenhouse gas that is, I think, up to 80 times more concentrated or, impactful compared to carbon dioxide when it's contributing to our planetary warming.

And so keeping all of that organic material out of landfills and preventing the amount of methane that's released is going to have a huge impact. And then, like I said, too, the population is growing. We have all of this food being produced that could be feeding people and it's not. And so there's so many social upsides to it as well.

I could go on and on about that, but in short, those are the two main reasons why solving for food waste has a huge impact on solving for climate change and solving for global warming.

Adam Coelho: Yeah. That's amazing. Yeah. Thank you for explaining that. I was completely uneducated on that, but it's good to know.

And it's interesting that you're mentioning this because I think it was an article in the New York times a while back about food waste and just like the whole network of people that essentially just go to the grocery store and [00:10:00] make friends with the manager and try to get the food before they throw it away to bring it to people who actually are hungry.

And I was like, man, that's so cool. it would be even more cool if that wasn't necessary. Yeah. I don't know if your company will be tackling that portion of the problem or just avoiding producing as much.

Julia Li: They're more focused on the procurement side of things.

Just not ordering in excess because the way that our supply chain works like fresh food after it's picked and harvested and cleaned, it's stored in a way that's able to maintain its freshness for the most part in these huge manufacturing facilities. So what you probably don't know is most apples you're eating have been in storage for like over a year.

Adam Coelho: A year?

Julia Li: Yeah, it's actually crazy. You should look it up. Essentially apples can go into hibernation based on the types of gases you're exposing it to. And so if you're keeping that concentration and the levels of gases optimal, the apples are suspended in a state of ripeness and they don't continue ripening.

I know it's wild,

So if you're not ordering excess fresh [00:11:00] produce, which is what most stores do, cause they don't want to lose out on sales, then that food is prevented from being wasted. But that being said, there's tons of other cool companies that are solving the food waste issue on the other side of things.

So another company that I was interviewing with they're called too good to go. And they're an app where people download the app and it'll tell you, oh, there's food that's going to go bad at your grocery store and you can pay $5 to get $20 worth of groceries or something.

Or it's like, oh, there's a restaurant that has a dozen bagels you can buy for discounted in the areas around you. So they were launched in Europe and they recently expanded to the us. And so that's, a way that you as a consumer can get involved in saving that food waste.

There's a lot happening there there's multiple angles at which it needs to be tackled from, but it's cool that there's so many companies that are doing that.

Adam Coelho: So you figured out you wanted to work in the food space and you started trying to get connected with these companies and interview with them. Can you talk a little bit about what that process was like and some tips or things that you learned along [00:12:00] the way?

Julia Li: Yeah, here's a tip that one of my friends gave me. She gave me a really good tip around just working your network. And I did see this come into play in terms of how I got the job at Afresh.

I joined the slack community called work on climate. It was actually started by two X Googlers. So anyone who's interested, you should definitely look it up and join, and work on climate. It's just people who want to work on climate or are working on climate. And there were two people who had posted in one of the channels saying, Hey, I got a job at a fresh school company.

I was like, oh, cool. Let me check out this company. I was like, oh, like working on food sustainability. Awesome. So I reached out to both of these people and I was like, Hey, I want to ask you about you getting the job there. Had a great conversation with one of them. Who's an engineer. The other guy turned out to be the recruiter for Afresh.

And he was like, oh, your resume looks good. I'm going to have you talk to our VP of sales. It sounds like it could be a fit.

So I basically, got an in through the recruiter just by reaching out to him on the slack group and to a couple of weeks to get that conversation set up.

But because I had one person I could ping him and be like, [00:13:00] Hey, I haven't heard from the VP yet Like when's that conversation happening.

So I think having at least like one connection to accompany really does help. Whether it's like a friend introducing you, or you just reaching out to someone else at the company on LinkedIn and saying Hey, let me learn about your job.

Oh, actually, I want to apply, can you put in a good word for me or something like that? I really think it does make a difference.

And one of my friends said, don't write a cover letter. No one reads them. That is false because I did write a cover letter for another position. I didn't hear back from the company for two months. And then they were like, actually we read your cover letter.

We want to interview you. And I was like, oh my gosh, I can't believe you read that. And it was the first cover letter I actually wrote. I put a lot of work into it and I ended up getting an offer and obviously I ended up declining that one. Again, there's always exceptions to the rule. So definitely do put in the effort, writing the cover letters.

I would say I was super intentional about which companies I was applying to. So again, going back to the journaling practice, I really asking myself what kind of work environment do I want to be in? How much do I want to be [00:14:00] making like all of those kinds of questions?

Sometimes I'd, look at a company I'm like, oh, this company sounds pretty cool.

And then I realized like they weren't as involved in climate as I thought they were, or the role wasn't exactly like what I want it to be getting out of a role. I wanted something creative. I wanted something strategic. I wanted to be building something. And so I only applied to six companies.

Like I try to apply to one job a week. I don't even know if I really did that, but I only sent out six applications because I was like, I'm not going to put in the time to write the cover letter if this is not a job that I truly would want to work for. So I think that's something to keep in mind is just, how can you be really intentional within your job search?

So that you're spending your time effectively, right? Your time is valuable.

Yeah, those would probably be my main tips. I'm not really a career coach, but that's what worked for me.

Adam Coelho: You're not a career coach, but you did get yourself a job at a company that is very exciting and that is aligned perfectly with what you want to do.

So I think your advice is pretty valuable.

Julia Li: I think if you are so clear on what you want, [00:15:00] then that kind of authenticity will shine through it because if you don't really want to work for a company, they're going to sniff that out by the time you get to the final round interviews, like you can only lie so much.

So you just, you really have to be honest with yourself. And I think that will help you go the furthest in general.

Adam Coelho: So Julia, let's shift gears and talk a little bit about money. You mentioned earlier that during this six month period, your entire perspective and relationship with money has shifted. And that to some degree, it started with reading the simple path to wealth, which we actually talked about, and I recommended to you on the last episode that we did together.

And so I'm really curious to hear about that evolution for you and what's going on with you and money.

Julia Li: Wow. Yeah, first of all, a huge thank you to you for recommending that book because it taught me so much. It's been a huge stepping stone and probably the first stepping stone that really has gotten me to this place of financial literacy that I feel like I'm at right now.

And [00:16:00] when I say my entire relationship with money has changed, I feel like maybe I should just expand a little bit on what that relationship looks like right now and how I got to this point and the mental frameworks that I'm working with. And this is going to push the bounds of, I guess I would say the woo woo a little bit. Stay with me and we'll see if it makes sense and if it resonates.

So the two things I've been thinking about. One is that money is energetic. That's one. And the second one is that what kind of energy is money? Money is the energy of desire and it's a representation for how much you think you're deserving of in this life and it's a representation of your sense of self-worth. That's what I've been working with.

So I'm going to expand on those a bit. The first one, that money is energetic. Why do I say it's energetic? Because we all know that money inherently doesn't mean anything, right? It's only a means to an end.

It's only a tool that [00:17:00] you can use to trade for the things or the experiences that you desire in your life. Actually it's the other book that you recommended to me by Vicki Robin your money or your life that started introducing this concept to me, because what she says is that money is something that you trade in exchange for your life, energy, right?

You're putting your life energy into the time that you're working and then you're getting money as a result from that. And so again, money is something that you're trading your life energy for. Money is energetic in and of itself. And if it's energy, then the way I think about it is energy wants to flow.

Energy doesn't want to be stagnant. And the way for energy to be used the most effectively is there needs to be a give and take. It needs to move essentially. If you think of a rushing river, it's most effective in use when it's moving, not when it's being dammed up.

The opposite of energy flowing is energy being stagnant. And what I mean by stagnant is if you're [00:18:00] not really having a relationship with that money, let's say, if you just have a savings account, you're just throwing the money into it, like a black hole. You're not looking at it. You don't really understand what's going on. How do you let it not be stagnant?

How do you let it flow is you really have to understand the rules by which the energy of money operates. So this is, where the simple path to wealth comes in, because from that practical piece, like, I didn't really know how money worked within the tangible world that we live in. I didn't really know how investments worked or my 401k worked or how taxes work, all of that.

I had to learn those rules by which money operates in order to have this understanding of how money works to then understand how I could let it flow effectively.

And so the analogy I'll use there is think about the laws of physics and applying to driving a car. If you're going to drive a car, it's helpful to understand how momentum and acceleration and friction works. And as a result of understanding those rules, you're naturally going to drive the car [00:19:00] better.

I think that the same thing with money, it's like, you have to understand how it works. You have to understand those different pieces in which money comes into or out of your life. Once you understand those you'll naturally have a healthier relationship with it, and you'll be able to let it flow more effectively because you're operating from this place of empowerment rather than from a place of fear and hang onto it and keeping it. And as I mentioned, like keeping it stagnant.

So that's one, that's like a basic premise. And then the second piece around money being the energy of desire. What I mean by that is you are trading this money in order to get the things and experiences that are going to allow you to live the life of your dreams.

So money again is just a means to an end. It has no inherent value instead you're going into the world and you're saying "Oh I want this thing, or I want this experience." And then every time you make a purchase, you're actually asking yourself, "Am I deserving of this experience? Am I willing to trade my money in order to get this thing that I want, or this [00:20:00] experience that I want?"

And I think if you're stunting yourself in that sense, if every time you're making a purchase, you're like no, no, no, I don't need that. Or no, I'm not really worthy of that. Or like, I don't really deserve that to, then you're stenting yourself in a lot of ways.

And so that's why I say money is tied to desire and creativity and expression and self-worth because it's a tool by which you can express your sense of self-worth. It's a tool by which you can say 'I am deserving of this experience. And I am worthy of desiring this really awesome thing for myself and therefore, like my money is going to be an expression by which I showcased to myself that I am worthy of that."

Does that make sense so far or is that all just really random?

Adam Coelho: No, it makes a lot of sense. It's making me think, it's making me think a lot actually.

Because I reluctantly consider myself to be pretty cheap. But I am. The concept of money is energy and you need to understand the rules of the [00:21:00] energy of money makes a ton of sense.

And I was thinking about, the laws of physics and the physics of money popped into my head. And then you started talking about that because it's true, right? If you don't understand how money works, you can't really work with it and you can't allow it to flow to you and through you and use it effectively.

You have to know the rules of money to use it effectively and build financial independence or even financial solvency or stability. Forget financial independence. If you don't understand how money works, you're going to end up in a lot of debt and create a lot of misery for yourself and those around you.

And so it's absolutely critical to understand the rules of how it works. The laws of money.

Julia Li: Yeah. I would say, you have to understand how it works. And also like why I say money is energetic is because once you have that kind of perspective, then you realize that it's not about the money itself, but it's about what it's getting you. You start to have more of this give and take relationship with it.

An [00:22:00] example is, let's say your child wants to go on a trip to Disney world, right? They're like daddy, daddy, take me to Disney world. I want to go visit my Mickey Mouse. And let's say, you're thinking about it from the perspective of a trip to Disney World is going to cost this much for tickets and flights and hotels and whatever. That's gonna set me back, one or two grand. That's a lot of money. I don't really know if I want to spend that money. But then when you start thinking about money as a form of energy instead, and it's a trade off, then you start thinking, okay but if I spend that money, what do I get back energetically in return? It's not just about this money leaving you, it's about what it's bringing into your life. And it's oh if I spend this, then like I get this amazing trip with my family. Quality time, a vacation maybe for me to decompress, seeing the joy on my child's face when they meet their, cartoon idol.

I think it just helps you have a healthier relationship with seeing how it's going into and coming out of your life, but not just in the dollar amount, [00:23:00] that's on a piece of paper, but the value that it's actually bringing into your life so when money does exit, your bank account you're more open to seeing what's coming back to you in return.

I think that helps you be more generous as well. We all know the more you give, the more you get back. And so I think that's helped me have a healthier relationship with, again, first of all, understanding the foundations, the practical laws, so that I'm not doing this from a disempowered place or ignorant place, but once I understand how it works now, I'm being more intentional about giving it away or spending it away, but very consciously understanding what I'm getting in return for spending that money.

This taps into the second piece that I mentioned around money as self-worth. And I'll just explain a little bit how I came to this conclusion because basically, as I mentioned, I went on sabbatical. I saved all this money. I created a budget.

Here's how much I spent on food transport, et cetera. In the past years, how much money I should spend per month. And [00:24:00] this is how long my savings should last me. And then obviously I started seeing this naturopathic doctor. She also does acupuncture. So I started seeing her on a weekly basis and I was going to acupuncture every week.

And it was this amazing form of self-care, but it's also costing me a couple hundred extra dollars every month that I hadn't really accounted for when I was setting up my budget. I'm going to these acupuncture appointments. And then I just started thinking to myself, one day I was like, this is really eating through my budget much quicker than I anticipated, but I was like, am I going to feel bad about taking care of myself?

And I was like am I going to go into all of these appointments feeling guilty of feeling like, oh, I shouldn't be spending this money cause I didn't budget? And I just had this realization where I was like, no, I'm absolutely deserving of this self care that I'm gifting to myself, it's making me feel a lot better.

I'm fully enjoying this, I'm investing in my future health. I was like, I'm not going to feel bad about spending this money on myself. That's dumb, I'm trying to take care of myself to help me feel better, physically, emotionally, all of that. And there's no reason to ruin all of that with [00:25:00] feeling guilty, just because I'm spending a little bit more than I thought I would be spending.

So that's when I started thinking about this concept of using my money as a tool to reaffirm, my sense of self worthiness and what I am deserving of. Another example is the world was starting to open back up this summer. We thought covid was going away, people are getting back to, they were like, okay, we have a social life again. And I hadn't really gone shopping in a year.

So I was like, I want to refresh my wardrobe if want to refresh my makeup, all of that. So I'm starting to make these purchases. And then I was just asking myself what is the mindset around which I'm making these products.

And I was like, am I doing this from a place of lack? Am I doing it from a place of comparison? Is it like, oh, like this person has this, I want it. Or it's I feel ugly. And all my clothes right now is I need new clothes to make me feel pretty. Or is it like, oh, I'm gonna make myself feel guilty because I'm supposed to be an environmentalist and I'm supposed to be minimal and I shouldn't buy things in excess and et cetera.

And so there's all these different places from which I could come from when I'm making these purchases.[00:26:00] And then I was thinking like, no, like why am I going to do that double whammy of buying myself something and then feeling bad and guilt tripping myself about buying it, like what is a healthier perspective which I can perceive my purchases from.

And I realized that it's from this place of self-worth. So it's understanding, you know what, I'm a really creative person and one of the ways in which I like to express that creativity is through my physical appearance. So I'm going to buy fun clothes and fun jewelry that is an expression of my creativity and my sense of self and who I am.

Or it's that I love my body and I want to take care of my body. Therefore I am going to spend money on things that are going to nurture my health and make me feel the best version of myself because I'm worthy of that. And it's also like, you know what, I'm a human being and yeah, I care about the environment, but I also like beautiful things and sometimes I like bougie things and sometimes I'm really frugal and thrifty and that's awesome, but [00:27:00] I also want to live a life of joy and abundance.

And so I just started really trying to shift my perspective around all of my purchases. Every time I'm spending money, I'm like, okay, where am I spending this money from?

Am I spending it from a place of lack where I feel like I am not enough or I don't have enough and therefore I need to spend it in order to get this? No. That's also stagnation. When I was referring to like money as energy. If I'm spending from that place then I'm just throwing my money into a black hole and I'm still never going to feel enough, right?

Whereas if I'm spending from a place of worth and a reaffirming for myself every time, I am worthy of the things that I want in this life. I am worthy of nice things. I am worthy of taking care of myself. Then every single purchase then becomes an investment in myself and it becomes an affirmation of knowing my worth and knowing what I stand in.

And I think it also helps with unexpected purchases too. For example, I recently took a red eye flight from the west coast back to New York and I landed a seven [00:28:00] AM. I was at bag check and I was thinking, like, do I take public transportation and go home or do I call myself an Uber and go home?

Public transportation would cost me maybe 10, $12. An Uber is going to cost me $50. I'm still spending my money reasonably. I'm not making money, so I should probably take the public transportation option. But as I'm looking at, I realize that public transport is going to take me 90 minutes and I have to walk to the bus station.

And then I have to walk back from the subway to my house, with my luggage and all my stuff. So eventually I was like, I'm just going to take an Uber. It's 30 minutes door to door. It's $50. Whatever. I'm just going to spend it. So then I'm sitting in the car and I'm like, okay, I spent $50 on this ride.

I was like no, Julia, are you going to make yourself feel bad the entire time while you're sitting in this Uber and like guilt trip yourself over not taking public transportation and spending all your money, or are you going to be like, you know what? You actually didn't sleep on that red eye. You're really tired. You have a bunch of stuff that you're towing and it is awesome that you get to enjoy the luxury and the comfort of sitting in this car and just being delivered from point a to point B. [00:29:00] And you are totally worthy of being chauffeured around the city and just getting to your home as fast and as comfortably as possible.

So that is, an example of how I've been putting this mindset to practice and actually how I developed this mindset.

The last thing I'll say on that too, is being at the end of it, experiencing the irony of spending a lot of money because basically if I had not decided to leave Google and to save up a bunch of money and to spend all of it on myself, doing nothing, you never would have invited me on your podcast and you never would have told me to read The Simple Path To Wealth .

And I never would be in the position I am in right now where I actually feel so much more abundant and so much more empowered with regards to my finances.

So it's like that energetic exchange, the more you give out, the more you're getting back. Then same with the purchases that I've been making .

Because I've been using every single purchase to affirm my sense of self-worth when it came to this job that I accepted and the salary negotiations conversations, when I left Google, I [00:30:00] was fully prepared and expecting to take a big pay cut. And I was like, you know what, it's fine. I want to work for a mission. was okay with that. And then when I was getting the offer for this company, it was a really good offer and I was pretty happy with it, but because I'd been working so much on my self-worth, I was like, you know what?

I think I deserve a little bit more because of how much I was making a Google and I'm going to ask for more. And I asked for more and I got it. And now, what I'm making is basically equivalent to what I was making at Google, which is not what I ever would have imagined. I never would have thought that I go into the industry I want to go into essentially get like a dream job with awesome people that I'm so excited to work with and still be making the same level of salary. And I just think it's so funny because I'm like, if I didn't spend all that money on myself these past six months, would I have gotten to this point of worthiness, where I felt like it was okay for me to ask for more and to be able to receive more in those salary conversations?

[00:31:00] So yeah, that's where I'm at now with my money mindset. I would just say, take everything I say with a grain of salt. This is very much my personal experience. It's just what I've been experiencing the past six months, but I would say, the key takeaway is see how you can maybe shift your relationship with money and maybe see if you can use your purchases and your money as a way for tapping into a sense of empowerment, rather than feeling like you don't have control over or that it's something that's always escaping you. Play around with that mindset of I'm giving this out, what am I getting back in return and how is this further enriching my life instead of just taking something away from me.

Adam Coelho: Yeah. Thank you, Julia. Thank you for sharing that. And going into so much detail and sharing those examples, because that, for me, made it a lot more real, right?

When you first talking about money as the energy of desire and of self worth, I was like, yeah, I get it. I recognize it, but [00:32:00] I need the examples and the examples really made it clear for me.

I struggle with that a lot. Like I only see the money coming out. What was the first thing I said when we got on the phone today, I was complaining about all the money that I spend on my house and house related expenses. That is where I went right away. I'm always thinking about money, but I'm always thinking about it as I need to keep it and I need to spend as little as I can.

Even the skate park casita, I don't want to pay for it.

Julia Li: But here's what I'll challenge you to think, Adam. You're not just keeping it right? You are investing it in your future self. And so maybe that's just the kind of mindset shift that might be helpful for you is to say, okay, I have, let's say $2,000.

Do I take this money and spend it on my skatepark casita? Or do I take this money and I invest it in my future self so that my future self can live a life of ease and of doing whatever he's passionate about. It's [00:33:00] not, I'm just saving it and I'm holding onto it.

When you are approaching a more from that, you're thinking more about what am I giving to my future self to get back versus what am I giving to my current self to get back right now? Then it's more of this circular, flowing sort of sensation, instead of just, am I putting this money out right now and getting something back or do I just hold onto it and not let it go.

Do you sense what I'm saying?

Adam Coelho: I do. That popped into my mind before, when you were talking about how it's energy that flows. Obviously it's really important to again, understand the rules of money and put that money to work for you so that it can flow into companies, investing in the stock market essentially is money, flowing into all the companies in the U S economy or in the world economy, and then allowing that money to grow. You're investing in those businesses and those businesses can grow and then put off returns for you, which then allows you to have more money and potentially reach financial independence, where then work becomes optional.

[00:34:00] That money can flow back to you because you put it out into investments. And so I do get the not allowing it to be stagnant, but for me, getting back to that point about self-worth, I think that there's a lot there for me, because I have no problem getting money, investing the money.

That's all great.

And honestly, if I'm feeling a little depressed and I need a dopamine hit, I pull up my net worth and I'm like I feel good. Yeah, look at all that money I saved. Yeah.

But it's like in the stupidest things that I just won't allow myself to do like even buying the rollerblades.

They're like $350 call it. And I'm like, I don't know. Yeah. I've been thinking about getting back into rollerblading. Yeah. It would be good exercise for me. Yeah. It would be fun, but the $350. One thing that has helped me financially is thinking about every dollar that I spend now as $10 in retirement.

Yeah. That's been helpful. But then again, it's also not [00:35:00] helpful so it took Google giving us that well-being bonus for me to actually say, yep, I'm buying the skates,

Julia Li: Yeah and I can imagine how hard that is because they're like two complete different mindsets.

I think everything in life is you have to walk this line in the middle and a reasonable place where you're not falling too far into one camp or the other.

For you in the skates, it's asking yourself, am I deserving of the joy that these states are going to bring me? Am I deserving of how much fun I'm going to have on them?

And then you started thinking that way and you're like, heck yeah, I'm deserving of that. Like, yeah, I, want to be Adam, be adults, skater. This is going to be an awesome part of my identity. And it's totally an expression of who I am as the best version of myself and the most creative and most fun version of myself as a human. Totally I deserve these skates. And then it's less about the actual monetary value and more about experience that it's going to bring into your life. And then when you do spend the money on the skates, which you have done, don't beat yourself up over it. Anytime you hear yourself [00:36:00] saying oh, I shouldn't have spent the 350, say no, Adam, you are deserving of these awesome skates and they have been so much fun. And actually I should take myself out of skating right now and get the most I can out of them.

Adam Coelho: Yeah. It's funny. You mentioned the Uber and with the skates. My wife has pointed this out to me constantly how much mental energy I waste thinking about and beating myself up over money

It'll be. We're going on vacation soon and we have a bunch of food. That's going to go bad in the fridge, sorry to the food waste problem. But it's like these cucumbers, they're like $2 each, like, I can't believe we're going to waste these cucumbers.

Yeah. And it's like your net worth went up a thousand dollars yesterday. why are you worrying about these freaking cucumbers? yeah.

These huge swings, like I wrote a check for a new car the other day and now sound like I'm bragging, but it was like, okay, it doesn't matter cause I was clear on what we were getting.

Like it was a nice car. It made my wife happy. It's going to allow us a lot more flexibility. So it's like, yep done. [00:37:00] Okay.

I really like what you're saying about understanding what are you getting in return? And honestly, having a house where there's a lot of expenses has helped me get less cheap. I just have to be right. Like I can cut down that tree by myself. So let me hire these professionals and I will not fall out of a tree off a 30 foot ladder.

That's pretty valuable.

Julia Li: Then also thinking, oh, I'm supporting this person's livelihood. They've trained their entire lives and know how to cut down trees. How cool is it that I get to support someone else's career? Because I have the finances to pay for it. Think about that a lot.

So I will tell you it, it makes me pay for more things, I should, but thats okay.

Adam Coelho: Yeah, I was going to ask you that isn't this a slippery slope? Like, am I worthy of this? When is the answer no? But the answer is never no.

Julia Li: You know what is the more clear you get on your sense of worth?

And they talk about this in the Your Money, Your Life, book the more you know, what truly brings you joy or not. Then if you make a purchase, something that doesn't really bring that much joy. You're like, I thought I wanted this, but actually you don't really, you're like, okay, [00:38:00] now I've learned for next time.

And you take it all as a learning opportunity. Cucumber is going bad next time. I'll plan my fridge a little better when I'm leaving. No big deal.

Adam Coelho: Yeah. It's a good point. I'm bought into the concept. The application of the concept I think, is going to be a little bit more tricky, yeah.

Julia Li: Next time you need a reality check. The next time I want to make a big purchase that I shouldn't I'll text you. And you'll tell me Julia, that $200 will be XYZ. 10 years. We'll help each other.

Adam Coelho: Yeah, it's true.

So let's shift gears now to what I call the mindful fire. Final four.

The first question is one of the things you mentioned about your relationship with money is this idea of cultivating abundance. What does that mean to you?

Julia Li: I'd say cultivating abundance to me is really around a attitude of gratitude. Little cheesy. My partner got me a gratitude journal one year for Christmas, and I started using it more when I was on sabbatical and I haven't ever really used it regularly [00:39:00] and I was using it regularly and I was like, oh my gosh, like this actually works. I know there's a ton of science around it, but it totally works.

And so I think abundance is just feeling like you have enough and it's not really about what you actually have, but it's more about what you feel like you have in your life. And part of that is just being grateful for the things that you have.

I'll be transparent. I am on paper $25,000 poorer than I was before I started my sabbatical. So I've been spending a bunch of my money, but, in terms of my sense of abundance in this life, the opportunities that have come my way, the amazing people I've met, the care I've invested in myself my body like cooking really healthy foods, starting to work out that the acupuncture, all of that.

I feel like abundance is so much more than just the money you have in the bank accounts. It's everything that makes your life a quality life worth living. It's everything that brings you joy.

So that's really what I mean around it. Just being grateful, right? Being grateful for the money you have in your [00:40:00] bank account, no matter how much it is. Being grateful for the needs that it's able to meet for you. Being grateful for the job that you have that provides or the skills that you have that could get you a job, or, just anything around that.

I'd say that's what I mean by this mindset of abundance.

Adam Coelho: Yeah, absolutely. Totally agree. That gratitude's incredibly powerful. What's the actual practice that, that journal suggests is just like writing three things you're grateful for?

Julia Li: It's write down three things you're grateful for today and three things you're grateful for in your life.

Adam Coelho: More broadly. Yeah. Okay, cool. That is great reminder to make that a practice because it's easy to lose sight of it.

Julia Li: Yeah.

Adam Coelho: All right. The second question is what piece of advice would you give to someone early on their path to financial independence now that you've gotten your finances in order?

We went a lot into the philosophy and not a lot into the practical moves that you made, but you can talk about either one or both.

Julia Li: I think the practical moves are going to look different for everyone, depending on what [00:41:00] stage of life you're in, what kinds of accounts you have. I would just say, just know that it's one of the most important things you can figure out that's going to help you live a stable and comfortable life.

And if I did it, then you can definitely do it. So don't be scared of doing it. It just takes time. That's the only thing is you just have to invest the time and the effort, but you absolutely can do it. You absolutely can learn it. It's never too late. It's very easy to fall into that coulda, woulda, shoulda mindset.

I definitely have fallen into that, Like oh my God if I learned this three years ago, or if I learned this before the stock market crash of March 2020, or whatever that was, and I invested then, whatever. Shift that into the mindset of, oh my gosh, how cool is it that I get to learn this now and like how much this is going to pay off for me in the long run.

I'll also say, I didn't get here alone. Obviously I had, you who gave me suggestions on stuff. I watched YouTube videos. I read books. Look for help in the places where you can get help, if you want to invest in a financial coach or someone like that. The best kind of investment you can make is one [00:42:00] of yourself.

When I was going through the interview process and negotiation process, I hired my friend as a career coach to help me with that. So yeah, just know that it's a really important thing to do. And even if it feels scary, it's so worth it on the other side of learning it, because once you start to develop that literacy, the sense of empowerment that you feel is so amazing.

If you already know some stuff, I feel like maybe this advice doesn't apply to you.

But if you're very early, you haven't done it all, just take one step, just do baby steps and that's going to start building on itself.

Adam Coelho: Absolutely. Yeah. That is great advice and yeah. It can be learned and go learn it. Again, I said at once, I'll say it a thousand times read The Simple Path To Wealth. It is amazing.

Okay. The third question is what advice would you give to someone regarding meditation and or mindfulness?

Julia Li: Yeah. This is interesting because I actually like not really meditated at all in the past six months. An interesting thing I've noticed.

I think the reason [00:43:00] for that is because I've been so mellow and I haven't had the stressors that, typically I was like, I need to meditate in order to call my mind.

So I would say it's just a reminder that meditation isn't a requirement to live a mindful life. It's a tool in your toolbox, but that you can find mindfulness in a variety of different ways that you can really find it any moment.

And for me, I was more doing things like mindful eating. Like I was really not eating in front of a screen. I was journaling a lot. That's a mindfulness process you're tuning in with what's on your mind in the present moment. Mindful resting, for example, just sitting there and just noticing how it feels to be in your body and like just being there in that moment. You can find mindfulness in any moment.

So I just think with meditation, mindfulnessusually there's a lot of pressure that's applied to it and especially pressure that people put on themselves. And I would hope that this piece of advice just reminds you to take that bit of pressure off yourself and know that you can find mindfulness and other ways. Find a way that works best for you, that fits into your life the most [00:44:00]without needing it to be so rigid.

Adam Coelho: Well said. The final question is how can people connect with you online and keep up with your journey as you move forward into this new career at Afresh in sustainability?

Julia Li: Yeah. So I guess on a professional level, LinkedIn is probably the best one.

I've been a bit more active on LinkedIn lately. Surprise, Surprise.

So if you want to send me a message and connect on LinkedIn, I love that cause obviously my professional dates will be posted there.

I restarted my sustainability newsletter.

So there's a plug for that. It's my trash talk newsletter I was writing at Google and I launched it externally and I'm writing that on medium. So if you want to learn more about sustainability and hear me talk more about food waste and emissions and lifestyle tips you can find that at julia-li.Medium.com. So would love to see you there.

And then my personal life, that's on Instagram. That's @wjulia people want to connect with me there. Send me a message because I usually don't accept [00:45:00] requests from people I don't know, but happy to connect there as well. And I'd say those would be the three main spots.

Adam Coelho: Very cool. Yeah. You're one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram.

Julia, thank you so much for being here on The Mindful Fire Podcast and updating us on everything that's happened.

Julia Li: Thank you so much for having me out on this was so much fun. It was so great to catch up with you again as well. And I don't know if there's a part three, but just looking for us the next time we catch up again.

Adam Coelho: Yes. I'm sure there will be because you're going into this new chapter

Thank you again and thank you for all the time. You spent your whole afternoon with me.

Julia Li: It was a pleasure.

Adam Coelho: Thanks so much for joining me on this episode of the mindful fire podcast.

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with my friend, Julia Li.

If you haven't already, I recommend listening to the full three part series with Julia which you can find at mindfulfire.org/Julia.

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As a reminder, you can find the full show notes for today's episode, including all of the books, resources, and links we discuss at mindfulfire.org/59.

Thanks again, I'll catch you next time on the mindful fire podcast.