It’s early morning and I’m sitting outside again, thinking through the stuff I’m going to write about today.
There is this loud sound of crickets reminding about the end of the summer. Another summer is gone… Everything happens so quickly, my son is almost 3, the siding on my house needs replacement and paint, the brickwork on my patio got old and needs repointing before the winter.
Everything falls apart without maintenance and people are not different. Yet, we rather fix everything else but not ourselves…
A few days ago my brother and I barbequed some delicious meat and it was a perfect opportunity for us to chat and get to some of the deeper stuff.
Why some people are successful while others are not?
We came up with a few major factors like the lack of time, knowledge and even desire to take action.
As I thought about it a bit more, it became obvious that we forgot the most important reason that stops people from achieving success.
Ready for it? Ok, here we go:
All people want to be “successful”, but almost no one has any idea what that means.
Sure, we have this stereotypical image absorbed from the environment we live in. Usually, it simply boils down to having A LOT OF MONEY (here it comes again – A LOT == nothing, not specific enough).
Everywhere we go we see celebrities, actors and top-tier athletes with their retouched images of perfect lives, yet here and then we get shocked to hear stories of drugs overdose and suicides that seem to go hand in hand with money and popularity.
How could that be?
Well, turns out you can’t plug the holes in your soul with the money. It may work for a while, but then the same “what the hell am I doing here” question comes back. Always does.
On top of that, many people who seem financially successful are directly attached to their active income streams (which have a tendency to swing up and down).
Oftentimes financial obligations, lavish lifestyles and growing demands force them to produce more and more. If they stop, everything falls apart like a card house. No wonder their number one worry is the worry about tomorrow.
Don’t believe me? Make sure to check out a book called Millionaire Next Door for more detailed surveys and analysis.
You don’t need to be a millionaire to know the feeling.
A few years ago when I hit my “crisis” I had everything that usually defines success – enough money on my bank account, strong family, a house and a luxury car but yet I felt like was trapped and didn’t know how to get out.
As I went through the process of self-discovery it became clear that Freedom is and always been one of my most important values, yet I was too far away from actually experiencing it… Just like a lot of other high-earning professionals, I was doing fine “at the moment”, but I had to “work” in order to maintain my lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the work and fortunately I like what I do for the most part, but I don’t like to be forced to do it. There is a very fine line between the two, but it’s there.
That’s why I embraced the following definition of success:
Enough money coming in without having to work to finance your purpose in life.
Now, having the general direction of what success means FOR ME, I can go further and come up with actionable steps to get me there:
- Figure out the minimum amount of money we need every month to maintain our current lifestyle (do you know your spendings?)
Start building liquid (preferably cash) reserves that will be enough to sustain you for about a year – a backup emergency fund.
Once your backup is ready (fully funded), move on to wealth building phase. All of the money left on the table after the previous step (if there are any) will be used exclusively for investing and building your passive income streams (real estate, stocks, loans, crypto, business ventures etc).
Now that I have specific targets, all I have to do is to evaluate an re-assess the situation periodically. If I noticed the increase in my spendings then I need to either cut those or adjust my backup fund accordingly, which will automatically stop any future investments. See how it self-regulates?
If you start investing without backup funds, something that I did more than I a few times, you are putting too much on the line. You are essentially risking money (any investment is a risk no matter how safe it may seem) that you can’t afford to lose which can affect your sanity and well-being. Don’t do it.
Another thing that I’d like to point is that all of the three steps of my “passive-income and wealth-generation” formula depends on your offensive game, meaning the more money you make, the faster you get to the investment phase. That assumes that you keep your spending levels in check of course.
I have nothing against fancy lifestyles, but if you care about freedom the same way I do, then you should focus on building the foundation first and make sure the money that you’ve accumulated are working for you.
How do we fine tune our offensive game? Good question.
Here is my answer – by focusing on details.
We are all aware of common pointers like “educate yourself”, “get a high paying job”, “work hard and your efforts will be noticed”. Sure, all of those things may work in the right context, but it’s not enough. I believe there a lot of other factors that are as (if not more) important as the ones we just mentioned.
What’s your morning routine? Do you have clear goals? What do you eat? How well you sleep? What’s your environment? Is your spouse aligned with your vision? Are you a spender or investor? Do you have accountability partner/coach? How many books did you read last year? Who are the people you look up to? Are you exercising your creative muscle? Is your workday well structured?
Those are the details that matter. I would go so far as to say that those details are THE ONLY thing that separates success from mediocrity.
Don’t cut the corners. Get clear on your definition of success, identify your personal values and roll forward!