Escape the Rate Race- 5 Lessons from Usain Bolt

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As I write this post, Jamaica and in fact the world is slowing its pace if not coming to a complete halt to look on in absolute pride and awe as the living legend, Usain St. Leo Bolt gears up to run his last 100M race on home soil. This now legendary Olympian and dare I say the greatest athlete alive started out a boy from the little known town of Falmouth, Trelawny with a population of just over 8000 in one of the smallest countries in the world. I will attempt to recap a few of his list (non exhaustive) of achievements to date:

  • eight time Olympic Gold medallist
  • first person to hold both the Olympic 100M and 200M world records 
  • eleven time World Champion
  • broke the 100M and 200M world record twice each
  • part of the world record holding team for the 4x100M
  • awarded the IAAF world athlete of the year, track and field athlete of the year and Laureus World Sportsman of the Year four times 
  • #63 on the list of the top 100 earning athletes for 2016, with estimated earnings of $32.5M USD

I could keep making bullet points of achievements but suffice to say this is an extraordinary man from at best, ordinary beginnings. This is a man that has escaped the rat race both literally and figuratively.

When I look at Usain’s story, I see many parallels with the path to success in any endeavor. For those of us trying to achieve financial independence and break free, it can seem like such an uphill task. Oftentimes we wonder if it is even possible to achieve our goals. Many of us grapple with our lives feeling unhappy and at a disadvantage because of our less than ideal beginnings. Here are some lessons we can take from Usain’s journey:

Assess your skillets, focus on your core strength. Begin where you are with what you have– Usain used his God-given talent and started training from an early age, often with less than ideal equipment and facilities. Many times we think, I’ll start saving when I get a raise. However, it is important to know that we have to master a little before we get a lot. What skillsets do you have that you can leverage right now? Can you paint? Do you make really good natural juices? Can you build really cool webpages? These are all skills that you can tap into right now. Do not wait for some future time when circumstances are ideal. Begin now. Usain started out playing cricket until his coach identified his speed on the pitch and channeled him into track and field. Knowing or finding out your areas of competence will help you at being great at what you do.

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Have fun, choose happiness– You can tell from Usain’s disposition on and off the track that he truly enjoys life and tries to maximize moments of happiness. Why do we go around moping and stressing as though we have all the cares of the world on our shoulder. A colleague of mine, who happens to be one of the most inspirational persons I know gives his formula for happiness as: happiness = expectation – reality. Reality he says is really just your perception of what is real. So, being happy in life is a matter of either adjusting your expectations and improving your perception of reality. Therefore happiness is a choice. There have been many studies done on the concept of working in a state of “Flow”. Flow, the state where we feel in command of what we do, execute tasks effortlessly, and perform at our best, was discovered by researchers at the University of Chicago. They asked a wide range of people, “Tell us about a time you outdid yourself — you performed at your peak.” No matter who answered — ballerinas, chess champs, surgeons — they all described the characteristics of the flow state. One of flow’s best features: it feels great. Making the choice to be happy with the work we do will set us up to be more productive and feel more fulfilled.

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Put in work– Despite his fun and antics, when it is time to work no one puts in more in training than Usain. He leaves it all on the track everyday during his rigorous training routines. As the saying goes, the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. We often look on at persons who have achieved financial success and dream of having the same results and the fruits of success, but we don’t realize the amount of energy and effort expended in getting there. There is no going around it, if we wish to achieve financial freedom, we must get into the habit of working and being productive in our endeavors. I recommend getting into the office just one hour earlier each day. This will give you an additional 5 hours per week. in a year thats 250 hours or over 6 work weeks of increased output. Do you think you can accomplish more if you had an extra month and a half in your year? Could you make more commissions? Finish more projects? Earn that promotion? This is just from one little one hour change. What more could you achieve if you tweaked other areas of output.

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Don’t focus on others; run your race– People anticipate the moments before Usain’s race perhaps as much as they do the race itself. His superior focus and display of confidence shows a defiant man charting his own path, self assured that the medal at the end of the track is guaranteed for him. He is not concerned about his opponents, the naysayers nor anything that will prevent him from crossing the finish line first. In fact he often comes from behind to close the gap and win. In our daily lives we are so concerned about what other people are thinking, saying and doing. We often make perilous decisions based on how we believe people will react to our choices. Of course we must upgrade our cars at least every three years. How else will people know we are doing well? We absolutely must go shopping at least twice per year. I was quite shocked when I read a recent article highlighting that it was revealed by former First Lady of the USA, Michelle Obama that President Obama, wore the same tuxedo to every state dinner for the past 8 years. If the leader of the free world can recycle his suit, why do we need to look “fresh” at every “turn up”? We are literally going broke trying to look rich. 

                                                         

Build your network- For a man from humble beginnings, Usain has managed to create a deep and expansive network of supporters, well-wishers and advisors from whom he can learn and with whom he can share ideas and grow. If we are to be successful, we need likeminded individuals on a similar journey, who will support us and drive us toward our goals. You are the average of the 8 persons you spend the most time with.  Habits are shared, behaviors learnt and results replicated. Look around you. Are the persons you spend time with striving for the same ideals? Are they who you wish to be in 5 years time? Do they motivate you to do more and be more? If not, you may want to make some changes.

Our future is being created daily. It is our duty to ensure that when we arrive we are pleased with what we see and whom we have become. It is not enough to merely exist and pass time. We should strive to become the best versions of ourselves. Bring your talents “to the world”.

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Creating your investment portfolio

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Now that we’ve decided to take the plunge into creating our very own investment portfolio, there still remain some unanswered questions: What should my first step be? What assets should I include? What external factors can affect my portfolio’s performance and how can I reduce this exposure?

We will seek to answer these questions as you take the proverbial ‘first step’ on your investment journey.

 

What should my first step be?

DIY projects can be fun when you’re painting your room, or trying to sew that fancy outfit. But not so much when handling your financial goals and dreams. Once you have made the conscious decision to create your investment portfolio, you should consult an experienced professional. Investment firms are usually the best place to look, as they have teams of persons who specialize in various areas of the investment process and are able to guide you along your investment journey. Leaving your financial goals to chance is not the most judicious approach to financial independence. While your portfolio is being professionally managed, it is still important to ensure you understand the recommendations, decisions and transactions carried out by your investment manager. It helps. Trust me.

 

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What assets should I include?

Simply put, financial assets are tangible liquid assets used as a store of value, or to generate some level of income. These may include stocks, bonds and money market instruments to name a few; each with its own unique characteristics, risks and income potential. The old adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is an important technique of investing (known officially as diversification) and one which may be essential to your portfolio’s success. It can be very tempting to want to invest only in high-yielding assets such as stocks, or bonds but it is more important to create a balanced portfolio of assets. With a balanced mix of assets your portfolio will be better able to withstand changes in market conditions such as changes in interest rates, inflation or even a change in government. Ideally your portfolio should include each of the major financial assets, however how much of each will be determined by your risk profile and financial objectives. For example a conservative person-one who prefers stability should not invest heavily in volatile assets such as stocks. Also, someone saving for a long-term goal such as retirement should have little or no cash within the portfolio because of the marginal returns it generates.

 

What external factors can affect my portfolio’s performance and how can I reduce this exposure?
We have no control over when it rains; what we do control however is if we get wet. We plan for eventualities in many areas of our lives-we have motor insurance if we have an accident, we have water tanks if our piped water supply is interrupted and candles if we have a power outage. So why not do the same for our investment portfolio? We operate in a global marketplace where events half the world away can affect your portfolio’s performance. These external factors can range from political elections held locally to changes in GDP growth in China. No one has a crystal ball (if you do, can I borrow it sometime?) so how do we prepare for an unknown event? Remember that important technique mentioned earlier? Diversification or a having a balanced portfolio will go a long way in reducing the effects of market events. While we cannot totally avoid risks associated with market events, we can reduce it through spreading that risk over various assets. An experienced investment advisor can help you to understand trends in the market and to also identify and interpret signs which may indicate possible market changes, and structure your portfolio accordingly.

 

Creating a successful portfolio is no walk in the park. It will take precision planning, shrewd execution and constant monitoring to get ‘it’ right. I’ve never climbed a mountain, ran a marathon, or won any championships-but that feeling when you get ‘it’ right would aptly compare with any of the aforesaid accomplishments. Take that first step, stay disciplined, keep focused and your financial success won’t end up being the next urban legend. Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science. Or is it? See you next time.

Blessedinvestor is a co-author/ contributor on financiallyawake.com. He is a certified Personal Portfolio Advisor with approximately 8 years experience in advising clients on optimizing their investment portfolio.

Investing is fun. Right?

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At first sight this headline may ignite curiosity, skepticism and for some it may sound even a bit crazy. But it’s not. Investing is more than just looking for the highest returns, or sidestepping landmines called risky assets. While those are important aspects of investing; it involves so much more.

Investing can be comparable to an artist who expresses his personality, dreams and feelings through a well-designed and perfectly crafted painting. “Investing is an art” which requires the investor to understand and appreciate his own objectives, style and risk profile in order to translate these into choices of viable investment instruments.

What are my objectives? Too many times investors seek advice without knowing exactly what they want or more importantly what they need. This is tantamount to being lost and asking for directions to an unknown destination. How long am I able to invest my funds? Will I need access to these funds during the life of this investment? Are these funds earmarked for some major purchase? These are all questions we, as investors, must ask before making any investment decision. Investment instruments have varying characteristics and making uninformed decisions can prove disastrous for our financial objectives.

What type of investor am I? Earlier we mentioned understanding your style as an investor. It is important to define and apply one’s style when choosing investment instruments. Just as your sense of fashion/ style determines the outfits you wear; so will your investment style drive your investment decisions. Two individuals may share like profiles in that their investment amount, time horizon, age and even objectives are similar, however their individual portfolio of investments bear little or no similarities. This style is driven by one’s risk profile, which brings us to our final point…

Risk as it relates to investing refers to the probability of lower than expected returns on a given instrument. As an investor your risk profile is determined by both your willingness and your ability to take on the risk(s) associated with an investment. Willingness speaks to the level of comfort the investor feels while ability speaks to how quickly or easily one can recover from any possible losses. The risk profile of the investor will therefore skew investment decisions in one way or another.

The harmonious combination of these variables will ultimately determine our ability to seamlessly achieve our financial objectives. Understanding the importance of each will provide us as investors with clearer insight to the intricacies involved with creating our individual investment portfolios. Being able to successfully incorporate these factor variations to achieve differing objectives can fill an investor with as much adrenaline as a Nascar driver approaching that ineffable checkered flag.

Stay tuned for more as we look further into “Creating Your Investment Portfolio”

 

Blessedinvestor is a co-author/ contributor on financiallyawake.com. He is a certified Personal Portfolio Advisor with approximately 8 years experience in advising clients on optimizing their investment portfolio.

10 Signs You Are Financially Awake

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Sometimes I look around in amazement at those who appear to be taking the proverbial bull that is life by the horns. I used to think that they are super humans; gifted with some extraordinary ability and/ or skill-set, setting them apart from the rest of us mere mortals. Being a naturally curious (read nosy) person, whenever I get a chance to interact with these large and in charge figures, I make it my point of duty to soak up all possible nuggets of wisdom. From my observations and interacting with these super men and wonder women I realize that whilst they themselves have struggles, that they have made certain decisions, which have led them along their path to success. There are certain traits which are common to them all. As a firm believer in the principle that like actions cause like effects, I have outlined below 10 traits of the truly Awake:

i. You make and live by a budget–  Money is an expression of value. When you release your energy into the market place, you receive payment in the form of income. The truly Awake realize that “money is a good servant but a cruel master”. Every dollar earned may be spent on: enjoying life, investment or charity. All three (3) are worthy areas. The point is to have a plan for every dollar earned, addressing all three and to  stick to that plan.

ii. You spend less than you earn– No man ever attained independence or power by spending all he earns. Society, has made it a little harder for us by making it possible for us to spend more than we earn through loans. The truly Awake, ensure that they not only live within their means, but below it. They realize that the only way to give to any charitable cause or to have money for investing is to spend less than you earn. 

iii. You set goals and plan for your future– The truly Awake begin with the end in mind. They develop long term goals, which they break down into shorter term targets and take action every day toward achieving these. As Napoleon Hill stated in his famed and impactful book, Think and grow Rich, “success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal”. Note he made no mention of speed. There is no short-cut. The important variable then is your direction. A constant movement in the right direction will get there.

iv. You are a pupil of lifeAwake people realize that, the difference between where you are now and where you are 5 years from now is what you read/ learn. They know anything can be learnt and invest their time and energy into learning the skill-sets needed to succeed.

v. You surround yourself with positive people– You are the average of the 5 persons you spend the most time with. Therefore to grow, you must be around people committed to growing. Successful people have the uncanny ability of seeking out persons who can fuel their development.

vi. You give your word and keep it– Your word is your bond. In the end all you have is your integrity. The  Awake say what they mean, and mean what they say. To make this work, the Awake are very specific to whom and what they commit. They learn the art of saying no to the less important matters and commit fully once they give their word.

vii. You focus on your health/ fitness– “Mens sana in corpore sano” is a Latin phrase, usually translated as “a sound mind in a sound body” or “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. As internationally known speaker and author, the late Dr. Wayne Dyer stated, “we are spiritual [and intellectual] beings having a physical experience”. The Awake realize that maintaining your health, makes for a much more pleasurable and fulfilling experience.

viii. You are always in solutions mode– Problems are a dime a dozen. Unless you are a diagnostic expert, chances are you do not get paid to point out problems. The market rewards those who bring solutions to the pain points of life. 

ix. You remain positive despite setbacks– With the best of intentions, we all meet upon periodic setbacks. That file you have been working on all day has magically disappeared. Your investment portfolio has taken a hit due to market conditions. That “sure thing” deal you thought you had in the bag, suddenly fell through. The Awake ones amongst us realize that persistence is a must have trait and keep on keeping on even with these setbacks.

x. You genuinely love to help others– The successful and truly Awake person realizes that they themselves are the benefactor of the intervention and assistance of coaches, mentors, supporters and well-wishers along the way. He/she understands the value of this and tries to pay it forward. Life (and the market) has a way of rewarding the “go-givers”. Never become so engrossed in self that you forget to help others.

Investing- with a small amount of money

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You did all the right things: went to school, got good grades, landed that oh so elusive first job and began running on the track toward success. You’ve managed to skimp and save bits and pieces from the morsels you’ve received for your efforts. You have a small amount stashed and lately all this running has got you feeling like Harvey the Wonder Hamster. People often ask questions like: “I have a small amount of money (read $200/ $1000/ $2000/$5000 USD etc), what can I invest in to become financially free?”  Having asked that question myself, scoured the globe (read research/ books/ seminars/ trainings,  countless meetings with financial advisors and several financial missteps), and still being on the quest, I have arrived at a somewhat unorthodox view on the approach to be taken with small lump sums or financial nuts. Below are my thoughts:

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Invest in your self

When you are starting out on your financial journey, the best person you can invest in is you. Instead of looking for someone to give your hard earned cash to, I vote YOU for President of your financial state. Further your studies in an area that will put you at a greater advantage toward earning more. Learn a new skill. I know of several small and part time entrepreneurs who have built viable small businesses from skills learnt in areas such as: graphic design, sewing, carpentry, interior decor etc. Find something you’re curious or passionate about and explore the hell out of it. When you do what you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. Set yourself up for success. Also, you can find inexpensive business options to invest in for yourself. I remember my days of doing network marketing. It was a powerful platform to earn real income. It afforded me the privilege of forming solid relationships, some I hold dear to this day and also taught me the value of focusing on personal development. So, even though I did not become the next Holton Buggs (highest earner in network marketing, earning in excess of $1.3M USD per month), I became a better version of me.

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Pretend like it doesn’t exist

Albert Einstein was quoted as saying that “compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world”. This basically puts forward the view that when it comes to investing, time is your greatest ally. There is a principle called the rule of 72, it basically is used to give a rough estimate of when a sum of money invested at a particular rate of interest will double if compounded. You divide 72 by the interest rate per annum to get the number of years. As an example, if $2000 USD is invested at 6% per annum it will reach $4000 in approximately 12 years (72/6=12years). However, even at a very unrealistic and highly optimistic rate of return like 12% per annum we would need all of 6 years (72/12= 6 years) to turn $2000 into just $4000.  It’s not rocket science then to note that relying solely on a small sum of money as the main source of investment to secure one’s financial independence is foolhardy. So your best course of action is to lock this away into some safe instrument or account and do the following step.

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Take massive action

Jim Rohn, famed American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker is quoted as saying “We get paid for bringing value to the market”. Money is a reflection of the energy you put into the market place. Your greatest resource then when your financial currency is low is to use the currencies of energy and creativity. Think of ways that you can serve a market. What great pain is there that you can alleviate? When you see an opportunity, go for it like your financial life depends on it, because it does! Take massive action. People have met financial success doing many different things. Financial success is in the middle of the town square. The whole matter of success then is less about whether this road can take me there, but rather when will I start my journey. For any path once undertaken with purpose, in the right way and with persistence will take you to the center of town. Seek advice from those who have done it before. If you wish to become a baker, research all you can about baking. What will make your cakes different/ more appealing? Life is also such that if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, you can begin afresh. Take the lessons and just keep moving toward the center of town. When you are starting out on a new path it is expected that your effectiveness will be low. If you are in sales, you will hear more NOs than YESes initially. Until you have mastered your craft, your only strength then is productivity and action. Make more calls. If you need to make 10 sales to reach your quota and you get 1 YES in every 5 calls, you only need to make 50 calls to be a star. Get moving…

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So to sum it all up, it is a very good thing to begin saving at an early age to benefit from the powers of compounding. However, when you are just starting out and have a small financial nut, the best thing you can do is to keep doing things. Invest that small sum in you and take steps to increase your income. Your real currencies are your energy, creativity and time. Wait until you get to a meaningful financial nut before taking on complex investments. Pretend like this sum doesn’t exist and get right back to working.

What’s your take on investing with a small amount of money? Is there anything you’d like to add? Feel free to leave a comment or query below.

 

Breaking Free: Moving from Planning to Implementation

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Tazkruff, a follower commented on my article quitting the rat race:I must say this resonate[s] quite well with me and I seem to always have that blueprint for financial wealth however I lack the implementing aspects which I need to start building on.”

I had initially responded to Tazkruff, but in thinking further on the question, I could see and hear what wasn’t explicitly stated. Reading between the lines, I could sense and relate to Tazkruff’s disappointment and dare I say frustration with himself. Take heart Tazkruff, you are not alone! I, and indeed many of us are here with you.

In university I did a course in Introductory Macroeconomics and was reintroduced to a concept, that from life experience, I knew all too well. “Yd= S+C”, we learnt. That is to say that your disposable income (Y) is equal to your savings(S) and consumption(C). Therefore S= Yd-C. Anyone with a basic grasp of elementary algebra could follow that. What they failed to explore in this and pretty much every other university course is practical applications on how to reduce consumption and increase savings. No such luck for this very important matter. They left us to our own self discovery and in many cases undoing. Without a clear and pragmatic blue print from an early age; many of us turned to the easiest sources of advisory. Many of us modeled our friends’, parents’, celebrities’ and the media’s take on personal financial management. The unfortunate bit is that for the vast majority of persons, these sources have not been yielding the kinds of outcomes that they would want. Sadly but suffice to say like actions produce like results.

Who amongst us cannot relate to having heard at some point in time about the need to save and invest? But as with most things, the make or break of our financial lives is in the implementation. So using Tazkruff’s comment as inspiration, I am going to share some real practical ways that I have been able to, in my small way start my quest for financial freedom. I will also explore some of my failures too; for like you I am trying to find my way on this journey.

Having been dissatisfied with the results I was getting for many years, I decided that I needed to reevaluate and radically change my philosophy. I have explored several books, audio material, videos, interviewed several successful persons. From that I have decided to adopt just a few of the elements learned, which I think would be useful as a part of my own personal philosophy. I will attempt to share a few in my own words, though it should be noted that I am not the originator and further that I am still learning as I go along:

Mindset

A lot of material has been written on the power of the mind. Without any heavy philosophical or metaphysical reference, it is safe to say that every word or action began as a thought. Therefore every element of the modern world was once a thought for someone at a point in time. The Wright brothers saw manned flight in their mind’s eye before we were able to book a flight. Edison saw the light. Galileo envisioned the telescope. The list goes on…

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What is evident is that no great achievement  comes to fruition without the seed of a thought. We must hold in our mind’s eye, an image of our best selves. I often find myself in a place of self doubt and when I do I quickly begin to count my blessings and fall back to an attitude of gratitude. I’ve learnt that gratitude should extend not only to our current state or things we have, but rather to every conceivable situation in our lives and (here’s the kicker) things that are yet to come. It takes a reconditioned mindset to begin to view your life and the world like this, but the dividends are exponential. Additionally, life is not a zero-sum game, i.e. for me to win you must lose or vice-versa. We are not kept in lack from scarcity. The world itself, has an abundance of resources to take care of us all. The challenge is we spend quite a bit of time, looking at the greenness of the next man’s lawn. “Yes the grass may be greener on the other side, but best believe it comes with a matching water bill”.  A scarcity mindset, will bring about further scarcity, just as Galileo’s mind brought about the light bulb. Fix your mind, fix your life!

Develop a plan of action

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There are many perspectives on the path to take to financial freedom. What I have discovered from my research, is that there is no one right answer. Some are believers in ardent saving, at the expense of every creature comfort. Others believe, in more of an expansionary approach, seeking more to grow income than to curtail spending. My personal philosophy is a blended one. Whilst I do not subscribe to scarcity thinking, my mother taught me quite early, “willful waste will lead to woeful wants”. Therefore for me it is a two-pronged approach.I look for an opportunity at every turn to bolster income. I love my job and career, but I have long been sold on the benefits of business ownership. I have tried several projects and initiatives. Whilst I have profited from some; more than a few ended with a less than desirable outcome. I never see them as failure though, with each misstep come valuable lessons and learnings. I remember growing up and working in my mother’s small grocery shop. Sighting the popularity and potential demand for “Cheese on Cheese” biscuit, I decided to save a little from my lunch money each day until I could purchase a case of “Cheese on Cheese”, which was placed in the shop. Being a major foodie, I remember the personal sacrifice required to get to the capital needed. It took near two weeks. However, that pain was quickly forgotten when, I started to take “drawings” from my “Cheese on Cheese business”. That one time investment paid me repeatedly. That is, until I was bought out by mother, who had much grander plans for my “Cheese on Cheese empire” (mergers & acquisitions can be a tough game!). However, from that age, it was not lost on me that from whatever minuscule income, we can and in fact should save to invest in order to create additional sources of income. To this day my quest continues.

Trimming your expenses is also very important. As a marketing and sales professional, I know too well the strategies employed to make us feel that “state of felt deprivation”.  However, we should try to curtail expenses as much as possible. The root cause of most cases of conspicuous consumption, can be traced back to ego. That drives the desire for one-upmanship or perhaps to belong. My love of Japanese cuisine has caused me to further explore their culture. What I have noted, is an emphasis on minimalism . Within their culture, less is more. They have been able to record high levels of productivity and growth. One key learning for me; we should try to resist the drive to acquire more things that rust, rot and depreciate.

As a teenager, I would often hang out with men many decades my senior. One nugget of wisdom I received (though somewhat controversial) is “there are three things in life never to be chased: technology, fashion and a bus en route”.  All three it was explained were very hard to catch, keep up with and stand a very good chance of leaving you standing still. I will admit to splurging occasionally, but I still believe there is some soundness to this advice, especially for those of us on our freedom journey. We should look around us for opportunities for both expansion and cost containment. The plan must be crafted for our own situation, but the fact is we must have a plan.

Get to work.. 

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Understand who you are, what drives you. What excites you and makes you come alive? If tomorrow, you had all the money you needed, what thing would you do that would make you feel most engaged and intrigued? What can you not stop thinking or talking about? Whatever that thing is, identify it and get cracking!

Nothing is wrong with being an employee. Entrepreneurship, whilst a faster path to financial freedom is way riskier. Whatever role you find yourself in today, work as though your future depends on it, because it does! Be the guy who gets to the office first and leaves last. Be the girl, who never stops until a problem is solved. Be the person who gives a commitment and keeps it to the letter. If you were like me, without a fall back plan or trust with your name on it at birth, you have to give just a little more than the next person. Just as the Lord loves a cheerful giver, employers, managers and our superiors absolutely cherish a great employee. It is true that due to your efficiency and effectiveness at executing your function, you may stay in a role for longer than you’d ideally prefer. However, the laws of physics have taught me that when any object expands to be too large for its current space, new space must be created. You can only stay in one space for so long… Keep giving more! Even if your current employer does not arrange this, life has a way of going to equilibrium and sooner or later, it will be repaid. Whether through the lessons from your current role or the diligence of your execution, you will be rewarded! Zig Ziglar once said “When you do more than you get paid for eventually you’ll be paid for more than you do.” Similarly, for entrepreneurial pursuits, do not stop trying. You may just be at that break through or tipping point for your idea/ business. The key is to find a need, meet it better than the competition, treat those customers well and take a profit.

Relationship Management

People can be a fickle bunch. But they’re all around us and as you will see in the post on Managing Burnout in a 21st Century World, our support system is needed in order to cope. Just as careful consideration and evaluation should go into the thoughts we let into mind, deciding on our vocational pursuits, and in selecting investment options; so too should we be mindful of the relationships we form. You need people in your corner who will support your every move but who are also bold enough to call you out when you are wrong. I do not want my ship to be cheered into an approaching iceberg.

Select people who, whilst different and with their own individuality, share a similar mindset and drive. Jim Rohn said “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. So therefore, do your assessment. Are your 5 reflective of the person you wish to become? Do they have the right value system, drive and mindset? I’ve found that as time goes by, my circle of close friends evolves. That doesn’t mean that old friends are irrelevant. It just means that they too have to be growing, not financially, but in their mentality.

Network frequently and effectively. Form relationships outside your core group of friends. This may be difficult for some, but is essential and should be viewed as such. I’ve found that oftentimes when confronted with a new challenge or situation, the people in my direct circle may not be able to assist in the way I’d like. It is by turning to my other associates and contacts that I am able to be pointed in the right direction. Make a habit of interacting more with people. Introduce yourself and let someone know a little bit about you. You never know when you may be called upon in some way or may be introduced to your next life changing opportunity.

networking

I would encourage any well-thinking ambitious person to seek out a mentor. It does not have to be someone in your direct field; this is someone whom you admire, see value in and believe that you can learn from. Choose carefully, ensure that there is synergy between your energies and a personality fit. This is someone you can turn to when life throws its curveballs as it so aptly and frequently does. They should have your interest at heart, be a good listener and should not be trying to create a “mini-me”, but “the best you”.

Keep the ball rolling

snowballing

With the growth from either your career or your business, you will soon afford yourself the opportunity to save and over time to begin to amass capital investing. This should be regarded as just that. It should not be regarded as an invitation to purchase more objects of rot, rust and depreciation. Purchase true assets. The only reason for investing is to get a  return. Seek out assets that generate free cash flow. You need things that spin off their own profits to add to your earned income. You’ve been working hard for money for years. Let’s put the money to work for you. The idea is to get your snowball rolling; increasing in size as it goes along. Be wary of get rich quick schemes and too good to be true deals. They usually are in fact so and leave you out of pocket with a lesson you could have avoided by being more prudent. Do not overly expose yourself to risk. Diversify your investments to cover you should one asset class or company go down.

The quest for financial freedom, hopes to take you away from the rat race and should not itself be regarded as a race. Even if it was a race, it would be a long distance and not a sprint event. By having the right mindset, careful evaluation/ planning, good old fashion elbow grease and making prudent investment decisions, you can break free.

 

Quitting the Rat Race- The chase for cheese

Since birth we have been told that the path to success is to study hard, do well in school and get good grades so you can get a good job. So we joined the race of our lives, running hard toward the promised prize of a meaningful existence and prosperity. Many of us stayed on track long enough to clear the many hurdles on track, with some earning our degrees.

degree

You are guaranteed success, huh? How’s that going for you? If you’re like me you have now realized that this is not the full story. The brief fleeting moment of success we tasted was not enough to quell our hunger nor did we “arrive”.

So everyday we continue hit the pavement, in the rat race; chasing cheese…

rat_race

We all are trying to make it big. We want to be rich. To be wealthy. Some for different reasons:

  • to be in a position to repay those who sacrificed greatly for us (the years of “magical free food”, those books we tried desperately to evade reading, and clothes didn’t pay for themselves)
  • to live like the true kings and queens we are (mommy and daddy’s lil princes and princesses all grown up)
  • or the more modest amongst us “just want to be comfortable” (whatever that is.. 2015 comfort comes with a slightly higher price tag than the good old days.)

Whatever your view point on the wealthy the fact remains we are in some way on our own personal quest for cheese. Even the perfectly altruistic amongst us will admit that it is a helluva lot easier to give when you have something from which to give in the first place. But what is really considered wealthy? How much is enough? What if we could quit the race?

For the purpose of this discussion, I will define  “wealthy” as having enough free cashflow from your investments and assets to cover your desired standard of living. Therefore “enough” is really whatever you define it be. In order to quit the rat race, one only need create enough free cash flow to provide enough cheese to sustain himself, whether it be a small morsel  or a big block of gouda. You decide…

Taking the whole matter into consideration, it becomes apparent that we can all take various steps to influence our time on the track. Below, are outlined a few:

  • Have an end in mindKnow what is your desired standard of living. I mean sit and pencil out what your expenses are and as a consequence what your desired income would be to make you happy. Interestingly studies in the USA have indicated that increments above a certain level of income generate no increased feelings of happiness and satisfaction. This number is unique for each person. Eg: If you can live on $5000/ month, with an earned rate of return of 8% per annum, you need a nest egg of $750,000 (However, it is advised that you plan to withdraw no more than 4% per annum from your nest-egg).
  • Develop a budgettrack all your spending, every last $1. This will be your financial blueprint. After all, you are constructing your financial future. Much like any other plan, this is meant to keep you on track. By monitoring your expenditure you will be shocked at what you spend on different categories and you can make the required changes.
  • Spend Less than you Earn– This bit of advice will win no award for originality, but sometimes simple is best. You cannot invest what you do not have. With the advent of consumer credit, we have effectively found a way to eat tomorrow’s cheese today. This overeating will inevitably lead to financial ill-health and certain ruin. Trim budget of all non-essentials and discretionary items, just to the point of discomfort. Nothing worth having comes easy. Do you really need a 10th pair of blue jeans or that super fast, 100MP, dual processor cell phone with the accompanying teleportation pad? Consider toting the old brick a little bit longer (Keep on silent and answer in private if necessary. Talking a lot takes up call time/ credit anyway!!).
  • Pay yourself first– you avoided the temptation of that phone upgrade, now you have this mythical thing called savings. It is recommended that you save at least 10% of your gross income. This should be taken first (use automated withdrawal at the source of payment if you struggle with the discipline).
  • Ignore Windfalls- Your parents gave you $10,000 just for being an amazing kid (not yet time to upgrade your car), that annual bonus check (This is not your Big Pimpin starter kit), that annual salary increase (you do not need more clothes, a fancier watch or more dining out). Consider ignoring these windfalls. What would have happened if these did not come your way? I know what… you would have found a way to continue inhaling and exhaling. When you discover the power of compound interest you will never view money the same.
  • Pay down debt starting with most expensive- With these savings, begin to pay down debt starting with most expensive loans first. Retire that 40+% credit card before that 12% car loan (unless you want the motivation of checking off smaller loan amounts first).
  • Develop an Emergency Fund-It is recommended that you develop an emergency fund of at least 6 months worth of expenses. This will cushion you, should life throw a curveball as it so often does. This guarantees recovery, should the worst come.
  • Explore Investment Options– once debts have been cleared and you have your cushion, you now have the opportunity to begin exploring investments. Consult a certified financial planner. Options include: stocks– pieces of ownership in publicly traded companies, bonds– loans to governments  or companies usually with the agreement to pay an agreed rate of interest (coupon) and return your principal on a particular date (maturity), Mutual Funds- Allows you to buy a portion of a portfolio of stocks and other instruments in a pooled manner with other investors, real estate– invest in a house, a rental property or commercial real estate, Open a business- research a need, meet it better than the competition, take a profit. As Jim Rohn stated “profits are better than wages, wages make you a living, profits make you a fortune”. Businesses have tax advantages over earned income. The key is to always treat customers right or get left. Note that each investment type comes with its own set of risks and exposures. Explore each with a financial planner/ advisor.
  • Develop a passive income streamR.I.C.H.- Residual Income Creates Happiness. Either from your pool of investments, an online business, network marketing, peer-to-peer lending. Do you have some skill/ talent which you can market? Can you teach a math class (time to dust off that college degree and put it to use)? Think long and hard, the beautiful part of this is you are under no real pressure, no boss to answer to but numero uno.

When all is said and done, whilst money isn’t all, it is a major necessity in affording us and our  loved ones the quality of life we want and deserve. With a little planning and discipline over time, we will afford ourselves the luxury of being able to “quit the rat race” . This would then free up time or allow us to do that which we are truly passionate about. Maybe focusing a bit more on our health.

cheese

Do you have any other recommendations for those of us on our quest to financial freedom? Please leave your comment or question below.