Here’s one of the major goals in life to aim for – financial independence. But how do we define this form of self-reliance? One of the best descriptions I found states “financial independence” as the ability to live solely from the income of your personally invested resources. Anyone living in this country with an average intellect, and not constrained by health issues, can achieve financial independence by the time they reach 40, or earlier.
When I was 18, I had never read a book in my life. I raced cycling professionally and hated school, the idea of sitting in class, and the whole educational system in general, with all my heart. One day, a fellow cyclist I admired told me about a best selling book I should read: Rich Dad Poor Dad. I finished the book within a week, which was a huge accomplishment for me back then. I then set a goal for myself to become financially free by the age of 30. I wanted to work for joy, not for necessity. Nobody with any claim on my assets. Not having to look at a price on a menu ever again. Traveling anywhere, anytime. And most of all, no more alarm clocks. By the time I turned 28, I was financially independent. I had invested money wisely and built a business that produced more income than I needed to live comfortably. Unfortunately, the majority of people will never achieve this kind of freedom, but not because they can’t or don’t have the ability. My IQ is nothing special by any means.
Here are 9 shocking reasons why people will never achieve financial independence:
1. They Never Make it a Goal
If you show up at an airport without a plane ticket, the agent will ask you where are you headed to. You can’t fly without a destination. Less than 1% of wealthy people were able to rely on luck, unique talent, inheritance or marriage. The rest of us have to work for it, and the most effective and efficient way to achieve something worthwhile in life is by having a clearly defined goal. Whether it was athletic, health, relationship or financial, when was the last time you actually wrote down a goal for yourself?
2. They Have a Misconception of Cash-Flow vs. Net Worth
Money doesn’t bring happiness – fine. Neither does debt. As Zig Ziglar says, “Money isn’t everything, but it ranks right up there with oxygen.” If you’re fortunate to have great health, a spouse you love, and live in a great country, but you’re broke, you’re unlikely to enjoy your life as much as you could if you woke up each day without the obligation to work simply to pay the bills. Whether you want to be free so you can play sports, read, volunteer, spend more time with family, write, travel etc, money gives you the freedom and ability to work for joy, not for necessity. It is common for people to set a goal of achieving a desired net worth by a certain age, only to feel let down and disappointed when they reach it. The ultimate objective is not “net worth” but cash-flow. If you have a large net worth tied up in land, gold or unproductive real estate that is not generating any income, what’s the point? Assets or businesses that generate recurring income are the key to freedom. Being rich for the sake of being rich is a sure way to live an unfulfilled life.
3. They Don’t Bring Value to the Market Place
So few people understand this critical concept about “value to the market place.” The “market place” is the group people with whom we do business. You may be without a doubt, a valuable citizen, brother, friend, mother, member of your church, or member of your athletic team, but if you’re not very valuable in the market place, and I must highlight market place, you won’t acquire much money! Key phrase: we get paid for the value that we bring to the market place. Period. How can someone earn $14 per hour while another person earns $1200 for the same amount of time? Why such a large discrepancy? Society votes how valuable a person is and they vote with their wallet. If you want to make more money, you must learn new ways to increase the value that you bring to the market place. You may be angry reading this, and should you have any issues with capitalism, you can always start your own planet, but for now, we live here and that’s how it works.
4. They’re Lazy
The average North American citizen used to watch over 6 hours of television per day. These valuable hours are now being wasted on the Internet, creeping over photos of their ex’s and posting dog videos on Facebook. The point is, if you just set aside one hour per day to read a book on subjects like productivity, communication, sales, marketing, or enrol in an educational program to develop new skills and become more valuable, you can double, triple, even quadruple your income very quickly. Ten years a go, I was earning $12 per hour and today, there are many months that my income is well over six figures. It is possible to turn your life around quickly and for the better. I read on average four hours per day on personal development, economics, business, tax, marketing, law etc. This may sound extreme to some people, but just reading 30 minutes per day, overtime can have a tremendous impact on the quality of your life. Anyone can find 30 minutes per day to learn new skills. It’s a matter of priority, not time.
5. They are Surrounded by Negative People
Unfortunately, we can’t choose our DNA, but we can choose our friends. Key principle: you will become the average of the six people you spend the most amount of time with. Be it family, friends, co-workers, it doesn’t matter. If this circle of influence is causing you grief and negative energy, you need to make some changes. If that’s your spouse, I’m sorry. You must surround yourself with people who are pulling you up, not down. At age 19, I got rid of my circle of friends and made new ones. I cleaned up the circle again at 24 because they weren’t the kind of people I looked up to. They are probably nice, or simply fun people to be around, but if they’re lazy, pessimistic, not driven, uneducated and not mentally stimulating, then some changes in your life may be appropriate. Take a close look and reflect deep down about your close circle of people. I will take loneliness over mediocre company any day.
6. Their Passions May Have Gotten in the Way
Everyone deserves the opportunity to explore their passions, and in some instances, you may be fortunate to create wealth by following your passion. Other times you can’t. Not all activities we’re passionate about offer the ability to live well, let alone create wealth. I love cycling and I raced mountain bikes professionally until my early 20′s, but then I realized I couldn’t make a great living from it. I had to make a choice between playing and living. There’s a way to do both. Here’s how: be passionate about being the best you can at your chosen field (which includes an economic upside). Regardless of your “innate” passions, setting yourself up financially so that you may follow your passion afterwards without financial stress can be a great life balance. I know many successful people who are doing fantastic jobs in their profession, and use their economic resources to pursue their passions outside of work. I didn’t ride a bike for 6 years while I focused on my business. Today I ride mountain bikes, BMX, play hockey and workout six days a week because I now have the freedom to do so without sacrificing other aspects of my lifestyle.
7. They are Cynical About Wealthy People
Many people live with the mindset that in order to get rich, you must take away from the poor. That’s outrageous. If you’re in debt or flat out broke, what can you offer to the less fortunate besides some encouragement? It is true that you can make a massive difference without money. We all know someone locally who influenced enough people to raise enough money to build 60 schools in Africa. While I tip my hat to this amazing accomplishment, most of us don’t have the genius to create this type movement. Winston Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get, and we make a life by what we give”. How can you give if you don’t have anything?
8. They Don’t Know Where the Money Is
You can’t get the money unless you know where it is. 99% of self-made millionaires fall in one of these 4 categories: entrepreneur, top sales associate (investment, insurance, technology etc.), medical professional, and corporate executive. The other 1% are professional athletes, artists and lottery winners, which includes the “ovarian lottery” (born from a rich family). There are some people who have the tenacity to create wealth, slowly overtime, working a regular job, and investing money wisely year after year while living frugally. It is possible to achieve financial independence this way. I have clients who have done it, but it’s a long, draining process, and it takes tremendous discipline. My personal opinion is that it’s easier to work harder on yourself, acquiring new skills to increase your earning potential, and shortening the window of time it takes to become financially independent.
9. They Don’t Have a Care in the World About Money
I have met people who simply could not care less about money, freedom and this entire subject we have just discussed. These people get up each day, totally content the way they are. They go to work, pay their bills, spend a few hours with the people they love, play sports, travel from time to time, and hope that the government will take care of them when they become too old to work. For those who choose to live this way while being totally happy and fulfilled, I think it’s wonderful. Someday, perhaps, something may click inside them and they will decide to take advantage of the opportunities we’re all surrounded by. It’s never too late to implement change. You can’t change your financial situation overnight, but you can certainly change the direction you’re headed.
In conclusion, I was reading up on Mother Theresa and interestingly enough, it says on her Wikipedia page that she even had some people criticizing her and what she was about. That being said, I’m quite happy knowing that people will be grinding their teeth at me while reading this article. I’m a fan of Winston Churchill who said it well; “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it but in the end, there it is!”