Stephen R. Covey tells us to “Begin with the End in Mind” in his 7 habits to being a highly effective individual. For me, that means first, picking a goal, and then defining my why for my actions. What is my goal? Financial independence. Why am I doing the things I’m doing? Where do I see myself in 5, 10, and 15 years? In this post, I will share with you why I’m going for financial independence (more money, more options baby!)
It’s Sunday night and I’m writing this post before bed. Tomorrow morning, I’ll get up, and go to work because the majority of my income comes from my 9 to 5. I can’t afford not to go to work – I have about $35,000 in the stock market, $50,000 to $75,000 in equity in my house, and not much in terms of passive income now that my roommates are gone. (This blog makes $10 a month at this point, I’m not counting that as passive income 😉 )
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could wake up tomorrow morning and do whatever I wanted? If I wouldn’t need to worry about money? That’s the goal. To wake up and do what I want to do with my time: learn, give back to friends, family and the community, work out and stay healthy, and not have to worry about the financial consequences of my actions.
So that’s the goal. First, I’d like to give a little background on how I came to this point in my life. Then I’ll share with you my why.
How I Got Started on the Path to Financial Independence
I started learning about money with I was a young boy. My parents and grandparents instilled a saver’s mindset in me, and I learned about the habits of budgeting, running cash flow analyses, and tracking expenses. Most of what I learned was the basics – writing a check, balancing a checkbook, making a budget, etc. As I grew older, I was already frugal and careful with my money.
My dad has been very successful in his financial career and owns a few businesses and properties. He is still working at 54, but he is continuing to try to build his investment portfolio to ensure retirement is successful.
When I was 20 (about 5 years ago), I looked at my father’s success and wanted to replicate what he has been able to do. I started researching how to get wealthy through investments, real estate, or business. I wanted to figure out how to grow rich so I could do what I wanted with my time and money. Financial Samurai was the main blog I followed back in 2012 – Sam has influenced my thoughts on real estate, investing, and financial independence.
My First Steps Towards Financial Independence
My first steps towards financial independence were buying my house at 22. I didn’t really know what being a landlord was like, and I’m not really the handiest guy in the world. That being said, I knew that real estate was a great asset class and since I’d have 3 of my friends renting from me, I knew that there wasn’t too much that could go wrong. As I became more experienced, I knew that I’d learn and grow into my role as a landlord.
Over the past 2 years, house hacking has shot me out of student ($15,000) and auto ($8,000) loan debt, and now I’m building wealth for the long term. While I’m not house hacking anymore, I’m in a much better situation due to my consumer debt being taken care of, and an increase in my income after a promotion at work. At 25, I’m positioned to get to the next step: buying assets which produce passive cash flow.
But What’s My Why?
Okay, okay. I’ve told you about what’s so great about financial independence (more options) and what I’m trying to do right now in my life to get there (building wealth through real estate, the stock market, and my entrepreneurial efforts), but I still haven’t answered the why question. What makes me want to get up in the morning and seize the day? Why do I care about financial independence?
Responsibility for Myself: I Hate Letting People Down
Growing up, I used to be the typical “nice” guy. I’d say sorry even when nothing really was wrong. I’d go out of my way to do things that I thought others would like and in turn, would like me. I was a little bit of a push over growing up.
In college, I realized that you can still be nice but have a backbone. Doing what you believe in and not caring what others think is equally as important as being nice and kind to others. I love my friends, but frankly, if we aren’t on the same wave length, then I’m not going to give you as much time as someone who shares a lot of the same goals and dreams I do.
“Hating to let others down” is what being a “nice” guy is all about – you don’t want to offend anyone, but this sacrifices your own personality. People will be offended by just about anything, so now I just try to be myself. I still have the personality trait of “hating to let other people down”, but I realize that my time and efforts need to be focused. This personality trait fuels my why for financial independence. My worst nightmare is going to bed one day and worrying that I’ve let down my family – either my parents, or my spouse and kids – because I wasn’t able to do enough, or I wasn’t enough.
The Fear of Not Being Enough
Our brains don’t understand negatives. If you tell someone to stop doing something, they probably won’t because their brain literally doesn’t understand it. Instead, explaining why what they are doing is wrong is more effective.
I guess I’m a little different.
The fear of not being enough is what drives me to keep pushing and to keep learning each day.
One thing I’ll note is the fear of feeling like I’m not enough and feeling like I’m not enough are two different things. Thinking about myself and everyone I interact with, everyone in the world has a story and is unique. Everyone is capable of achieving their dreams and goals with consistent effort over time.
When I think about myself, I’m very pleased with what I’ve been able to do in the past few years. I have the utmost confidence in myself and my abilities While I’ve definitely screwed up in some situations, the positives have outweighed the negatives, and I’m on the right path.
The fear of failure is human nature. People would rather take $100 right now then have a 50/50 shot at $0 or $200. The key is taking that fear and turning it into fuel and power. Get a chip on your shoulder and you’ll go far. I’ve been able to do this by remembering the feeling I’ve had when I’ve let people down. I use those emotions to power me through tough times, and keep me going when things are good.
Keeping frugality and minimalism in mind (two common practices of people pursuing financial independence), a person’s problems sometime become much less when they have time to pursue what they want to purse and do what they want to do.
With more money, I hope to have less problems and really, I hope whatever problems I do have are self created.
That’s My Why for F.I.
What I love most about the push for financial independence is it’s not strictly about becoming better financially. It’s also about becoming a better person. Thinking along those same lines, the steps and thoughts that I’ve outlined above can be applied to your goals and dreams. Are you just starting out on a journey to pursue one of your goals? Have you started and are in a little bit of a rut and trying to get back on the right track?
My advice for people who are afraid of starting their journey is to think about why they are afraid. Also, ask what would you be able to do if you had achieved their goal. How would they feel? Would they be happier than they are today? If so, then it’s obvious to start on the journey – on to happier days!
My advice for people who feel like they aren’t making enough progress is for them to stay the course and keep consistent.
I’m about 3 years into my journey, and I’m loving life. I love seeing the improvements in my relationships, my work, and my bank account. Over time, the little things I’m doing each day will add up to something huge.
Readers: what goals are you striving for? What’s your why?