The only constant thing about Corporate America is change. Restructuring, layoffs, new roles, different bosses, ever-changing goals and objectives, etc. My life as a Financial Analyst is no different. After a layoff some months ago, I was sitting in my first staff meeting, with many people I’d never met before.
We opened up the meeting with introductions, and we were given the boilerplate introduction template: name, position, length of time with the company, and interesting fact.
We went around the room, one-by-one, however, the only people who decided to share an interesting fact, for some reason, were those who wanted to chat about one of the best perks of the company, the coveted Sabbatical. As an employee, you qualify for a one month of paid leave from work after 4 years with the company, or 2 months after 7 years, and that is on top of the standard PTO.
One guy started, “my name is so-and-so, blah, blah, blah, last October (mind you this is late January) I spend my sabbatical snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef! I loved it” A lady was up a few slots later, “I’m sabbatical ready next January!” (one year away) And lastly, one more guy “I just wanted to let you know, I’m ready for my 1 month sabbatical in April, so be ready!” (since we’ll have to fill in for him while he’s gone)
What I’ve found is that the average person lives a terribly boring live, sitting at work 40 hours a week, 49 weeks a year, for 30+ years, but they identify with their experiences on the margins. Experiences that happen a few times a year, maybe just a few times a decade.
None of my co-workers gave the more accurate introduction of, “Hey guys, I’m Mike, I sit in that 5×5 box over there almost every day, and if I’m lucky, I get to go on vacation a few weeks a year and get into fights with my mother-in-law. By the way, did I mention I’ll be doing this until I’m 65 so I can afford the boat I never get to use? Good to meet all of you, even though I’ve seen most of you and have just been ignoring you for years. I’m looking forward to seeing you more than I see my family! Let’s go make other people lots of money!”
If you can drive that Mercedes, wear your Rolex, remodel your master bathroom for $40K, pay thousands of dollars for your son’s wedding rehearsal dinner, and splurge like crazy to make up for lost time on every vacation you go on then it’s all worth it, right? Of course, I’m not describing anyone specific…
People constantly live their lives in direct opposition to what leads to long-term happiness. There is more to life than going to work. You are more than your profession.
My goal is to live today so someday I can do the things most people can only dream of. Wake up naturally, walk your kids to school, do Jiu-Jitsu, learn to surf, mountain bike, live in Thailand for a month… heck, why not 2, hike, learn another language, volunteer, learn to play the guitar, go grocery shopping at 11:00 AM on a Tuesday, read your favorite books, prepare delicious home cooked meals, learn to wood work, meditate, start a side hustle you’re actually passionate about without the need to make money, or whatever other crazy ideas you have.
Q- That sounds amazing, but it sounds too good to be true? A- It is very possible.
Q- But how? A- By living below your means and investing what you don’t spend. The less you spend, and the more you invest, the sooner you’ll achieve Financial Independence.
Q- Won’t that take forever? I don’t delay forever and miss the best years of my life. A- Lucky for you, it doesn’t have to take too long, and you can still enjoy your life along the way by spending with purpose. Most people should be able to achieve financial independence in 10-15 years. Although you likely won’t have all of life’s “luxuries,” you have to consider the alternative of working until you’re too old to live out many of your dreams.
Q- That sounds really difficult though? A- Well, at times it can be, and unfortunately there are no shortcuts (unless you bought Bitcoin in 2009). But what I’ve found, is it’s more than worth it. As you rewire your brain you understand that you have been spending lots of money on things that bring you no sustained happiness. And once your Net Worth and assets begin to grow, it is truly empowering. Not to mention, compound interest is your best friend. As you stash away money, your money will begin working for you, 24 hours a day, rain or shine, to create more money.
By making little changes each day, you can set yourself on the path. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. Any other cliques? I think you get the point.
Live your life deliberately by using your money in a way that will lead to the most long-term happiness. If you do this well, then you will be able to truly live life on the edge.