Myth #1 — Financial Freedom
Every time I speak these days, someone in the audience wants to talk about their frustration with obtaining “Financial Freedom, Passive Income and More Time.” This newsletter is the first of a three part series on these issues.
Let´s start with financial freedom, which is a myth. The real issue is NOT financial freedom. The reality is that you already have that! Compare yourself with the rest of the world. If the world was a village of 1,000 people, 500 went to bed hungry last night, 600 are illiterate, 700 live in shanty towns – no running water or central sewage. (It adds up to more than 1,000 because some people who are hungry also can´t read or write.) 60 would have ½ the income and if you make more than $30,000/year, you are in the top 1% in the world! In other words, you are already financially free and rich beyond measure in the eyes of the rest of the world, which is why I said financial freedom is a myth.
The real issue is how much do you want and what kind of lifestyle do you want with your “financial freedom”? You can be financially free on $2,500/month, and I know many people who have this amount as their goal. The problem is that the quality of life and lifestyle you will have is not necessarily one of abundance unless you decide to move to a third world country.
Financial freedom is a myth because we talk about it as if it would be the panacea to all our problems. I keep asking audiences and students this question: “If I could get you all of Bill Gates money this afternoon, but the exchange would be that you would agree to spend the rest of your life in an iron lung, paralyzed from the neck down with no friends or family around, would you make the exchange?” So far, I have no takers on this deal, which doesn´t surprise me. If you are obsessed with the pursuit of financial freedom to the exclusion of an abundant life and a great relationship and massive health and a deep spirituality, you will find yourself looking back one day in utter dismay and regret.
If we put as much energy and thought into creating a life worth living, in growing and making a contribution as we do in pursuing the seemingly holy grail of financial freedom, we would be stunned by the results we would get in all our lives.
Don´t misunderstand what I´m saying. Money and wealth and financial abundance are a critical part of living a full life. But, it is not the only thing there is in life, any more than relationships or health or spirituality are the ONLY things important in life. Financial freedom is an outcome — an EFFECT! Too many people fall in love with the EFFECT and not the CAUSE, and the key to having what you want in life is falling in love with the Causes!
What would you do with all the extra time you would have if you ever achieved the financial freedom you desire? Most people don´t have a clear answer to that question, but if you are one of the fortunate few that does know, are you already doing some of that in your life right now? If not, why wait to do it perfectly “someday?” Why not start today and do it imperfectly and see what results you start getting? Anything worth doing is worth doing POORLY!
To start a business based on the desire to become financially free is a huge mistake and a prescription for disaster. The wealthiest people on the planet did not start out saying their goal was financial freedom or retirement because if they had, they would have stopped long ago. The 10 wealthiest people on the planet are all still working — not just 40 hours per week, either. Michael Dell, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison etc are all still regularly logging 60/70/80 hour weeks. Not one of them is concerned with financial freedom or retirement.
You see, retirement is simply doing what you want, when you want to do it. Each of the Forbes 400 is doing that. They have all retired — INTO their jobs and companies. They have all fallen in love with the CAUSE. They are passionate not because of what they are doing, but because of how they are doing it. They are growing and contributing and focused on solutions, which means they are excited and excitement comes not from what you do, but rather how you do it. Remember, it´s never about what you do, but rather how you do it.
If the pursuit of financial freedom seems difficult or if the sole reason you are pursuing it is because of a desire to “do something else”, why not start doing some of that something else today? Why not fall in love with what you are doing and retire into your job or company and give yourself to it 100% and see what it gives back to you.
But, most importantly, remember to keep your life in perspective. This lifetime is not solely about getting to financial freedom but rather to live it so that at the end you can say, “This was my life. I am proud of it and I would gladly live it again if given the chance!”
Keith J. Cunningham