Small Advantages Become Transcedent

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Very small advantages can grow into massive advantages over time that can propel you to financial independence at a much earlier age than traditional retirement.  

Allow me to use myself as an example of how ostensibly benign advantages have proven to return extraordinary results.  My dad has his own accounting practice that has proven to be a successful business.  One day when I was 16 he asked if I’d want to do accounting work part time to make some money and learn accounting.  

I agreed and I started preparing bank reconciliations and write ups for small business clients.  Later that year I had a choice of taking a college accounting class in high school and the curiosity of learning more about a subject my dad was teaching and earning college credit motivated me to say yes.  

When class began we were learning accounting 101 and it was very simple accounting, but I mastered the subject matter a little quicker than my peers and with greater understanding because my dad was also teaching me at home when I worked for him.  

Then in my senior year of high school, I took college accounting 2 and once again the elementary accounting principles were not challenging and I received another A and 3 more college credits.  In addition to the 2 college accounting classes I took in high school, I also received college credit for AP World History, AP US History, and College Italian.  

This all allowed me to graduate high school with 15 college credits, basically a semester finished.  When college began I was always a semester ahead of my peers since I started college with credits.  This allowed me to take more advanced accounting classes earlier and since I was a student athlete and had accounting work experience with my dad I was more attractive to employers and landed 2 paid internships before my junior year.  

With the high grades, athletic experience, and now two internships I had a resume that landed me an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers and was offered a full time job before I started graduate school.  Since I entered college with a semester done already I was able to graduate with my Master’s in Taxation a semester early which saved $10,000 and then gave me another advantage.  

In my last semester of graduate school I began studying for the Certified Public Accounting exam and passed the audit and business environment exams before graduating.  Since I graduated a semester early I had the time to focus 100% on passing the remaining two parts and was done just two months after graduating from college.  

I was 22, had a full time job lined up that started in 7 months, and learned what freedom felt like.  All of this began with working for my dad at 16 and continuously building on my foundation of knowledge.  The effects of this initial marginal advantage continued after graduating from college.  

Having worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (which was made possible from two previous internships with smaller companies) I was able to land an accounting job that paid 50% more than if I had stayed at PwC.  

Even more than better pay was fewer hours, health insurance premiums covered 100%, 401k contributions matched 100%, and free breakfast and lunch.  I would’ve never predicted that taking advantage of such a small opportunity at 16 would reap such enormous and exponential rewards in my low twenties and beyond.

I share this story, not to boast, but to show the power of how small comparative advantages can reap enormous rewards down the road.  Reflect on this because there is something you can do that can fuel your quest to financial independence.  Something you do better than someone else due to skills, accumulated knowledge, contacts, or straight passion and willpower.  

Your comparative advantage may seem tiny and insignificant today, but over a long enough time horizon it can become a huge advantage and being able to deliver massive value to people who are willing to pay money for such value translates into financial freedom in the near future.  

It may take a while to find the best path to take to arrive at financial independence, but keep in mind how important the little advantages you possess can reap transcendent rewards.

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Hidden Costs of Working

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Being able to quit your day job and use your time in the way you consciously determine is extraordinary.  

Consider these set of facts. I commute 2 hours each way to work in Manhattan 5 days a week.  That adds up to about 1,000 hours per year spent unproductively commuting.  This is only temporary, but for the sake of exemplifying the power of financial freedom, it shows many of us, including myself, have two jobs.  

One is the 9 to 5 office job and the other is commuting.  I work about 50 hours per week, add on the 20 hours commuting, and my total time commitment is 70 hours per week or nearly 3,400 hours per year!  Given my writing speed, I could write over 1 million words in one year with the time I devote to working a traditional job.  The point is that many of us never consider the total time commitment we have to make to our jobs and what we could do with that time if we weren’t dependent on a paycheck to live. 

In addition to the wasted time commuting there is a dangerous health cost associated with a sedentary lifestyle that office jobs foster.  Office workers are devoid of any prolonged physical activity.  Even if you work out for an hour after sitting for 9 hours the negative effects are not negated.  This means you will likely be visiting the doctor more often than if you were financially independent and not working an office job. Financially, it means increased medical costs, potential hospital visits, and a drag on your financial life.  Financial independence means the freedom to live an active, healthy, vibrant lifestyle.

Another cost of working a 9-5 job is all the time spent away from your family.  Your kids are raised by babysitters, teachers, and friends.  Is there a dollar amount you can place on watching your kids grow up, being there when they have their first little league game, or just being there when they want someone to talk to?  

Let’s use a hypothetical family of 4 where both parents commute 2 hours each day to work (1 hour each way). Let’s also assume that the 2 children are in elementary school.  Waking hours for a typical child ages 5-10 are 7am-10pm.  The parents put their children on the bus at 8am and leave for work.  School ends at 3pm, but both parents are at work until 5pm so their children are enrolled in after school childcare from 3pm-6pm, which costs $500 per child per month.  The parents pick their children up and they have dinner together, do some homework, and then put the children to sleep at 10pm.  This is a very reasonable schedule for modern day Americans where both parents have been forced into the workforce.  

This is not the 60’s anymore, both parents work full time in nearly half of two parent households (Pew Research). In this example guess what percentage of time the parents spent with their children during the child’s up hours? Only one third and how much of that time was quality time?  We all know not much.  From Monday-Friday two-thirds of the children’s time awake was spent with teachers and after school caretakers.  That is the price of not owning your time.  Other people raise your kids.

If this wasn’t bad enough working in an office involves office politics where Machiavelli dons a suit and tie, smiles in your face, and then stabs you in the back with surgical precision.

Let’s summarize the cumulative economic, social, and health costs that working a 9-5 job forces you to pay over a 10 year time span.

Commuting 2 hours each day x 5 days x 50 weeks x 10 years x 2 (Mom & Dad) yields 10,000 wasted hours, which could be productively used to generate an income stream.  If those hours yielded just $10 per hour that’s $100,000 in lost income.

The sedentary lifestyle of working in an office does not come without a price on your health.  The present value of the increased health costs could easily cost you $2,000 more per year.  That’s an increase in expenses of $40,000.

Since you’re working all day and don’t want to become state property you spend $1,200 per month per child on day care for 5 years ($1,200 x 2 x 12 x 5 = $144,000).  When your children turn 6  you spend $500 per month per child on afterschool day care ($500 x 2 x 12 x 5 = $60,000).  Total day care costs from 1-10 = $204,000 (ignoring inflation).

We aren’t finished yet because you and your spouse had to buy 2 cars to commute to work since the home prices near both of your offices are too expensive.  You both take out two $25,000 car loans at 3% interest paid back over 5 years.  Your car payment is $449 for each car, but add in insurance of $150 per month, plus $50 in amortized monthly maintenance per month, $75 in gas per month, plus $10 per month in amortized parking & speeding tickets because you can’t be late to work.  Each car has an all in cost of $734 per month.  10 year cost of owning two cars = ($449 x 2 x 12 x 5) + ($285 x 2 x 12 x 10) = $122,280.

Just from the above costs that’s nearly $500k in costs incurred because you aren’t financially independent and did not have control over your time.   

How would you use your time if you were financially free and didn’t work at a job you despised?  How much traveling would you do?  Where would you travel to?  Would you volunteer in your community or start your own business?  

Start thinking about your ideal life made possible by financial freedom.  Millions of people never scratch the surface of their potential because their time is completely consumed by work.  You have unrealized potential just waiting to be activated.  It’s not a simple linear act to change your life, but with strategy, foresight, execution, and mental strength I’m confident you’ll get there.

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Symbol of the Slave

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A slave is someone whose will is subordinated to external circumstances.  

We learned in school that slaves wore visible chains and worked on plantations. We were taught about physical slavery, but there is another much more insidious and just as destructive form of slavery known as psychological slavery.  

Here again is where philosophy is a priceless guardian of your mind and dreams.  Deriving your self worth from the opinions of others, material objects, or from your physical beauty is cataclysmic to financial and personal freedom.  The reason is because each is outside of your control.  If you build your life upon a shifting and uncertain foundation it will certainly bring pain and distress. 

You can’t control what others think of you, the luster of material objects is fleeting, and physical beauty is extremely temporal.  My question to all people who indulge in vanity is: what will be left of you when those good looks depart? 

For most people, the answer is not much.  What’s the use of being beautiful if you lack virtue or wisdom?  Being corrupted by your own physical beauty is a shame.  

I am always disappointed by beautiful people who haven’t spent 5 minutes on becoming a decent human being.  There’s a saying that goes:

“There are two types of people who never hear the truth; powerful people and beautiful people.”  

Of course, the meaning is that everyone is courting powerful people and/or beautiful people and no one wants to fall out of their good graces by telling them the truth.  Ironically, withholding the truth degrades the person you are attempting to court favor with.  Not so ironic at all though, because gaining favor is about gaining some sort of power for yourself and has nothing to do with the welfare of the person with whom you are courting.

People who are married to these ways of gaining self esteem may attempt to prolong the illusion they’ve created with the use of their money.  This typically expresses itself by becoming a person everyone mooches off of because you can’t tell people no, becoming addicted to retail therapy to solve personal problems, and buying expensive plastic surgery to preserve the appearance of youth.  All three are fundamentally at odds with your own personal freedom as an autonomous human being and as someone seeking financial freedom.  

These modes of thinking are poisonous because if you don’t engage in self reflection you’ll never become aware of how you are screwing yourself and how your own actions are 100% responsible for your unhappiness.  

How dangerous it is that people can enslave themselves depending on the quality of their thoughts.  This again is why a constant pursuit of truth and a sober view of reality is priceless. Once again, this is why having a strong inquisitive philosophical mindset is crucial to creating and building wealth.  

You don’t have to be as philosophical as Socrates, but you do need to reflect on everything that flies through your head and ensure you remedy any poisonous thought patterns, which could lead to self destructive actions.

Speaking of poisonous thought patterns, what are they and where do they originate?  They are thoughts that contradict your ideals and life purpose.  Their origins are diverse, but they are expressed by the ego.  The part of our psyche that is unenlightened.  

These sort of thoughts more times than not originate in our external world.  I know this is hard to accept, but people who do not share your value system are poisonous to your wellbeing.  Fitting in with the crowd is too big of a price to pay to lose sight of who you truly are and what you truly desire.  

Being philosophical means confronting these uncomfortable and sometimes frightening realities and doing what is in your long term strategic interest.  Lies bring short term stability, but long term destruction.  Truth brings short term chaos and long term stability.  To associate with people who really do not share your values or dreams murders your essence.  You cannot hang around poor people and expect to become rich.  You cannot hang out with politicians and expect to become honest.  Likewise, you cannot succeed if you associate with people who contradict your mission in life.

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” – 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Once again, a bit of wisdom that ostensibly seems completely unrelated to financial freedom is extremely beneficial to understand and wildly dangerous if you do not.

Don’t be so short sighted to think there aren’t any slaves in America today or anywhere else in the world.  Physical slavery has been greatly curtailed, but psychological slavery is alive and well.

What is the root cause of people enslaving themselves to those things in life that are fleeting and temporal?  It begins with values.  What do you prioritize?  What are your deepest desires?  What is your philosophy on life?  What do you want to accomplish before you die?  The answers to these types of questions form a filter for your experiences and thoughts.  

Someone with incorruptible convictions in an ideal, or a principle, or an end goal, will know their true north and act accordingly when life tries to compromise them.  

What is the master value, the value that precedes excellence and all other values?  That would be a love for truth.  This one value is extraordinary because it gives you a fierce desire to constantly challenge your own worldview, to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, and to advance towards your end goal in the most efficient and strategic manner.

If a love of truth deters psychological delusions then why are so many people ruled by illusions?  2,500 years ago in Athens men and women were ruled by the shadows and today nothing has changed because that is the natural consequence of rejecting the master value.  Even in 21st century America, with every opportunity to gain knowledge, we are swimming in a sea of ignorance because people are still living in Plato’s cave.  

They reside in the subterranean caverns of their mental potential because they said no to knowledge, wisdom, and truth.  You cannot afford to say no to the master value.  

Freedom demands a love of truth.

 

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Financial Independence Can Save America

Ancient Roman initialism: Senātus Populusque Rōmānus – “The Senate and the People of Rome.”

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The degree of betrayal that has besieged America is symptomatic of a crumbling empire.  Institutions responsible for protecting the public’s interest have turned into vehicles for personal power and fame.  

Leaders are more concerned with their own glory than the quality of life of those they’ve sworn to fight for.  We are looking more and more like the Roman Empire in its twilight years instead of the nation our founding fathers bequeathed us.

We were once a nation that produced things, we defeated fascism, and we learned from our transgressions and outlawed slavery.  We have never been a perfect nation, but every generation has done their part to make this nation better for their children, but this continuous improvement seems to be stalling. 

The average American is just a shell of the frontiersman of the 19th century or the men who fought in Western Europe and the Pacific to liberate the world. These were people who strived forward in the face of adversity, uninspiring odds and an unknown outcome.  They had courage though and that made all the difference.  

America was born under the toughest circumstances.  Its first citizens were rural folks who were self sufficient and distrustful of authority. Their lives were not easy, but they had more freedom calling themselves Americans rather than Englishmen.  With success came material progress and Americans became consumers instead of producers.  Thesis gave rise to an antithesis.  A hard working people gave rise to a population proud to consume and proud to show off status symbols.

It was an evolution propelled by product propaganda and post war prosperity.   Ironically enough, our success after World War II helped create the gluttonous consumer society we know today.

If success makes you fat and lazy, if it makes you forget what made you successful, then how long can you expect to be successful?  Americans forgot why we accomplished so much.  

They indulged on new found prosperity and were shocked by the austerity of the 2008 financial crisis, but that crisis was caused in part by Americans living in a delusional state of mind going into insane amounts of debt to sustain a mirage of a lifestyle.  

Too many people just couldn’t come to grips with the fact that they couldn’t afford 3 cars, 1 vacation home, and 2 mortgages.  The 2008 financial crisis was reality asserting itself on the stupidity of American society from the blue collar worker who went into debt to finance an illusion or the Wall St executive who risked the entire American economy for the vanity of a bonus check.  

People’s lives were irreparably altered forever for the worse and this sort of mindless and destructive consumerism could very well be more dangerous to American posterity than any other enemy we have.

Each time an American sees the trap of consumerism and decides to become financially independent we as a nation are better for it.  The reason is that you’re producing more for the economy than you’re taking.  You’re self sufficient and that means not depending on the government just to live.

Once again, in simple mathematical terms, you’re a net positive value creator.  Imagine if 15, 25, or even 50 million Americans were financially independent.  What would be some economic, social, and political effects of such a national achievement?

First off this would amount to an economic revolution.  With fewer people in the traditional workforce, there would be upward pressure on certain well paying jobs depending on the industries early retirees were previously working in.

There are numerous jobs that support the minimum income requirements needed to become financially independent.  These would be jobs ranging from software engineers to actuaries and many blue collar jobs.   Some would say it wouldn’t be good for society if too many nurses or doctors, for example, prematurely left their profession, but in the long term, the job market would self correct.

Assuming demand stays relatively stable, more people leaving any profession translates into a lower supply thus driving the price of those services upwards.  With compensation increasing the incentive for young people to enter the field would increase and the supply of candidates for temporarily low supply jobs would also increase over time thus mitigating the risk of losing too many socially vital professionals.

On the social end of the spectrum, widespread financial independence would be one of the best long term remedies to social plagues like substance abuse, alienation, and divorce.

Presumably, parents would be able to spend more time with their children, which would solve many problems that governments are incapable of solving, such as unhealthy personal relationships which lead to destructive behavior.  Some of societies worst problems are created by bad parenting.

Financial independence would provide the ability for people to spend less time working and commuting and more time raising their children to be self sufficient and productive adults.

Politically, widespread financial independence would be one of the best things to happen to our Republic since George Washington.  Financial independence means leisure time, more leisure time means more awareness of the world you live in through reading, writing, talking with others, traveling, and just becoming a more well rounded human being.  This increased awareness begins to dissipate more and more ignorance especially political ignorance.

Here’s why: financial independence inevitably leads to an increase in general awareness regarding human affairs.  Once again, this is an effect of free time and curiosity.  With increased understanding of the political process, more people would become enraged by the machinations of corrupt politicians.  With this increased awareness and righteous indignation financially free people could do one of several things:

1) Run for office themselves since they don’t have to worry about losing their job.  Raising enough money to win is a huge obstacle though, which leads to #2.

2) Organize politically and search for candidates.  This could include recruiting wealthy people with integrity to run for office themselves and helping them win.  Another political game changer would require a long term focus and upfront investment. Financially independent people could actively seek out meritorious young people who prove they can handle power, possess empathy, and have leadership qualities and mentor them for a future political run.

3) Financially free people who are not indentured servants are exponentially more likely to speak truth to power, be more willing to shed light on injustices, and overall more courageous since there isn’t an economic ax above their head.  With the fear of losing their job gone forever, they are a force to be reckoned with.

In conclusion, free time is a beautiful thing, which allows people to change the world they live in for the better.  We are plagued by poor leaders, an apathetic public, and no shortage of social problems.  These plagues can be remedied if more people just have enough time to take care of themselves, raise their children, and make a contribution to the public good.

Financial independence creates that precious time.

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Noblesse Oblige: The Obligation of Nobles

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What do the French and American revolutionaries have in common with those seeking early retirement and financial freedom?  They are all revolutionaries.

Think for a second how American society would change in a revolutionary manner if consumer culture took its last breath and financial freedom became the new spirit of the age.  

Think of all the people on the hamster wheel whose only free time is eating and sleeping.  These poor souls have no opportunity to develop their passions or talents, but what if the millions of people living semi-conscious lives and whose hope has been crushed by the grind and struggle of daily life, what if they tasted freedom?  What could they achieve?  What could we as a nation achieve?  

Freedom is a prerequisite for growth, growth is needed for achievement, achievement needed for progress, and progress is needed to advance Mankind.  Those seeking to ‘retire’ at 30, 35, or pick any ‘abnormally’ young age by societal expectations, are basically telling those that chose a conventional lifestyle there’s another way to live life that gives you control of your time and the freedom all people crave.

There are many ways to analyze the root cause of the flaws that exist in western society.  Those flaws include general apathy towards political affairs, an indulgence in consumer culture, and a political system that exclusively serves the powerful.  The most important part of any society is the power structure.  It’s the sufficient condition for all other major societal phenomenon.

The power structure determines what type of education the masses will receive, who the government will serve, who the justice system will serve, who the economy will serve, it affects the psychology of each person through ownership of mass communication companies, and it influences the opinions and tastes of the masses through propaganda.  

In short, the power structure determines the direction of society and the overall quality of the citizenry.  The one defining quality of those who exercise enormous power over society is their vast wealth.  Wealth is amoral.  Money is not the root of all evil and being wealthy doesn’t make you selfish, callous, or an enemy of Mankind.  Rather wealth is an amplifier.  It amplifies your flaws, strengths, values, and priorities.

If the human race is to fulfill its full potential then it’s imperative that the wealthy become enlightened or the enlightened become wealthy. 

Enlightened can be a subjective term unless nailed down with a reasonable definition.  Here is what I mean by enlightened: living life according to higher ideals including a love of truth, justice, and freedom, while transcending the primal desire to be selfish and acting to advance human welfare.

The human race is greatly influenced and guided by the wealthy.  To enlighten the wealthy or to enlighten those on the road to building wealth is to indirectly enlighten humanity.  This is simple cause and effect.  

Those with wealth have power and those with power have influence over the masses.  If a society is guided by self interested elites then the average person will suffer the consequences, but if a society is guided by benevolent elites who use their wealth to advance their fellow Man then the world as we know it takes a sharp turn for the better.

There is a French phrase that embodies the ethos of the enlightened wealthy: “Noblesse oblige,” or nobility brings responsibility. In every generation, there are wealthy people who embody this ethos and there are those who embody the unenlightened ethos of “Gain wealth forget all, but self.”

One person who exemplified the actions and principles of a member of the enlightened wealthy was President Theodore Roosevelt.  The youngest President in history was born into one of America’s wealthiest 19th-century families.  

With every advantage available to support him he entered public service becoming the youngest member of the New York State Assembly at age 23.  Three years later his first child was born and two days after that his wife and mother would die on the same day.  

Did he retreat into a life of ease supported by the privilege of being a Roosevelt?  Not even close.  

From 1889 to 1895 he served as US Civil Service Commissioner, then served as NYC Police Commissioner from 1895-1897 and was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President McKinsey in 1897.  

In the Summer of 1898, he resigned from his post at the Department of the Navy to fight in the Spanish-American war in Cuba.  When he returned he was nominated and elected Governor of New York in November 1898.  The meteoric rise continued.  In 1900 he was chosen to be Vice President under President McKinsey and in 1901 he became the youngest President in US history at age 43 after President McKinsey was assassinated.  

Roosevelt was devoted to the ‘strenuous life’, a life of contribution where privilege was used for benevolent purposes.

The future of the human race literally hinges on the battle between these two ways of thinking between the wealthiest citizens in our society.  It is my sincere hope that you will choose the enlightened side and use the power of being financially free to help people of modest means live up to their potential.

This is enlightened self interest.  The more people you help the more people will want to help you.  Humanity is as interconnected and interdependent as it’s ever been.  No one can escape this truth.  

The most basic thing we all have in common is our mortality.  How do you know that the boy or girl living in the gritty streets of any ghetto in America doesn’t have the cure for cancer in them?  No one knows, but everyone deserves the utmost opportunity to cultivate their potential.  With a new spirit of the age based on enlightened thinking, Mankind has the greatest chance to thrive in the coming century.  

Who would’ve thought that a counter culture could have the potential to inspire people to break free from their daily trance and focus on achieving freedom?  This community has the potential to inspire a nation one person at a time. 

Remember that in the process of lifting yourself out of your current circumstances you have the extraordinary power to place a ladder for those below you.  

Exercise that power.

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Revolution or Evolution?

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I don’t believe in revolutions. A revolution is a misunderstood evolution.  

In 1789, after centuries of aristocratic rule, the French people shocked the world and began a revolt that would change the course of World history.  Almost as fast as a passing wind the French people reached the point of no return and put a nail in the coffin of aristocratic rule.  

King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette were guillotined for treason.  Not long after the leaders of the Revolution, Robespierre and Saint-Just, were also guillotined.  

Were these thunderous events caused by a spark never before ignited or did a political revolution occur because of numerous factors over a long period of time that finally coalesced to form the visible spark the world saw as violent rebellion?  

Of course, such complicated events do not occur in vacuums and their eventual fruition is the result of many factors occurring over time, but not widely noticed.

The same applies when someone revolts against their lifestyle or dramatically changes their life in a relatively short time period.  The high school kid who was deathly afraid of public speaking becomes a renowned motivational speaker before 30 or in the opposite direction the straight A student in high school and captain of the football team who is in and out of drug rehab by 25.  

Did these revolutions happen in one day?  Does someone gain the confidence and skills to master public speaking in one day?  Do we lose people to drugs because of one bad decision on one day?  No, but ostensibly it appears an unfathomable event has occurred and we attribute this to some unexplained revolution.  

The truth is that revolutions are just well disguised evolutions.  Just because you can’t observe with your eyes the changes in someone’s life or the life of a nation does not mean nothing is changing.  

There are very powerful undercurrents that course through the veins of each of us.  These are the undercurrents created by our values, virtues, and actions.  

You may know at an intellectual level that justice is an ideal, but it doesn’t become a value until it’s practiced on a consistent basis in your everyday life.  If you have extreme discipline and focus you are already a force to be reckoned with.  Discipline and focus give you enormous power.  The most transformative power of all is the power to reshape your life.

If you are seeking financial independence a personal revolution seems awfully seductive.  A rapid change to discard the parts of your life you loathe is extremely attractive.  

I understand this, but there is no such thing as a revolution.  All large scale changes are the result of an evolution of consistently improving yourself each day for a sustained amount of time.  The outward revolution comes after the internal revolution.  This is crucial to understanding the human condition and how you can radically change your life.

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Build Your Own Personal Philosophy

Raphael’s painting of the School of Athens. At center, Plato converses with Aristotle.

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If you are to transcend societal norms and attempt to break the mold built for you then it’s imperative that you build your own personal philosophy on life that keeps you strong in times of defeat, informs your decision making, and provides the intellectual framework to achieve financial freedom.  

One of the untold differences between those that are bricks in the wall and those that throw bricks at the wall, so to speak, is their belief system.  

What are your belief systems?  Did you purposely pick them or did you inherit them from your culture, society, or family?  Beliefs are a powerful psychological phenomenon that have a direct effect on your reality.  Here’s an example of a belief system that empowers:

My life is short.  My potential is unlimited.  The purpose of my life is to achieve the impossible before I die.

Here’s an example of a belief system that disempowers:

Life is short I die in the end so what difference does it make how I live?

What’s the significance of these two types of belief systems?  The actions the person takes based on these beliefs.  The person who is motivated by death to achieve their potential before they die will work 100x harder, endure the unbearable, and in the end, will achieve their goal.  

Why?  Because they know that the only way life would have any value to us humans is if we die.  If we lived forever life would have no value because there wouldn’t be consequences.  

On the other hand, someone with a nihilistic mindset sees the same thing, but reacts as if death was defeat.  With that thinking, death has truly defeated you because you are basically dead before dying.  

We humans transcend death by making it a motivation to be the best, work harder than we thought possible, and living up to our highest ideals.

The one quote that sums up the ethos I’m expressing comes from the late Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius:

“Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.”

By pursuing financial freedom many of you are attempting to scale the proverbial Mount Everest.  You will need your mind on your side at all times. You cannot fall short of your goal unless you psychologically sabotage yourself.  

If you have an enlightened personal philosophy that arms you with intellectual weapons to fight self doubt, failure, and the opinions of others then you will reach your destination much quicker.

The answers to the following questions will give you sufficient substance to iron out a personal philosophy and will make you psychologically stronger on your journey towards financial freedom.

1)   What is the purpose of your life and why?

This is not an easy question to answer and tragically most people never answer it.   Life is an amazing paradox because we don’t come into this world with an instruction manual.  

Our purpose is what we will it to be.  If you are nihilistic you live without purpose, but how does that make you a better human being?  How does that give you superhuman strength when you’re going through hell?

2)   What are you willing to go through hell and back to achieve?

What are you willing to stake your existence on to achieve?  What’s the one thing that you would be willing to endure pain and heartache to make a reality?

3)   What are your highest ideals?

How do you see your ideal self living?  Do you honor your ideals even when it’s not in your self interest to do so?

4)   What values do you wish to live by?

What are the values that invigorate your spirit?  Which values inspire you most when you see them being acted upon?  Is it a commitment to truth or justice or honor or integrity or patience?

5)   How do you want to be remembered by generations to come?

3.5 billion people are living on less than $3 per day.  They are fighting for their life every single day. From 1914-1989 Germany was one of the harshest places to live in the western world.  Over 3 generations had to endure the horrors of World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, and the Cold War.  Where was their opportunity for freedom?  

On the night of August 12, 1961, the residents of Berlin went to sleep having no idea that when they woke up there would be a wall, guarded by armed soldiers, dividing East and West Berlin. Many Germans died without ever seeing their loved ones on the other side of the wall.  

If anyone is living on $3 per day in America it’s by choice and there will never be walls dividing Americans.  To be American is to live life in a privileged sphere.

Of course, no one working their ass off just to make ends meet wants to hear they are in any way privileged, but if you’re strategic, unrelenting, and committed to personal growth then you’re going to succeed.  

Being in a very powerful position I want you to think about what you will do with the power of being able to control your time. What will your life look like? What time will you wake up?  Will you travel?  If so, where, how long, and how often?  Will you learn a new language?  Will you volunteer for your favorite charity?  Will you write an inspiring manifesto in the French Riviera laying under the warm Mediterranean sun?  

Know your ‘why,’ know your life mission because billions of people will never have the opportunity that you have.  

I hope that gives you a sense of the value of your life and how important it is that you maximize your potential and contribute to the Good of humanity.  Too many people never actualize their potential because they live in the third world, but millions of perfectly healthy people living in rather rich nations also fall short of their potential and that is something that should motivate us to honor life by utilizing every last bit of talent in our bones.

From real estate investing to internet entrepreneurship to strategic living, there is nothing stopping the committed person.  Just commit to being financially free!  

If you have a hard time with commitment in general, begin to build your commitment muscle by working on a small piece of your plan every day. Positive habits and momentum are huge.  If you can do something every day for 30 days it will become a daily habit that you won’t need to think twice about doing.

All of this forward action and progress begins with the guidance and strength of having your own personal philosophy on life.

Excellence demands an outstanding psychology.  Not one you inherit from your environment, but one you customize for your unique mission in life.

 

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