I have been going through all the guest appearances I’ve had on different blogs over the past four and a half years of blogging and it’s been so much fun to revisit some of these posts. I’ve linked them all up on this “As Seen On” page so you can see them all in one place. Today I want to share one I wrote a little over three years ago, originally published on Untemplater. It’s always so interesting to reflect back and see where my head was at a given point in time.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn
Are you living life by design? More specifically, are you living a life you designed, or one designed by someone else?
Too many people blindly follow the conventional path. You know what I am talking about: go to college, get a degree in something that pays well, get a good job, get married, buy a house, have kids, save for retirement. Then after 50-60 years in the workforce, you can finally retire, have some fun, and be happy.
Did you know that a study performed by Deloitte found that 80% of working people hate their jobs? No wonder so many people are grouchy! I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine working 50-60 years in a job that I hate.
The sad truth is that most people put off living life by design for 50-60 years in hopes that someday they will finally get to live life on their own terms. This is a huge gamble. The biggest risk is whether you will even be alive to get the pay-out of that gamble! Tomorrow is promised to no man.
Moreover, will you have the energy or physical ability after those 50-60 years to do all the things better suited for a more youthful body and age? Are you really willing to trade five long days a week doing something you despise to live for the weekends and the occasional week off? More importantly, are you willing to put off your own dreams for 50-60 years to build someone else’s?
There has to be a better way!
I know, I know, I am preaching to the choir here. But there are going to be some people that have just found this site for the first time. They’re searching for answers. They want to know how they can live their own Untemplater life.
If You Want To Be, Then Do!
We don’t all have to be entrepreneurs and freelancers to live life by design. Maybe you are currently working a traditional full-time job…but it isn’t exactly fulfilling. Your 9-to-5 may make you a living, but what about the other 16 hours of your day? Even if you sleep eight hours, that still leaves eight hours for you to live life as YOU choose. Do the things you want to do.And if you want to transition out of that unfulfilling job? Use those eight hours to become who you want to be and develop the skills you need to transition into doing all-day work that you love. That’s the goal, because if you genuinely love your work, it can be so rewarding and fun that it won’t actually feel like work at all.
Climb Over The First Hurdle
Sometimes we tell ourselves we’ve failed or can’t do something before we even begin. Don’t be afraid to try – just start out taking super tiny steps. Even if you fail, it’s okay. Failing is normal and how we learn. Plus, you can adapt along the way or change course. So what’s holding you back now? What are you waiting for? If it’s an invitation to start then I offer you this:
- Do you want to be a Writer? Then just start writing – grammar comes later!
- Do you want to be a Singer? Then work on strengthening your voice and start singing!
- Do you want to be an Artist? Then start planning, sketching, and creating your next work!
- Do you want to be a Chef? Then start experimenting in the kitchen and get cooking!
- Do you want to travel the world? Then start saving money, get a passport, schedule some vacation days, and book a trip abroad!
- Do you want to start a business? Then read about the different forms of incorporation, analyze the risks of starting a business, learn the various rules and requirements in your city and state, and get registered!
- Do you want to retire at 45? Then start saving aggressively as soon as possible, invest, diversify your assets, build passive income streams, and start your own unconventional path to make it happen.
Remember: it takes action to get control of your life.
“Be the change you want to see in [your] world” – Ghandi
What If Eight Hours Isn’t Enough?
I personally recommend that most people master “the blend” before they make the full break. I’m speaking to those for whom eight hours to build the dream doesn’t seem like enough, and who want to jump right in, right now. You want more. Instead of fitting your dream around work, you want to fit work around your dream. You might even want to get paid for living your dream.
Is that you? The great news is that this is very possible. Technology and the Internet have made this easier than it has ever been at any other point in history. Gary Vaynerchuck says “if you love it, and you have passion, and you can create good content around it, you can monetize it.”
However, this is what I recommend: Leverage your day job to supply cash flow for the pursuit of your passion. Side hustle during your free time and find a way to turn your passion into a payday. Be prepared to work hard, make sacrifices, and push your boundaries in the process. It takes patience and persistence to make money on your own. If it were easy everybody would be doing it! If you stick with things long enough and find yourself doing well and approaching the point where eight hours a day simply isn’t enough for your side hustle then your end game could be to eventually turn that side hustle into your main hustle.
Steps I Have Personally Taken To Live Life By Design
After following the conventional path myself for years, I decided it was time to start living life on my terms and by my own design. Ultimately I plan to exit the corporate world and break free from the golden handcuffs. Although I worked really hard to make it to the six-figure club in my career, once I arrived I realized that I wasn’t completely happy with that as my endpoint destination. Looking back it makes sense because I have always had this urge to be an entrepreneur, and deep down I always knew that the corporate world was not for me in the long term.
Fear was the thing that was holding me back. It’s pretty comfortable to be making good money in a cushy corporate job, especially with a mortgage and other bills to pay. So did I rationally give up a high income in pursuit of the unknown and risk everything I had already built?
In 2014, I got the big idea to test the waters. I decided if I could succeed at building a digital marketing and analytics consulting business as a side hustle this would serve three purposes:
(1) It would allow me the opportunity to get paid to learn some very valuable skills in growing an online business.
(2) It would prove that I could actually earn money outside of formal employment.
(3) It would give me the confidence to start building my dream location-independent business.
I was able to secure three clients before the end of January 2014. By the end of the year, I had successfully helped my clients grow their businesses and earned $18,000 for my efforts. On average I spent 15 hours a month working for my clients, which earned me an effective rate of $100/hour (holy crap, that is approximately $200K annually).
This was all the proof I needed to launch my own blog, thereby becoming the entrepreneur I had always planned to become. I figured from the success of my previously described side hustle experience (plus the fact that I am always talking about and being asked about money moves), that I had something to share with the world. In addition to starting my blog I have made the following life changes over the last year:
(1) Bought a house that was half of what I could afford. This alone is saving $1,100 a month in expenses.
(2) Relocated, which allowed my wife to stop commuting, saving $500/month in travel expense.
(3) Paid off my student loans, saving about $150/month.
(4) Rented out a bedroom in our house, generating income of $600/month.
(5) Changed jobs to be closer to home so now I only have a four-mile commute, saving more travel expenses.
These are all steps I’ve taken to enable me to ultimately make the leap into full-blown entrepreneurship. I currently have a seven-year plan to officially make the break. During this time I will be leveraging my high income to pay off the mortgage completely and continue saving and investing heavily.
I can finally say that I am living life by design.
The Big Fat Takeaway
There is always a better way. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort you can live your life by YOUR design. I truly believe that everyone has a purpose in life, and that purpose is to pursue the avenues and channels that fill you with enthusiasm, fascination, and passion.
And if you don’t know what you are passionate about yet, make it your purpose to explore, experiment, and find out.
I will leave you with one question that may help you discover your passion:
Question: If you could retire tomorrow, what would you do with your time? Look at the picture that your mind creates: where are you, who are you with, what are the activities of your day? In your answers lie the secret to knowing your passion. Let us know your answers in the comments below.
– Gen Y Finance Guy