Full Speed Ahead
In my first high school soccer game, about halfway through the game I ran with the ball at full speed and utter enthusiasm and fiercely kicked it… into the wrong goal. Yes, this really happened. It might have also happened in a basketball game, but who’s counting. Ball sports may not be the best choice for day dreamers.
I worked hard at it. I really tried. I was athletic. I was fit. I was enthusiastic.
So what’s the moral of this story?
Drive, grit, and determination are all great qualities to have. But none of that matters if you’re headed towards the wrong goal.
Some may say I’m actually quite a pro at this. You see, I’ve never had the foggiest clue of what I wanted to do for a living. But I do consider myself quite the little go-getter.
Math class in college didn’t require attendance, so I majored in it.
I was encouraged to become a Professor, so got I a Ph.D. and a good job, then quit.
Next I decided to climb the corporate ladder. So I worked my way up to an executive position at a consulting firm then realized I hated managing people. (My positivity sandwich was usually missing the bread).
The problem is I kept asking myself what I wanted to do for a living and I couldn’t figure it out. I read all the career books, interviewed tons of people, and researched til I was blue in the face.
I had the drive but I didn’t have the goal.
I knew the type of work I wanted to do:
- I liked solving hard problems,
- I wanted to be creative, and
- I wanted to build something new.
But I realized even when I found jobs working on hard problems (hi, I’m the dumbass who turned down an interview with Google, nice to meet you), it wasn’t enough. It might sound lame but I wasn’t willing to commute half way across the country, (OK, maybe it’s just Los Angeles, but it feels like a country) twice a day and spend my life in the car. I also didn’t want some entry level job where I was just doing a small part of a bigger picture.
I finally realized that nothing was going to fit. I couldn’t get over the thought of working my entire youthful life on someone else’s problems and on someone else’s creation. And I know I’m not alone.
I’ve had so many friends who I see working so hard for someone else’s company, for someone else’s goal. Full speed ahead. Sccoooorre!
It finally hit me one day, presumably after many long walks, meditations, and most certainly several glasses of wine, that I was asking the wrong question. The questions wasn’t “What do you want to do for a living”.
The right question will come right after the following interlude ...
An Interlude Brought to You by Kimbaya
We’ve discussed my patience for meditation in my article on meditative push-ups so accordingly I’ll keep this snappy.
Now this is going to be a bit tricky because I need you to close your eyes. And although my husband and friends say it’s as if they can still hear me talking long after I’ve left the room, I’ll need you to read the instructions before you do so. Here we go.
Once you close your eyes, picture a specific place where you were in the last, say 5 years or so where you can remember being happy.
Picture it in your mind, of being there. Picture sitting or standing exactly where you were when you felt this way. And picture being next to the people or person you were with.
Now start with a small pinprick of light, a small ball inside your chest.
And as you keep your eyes closed, picture the ball of light growing, little by little, pulsating as it grows until it very slowly shines outside of you in all different directions, in huge bursting rays of light, all around you.
When you’re done, open your eyes and then keep reading.
Hopefully you feel something like this:
That’s the feeling we’re going for. All of the time.
So now that we’ve got the feeling, let’s get back to business…
Ask Bigger Questions
Now that we've channeled our happy place it's time to figure out how to put that sucker on repeat.
I kept asking myself “what do I want to do for a living” but it turned out that was the wrong question. The question I should have been asking myself is:
“Who do I want to be?”
And that I could answer. I want to be that person in my happy place all of the time! I wanted to be free to do the things I wanted to do when I wanted to do them. Novel concept right? Why didn’t I think of this earlier.
So the next step was clear. I quit my job and lived in a cardboard box. Just kidding. The box didn’t come with a balcony veranda so it was a deal breaker.
Fortunately for me, one of the benefits of being a bad manager was my company hiring me my own personal executive coach who had ran several businesses herself and was quite fantastic.
Instead of building a “business plan” as she had taught me to do, I decided to build a “Family Financial Freedom Plan” instead. (Hey that’s got three of my website categories in it, look Mom, I’m consistent!)
What’s Your Vision
The first step to the Family Financial Freedom Plan was the vision statement.
A vision statement for a business is typically defined as:
“An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serves as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action. - Business Dictionary
Now at my old company, we hired a Senior Vice President of Organizational Management and Puffy Clouds (title may have been changed slightly to protect the guilty) whose job it seemed was to make such exercises impossible to complete. We actually had a TWELVE hour executive meeting to come up with a vision statement for the company, for which we were unsuccessful.
Don’t be that person. You, your family, and at most one glass of wine is permitted for this exercise.
Here’s verbatim the vision statement we wrote for our family back in 2014:
“Our Vision: No employer, self-employed real estate investors, spend free time with family including coaching kid’s sports teams and heavy hand in children’s education, enjoying the home and daytime activities and hobbies such as (NOT dog walking), exercise, golf, discussing new business ideas, and socializing with friends, and exploring the world on new and exciting adventures.”
(We revised the dog walking after we realized neither of us could keep a plant alive for more than 24 hours. Don’t worry, the baby is fine).
So once the vision statement is done you should be chomping at the bit. That cardboard box is looking a bit sexy right now. ("I could really do wonders in here with some new carpet and some air freshener!")
I mean after all, the dream isn’t to sail the world when I’m 65 and take over my kids’ education sometime in their late 30’s.
This brings me to my next point...
If Not Now, Then…
Steve Jobs said:
“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” - Steve Jobs
Steve, that’s heavy, man. This advice really stuck with me. And frankly, it’s a bit depressing, especially when you’re in the middle of changing a diaper filled with your baby’s latest contribution.
But he has a point.
Obviously we need to lay a plan and put in hard work to get to our vision. But are we talking 5 years, 10, 20 …
Tim Ferriss in his book Tools For Titans says that world class performers don’t have superpowers. But what they do have is the ability to bend reality to accomplish amazing things and one of the ways they do this is by asking bigger, sometimes absurd questions.
He explains serial billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel likes to ask himself the following question:
“If you have a 10-year plan of how to get [somewhere], you should ask: Why can’t you do this in 6 months?”
Notice the operative phrase here is “IF YOU HAVE A PLAN”.
So go ahead and pick a date for your financial freedom plan.
The first step is to pick a targeted timeframe and then lay the plan to get there.
If the plan doesn’t get us there in time, we need to change the timeframe.
But maybe if we plan right, it may even get us there sooner…
Until next time. Hope you enjoyed reading and sign up to make sure you’re notified when Kimbro the Math Fairy explains how to build the plan.
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