Ask yourself this question, do you want to be successful and extraordinary?
I think 99.9% of the population will answer this question with the word YES!
From a young age, many people were taught that being successful and extraordinary in life involves the following steps - go to school, get good grades, get a university degree, get a job, be good at your job, get paid well, be a good worker, focus on work, earn lots of money, buy expensive things to reward yourself from all the hard work, take expensive vacations, get married, have an expensive elaborate wedding reception, raise a family, provide your kids with better education by sending them to private schools, continue climbing the corporate ladder, and finally retire at the age of 65 or older to finally relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Does this really describe a successful and extraordinary life?
Many might think so.
But I disagree.
What I just described above is what it means to be ordinary, or a typical worker's life.
Why do we define being successful and extraordinary by how much money we make, how many expensive things we own, how many expensive vacations we take, and what our job titles are?
Why do we associate being successful and extraordinary with all the materialistic things that we own and all the things that we can show off?
Is this really the correct definition of being successful and extraordinary?
Thanks to TV and media, many of us think celebrities are successful and extraordinary.
I do not agree.
Who do I think is extremely successful and extraordinary?
The Dalai Lama is successful and extraordinary.
Mother Teresa is successful and extraordinary.
When we are blasted with false images of success and extraordinary every day on TV, in the newspapers & magazines, on the internet, and other forms of media, we begin to believe in these false images. We begin to become delusional about what it means to be successful and extraordinary.
Combined with how most of us are raised.... we were taught and told that we're simply ordinary.
So we go through our lives being ordinary.
Most of us were wrongly taught by our parents, our teachers, and people that we know, what being successful means.
I'm sorry but ordinary is just not good enough.
I don't want to be ordinary.
I don't want to be successful and extraordinary by the traditional definition.
I don't want to set my life purpose as having an ordinary life and being "successful" by traditional means.
I want to be extraordinary.
Extraordinary is something very different.
Many of us believe being extraordinary means we need to do important philanthropy work like The Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. Because most of us cannot dedicate our lives to philanthropy work, we believe that we cannot be extraordinary.
Extraordinary is being able to get outside of the comfort zone and strive for something that we haven't been told to do by our parents, taught by our teachers in school, and trained to believe in.
For most of us, I believe being extraordinary is simply being able to achieve financial independence at an age where we are still in good health to enjoy our lives to the fullest.
Extraordinary is being different from the norm, being able to recognize from within ourselves that there's something more than mindlessly finishing tasks because the "Boss Man" says so, it's more than climbing the corporate ladder, and it's more than working for 40+ years before retiring and enjoying the fruits of our labor.
Notice here that I haven't set any age. Why? Because each individual go through different circumstances and experiences in life. So to label that one must reach financial independence by a specific age is simply not fair. To achieve financial independence and to be able to enjoy what we want to do because we are in good health, that's extraordinary.
Having good health is extremely important, especially when we're financially independent.
Having all the money in the world at our disposal but not being in good health? Then all that money won't do us any good.
Simply put, we need to be able to have good health to enjoy what we have accomplished - being financially independent.
But how do we achieve financial independence?
While becoming financially independent is not an easy task, I think it's very simple.
Becoming financially independent.... is simple?
Many people use easy and simple interchangeably. But these two words are very different.
Both words are used to describe something as being "not difficult". Easy is defined as "not hard to do; not difficult" where simple is defined as "having few parts, not complex or fancy, not special or unusual."
To be more specific, simple is not always easy.
- To lose weight is simple, but not always easy.
- To stop smoking is simple, but not always easy.
- To stop drinking coffee is simple, but not always easy.
- To be kind to everyone is simple, but not always easy.
- To not judge others is simple, but not always easy.
Similarly, to become financially independent is simple, but not always easy. At first glance, the financial independence formula is very simple:
Passive income > expenses = Financial Independence
The concept of becoming financially independent is really simple. It basically comes down to the following simple steps:
1. Live below your means
This idea probably has been mentioned in every single personal finance book and blog. In order to get ahead, your expenses need to be less than you income. The concept is simple but not easy. You can try to increase your income and/or cut down your unnecessary expenses. This process can take many years to master.
2. Pay yourself first
Again this idea is very simple but not easy. When you receive an income, put aside a specific amount or percentage in your savings account and never touch this money. Only spend the rest. For example, if you receive $2,000, pay yourself $500 first, and only utilize the remaining $1,500. The idea is to use the saved up amount to create passive income streams.
3. Create passive income streams
There are many different types of passive income streams. For example, stock investments, rental properties, royalties, and businesses. The more passive income streams you have, the more diversified your passive income will be. Use the money saved in step 2 to invest in these passive income streams. Initially it might take some active work, but the idea is to set up these income streams so they can generate income passively once you have them set up.
Are there things in life you can simplify to save money? Perhaps you can sell things that you no longer use, reduce your media consumption, reduce your cellphone data plan, consolidate all your debt, reduce your wardrobe, or create and stick to a meal plan. There are many ways to simplify your life to save money. You can then use the money saved to create passive income.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that having good health, just like becoming financial independent, is simple but not always easy.
How do we stay in good health? It involves the following 4 simple steps:
1. Have balanced nutritious meals
We all need to fuel our bodies with nutritious food items. We also need to watch out how much we eat. Don't over eat, just like we don't over spend. A good rule of thumb is to eat until we're about 75% full. This is similar to the concept of "live below your means."
2. Stay active and exercise
Staying active is the best way to maintain good health. It's also a great way to have good muscle tone in your body. Staying active and exercise will provide benefits in your life today and continue providing benefits as you age. It's a similar idea as "Paying Yourself First" mentioned above.
3. Create a healthy lifestyle
There are more than just having balanced nutritious meals and staying active. Creating a healthy lifestyle by avoiding smoking/second hand smoke, limit alcohol consumption, limit salt and sugar consumption etc. Part of the healthy lifestyle can be creating your own affirmations that resonate with you and set your own intentions. For example, set an affirmation that focuses on loving yourself: "I love my beautiful body and accept it everyday." This specific affirmation helped Mrs. T loose weight after Baby T1.0 was born. She focused on loving her body as it was and gradually the extra kilos disappeared. So focus your intentions on things you want, not things that you do not want.
Creating a healthy lifestyle is like having passive income. Once it is created, you will enjoy the benefits over and over again. This is a similar idea as "create passive income streams" mentioned above.
4. Strong body, strong mind
Become emotionally balanced is an important step in order to have good health. Let go of negative thoughts and patterns in you life. Your body can't function without your mind. So focus on what matters to you in life. Develop both a strong body and a strong mind. This is a similar idea as "simplification" mentioned above.
Because becoming financially independent and having good health are very closely related, focusing on just one of them simply makes no sense. We must focus on both.
Make no mistake, it's simply extraordinary to achieve both financial independence and good health at the same time.
But there's more to it than just being financially independent and having good health. I will discuss that in Part 2 of this blog post next Wednesday.