We trade time for money so future time spent is more enjoyable. But a life trading time for money is a life traded away, not spent.
People argue about how a life should be spent, but never really spend it all. They forward all their time to someone else hoping they don’t make a mistake with how they spend their life.
That way if everything goes wrong it’s because of a decision their boss or parent made or because of obligations they couldn’t escape. “I don’t regret doing these things because I had to do them.” Never making a choice is the only way to live your life without ever being wrong.
The only way to get the chance to spend your life the way you want to is by creating wealth.
I don’t mean you need fat stacks and a benz to live a good life. You don’t need a $400k salary, or a big house you’ll own after a mortgage, or even a savings account. The rich aren’t always wealthy.
Wealth is surplus income that compounds over time without the need to invest more time into it.
Wealth comes from things like automated businesses, real estate properties that you pay someone else to manage, a large investment portfolio managed by someone else, a feature film that pays you royalties every time it’s watched, etc.
If a rich person stops working, they won’t get any richer. If a wealthy person stops working, their income won’t stop coming.
To have control over how you spend your life you must have enough income coming in to cover all the expenses with the life you choose. That could be $2k/month, or $200k/month. It depends on how you want to spend your life, which is different for everyone.
A common way of thinking is “I’ll spend a few years saving up a chunk of money then figure it out.”
The problem with this strategy is that big chunks of money aren’t actually as great for creating wealth as the output of a savings account is an interest rate that barely keeps up with inflation.
It’s less about the amount of cash you have, and more about what you do with the cash. What matters is not that you bought a $2M building, but rather which building you bought.
Is the building in the right location? Is it of good quality? Do you have the right management company? Did you buy it at the right time? Do people want to live here? How do people find out about it?
Answering these questions is more important than having the cash to afford the building. If your answers to these questions are wrong, all you’re doing is transferring your liquid cash into an illiquid building without much prospects.
You can always outsource the answers to these questions to consultants, but if you’re dependent on others to make these choices for you you'll make mistakes.
To be able to correctly answer these questions on your own, you'll have to spend a few years throwing shit at the wall in this space.
Someone working as an accountant to save up $200k to start their rap career should just become a rapper now. The cash won’t accelerate the time it takes to master the rapper skillset and the accountant skillset doesn’t have much overlap.
Further, this strategy is dangerous because if you manage to get a solid $200k salary somewhere, you’ll probably scale up your expenses with your income. Given enough time you’ll “grow accustomed to your lifestyle” and jumping ship becomes scarier and scarier with every paycheck.
In this case your short-term incentives actually withhold you from creating your own wealth. Staying rich keeps you from becoming wealthy.
That being said, there are cases where a salaried job is a smart first step in creating your own wealth. If you want to be a rapper, getting a job as an audio engineer at Def Jam makes sense. You’d essentially be getting paid to master engineering while learning how everything else in the business works and building a network you can leverage later.
The only way to clearly avoid regret on our deathbed (while at the same time being accountable for our own lives) is to:
- Figure out how we want to spend our lives
- Create sufficient wealth to afford the lives we’d like to spend
- Spend our lives
There are risks with this approach that are important to consider.
While becoming rich takes about the same time as becoming wealthy (a few years dedicated in one direction), the "becoming wealthy" path maximizes pressure on every part of your life.
You risk your mental health (due to anxiety, stress, worry, depression, loneliness, fear), your physical health (skipping the gym to save time and opting for cheap food), your relationships (being too caught up in your own emotional distress to consider those close to you), your financial health (sacrificing a few years of short term salary, maxing out credit cards and ruining your credit), and on and on.
The only way to survive these obstacles is to get stronger and smarter, more independent, rational, and resourceful. These challenges will make you a more comprehensive human with unique experiences and independent belief systems.
While there’s always a chance it won’t work out and after 5 years you have to go back to a standard salary, it’s at least worth a shot.