“I wish I’d found this book ten years ago.”
That’s one of the main comments I get from readers of my book, Financial Freedom. A core theme of that book is that, the sooner you begin building wealth, the sooner you will be able to reach financial independence.
Money, and the energy you invest into building it, compounds over time. Time is your biggest asset, which means youth is a huge competitive advantage.
It’s a lot easier to save money, have a side hustle, or study the stock market when you’re twenty-five years old, have no kids, and are free to use your time as you please. And when you invest in your twenties, your money has longer to grow.
This makes you more resilient in the future, whether you choose to retire early or not.
Those who start their financial freedom journeys in their thirties, forties, or later lament the loss of this advantage.
They worry they’re starting on the back foot because they have greater financial obligations and more limits on their time.
This is especially true for people who have kids or other dependents, since raising a family requires a huge investment of both time and money, not to mention mental energy.
Maybe you’ve just started your financial freedom journey and feel like you need to play catch up. Or maybe you started your journey a while ago but are now entering a new phase of life and are struggling to ease into the transition.
Remember, this is not a race. This is about building a life you love on your own terms and in your own way. There is no set path. Only your path.
All progress is progress.
The most important thing you can do is use the energy you have toward your goals. Energy is expansive; the more you put into the world, the more comes back to you–whether you have five hours a day, week, or month.
Here are some strategies to keep you focused:
1. Be honest and easy with yourself
Overextension is the quickest way to burnout. I know from personal experience. When you first learn about financial independence, it’s natural to get excited by all the possibilities. But if you try to do too much too quickly, or if you set unrealistic goals based on the time you have, you’ll get frustrated and unfocused.
Be honest about how much time and energy you’re able to dedicate right now, and leave room to experiment before you expand.
It’s better to spend five hours every week consistently working towards a goal rather than 20 hours for three weeks and then quit because you can’t keep up the pace.
2. Carve out your most productive time
Harness the time and energy you have and honor your natural rhythms. When do you have uninterrupted free time? When do you feel most productive and creative? What environments help you focus?
Set aside this time each week or each day and dedicate it to setting and pursuing financial goals. When you start to see results, you’ll find you naturally create more energy and want to dedicate more time to your pursuit. Time expands when you create space for it.
3. Revisit the basics
It may seem boring–especially if you’ve been building wealth for a while–but during periods of transition, it’s important to remember the basics. Read (or re-read) Financial Freedom for a crash course on how to start saving and growing money as soon as possible and acquaint yourself with the basics of a foolproof wealth-building strategy.
Do you have a plan to pay off debt? Have you maximized your tax-advantaged retirement accounts like your employer’s 401(k) or a personal IRA? Do you have an emergency fund that will meet the needs of your current stage of life?
These relatively straightforward tasks will help you plug the gaps in your financial life and give you more options. You can’t build a building on a shaky foundation.
4. Alternate between periods of sprints and rest
While consistency is key, you should also take advantage of any periods where you can ramp up your efforts toward your goal. In October 2019, my wife took a month-long trip to Africa.
During that time I spent 80-plus hours a week optimizing my website and setting up systems to ramp up our revenue streams. It was this focused push which powered the growth over the next 12 months and led to the eventual sale in October 2020.
It was intense, focused, exhausting work, but the effort also allowed me to take the next two months off after my wife returned home. During the sprint I ate extremely well, worked out, and slept whenever I wasn’t working. It wasn’t balanced, but I knew I only needed to do it for a month and it was life-changing.
Just like elite athletes must prioritize recovery time or farmers must let fields lie fallow before replanting, you must dedicate quality time to rest after a big push in order to achieve long-term success. Plan your pushes and your rest.
5. Go where your energy takes you
Like money, energy can either be spent or invested. When you spend energy, you use it up and then have to spend additional energy to make more. When you invest energy, it compounds on itself and grows exponentially.
Certain activities like working a a job you hate, waiting in traffic, attending boring events or spending time with people you don’t care about–deplete your energy. This has cataclysmic longterm effects on your health and happiness.
Other activities like sharing quality time with loved ones, doing work you’re passionate about, spending time in nature, going places that expand your view of the world – grow and replenish your energy. They nurture you.
Pay attention to the things that grow and replenish your energy. Direct as much of your effort to those activities as possible. Listen to your intuition, then start trusting it more. If you feel depleted, it’s because you are. You already know what you need.
6. Buy back your time
One advantage to being older and farther along in your career is that you can usually command a higher income than you did when you were younger.
Whether this describes you or you’re making more money than you thought you would, think about ways you could spend money to buy back your time so you can focus your energy on things that bring the most rewards.
Can you outsource certain household or administrative tasks? I pay a college student $20 an hour to wash our dishes and do all our laundry, saving me and my wife almost 20 hours per week! It’s a no-brainer for $400.
Can you hire an assistant and/or purchase tools or software to improve your productivity at work? If you can buy back even a few hours a week, you can turn the energy you save into massive returns over time.
Check out my book recommendations at the bottom of this newsletter for a good book to learn how to buy back your time.
Our culture loves to celebrate youth, and we often hear stories about twenty-somethings accomplishing huge goals because it’s inspirational and rare.
One of the reasons my story has spread so far is because I achieved financial independence by the time I turned thirty.
I could have chosen to relax more in my twenties and have all the experiences my friends were having and still achieved financial freedom by age 40–and most people probably wouldn’t have cared.
I made a tradeoff, and as I said in a previous newsletter, I’m glad I did. If you chose to spend your twenties differently, there’s nothing stopping you from achieving your own goal on your own timeline, and history is full of people who have done just that.
Take Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most prolific and successful entrepreneurs of the past fifteen years. He pioneered Web 2.0-era content marketing, but he didn’t even start creating content until he was in his thirties.
The skills he had acquired up until then helped him discover and shape the career that would make him a millionaire.
Financial freedom is not the end of the journey; it’s the beginning.
I wrote earlier about the period of detox and reevaluation that follows reaching financial independence. While we’re busy growing our wealth, we can become so focused on that goal that we can feel ungrounded when we no longer need to work toward it.
The only reason to strive for financial freedom is because it expands your opportunities by building resilience into your life.
When you no longer have to worry about money, you can take more risks and spend time only doing things you care about. No matter what stage of the journey you’re on, check in with yourself so you don’t lose sight of those things.
What kind of life do you want to lead? What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
I was inspired to read a recent story about Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Last month, several people at Google reported that Brin had filed his first request to access code since stepping away from day-to-day operations in 2019.
The code in question is for Google’s AI-enabled language chatbot, an evident response to the recent success of ChatGPT, which Google’s competitor OpenAI revealed late last year.
AI is a top priority for Google, and other innovators in the field are presenting one of the biggest threats to the company’s market share in recent memory. But, to me, Brin’s involvement is about much more than competitive advantage.
It speaks to his natural curiosity and passion for technology. It speaks to his love for the brand he created. It’s also a testament to his belief that AI is the future, and he wants to be a part of it.
Why else would a billionaire whose company employs some of the most intelligent and talented people on the planet spend his time tinkering with code?
Brin has entered his re-engagement phase. Long after achieving financial freedom, he has come full circle.
His wealth enables him to spend his time doing anything he wants, and he has chosen to reconnect with his passion and mission.
I’m not a billionaire, but I can’t help but draw parallels between Brin’s story and my own recent decision to buy back Millennial Money, the business I grew from scratch that has helped me become a multi-millionaire.
I’m still passionate about teaching people how to make money and use it to expand their lives. I see the potential and energy within this community, and it excites me every day.
I can think of hundreds of ways I could spend my time that would make me more money, but the work I do makes my life richer than I can measure in dollars. The energy I put into it doesn’t deplete me, it helps me grow.
As we move through the year, pay attention to where you are, what you need, and where your energy is going.
Hit me up and let me know what you’re focused on right now. I’d love to hear it. Where is your energy going?