If you had a fixed passive income of, let’s say, $15,000.00 USD a month, tax free, freeing yourself from the duty of making a living by going to job, what would you do? And in fact, what’s really holding you back from generating such an income and living how you please?
The fact that I’m preaching being self-employed (either as a freelancer or a consultant, or having your own business) and self-reliable (without managers, bosses, CEOs and big companies all over your head), doesn’t mean anything other than the fact that I’m a free bird and I simply like living like that.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the only right way of living, the best way of living or the only way worth living. I know many people who I am almost sure would be uncomfortable if put in my position. For some people, the constant moving from one country to another (that’s not a fixed part of my life, I just like it) and making money from the comfort of my own home, without having “a normal job” and someone to tell them what to do is something unthinkable . . . and I get that, no irony. It’s just a method I’m using and I’m happy with it. I also know lots of people who made similar choices and they tell me they would never change it for anything else. What is very important here is that I also have many friends who live differently (are eternal college students, have 9-5 jobs, are unemployed or simply work hard a few months a year and then chill out or indulge in their passions), and we all like and respect each other.
There’s no valuation in what I’m saying, only my will to share my experience with you and give you some helpful ideas in case you might need them.
There will be some variables in what I tell you, things that you can adjust and change, but there are also things that you have to do the same way I did them, or the whole plan won’t work as well.
These variables are mainly about what you do with your free time after you spend these XYZ hours on making a living, or on studying if you’re younger.
I spend it on self-development, traveling, having a good time with people who are important to me, or trying to create new things (either business, books or music).
That’s my own choice and you don’t have to copy me. You may prefer to spend this time raising your kids, doing some charitable works or playing football.
Other than that, there are elements that are unnecessary if you want to live as I do (be free to live where you want, do what you want, when you want and with who you want . . . I’m not able to do so ALL the time, but almost – I’m working on it). It’s very important that you are VERY GOOD AT SOMETHING. Of course, there are people who look good, talk nicely, have good PR and are able to make money out of some things they do, but if there’s no real value they can give to people, it is short-lived. If you want to do it long-term and build something real, you have to be good at something. That, of course, can be problematic. As Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote, you need 10,000 hours to become very good at something. For some people, especially those who find it hard to concentrate (. . . they really need to meditate!) or are lazy, that might be a hard thing to do. Am I exceptionally good at anything? I don’t think so. I know a little bit about marketing, but in my jobs, I was never salesman of the year. I know a little bit about sound engineering, mixing and mastering, and I can play guitar, but I’m no Brian Eno, Slash or Trent Reznor. I’m not bad in languages and I can write, even though English is not my first language, but I never hoped for a Pulitzer Prize and I’m no Hemingway. I’m good at communicating with people, but not as good as many other famous therapists and couches. However, I am able to make a much better living than many of my friends who sacrificed themselves to only one skillset (e.g. playing guitar like a total pro or doing math better than a calculator), or those who have thriving careers in international corporations.
Long story short, instead of spending the proverbial 10,000 hours on mastering a certain skill, it can sometimes be better to build a unique skill set so that you can just be simply good (not VERY good) at a few different things that are rarely mastered by people in that particular configuration. That’s especially good for people who are into trying and learning new things. If this combination is attractive for certain group of people (certain niche), you can make a very good living at of it, and it can be much more interesting than spending 10,000 hours on making just one thing. I will write an entire new post about this topic.
The second thing that is really crucial is the ability to create good relationships and contacts with other people, especially people who are different than we are. The bad news – most people suck at communication and can never get what they want. Most people don’t even realize the reason they need to communicate, or say anything at all. They lack basic awareness. The good news is – as the Germans say, a one-eyed man is a king in the land of the blind; moreover, effective communication is a skill like any other and you can simply learn it, in order to get ahead even more.
I wrote an entire book about it and if you want, you can use it to learn about simple ’hacks,’ ideas and rules that will make your communication skills much better. You can also apply certain exercises and improve this skillset without having to meet with a communication skills trainer. Once you have it all mastered, it would also be a good idea to practice these skills with a group of people, face to face, either with a coach or in a community, depending on exactly what you might need.
Those are the two most important conditions that have to be met if you want to change your life. There are more things that you need, though.
You need intelligence. Both IQ and EQ, but emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important if you ask me. This is a lifestyle for smart people.
And again, some good news and some bad news.
The good news is that there is a 99.9% probability that you are smart enough to live the life of your dreams.
The bad news is that you are probably using your intelligence in an ineffective way, because you simply lack awareness. The problem is in your perception. Because there are not too many people practicing meditation and mindfulness on a daily basis, most of them are not even close to seeing reality as it really is. In their perception, they usually only notice the elements that meet their expectations, stereotypes and how it “should be.” It’s a very unfortunate and handicapped way to see things, because it makes you blind to many great opportunities and chances you would see otherwise. In these strange times we are living in, there are lots of such opportunities to catch, but everything constantly changes; there’s chaos, lots of dangers and turbulence. If you can only see what you want to see and perceive the world through the prism of your expectations, stereotypes and beliefs, you are blind to many of these events and great chances. Don’t worry though, I had exactly the same problem. It’s something to overcome.
Another thing that might be holding you back is your way of thinking. Most people think very stereotypically, using the prearranged schemes prepared for them by their parents and teachers, the media, and society in general. It is like riding a carriage on a forest road and all the wheels are deep in ruts. It’s not easy to change directions. As long as you are continuing to ride with all your wheels in these ruts, the chances of reinventing your life and experiencing something new and fresh are close to zero.
If you want to get ahead and have a better, more fulfilling life than most people, while continuing to be a good person, paying your taxes and not hurting or deceiving anyone, you have to find new ways, right? That’s all about the intelligence factor.
Another factor that comes into play is your need to settle down and stabilize. If you want to live life on your own terms, you will have to significantly diminish your need to settle down in relation to what’s popular in our society.
In our western society (Europe and America), we come mainly from peasantry. For peasants, the need to cling to a small piece of land was a matter of survival and I’m not questioning that . . . but times have changed. The strange thing is that nowadays, many people, especially young people, function as if the most important thing in life is “to stabilize my situation” and to “settle down.”
I sometimes speak to people who are in really poor situations. They often don’t have any job experience, any valuable or unique skills, they don’t have any ideas for a business, and they don’t have a good education or any contacts. Their market value is low and their contacts with the opposite sex are often not going too well. What they usually say is something along the lines of “for me, the most important thing is to find my own silent haven soon and to finally settle down,” or “I need a house to settle down in, I need to take out a loan.” I always say, “If you are in such a bad situation, what do you want to stabilize? You should be going about this the other way around. You need to destabilize your life and start changing it, because right now there’s nothing for you to stabilize and no reason for you to settle down.” Why would you want to fix a bad situation? It’s like trying to save a very bad and violent marriage by having a kid.
It is just as if most people, in their search for stabilization, chain themselves to a concrete block. “Now, I’m safe, no wind will blow me off!” Yeah, but what about when the flood comes?
Or, what happens if there is an opportunity that needs you to jump high and catch it?
I know many very frustrated people who, at some point in their lives decided to chain themselves so tightly to that heavy concrete block that at some point all the great possibilities, opportunities and perfect situations started to pass them by right in front of their faces; however, because of their earlier decisions, they simply couldn’t extend their arms.
So here’s some work for you to do. Carefully analyze your own need to stabilize and if it’s too big (especially if you’re young), do something to decrease it. You only want to stabilize what’s good enough to be stabilized, not the things that are shaky and unsatisfying. I will also write another article about this.
The last thing to watch for is your attitude toward enjoying the life. What are you doing to indulge yourself in the things you simply love doing? That might sound stupid and obvious, but paradoxically, in our western society possessed by consumerism, we also have a strange tendency to praise those who suffer (even if it’s because of their own stupidity), and to hate those who are successful and happy. Think now – are you looking at suffering as a virtue? How are you valuing the simple joys of life and how do you judge happy and successful people? I always want to make sure that I have enough pleasure in my life, and that the people around me, those I tend to spend my time with, have it, too. If you are into eastern philosophy, you surely know that Buddha doesn’t want you to starve yourself and indulge in suffering. There’s nothing great in suffering. When it comes to you, you have to learn your lesson and use it as a rebounder, but if it doesn’t, you must do everything to avoid it.
As strange as it sounds, you would be extremely surprised to find out how many people think it’s great to suffer and very bad to be successful, because suffering makes you honorable and noble and being successful makes you spoiled (yeah, if you’re stupid enough), and yada yada yada. Bullshit. If you don’t change this belief and at the same time achieve some kind of success (e.g. earn lots of money in a short period of time without having other areas of your life handled), it will only make you and the people around you suffer more. You have to enjoy this life and try to get as much pleasure and joy as possible, without hurting others or doing immoral things, and of course without breaking the law! Keep your head up and smile and listen to me because I’ve already been through this! The more fun you have in your life, the more joy you can give to others and the more valuable as a human being you become. Definitely much better than someone just constantly throwing bad emotions at people, suffering “because it’s meant to be like that” (life is not about accepting the unacceptable!), and draining other people from their good emotions. It is as simple as that. I will also expand on this in another article.
Now, take a moment to deeply think about what I wrote here, because without your honest reflection, this was only a waste of time.
This post will be continued and I will tell you more.
If you have any insights or questions, don’t hesitate to comment on this blog post! I will be happy to join you in a discussion!
See you next time, fellow life traveler!