Detaching from the Matrix…Small steps to big rewards
We are in a mess. We got this way because people forgot that the power brokers of the world treat life like a chess game, and we think of life like a daily or hourly experience.
The guy trying to swindle you on the side of the road in Las Vegas with his ball & cup trick is your government. While they are trying to tell you that up is down, right is left, etc. you should realize that the statistics that we have been hypnotized to focus on - particularly employment numbers, are relevant only to a bygone age and do nothing to help you live a rich & meaningful life today. This is the time you should break free of employment and become unconstrained.
There are times in life when we have to break free of habit. It might be that you need to lose some weight because it has become habit to eat the wrong food too much. Or the habit was to say No to going to the gym, and replace it with playing video games. Or the habit might be to just do the exact same thing, day after day, without actually making you feel like a better human being. You know that if you don’t break the habit, it could really hurt you long term.
I speak to a lot of people who have a job. Most of the time it is a job they hate. They lose themselves in their commitment to that job - the original intention of having one was pure. They needed money to pay the bills, feed their families, pay rent, etc. No one ever told them that making money and having a job are two entirely different things, yet society, their parents, college, etc. promoted to them that “Get a good job and work hard” was the mantra of the United States of America (you could apply this to any western country of course).
The thing is that those that followed that path are, for the most part, miserable. They don’t understand the premise of Why We work and therefore they are just meandering through life based on someone else’s game plan. Most of the time, the game plan is the employers and they are just a worker ant in a sea of employees - all designed to do whatever the company does to make the shareholders richer. That’s basically it. If they are working for a government department, then replace shareholders with making politicians more powerful, but ultimately it is the same thing. Someone else benefits while you give away your one and only life to them.
The average American worker gives more than 50% of their waking hours to their employer. And this is during the most creative and vibrant years of their lives. They rely on their work experience to dictate their life experience. Yet their families cry out for their participation - only to be told that the parent can’t attend the child’s dance recital because they are expected to work. Of the most memorable events of a families life - the ones that you get flooded with when you get those “Five years ago” photos from Google or Facebook, etc. sent to you, remind you of the holidays with the family - not a photo of you stuck in a cubicle somewhere miserable. The “highlights” of life are not found at work - yet we give the vast majority of our waking hours to our employers.
Sure, I’m preaching to the choir here. Everyone pretty much agrees that if they won the lottery tomorrow, they would quit their job, tell their boss to shove it, and start an endless vacation. But the statistics associated with that show us that the vast majority would blow the money and then return back to the same unfulfilled state - probably worse. Depression is the end result of this mess.
Why is it then that each month, the President touts the “great employment rate” numbers from the Department of Labor on how many people have succumbed to the mantra of being a wage slave? They celebrate creating jobs like it is some divine task. Yet those that have the very same jobs are (for the most part) miserable. Do they not want to celebrate creating wealth? I mean isn’t that the whole reason we are doing this? But if they were to tout those numbers, they would have to address the shrinking wealth of the middle class and the growing homeless numbers - as if a job is the answer to either.
It clearly isn’t. A job is only beneficial to those that don’t have them. The rich. They need human worker ants, so if their wealth or power is growing by swindling more people into the roles of employment, they win. I guess that is what is really being celebrated.
The one noticeable thing about America and the western world is creativity. Wealth has been created by seeing a problem and creating a solution. It is celebrated and THAT is justified. The fact that this world is full of so many problems means there are so many opportunities to take those skills and find the solutions.
The guy who creates a solution found themselves on a journey that is typically psychologically rewarding. It is VERY rewarding if they are in charge of that journey. The risk to them is that they misunderstood the problem and their solution doesn’t help. But for those that hone their craft of problem solving, it is less and less of an obstacle. Some are very good at this - we call them the “disruptors”. Guys like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, etc.
Do those guys complain about having a job? No. They don’t have one. They have a mission. A mission that gets them up in the morning with energy, happiness and excitement.
We all want that. We want that drive that makes us feel fulfilled. And something our families and friends are proud of us for doing. There is excitement in risk. This is what keeps people living longer, more engaged and far more interesting to talk to.
Yet that is exactly the polar opposite of what our society tells us that we should aspire to. Society loves to celebrate the solution provider & the risk taker. Hollywood glorifies it in film. But our government celebrates the polar opposite - here’s the new unemployment rate. Lower the better. It doesn’t count the entrepreneurs. It doesn’t count the risk takers. It doesn’t count those on a mission to find solutions in life. It doesn’t count the fulfilled people.
If you stumble upon something that really works, then an army of people pop up out of nowhere to extort it (and probably you). The more that it works, the more parasitic this process is. I remember working for a start-up in California in the early 1990s that stumbled upon a biotechnology solution. It was a bunch of guys in lab coats, some supply chain experts, clinical trial people and lawyers. Less than 200 of us back then. I mean that isn’t a raw startup in a garage, but for what we were doing it was a “family”. That company became Amgen - the world’s largest biotechnology corporation. I watched it go to 4,000 staff, then 20,000, then 40,000 over the years. I got out when it was about 4,000 because my work was done. I helped solve problems and now it was someone else’s mission.
But the main reason I got out was that Wall Street came in. When they did, a bunch of rich guys in suits started to tell us - the actual problem solvers, what to do, how to act, how to think and how to make them rich. It wasn’t about creating medical solutions that helped patient lives. It was how to make the stock price go up.
You know when that happens, you get out. Time to find another mission. Time to solve another problem. Sure, I kinda won the lottery with that but all of us back then didn’t do it for the money. We were on a mission to change the world. That’s what got us up in the morning with excitement.
If you are on a mission like that, you stay with it. Because when you leave that mission, you will not be happy. For most of us, those missions are rare and they happen in the minority of cases. But that just means you should be seeking them out. You should realize your true skills and apply them to something meaningful because the lack of meaning, the work slave position, won’t make you happy. It will pay your bills, etc. but it won’t make you happy.
When I see people falling into that trap, it typically comes with them spending their way into debt and despair. They have the W2 income and they go to the mall to find solace. They look for some quick fix that gives them the positive reaction that they don’t get in the workplace, only to find that they spend their future out for some “retail therapy” and yet after that quick sugar fix rush is over, they are now still miserable and in debt. The debt chains them to the job they hate, the unbearable commute, the boss who treats them like crap, etc. And they come home again to the family without any happy stories to share, but looking like they just did 10 rounds with Mike Tyson in a boxing ring.
Is that you? If it is, change the paradigm. Stop thinking that the way out of that mess is the other social lie called “retirement”. That you can hit the finish line of that mess and be happy. You won’t there either. Retirement is not the goal you should be seeking. You need to completely change the way you see this and change it today to something that you will be excited to do. Even if that means less money, or less security. Because as you discover your true strength, you are the security. You are the money. You are the problem solver.
Sounds good, right? I’d say if you are still reading this you want what I’m selling. Trust me, it won’t come with a price tag, so I’m not some clickbait “get rich quick” scheme here. But I will tell you the answer. Be patient and read on.
The answer is simple. I call this “Financial Sustainability”. It is really easy. You first must know your cost of living. We call that the “Burn rate”. This is a cashflow thing. What you need to generate in income each month to meet your physiological and life needs. Food, shelter, clothing, energy, healthcare, communications, education and other utilitarian costs. Once you know that number, you are now in charge.
Your mission is to make that money without having to devote your only finite resource you have - your time. Because once you have some guarantee of that money being there each month, you are free. Free to think, free to pursue your ventures, etc. Most people who are retired chose to exit work with some pension or social security or interest from their savings. Of course that is less likely to be there in the future because of fiscal mismanagement by the very same elected officials that we put in those roles who are more like the shareholders than those that understand what life is like on the main street. But what if there is a better way of doing this?
Once you know your burn rate, then you now need to work out how to make that money. I’m talking of the PROFIT that you need to make in your life to meet your burn rate. Most importantly understand that it is not the money you make in life that is important. It is the money you keep. If you have some six figure salary and think you are all that, once you deduct the true costs of making it, taxes, and your lifestyle inflation that you embraced to impress people you don’t nor would ever care to know, then you probably start to see that what you are keeping is less than what most lower income earners keep and they have less stress and are less of a sell-out to themselves. But just remember, sustainability is only about making the income needed to meet your burn rate each month.
If you live frugally, your burn rate is low. That makes this whole thing so much simpler to achieve. If the burn rate is low, you an earn money from things like rental real estate, dividend stocks, vending machines, using nature to give you free energy, free food, etc. You can make the money with crypto-currency generating ventures, you can make it with a website, selling products with arbitrage, etc. As long as the various income producing means don’t require you to invest a large amount of your time once they are “online”, then you are good here. You get your burn rate covered, and you get your life back.
If that is the focus, then you are now unconstrained. Unconstrained to pursue that ultimate goal to solve problems and make you and your family happy & proud.
But what does it take to do this? You have to combat fear. You have to put the doubts that you can do this aside. Because at some point when you quit your job, you will get all your time back. And if the money side of things is taken care of, you are good. Who cares if the economy is up or down? I mean the government statistics that they are trying to sell you are wrong in the first place. They support a bygone age of dysfunctional society. If there is less money out there slushing around because people have less income, maybe they will learn that if they kept their burn rate low, they could get by too. And if we all celebrate that, and look for ways to generate our income sustainably, would we not be happier as a society?
You can start with your smart income ventures while you have a job. As long as you measure how much money you make from them, then once you hit that 100% of your burn rate, and safely get above that for some consistent period of time, you now have permission to get your life back. It is then up to you to embrace the fear of detaching from regular society to pursue what you really should have been doing in the first place - being the best YOU that you can be and making yourself proud.