One hour twice a day for five days a week for fifty weeks per year. That’s 500 hours or over 20 straight days worth of my time a year.
Safe to say I spend a lot of time driving to work right now. And this is bumper to bumper driving in rush hour. I used to get frustrated. I honked my horn occasionally. I even gave the finger to a select few idiot drivers. I wanted to get to work as fast as possible in the morning and get home as fast as possible in the evening. I viewed driving as a waste of time. This went on for the first month of commuting to work.
But then I made one simple change. I started to listen to podcasts instead of music. Now I view my time in the car as education. I am learning for two additional hours per day, not wasting two hours per day. I am in less of a hurry.
I was listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast the other morning. Tim invites world class performers onto his podcast, and tries to deconstruct the habits and routines that allow them to operate at a high level. The guest he was interviewing was Jocko Willink. Jocko spent 20 years in the US Navy Seals before retiring in 2010 and starting a management consulting business.
Jocko wakes up at 4:30am every morning. He sets three alarms so there is never an excuse for not getting up. “The moment that the alarm goes off is the first test; it sets the tone for the rest of the day. If you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win — you pass the test. If you are mentally weak for that moment and you let that weakness keep you in bed, you fail. Though it seems small, that weakness translates to more significant decisions. But if you exercise discipline, that too translates to more substantial elements of your life …”
Discipline = Freedom. This is a powerful line.
Jocko’s experiences are from the military. But damn. His thoughts on discipline are a great way of thinking about personal finance. Having even a bit of discipline and learning about the world of money gives you more options and freedom in life. This is what Quest for Billions is all about.
The idea of discipline leading to freedom applies to many other areas in life as well. Two related examples are being physically fit and eating healthy. Think about how being overweight or obese limits freedom. Maybe you are unable to go for a hike with your significant other. Maybe you can not run around with your kids. Maybe you can not join that sports league with your friends.
In “The Total Money Makeover”, Dave Ramsey said: “when you are physically fat, it is hard to be in denial because there is an ever widening belt line. When you are financially fat, however, you can fake it and look good for a while.” Despite how hard you may suck in, people are still going to notice that belly. However, if you buy a luxury car beyond your means on credit, you come across as more successful to others, but in reality you just became more financially fat.
Yes, change is painful. But very small changes can lead to huge improvements in the long term. The key is just getting started.
The answers are simple
Once you start losing weight, people will ask you how you did it. Sure you might have started some fancy diet or bought some complex exercise equipment. But in some way, shape or form you started to eat healthier and/or exercise more. There is no secret formula.
The same goes for your finances. There is no secret formula to becoming wealthy. You need to spend less than you earn, and invest the rest (let compound interest works its magic over time).
I bet if you look up a top 10 list for New Year’s resolutions, eating healthier, exercise more, and saving more and spending less would show up on every single list. People know that they should be doing these things. BUT THEY DON’T.
Simple in theory, difficult in practice
Why is it so difficult to see results? Because it is convenient to take the easy road in life. Spending the night watching Netflix instead of going to the gym. Picking up chicken wings and fries for dinner instead of cooking at home. Splurging on a purchase using your credit card.
James Altucher, in his book “The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth“, said: “Remember this phrase: “Get Paid, Get Laid, Lose Weight”—because those are the three things people will pay for.” And it’s true. We want a quick fix.
“Get rich overnight” or “Lose 50 pounds fast.” These sound a lot more appealing than “Steps to become wealthy over time” or “How to lose ten pounds this year.” As a result of wanting immediate results, we set goals that are too ambitious. If you have never been to a gym before, saying you will go four times a week in the new year is setting yourself up for failure. Likewise, saying you will save 50% of your income this year is destined to fail if you have never saved before. Start small. Try to commit to going to the gym once per week. Try to save 5% or even 1% of your income this year and slowly increase that number. Just start!
People will not take action after reading a post about how eating healthy, regular exercise or saving more than your spend are good for you. However, one blog post can be the spark to further educating yourself. It might start with a blog post, then lead to books, then to documentaries, then to podcasts, then to workshops, etc. Education is a powerful way shape behaviour.
My Quest for Billions and learning about the world of money started when I read The Wealthy Barber. I did not become knowledgeable on the subject or make changes based on the one book. However, reading this book made me passionate to learn more. I started to read more books, listen to podcasts, read personal finance blogs, and eventually started this website! The more I learn about money, the more action I want to take.
“The temptation to take the easy road is always there. It is as easy as staying in bed in the morning and sleeping in,” Jocko writes. “But discipline is paramount to ultimate success.” If you can have control over your mind, you can be wealthy and healthy. But start small. Simply seeing progress can do wonders for your confidence.