I was re-reading one of my favorite books, Think And Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, when something incredible dawned on me.
Napoleon Hill doesn’t really talk about money. Then I looked at other wealth creation books of the same ilk – one after the other – and came to the same conclusion.
When you think of “wealth”, what comes to mind? Did you think of a private jet? How about a beautiful home on a tropical island? For some, it may be a mountain ranch with all the time in the world to ride horses and enjoy the sunset. For most, it’s probably doing whatever you want, whenever you want. But it probably wasn’t physical cash or a bank account with a few more digits.
Money is only valuable because we collectively agree that it is. The actual paper on which money is printed is near-worthless. If someone says they want a lot of money, what he or she really wants is the stuff money can be traded for: that ranch, a luxury car, a private plane, and the freedom of time to enjoy life.
If anything, money is the measure of your true goals. If you can put a dollar amount on the things you want, you can connect to the number on an emotional level. Wanting to make “a lot” of money is an uninspiring goal. Compelling, emotional reasons of why you want the money can lead to you to generate both financial prosperity and happiness. Money is just a number if you don’t have plans for it.
Our entire lives, we’ve been conditioned to think that money is the end goal. We should slave away for it, work our fingers to the bone for a meager amount, and hoard it. We treat our money as scarce and our time as limitless, because most of us trade away our time (which we can never get back) for a commodity of exchange that has no value unless it’s being traded. Think of that for a moment.
Have you ever driven ten minutes to get gas that’s ten cents cheaper?
You get ten gallons and save a dollar. That’s equivalent to six dollars per hour. If someone were to call you and offer you a job for six dollars per hour, would you take it?
Money is like water. Think of a single drop – minuscule, powerless. A single drop might be a dollar or two around your house. What can you get for a dollar? Not much. Yet, take those drops and add them together. Sooner or later, you will have a flow (an income stream) strong enough to carve canyons and shape your life. Even small amounts of money put to use in the right manner can be deceivingly powerful.
The bulk of the population is told “go to school, learn a skill, and get a job” and so on. These people deceive themselves into believing that they are earning money. “Of course I earn money! I go to work every day!” you might exclaim. That’s not earning money; that’s perilously grinding out a living. Trading your most precious resource for something you’ll hoard anyway.
If you get a good education (whatever that is) and get a good job, you’ll be rewarded with raises and promotions and job security. There’s no such thing as “job security” – security comes from within. If you truly believe there’s security in a job, you will be completely devastated if you lose it. Your belief system, utterly shattered, will have failed you and you will have lost everything.
Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t get a job. All of us are employed in some fashion. The right jobs are wonderful and if you truly enjoy what you do, the money is an added bonus. Not the goal. Some people make working for others to be this big awful thing that you just have to do in order to squeeze out a living and keep the lights out. What misery! Your goal shouldn’t be to keep the lights on. I understand that your basic necessities have to be met, but if your goal is simply to keep the lights on or to make money then, friend, your goal is too small.
The truth is, finding the right job is incredibly difficult, and it might take you some time to find out that you aren’t even meant to be at a job. Am I sounding a little too much like a “rah-rah” self-help book? I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. Wealth isn’t about generating money. It’s living your life the way that you want to live it.
For most of us, we are incredibly restricted in our lives. Continuing with the job example, you can’t talk to your boss a certain way. You can’t wear what you want – most jobs have a uniform, or at least a dress code. You can’t be creative when you want. Even if you are creative at work, most offices mandate that anything done on equipment owned by the company is intellectual property owned by the company.
Some people quit their jobs to follow their passions, whatever they may be, and make very little money.
Others follow the money all through the week and go fishing on the weekends. Neither person is happy all the time, but they’ve found pockets of happiness in doing the things they want to do.
Money isn’t the goal. Rather, it’s a tool to achieve our real goals, which involve living our lives according to our dreams and our own design. Having a bunch of money isn’t wealth. It’s a consequence of achieving real wealth. Your finances, employment status, or time constraints don’t control your path to real wealth. As long as you have the correct beliefs in place about what you can have, do, and become, you will remain focused on your ultimate goals.
Here’s the crazy part: you are already living your life the way you want to live it. You are (at least partially) responsible for your results. Sometimes we struggle so much and accept whatever comes our way, that we lose sight of the fact that we have the power to choose our own life. So when someone tells me that his ultimate goal is to be able to choose what he does, when he does it, where he does it, and whom he does it with, it sounds absurd. He could do that now.
There is no reason to settle for something that makes you unhappy. That doesn’t mean that every second of your life is going to be unadulterated bliss. Not a chance. But it does mean that if you don’t like your current situation, you have the power to change it. When this truly “clicks” for you, it will be incredible.
As humans, we are meant to strive for more and reach for greatness. Yet, people will desperately try to convince you that striving for more comes from a deep-rooted unhappiness. They’ll tell you to be grateful or to be happy with what you have. They want you to believe that if you aren’t happy with your current circumstances or if you want more out of life, there’s something wrong with you. This type of thinking is incredibly dangerous because it persuades people to deny their desires and dreams. “Stay down here with me and the rest of us who’ve given up,” whispers the rest of society.
Don’t do it. Denying your true ambition is the most difficult road anyone could travel. If you think you’re struggling now, just wait until the mental anguish of smothering your dreams hits you like a head-on collision. When it does, it will likely be too late.
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