Last fall, I quit my job. As nice as it was to have a steady paycheck and the prestige of being known as a “portfolio analyst”, there was one key component that was missing from the job: I wasn't happy doing it.
Around the time I quit, I wrote a post here at Get Rich Slowly called “Budgeting for a Lifestyle Change”. The post recounted a few details of my story, and gave some pretty basic advice about how to financially prepare for a big change — in my case, this was a move to Thailand to do some freelance work and start my own business.
The response to that post was all over the map. Some loved the idea; some thought I was nothing more than a selfish twenty-something; still others thought I'd be back in a “real job” within months.
After re-reading and reflecting upon that post nearly eight months later, what I've come to realize is that much of what people said was true. I was selfish in the sense that I was going to do whatever I had to in order to make myself happy. I had a difficult time working hard for something I didn't believe in, and I set out to change that. Basically, I wanted something better.
That's about where the correct assumptions about me end.
Throughout my experience of living in Thailand and working on my own endeavors, I learned a very important lesson:
It isn't the money, the job, or one's personal situation that keeps people from living a more exciting life. It's the fear of making a change.
Now, I'm not talking about racking up thousands of dollars in consumer debt, or buying fancy cars and houses. I'm talking about something more valuable than that: having time. The only pre-requisite to living like a millionaire is being able to overcome your fear of uncertainty.
When I first moved to Thailand, I made very little money but I lived like a king. Some will argue that it's the favorable exchange rates that made that kind of living possible. While that helped, it wasn't the primary reason I was living the high life. The difference was: I had time. Starting my own lifestyle business let me set my own hours, work on my schedule, and be solely responsible for my life.
Taking this path was scary — but it wasn't as scary as the thought of remaining for a decade in a situation that was making me unhappy.
Creating a lifestyle business was one of the best decisions I could have made in order to bring about the change I was looking for. This was a core component in my ability to free up time and live like a millionaire.
If this type of business sounds intriguing to you, there are a few things you need to realize that will make it much easier to start one yourself:
- Working for yourself doesn't necessarily mean working for yourself. While I have a variety of personal businesses online where I'm the only one involved, I also have a couple of jobs. I get a monthly paycheck to do web services and work as an affiliate manager for a well-known blogger. Neither of these require me to be anywhere at any specific time, and most deadlines are of my own making. I still have the freedom of my time, yet the stability of a paycheck.
- You don't need a million dollar idea — you just have to be able to improve upon one that's already out there. Much of the work I do puts a simple spin on utilizing a workforce in the Philippines. The people I work with are awesome, and by being willing to take a risk on work in the Philippines, we can get an entire web-development team rather than just one web designer back in the States. Our competitors don't have nearly the capabilities we do, allowing our business to thrive.
- The only thing in the world people are afraid of is uncertainty. That's why more people don't pursue businesses doing stuff they really love — or at the very least something that will enable them the time to do more stuff that they love. They're more concerned with the negative aspects of uncertainty, rather than the positive. Get over that, and you're well on your way to success!
I realize that many of the people reading this will probably have a lot of arguments against what I've said:
- “What about retirement?” I'm still putting money away each month.
- “I can't do this because of my family” Yes you can.
- “I have too much debt to take a risk” So did J.D.
I understand that this kind of business and lifestyle isn't the route for everyone, For many, cutting back on expenses and bootstrapping to start a business may seem unrealistic. However, if you aren't entirely happy in your current situation, putting some thought into what would make you happy is far from a waste of time.
You might be surprised at how little money it takes in order to make be truly happy.
I probably work more hours each week than most people I know. What makes it worth it is that I'm steadily growing my income, doing stuff I love — and can golf on a Tuesday morning if I need a break.
Do you feel as if you're living like a millionaire?