The four letter that is keeping you from Living your Dream
There are many challenges to building wealth, all surmountable, but the most crippling,
and the hardest for people to overcome is Fear. Perhaps because it’s faceless, and the rational mind is a Jedi Master at offering up reasonable reasons why you can’t be wealthy.
To showcase this, I first need to highlight the spectrum of wealth. At any given time you are in one of three stages. I define these stages as: Debt Slayer, The American Dream, and Living the Dream.
Debt Slayer doesn’t need much explanation. The primary desire is to be debt-free. This is often the only financial wish. The debt is so burdensome, it seems impossible to think of much else. The four-letter word that keeps people here isn’t Fear, it’s F**k It. Shorthand for “I’m going to do what I want to do, because it’s not going to make a difference anyway.” ( …”because I don’t make enough money to get ahead.)
The American Dream gets you pretty much everything you need to live a very comfortable life. Master this stage and you are on the path to fully funding your retirement account, owning a casa, and easily paying for your 2.2 children’s college education.
The last stage is Living the Dream. This is where you are literally living your dream life. Doing work you love. Traveling. Wearing a jewelry collection that rivals Elizabeth Taylor’s! The manifestation of this will look different from person to person, but across the board, money is no longer a limiting factor. If you want to do something, you do it.
Now, building wealth is not something you can understand from the sidelines; it’s only in the activity of it that you feel the bone-crushing Fear. I will make an attempt to showcase how dream-destroying this Fear is, but it might look trite, or that our story’s Heroine “gave up” too easily. That is the trickiest thing about building a fortune. The action steps and thought processes that get you there look incredibly simple. It’s only in the application of them that the true foe appears.
Meet our Heroine, Sabrina*. When she started Millionaire Boot camp™ she had $8,000 in credit card debt, $15,000 in student loan debt, and was earning $80,000. Her only financial goal was to Slay the Debt. I had seen her a couple of years earlier, and her financial position was exactly the same. The only exception was that she was now earning $30,000 more!
This massive jump in pay made it a easier for her to concede that she did make enough money to get ahead. (This is really the hardest part for people to realize.)
The crux of her problem was that she was thinking either/or. She loves to travel, and she thought that to get out of debt she would have to give up traveling. The thinking is what caused the debt. (If you are curious to know how, let me know in the comments and I will explain.)
I encouraged her to think about how she could get both.* Within one year she was debt-free and had an emergency fund. Within two years she crushed her student loan, and her 401(k) had risen by $25,000, increasing her net worth by over $50,000 in two years. While traveling to places like London, Paris, Hawaii, and exotic diving locations and taking an average of four trips a year.
Sounds fabulous, right? Well, in every story there comes a time when the Heroine seems to face a seemingly unbeatable challenge. Sabrina is no exception. She slew the debt, and is on the path to achieving the American Dream, but dreams grow to the edge of imagination.
After all, Sabrina is only 28! I encouraged her to dream bigger. She decided her Living the Dream dream would be to travel for six months.
So, we started building the skills needed to make this dream a reality. This type of dream requires cash. In order to make this a reality, you have to think differently about how you earn money and create an income stream that is not tied to Time.
So, I started showing her how to do that. I call it making a lemonade stand. (I will showcase one in a future post.) It’s different from a traditional lemonade stand in the fact that you don’t actually “man your stand,” but it’s similar in the fact that it’s low-tech and it produces cash.
You don’t have to put a lot of money at risk, but what you have to be willing to do is fail, and put yourself out there. For Sabrina, a straight A student type, the idea of failure was so overwhelming that within two months, she “modified” her goal to “taking one more trip a year.”
No extended time off. No deep immersion. Fear extinguished these life-changing possibilities. It’s heart-breaking to watch Fear stop someone, so I set out on a quest to find a way to manage it. That’s when I stumbled across Alex Honnold.
Alex Honnold is an inspiring free solo climber. (Free soloing means he climbs with no rope!) Tim Ferris interviewed him and asked him how he manages fear and risk. I am adlibbing, but Alex said something like this.
There are two types of fear. One that can save your life. And one that is holding you back. The trick is to know the difference. When I’m climbing, some positions naturally feel “less secure,” increasing my level of fear. So, before I climb without a rope, I memorize the positions then visualize how they will feel. That way when I’m climbing and fear appears, I can differentiate what kind it is, the life-saving kind or the kind that is keeping me from my destiny.”**
Here’s his video. Watch it. The Fear is visceral. This is how it feels to build a fortune. Knowing that from the onset and knowing it’s part of the process allows you to separate life-saving Fear from Fear that’s holding you back.
*I am oversimplifying,
** This is not a direct quote. This is my summation of his thoughts on fear.