When I get some free time, I like to browse the websites of other personal finance bloggers just to see what they’ve got to say. Last week, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a guy who goes by the internet handle “Financial Freedom,” claims he’s got nearly $3 million in net worth at age 37, and wants to have $100 million in net worth by the time he turns 50. What’s more, he says that he and his wife have normal jobs (ie: they don’t work on Wall Street and they aren’t doctors or lawyers).
It’s not unusual to run into folks on the internet who tend to exaggerate the details about their life, but I believe this guy is legitimate. Why? In a recent post, he said this:
“…some would even argue, “Do what you love and the money will come”. I am not so sure this often cited mantra is the formula for success. Successful people are passionate about what they are doing because they are passionate about being successful. They would have been passionate about anything they found themselves doing because they have a passion for success. For the best start to successfully building wealth find a good paying job in a high demand industry even if it is not where your ‘passion’ lies. With an early successful start, you can leverage your success and explore those areas of ‘passion’ that might not at first provide the paycheck substantial enough to build a substantial base of wealth.”
This was part of the first item on his article titled “10 Ideas That Can Make You a Millionaire,” and it is a philosophy that I believe wholeheartedly is the cornerstone of financial success. So much so that I believe anyone who understands this fundamental concept is destined for great things, no matter what path they choose.
Be Passionate about Success
I have loved every job I’ve ever had. For the longest time, I always thought I had just gotten lucky and picked the right jobs. It wasn’t until I started working for a call center during college that I realized that I just have a different paradigm than most of my peers. I had worked my way up to a Team Lead position and then eventually a Supervisor position in the four years I spent with the company, and suddenly it was pointed out to me that I was part of a group of fewer than 10 employees who had been with the company since it opened. I looked around and -sure enough- of the 120+ original employees, fewer than 10 were still there just four years later.
In hindsight, it was a cruddy job that didn’t fit my personality. I hate talking on the phone, and I hate calling people I don’t know and bugging them. While I was there, though, I honestly didn’t see those things. I loved the job, in fact. Not because it was a good job, but because I was good at it and I was being rewarded for being good at it. The money I was making was good enough that I was able to buy a condo with my fiancee, keep all the bills paid, and through diligent budgeting we were able to save a good amount of money on top of it all.
While this all may come off sounding like braggadocio, my point is that I get satisfaction not from the job itself, but rather from whether or not that job allows me to make progress on my ultimate goal of being financially independent. My experience is a testament to the previously-mentioned blogger’s quote being accurate.
I realize that I’m treading on thin ice here, and some people aren’t going to like this, but what I’m talking about is a paradigm shift. Generally speaking, we are taught to “follow our dreams,” and you’re told to find a career that suits your interests and aspirations. If you have a fascination with the stars, you should be an astronomer. If you like to sing and dance, you should go into theater. If you have an affinity for philosophy, you should go to school for philosophy. This is what we’re taught. In fact, it has become taboo to tell a teenager that they should go to school to study a practical discipline instead of one that fits their dreams.
Every person is different, but if you are here reading this article, it is likely because you want to be successful. You don’t want to be part of the rat race forever. You might even want to be part of what we lovingly refer to these days as “the one percent.” I can tell you with reasonable certainty that if your core focus is to find a job you love, you’ll never get there.
That’s where the paradigm shift comes in. Stop looking for the job you love. Get into a career or an industry where you know you can be successful, and let your passion for success drive you. This is exactly what professionally-successful parents are teaching their kids. It isn’t as heartwarming as “follow your dreams,” but it presents a profound understanding about how the world works.
What about your dreams?
As the blogger whose quote I included at the top of this article said: you can use your success as leverage to explore your dreams and passions. I encourage you to do that. Make a bucket list, and spend your life marking things off of it. You’ll find out that having success in your professional life will allow you to mark items off your list a lot quicker. This is one thing I’ve learned from the mentors I’ve had at my current company – they’re able to do things in their spare time that I just cannot afford to do. And these are generally finance professionals – there’s no five-year-old in the world who aspires to be an accountant or a financial analyst. They are leveraging their success to allow them to follow their dreams, rather than following their dreams as a vehicle to achieve success.
How to get started? Mentors!
Altering your paradigm is a challenge all by itself, but then you have to act on it. Find a successful person in your company or in your industry and take them out for coffee or lunch, and share with them your passion to be successful. Tell them you sought them out because they represent the type of success that you’re aspiring towards, and that you’re looking for a mentor.
You will be amazed at how receptive veteran professionals can sometimes be when approached by a young professional (with the right attitude) who wants their advice on how to achieve success. I have three very active mentors at my company, and we are always mutually excited to meet and have coffee about once each quarter. I update them each on how my career is going, the struggles I’m experiencing, and I listen to what they have to say. There is nothing more valuable than this… nothing. Surrounding yourself with successful people whom you have respect and admiration for is the best way to get yourself on track to focus on success.
The rule of thumb is this: Rather than spending all your efforts trying to find a job that is enjoyable, create enjoyment in your job by spending all your efforts on being successful.
What do you think? Tell me about it in the comments.
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