Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ Mark Twain
On 1st January 2011, when most people around me were making resolutions to lose weight and eat better, I was making up my mind to do something else.
I finally did it on 4th January. I told my boss – “I quit!”
Quitting my job was a tough decision to come by, as I was surrounded by mixed views from all around, including from within me.
“You’re sure you want to quit your job?” asked my concerned father.
“How could you quit when we have spent so many years training you?” asked my boss, forgetting that I had also spent so many years serving the company.
“Hey, please don’t quit!” said my colleagues.
“Yes, you can do it!” said my wife.
“Yes, Papa will be at home to play with me at all times!” exclaimed my seven year old daughter.
Now, here is how my mind was playing tricks with me.
“Vishal, are you mad to quit such a well-paying job?” my mind asked me. “You have the responsibility of a family! Change your decision right away!”
“If not now, never!” my heart told me. “You’ve worked long enough for someone else. It’s now a time to work for yourself, and to live your dreams.”
As I look back to that day three years back, I thank God I went with my heart that pushed me to give my dreams a chance.
Well, it’s wasn’t a decision led 100% by my heart, because my mind had helped me a lot in preparing for the day I quit my job.
But I must tell you one very important thing – quitting my job was liberating. And it was scary. Very scary!
Going Back in Time
Well, to be honest, the life I am living now is not something I had dreamt up for a lifetime. I never knew that I wanted to be a full-time blogger and investment educator until the end of 2010 when I started outlining my plan to get on my own.
I knew I had a passion for writing, and I knew I had to get into helping people learn the art of sensible investing (the latter led by the frustration of seeing people around me losing their life savings on bad investment decisions).
So I realized that I might actually be able to combine both these and create something worthwhile out of that – something that would not only liberate me emotionally, but also financially.
Well, have I really done well financially ever since? See these charts…
Note: Assuming a base annual income of Rs 100 in 2005
Note: Assuming a base saving of Rs 100 in Jan. 2005
Quitting my job and charting my own course has surely given me a better ROI than any of my stock investment.
Excluding my time and effort (intangible assets), every Rs 1 of tangible investment into my business has earned me Rs 30 in return, which has not only helped me run my house, keep my wife happy :-), and fund my passion for travel, but also help me add to my savings.
In all, after I quit my job, my income is up 2.5x (between 2010 and 2013), saving is up 5x (between Jan-2011 and now), and happiness is up 20x (at least). 🙂
It’s All about Being Unreasonable
Buddha said, “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”
I believe this also holds true for the road to financial freedom – the only two mistakes you can make is not going all the way, and not starting.
Most people I have met over the years have been stuck with the latter – not starting on their road to financial freedom.
The reason for this is simple. When you really want to walk on the road to financial freedom, you need to first lay out the road yourself. And for laying out that road, you must be willing to stand up, stand out, and make a ruckus.
Now, while we all have the potential to do great work in life, it requires us to leave our comfort zones. But sadly, we have been brought up in a culture where we constantly remind one another about the dangers of standing up, standing out, and making a ruckus.
And thus, the road to financial freedom remains elusive to most of us.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him. The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself. All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
For decades, breaking the four-minute mile was believed to be scientifically impossible. Right up until Roger Banister did it in 1954. Then you know what happened? 16 more people ran sub four-minutes in the three years to follow.
We’ve been largely conditioned that it’s not possible to build a career around passion. So many people hate their jobs and many of us have decided to accept that as a fact of life.
I did too, right up until I started reading and learning about people who showed me another way.
So here’s the trick – If you want to love your work and live off your passion, the most important thing you need is to surround yourself with people already doing it.
You must reverse the brainwashing. Spend time around enough people living squarely in their dreams, and living off passion not only becomes possible, it becomes probable. That shift in psychology will change your world.
Consider this statistic – A recent study reported that as many as 80% of the people in the workforce globally don’t enjoy their job. And nearly 75% don’t know their true passion.
Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so.
If you can begin building an income around the things that excite you, your work will no longer be something you hate. It will be something you can’t get enough of. It’s only then that, like Warren Buffett, you would tap dance to work every day.
As Confucius wrote, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
How I Did It?
First, let me make one thing absolutely clear.
Most people who have achieved financial freedom will tell you that they took some gamble that paid off big for them.
I don’t recommend taking any such risk. Being a disciple of Buffett and Munger, I recommend taking a calculated risk – one that is backed by an adequate margin of safety.
Life is all about playing the odds in your favour. Figure out the ROI in every risk and compare it to the possibility of failure. If you find out an investment has a 50% chance to fail but can make 3x the original investment, it’s a risk but calculations show it’s worthwhile.
The same holds true for creating a small online business that combines your passion with your abilities.
Here’s broadly how I have charted my path to financial freedom while incorporating adequate margin of safety at each step…
- After much thought, I identified my passion in life – writing to help people learn how to make sensible decisions with their money.
- I assessed whether this was a skill people would pay for (the answer was “yes”).
- I asked whether I wanted to have a plan-B (the answer was “no”, because I realized that any plan-B would not let me focus on plan-A).
- I developed the right skills required to succeed in my plans – learning writing, basic technology, and the art of persuasion – while working extra time before and after my job timings.
- I gradually built up my savings to repay the only financial liability I had – my home loan (margin of safety, you see).
- My practice of minimalism – which my wife supported whole-heartedly – helped me rebuild savings after paying off the loan.
- I quit my job after I closed my home loan and had also built up savings to meet my basic needs of around 2-3 years in case I failed to earn any income from my business (again, margin of safety).
- I launched myself!
- I gradually built up my small business – working all alone and painstakingly at it (I had no plan-B to turn back to).
- My tribe – you – found me and I got lucky.
Money, as I have realized has never been the driving factor for me. It comes, as I have experienced, if you have a simple, honest idea and take it seriously.
In all, things have worked out pretty fine for me…and I thank my stars and my family – and especially my wife – for standing by my side through thick and thin.
Now, this should be obvious, but I’ll stress it here – what has worked for me may not necessarily work for any other human being on this planet.
But, as I just said, if you have a simple idea and you take it seriously, you can definitely chart your road to financial freedom at full throttle.
Now, If You Have the Desire…
You see, you don’t have to have it all together when you start on your journey to turn your passion into paycheque.
You start from where you are, and – this point is critical – you get a few things right.
The fear of failing rarely goes away forever, but you have to find a way to separate it from your ability to make progress. You create the right product or service. You find a market of people, even a small one, which wants to pay for it.
I always tell people who are beginning a creative career to go back and look at the early work of people they admire. Instead of getting intimidated by their success, they should go back to the beginning – see where they started, and see how it all began.
When you do that, you’ll be able to see the progress along the way, most likely including a few mistakes.
In my case, the compass points are my desire for “independence” and “gratitude”. Much of what I do now has been built on the idea of being “self-employed for life” and answering to no one.
In Napoleon Hill’s amazing book “Think and Grow Rich”, he shares a story of Edwin Barnes – a man who desired to become a business associate of Thomas Edison.
According to Hill, “Barnes desire was not a hope! It was not a wish! It was a keen, pulsating DESIRE, which transcended everything else. It was DEFINITE.”
Barnes described his desire as such…
There is but ONE thing in this world that I am determined to have, and that is a business association with Thomas A. Edison. I will burn all bridges behind me, and stake my ENTIRE FUTURE on my ability to get what I want.
Now, here is something I would like to offer you.
If you have the desire to stake your future on your ability to get what you want, I will help you chart a roadmap for laying out that road – creating a small online business – which would connect to your road to financial freedom.
This will be through my special 3-month course – Passion to Paycheque – that forms part of my one-year course – The Safal Niveshak Mastermind (which also includes a comprehensive course in Value Investing).
The Passion to Paycheque course would revolve around answering big questions like…
- How to identify your passion in life?
- What steps to take to make money from your passion?
- What key steps to take before launching your small online business?
- How to create your platform – a simple, beautiful website – to run your business? (Web is the single most useful online tool for developing and monetizing a passion…and it’s free).
- How to create compelling content to engage your website visitors?
- How to convert your website visitors into paying customers?
- What mistakes you must avoid in your road to creative freedom?
- How to go from fear to freedom, one step at a time
- What if you fail?
In short, Passion to Paycheque is a course where I will guide you to discover your passion, so that you can transform your career, and reconstruct your life, income and happiness the way you want to live it.
So, if you willing to take up the challenge to really transform your life, and learn how to convert your passion to paycheque via a small online business, all you must do is…
(Admission Closes on 16th Feb. 2014)
It’s sometimes scary being self-employed. I am my own boss, and I can do whatever I want. Failure and success are dependent completely on me.
Scary, yes…but amazingly liberating!
Plus, if done right, you get to multiply your income, savings, and happiness.
To quote the noted French poet and novelist Anatole France – “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
Here’s to your financial freedom!