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The four phases of building an enjoyable financial life

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by Paul Kindzia in Happiness, Health, Personal Finance
September 7, 2021
  • Have you ever felt stuck in your job?
  • Have you ever felt like you just weren’t making enough money to make your ends meet?
  • Have you ever dreamed about having an easier financial life?
  • Have you ever thought about starting your own business?

If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, you aren’t alone.  Our world is changing and changing fast.  There are now 7.5 billion people living on this earth and each of them want more resources, more consumer goods, more services, and an easier life.

And wouldn’t a little more money help make your life a bit more easy and enjoyable?

It’s not uncommon for many people to be incredibly frustrated with their jobs.  Corporations are forced to produce more outputs with less inputs.  Human labor is often being replaced by technology like software or robots.  If you are working for an organization large or small, you probably are experiencing some of the frustrations of being a cog in a wheel, being forced to produce more, and in return being given less.

And then there is your boss…like nails being dragged along a chalkboard…

Many people start dreaming up ways to start a business.  Often they follow some common wisdom like, “Go big or go home.”  Or they try to imagine inventing something unique, brand new, or state-of the art.  Or they are told, “Follow your passions.  Do what you love.”

None of those are bad pieces of advice.  It would be great to change the world or to do what you love where every day you can skip to work and where work feels like play.

But sometimes those ideas (dreams) can get in the way of good solid progression along the journey of life.  Most people want to go from one extreme to the other in one big swoop.  They want to progress with the snap of the fingers where they go from employment misery to hitting the employment lottery.  They want to instantly arrive at a place where the money is easy and the work feels like play.  Those pursuits are often the biggest distractions and obstacles of progress itself.  When they can’t figure out that perfect grand master plan, they get stuck, frustrated, do nothing, and make no progress at all.  Alas, time slips by them.  They get left behind.

When I work with clients on “financial life planning,” I map out the “phases” that I’ve seen most successful people proceed through.  These are segments or seasons of your career.  Think of these steps or segments as the following;

  1. Phase I – You just need to figure out how to generate consistent income to meet your minimum level of living expenses. This phase is where most of us are when we get out of college.  We are dependent upon employers to feed us like baby birds.  We chirp and chirp and hope for some food to come our way.  This is the phase of life where most people are living paycheck to paycheck and not making any real progress on wealth building.  Unfortunately, most people never escape this first phase.
  2. Phase II – The next step in your financial life is to figure out how to increase income. It’s great (and necessary) to cut/control/manage your expenses to live below your means.  But real progress will result from driving income and earnings upwards.  This is a special talent and there are many ways to achieve it.  But it requires climbing up the food chain and adding value to an organization on a higher level.  It means being promotable.  This doesn’t mean that the job is easier (it probably won’t be).  It means you are worth more and can solve more problems.  The job may not be fun.
  3. Phase III – In the second phase, the purpose wasn’t to have a super easy and enjoyable job. It helps if you do.  But more likely you are working more hours, dealing with more stress, and constantly learning new skills which takes additional time, effort, and frustration.  But in the third phase you can start looking for money making opportunities that are more in alignment with your personal likes, passions, skill sets and values.  You’ve earned a bit of wiggle room from phase II where your excess earnings were saved towards creating something of your own, or the right to pursue employment that is more enjoyable or meaningful to you.  It’s during this third phase that many successful people choose to either go for jobs with more pleasure or opportunities with higher earnings.  The highest paying opportunities stem from solving higher level problems.  That doesn’t mean impossible to solve problems.  It means difficult to solve problems.  The best example of doing hard things for big profits is learning from Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel.   If you are unfamiliar with Mike Rowe watch him here –
  4. Phase IV – Enjoying the fruits of your labor. You’ve progressed through the previous three phases.  Each day you grinded things out. You did the hard work.  You did millions of little things that over time added up to an easier and easier life.  You managed your finances along the way living below your means and invested the difference in yourself and other investments.  Life now is easier, not harder.  From an outsider perspective, it appears that you have it made in the shade and got lucky or someone handed you something.  What they don’t ever realize is that you earned it the old-fashioned way – you rolled up your sleeves and did a bunch of hard work becoming an overnight success after two or three decades in the trenches.

We all love overnight success stories (unless they aren’t our own).  We also become mesmerized by stories of college dropouts going on to create multi-billion-dollar enterprises with revolutionary technology.  But those are extremely rare examples.  They are by no means the norm or average.  You may want to go straight from Phase I to Phase IV (who wouldn’t?)  But you’ll get to Phase IV much faster if you start learning and progressing through Phase II and then Phase III.  Time is ticking.  Don’t let it slip by.

Building wealth, having an easier life, and an enjoyable life IS possible.  It just takes navigating through the various phases with intention.  This often requires patience.  Don’t get discouraged, get excited.  There is a path to a better life.  It’s just a paradox because it takes a lot of “hard” effort to get “easy” results.  Don’t ignore higher paying opportunities that are right in front of you just because the “work is hard, un-glamorous, not fun, or isn’t utopia.”  You’ll learn something from those experiences and jump ahead in life.

Easy City passes through the Town of Hard

Good habits lead to good behaviors.  Good behaviors lead to good decisions.  Good decisions lead to a good life.  Live by principles and choose wisely.

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These are the EXACT same steps I used to PERMANENTLY get rid of my mortgage, student loans, credit card debt, and auto loan debt.

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