There was a young boy who dreamed of letting his elderly father retire. His parents had him at an old age, and it pained him to see them slog day and night to put food on the table.
In his late-teens, he became convinced that joining the financial advisory industry and achieving a spot at the Million Dollar Road Table (MDRT) was the way to riches in the shortest possible time. Eventually, he did make it to the MDRT.
But the reality was not as it was supposed to be. The riches did not actually lead to a path of happiness and freedom.
Instead, he found himself chasing even harder after money. Driven by the desire for the high life, his expenses piled at breakneck speed. He was in the rat race and running very, very strenuously.
There is nothing objectionable with working hard to maintain (or upgrade) one’s lifestyle. But trouble comes when there is a moral dilemma – to sell the policies that yield the best commissions at the expense of the client’s interest… Or to sell lesser-paying policies which may not adequately pay the bills?
A sense of emptiness and loss plagued him.
This chase was simply not worthwhile. This, he realized, after a late night of heavy drinking.
So that night, as he came to this sober realization, he jotted down new goals. To realize these new goals, he decided to model after one of the most successful investors in the world – Warren Buffett.
Yes, this man had finally started his journey in stocks.
Between a debt and financial freedom, which is the “last boss”?
Many of you are familiar with, or at least aware of Collin’s story of how he cleared the S$250,000 debt within 18 months by means of trading systematically.
At that time, financial freedom was the furthest thing from his mind. The priority was simply to pay off the large debt.
Yet in the process of doing so, he achieved what many esteem to be one of their life’s goals – to clear the “last boss”, final stage known as Financial Freedom.
Focusing on the process
If there is a commonality between the two timelines in Collin’s life, you would notice that financial freedom was never an end-goal of his. Or rather, it wasn’t a tangible goal, but the combined result of a few processes:
- Reducing expenses
- Living a simple life
- Making money work for you
- Resting well
Of course, there were other outcomes that he had wanted to achieve in that time. Repaying his parents and chasing extravagance were some initial motivations. Then the sober realization came, and he decided to trade stocks. Finally, having to pay off the debt… And devising the trading system, from which the SMT community is benefiting from today.
What is interesting here, is that he had the mental fortitude to deal with the situations. A never-say-die, solution-seeking spirit.
The first step to financial freedom is…
So… What can we say is the first step to financial freedom?
I believe that it lies in the mind.
It’s to keep believing that it is possible.
There is a different path aside from hustling in the rat race. Sure, there are bills to be paid, lifestyles to be maintained (or upgraded), but does it mean that financial freedom is impossible?
It is precisely this limiting-belief that sets one back from greater achievements. Or a half-hearted attempt such that “when life happens”, the plan for financial freedom gets thrown out of the window.
Or maybe like Collin, you’re faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Financial freedom seems as far as the North Pole is from where you are.
Regardless, the key is not to be daunted by the task (or goal) ahead of you. That, is the first step.
Conscious goal or by-product of processes?
I suppose that those of you reading this would be more conscious of financial freedom as a goal, rather than approaching this as a result of processes like in Collin’s journey.
As we begin this series on the Road To Financial Freedom, I thought it would be apt to start with Collin’s story. Besides learning about how he overcame his adversities, it is more important that we address the frame of mind in which we can approach this topic.
That is, even if you’re faced with doubts about the future, have faith in the process.
The goal is attainable.
Take charge of your finances, be consistent, and don’t give up. Take also Lao-Tzu’s words of wisdom to heart – a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
When you are winning the battle on the inside your mind, the actions on the outside will flow too.
And that, is the first step to financial freedom.
Stay tuned to the next parts of this series as we dive into the big picture, some calculations, and a focus on practical, actionable steps which you can take.
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