When I was 19 years old, I used to tell all my friends that I would retire by 30. Many of them laughed, but those who knew my work ethic and how accountable I was to my own words knew that it would happen (but little did they know how). In many cases, people around me would simply notice my cars getting nicer and my lifestyle getting more relaxed. Yet this always puzzled them as most of my early 20’s were spent in corporate America, and I didn’t really look like the next NBA superstar so the confusion only kept increasing as time went by. Nonetheless, years later I did accomplish my goal and surpassed it by quite a lot, and I shared how I did that in many articles as well as my best selling book Third Circle Theory.
However, times are different today than they were then, and I get asked this question quite often by young and driven individuals who follow Secret Entourage and wonder what they can do today to make sure they are financially free by their 30th birthday.
I say financially free as today my work is only a reflection of how I like to spend my time and not an exchange of time for money, which allows me, since the age of 27, to say that I have been retired.
Today’s world certainly is different, and it is much easier today to get lost than it was then, which is why I hope these 7 steps can help you rethink how you spend your time in your 20’s in hopes that by your 30th birthday, you too can share a similar level of success.
1) Stop looking for the next best thing. Young people today spend too much time always wanting to get to the next step, and they confuse their inability to be consistent with ambition. Create consistency in your life early on and don’t fall victim to the instant gratification bug.
While you may think you have learned everything you need and deserve a promotion in 6 months because you haven’t made a mistake at your job, it doesn’t mean you are worth promoting. Moving ahead isn’t about doing the job at hand in a correct manner to get paid with a check. That’s called trading time for money.
Start understanding that people promote those who show their capacity to be more than they are currently doing for the pay they are earning.
In an entrepreneurial capacity, it’s the same thing except that you are most likely not getting paid, and you chose to jump on the next thing that you believe will get you paid. You wont get paid until you become good at something and show your ability to excel at it. Changing jobs or ventures every time you believe you can make more elsewhere isn’t going to help you become better at what you do.
2) Gain more skills, not jobs. I only worked two jobs my whole life; I was a sales manager and a banker, and between the ages of 14 and 25, I learned more than most people who have over a dozen jobs before they are 80. Don’t think that you have to work at a dozen different places to learn a dozen different things.Most organizations have more than one department like sales, service, HR, fulfillment, etc… Don’t base your career on increasing your salary; that is something that anyone can take away from you, but they can never take your experience away.
So gain as many skills as you can and be as diverse in your experiences within each company you work at.
For those of you who are entrepreneurs, stop relying on people you hire to complete skills you don’t have. While you don’t have to become an expert in all the different aspects of business ownership, you should still understand and acquire the skills needed to be competent and aware of how your business functions.
3) Don’t expect to become an expert from reading. There is nothing as dangerous as a guy who believes he is an expert on a topic or subject solely because he has read and understood a book written by an expert. Doing and reading are two very different things. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this, and we would all be equally wealthy.
Read books, articles, or information out there as a measure of learning concepts and perspectives on subjects, but don’t read with the idea that you will have a competitive advantage over others because you know something they don’t. The only way you can become an expert is by practicing the learned concepts and having had equal levels of success.
Understanding something doesn’t make you an expert, nor does it make you or gives you the right to teach others what you learned. All it does is waste your and everyone else’s time who are stupid enough to listen to you.
4) Hold yourself accountable to quality. Don’t fall victim to checking work off your list. Whether you are employed or self-employed, focus on giving and getting quality work. Focus your 20’s on becoming great at the things you are good at and good at things you suck at. No one is chasing average or good people to give them a lot of money.
If you want the money to chase you, and not the other way around in your 30’s, then make sure you give the world a reason to do that by becoming really great at everything you do. Eventually that greatness will translate into opportunities and get you paid.
If you are a banker like I was, then be the best banker that company or your city has ever seen. If you are a body builder and love nutrition, optimize your training and become the best body builder in your class. Get used to becoming the best at all you do and to become obsessed with winning and being better.
5) Focus on growth, not survival. Adjust your days to mimic your goals. Easier said than done when you are young, but keep in mind that only 1% succeed, so if you plan to be one of us later you’ll have to behave as such today. At the end of each day assess how much you have worked on you and how much you have moved forward. Look back at your day’s activities; how much of your work was routine-based and needs-based vs being proactive and growth-based.
If you spent most of your day on social media, eating, watching TV, and going to work; then ask yourself if repeating what you are doing today 365 times will have you in a better place next year or simply doing the same.
In order to retire you’ll need to switch your routines to include at least 30% of your day on growth activities. This means learning new skills, getting a second job, investing, starting a business, or networking. Makes no difference what you do as long as you are enhancing your value and worth to yourself and those around you in that 30%.
6) Stop being Mother Teresa. I know we live in a world filled with constant reminders that we must help others, charities, poor people, your family, and blah blah blah; but the reality is how much help can you be to everyone when you can barely help yourself? Stop wasting time helping others until you are exactly where you want to be in life.
While helping others may seem noble, it can also do more damage than you think as it’s robbing you of your time, and honestly in most cases isn’t actually giving you any ROI.
Everything in life has an ROI (return on investment) and even if not always equal in its value, what goes up must come down. Helping people who don’t deserve to be helped will land you with nothing but wasted time.
Put yourself in a better position and then choose how you spend your time once your time is going to give you an ROI, no matter what you spend your time doing.
7) Choose your entourage very carefully. I am sure you’ve heard it before, but I am not even talking your network, or your friends; I am talking about every single person you interact with. Make sure to attract people whose focus isn’t going to be creating massive distractions for you: people without goals nor ambitions are outstanding at finding shit to do that is irrelevant and counter-productive to growth. They may not give a shit because to them the current pleasure outweighs the future pain, but don’t fall victim to their environment as tempting as it seems.
I know that most of you believe that making good financial decisions early on in life is what leads to prosperity later, but this is also why many people are still poor despite the hundreds of books and articles telling you exactly what to invest in or do to become rich. The most important things you can do in your 20’s isn’t to focus on making as much money or go as far as you can, but rather focus on creating a solid foundation and worth while habits that will drive you to succeeding massively in your 30’s.
Success and financial freedom is the result of becoming so great at something that the money chases you, and the only way you can become great at something is knowing yourself enough to stay consistent, focused, and able to outpace others who drop off in the 10-year race to the top.
Ask any of the 200+ teachers in my academy how many made their millions in their first job, ventures, or on their first attempt; and you will hear over and over why it was what they learned during those times that allowed them the foundation to succeed in the second phase of their life.
In short, allow your 20’s to become the foundation for overcoming fear of failure.