My kids have started asking me “what’s next” in terms of high school and college.
I told them to save those questions for a few years – what’s important right now is learning the basics and enjoying themselves.
They did, however, get me thinking.
This starts out as a letter to our youngest.
I’ve spent the last 20 years with ~2,000 hours (per annum) of self-directed time. When I reach “normal retirement age”, I will have had an extra ~70,000 hours versus what I was told to expect.
Consistently making choices as if time is more important than money has been a defining characteristic of my life after 30. Those choices, much more than my personal results, have been what gave me a 1-in-10,000 life, so far.
By the time you get to my age, you will have a series of stories you tell yourself about why you can’t do certain things. You’re also going to have the habit energy of 30+ years of choices.
The good news is many of our choices matter much less than we think, I got past a lot of bad choices.
Avoid ruin, build good habits, persist and you can achieve a very useful form of freedom.
My adult life, that you didn’t see, splits into three parts:
- High school (to 18 yrs old)
- Early adulthood (18 to 25 yrs old)
- Adulthood (25 to 40 yrs old)
Along the way, people will be giving you never ending advice — to seek your attention, to get your money, to convince you to serve their ends…
Most of this advice is going to be tactical, short-term, single-action oriented // not particularly useful and a distraction. To blow through this (largely useless) advice I hope you to make a habit of asking yourself three questions:
- Who is this person?
- How do they know?
- What are they selling me?
You’ll have to figure out your own purpose in life. Here’s what my choices say about what I did from 18-40 years old…
Free to choose…
…how, where and when…
…I allocate my time.
What I’m going to share is a strategy for getting yourself time.
What’s the role of high school?
Create options for further study. Science, mathematics, engineering, finance, accounting, technology… choose your courses so you can take any of the challenging majors in college. In 1986, I could have gone any direction at any major university in Canada.
If you can’t pull that off then learn a valuable trade, or skill, where you have a shot at becoming world-class.
The above is your “to do” list. There’s a wide range of successful outcomes possible, if you avoid early setbacks.
- Pregnancy – avoid it in yourself and your friends – free contraception saves lives
- Early habits of addiction and substance abuse – hook yourself on exercise
- Suicide – keep an eye on your friends, and yourself – get help when you need it – everyone needs help
Pregnancy and addiction can be overcome. With regard to suicide, stay in the game – your future self will thank you.
You must have faith about the impact of long-term compounding – it’s why I started saving your allowance in Kindergarten. Our brains are not set up to comprehend exponents.
What’s the goal here?
The best technical education you can acquire without borrowing money.
But what if I could join the professional class?
If you can figure out how to do it debt-lite then fine. Otherwise, be wary of the time you’ll give away to get there — and — the habits you create from living a debt-funded aspirational lifestyle.
The professional class are just as enslaved by the system as most other people — they have nicer cars, bigger homes and beautiful wardrobes — they still lack time and cope with status-anxiety.
There are, however, certain professions that are ideal fits for a life with meaning.
For example, my friends who are docs/surgeons get a ton of satisfaction from helping their fellow citizens. They traded a lot of time to achieve their positions – a good trade, as they are valuable members of their local communities.
At 25, I was a well-trained financial technician. Globally, there are tens of thousands of people with similar training. What made the difference?
- I was young – option value of youth!
- I trained myself to live on half my income – I didn’t, and don’t, miss the spending
- I was debt-free with four-years living expense saved – four years living expenses saved at 25
- Valuable skills
- Living below my means
- Time for my net worth to compound
- Time to follow my healthy passions (athletics, coaching, relationships)
Compare that to my smartest peers at 25 — better educated, negative net worths (due to college borrowing) and a higher baseline cost of living.
Like a lot of things, there’s no visible difference until you hit mid-life.
A favorite question of mine for friends who are over 60 – name something your grandparents could have done that would have positively impacted your life today.
It’s a tough question – we are talking 50-100 year timelines.
Many families settle on… core real estate holdings that enable shared experiences across generations and time — the mythical cabin on a lake, and similar (not always ideal) investments.
What might be required to achieve that vision…
- Proximity – the family needs to live close to each other, but not too close
- Time – the subject of this essay
- Enjoyment – do we enjoy spending time with each other? What if we don’t? How much are we willing to compromise to get along with each other?
- Realistic expectations – from 25 to 40 many folks will be busy seeking to free themselves from wage-slavery
When it comes to wealth, be focused on time, not money.