You’ve heard the term “work/life balance.” Today, I want to discuss how to create a balanced life as an investor.
Would you consider any of the following situations ideal?
- You’re rich and have a great life, but you’re in poor health.
- You have excellent health, but you live in poverty with massive debt.
- You’re wealthy, but you’re depressed and stuck in a terrible relationship.
What comes to mind when you think of financial freedom? If you had the option, but not the obligation to work, what would you do with your time?
Resistance and Motivation
There is a true benefit to having some resistance in your life — something to push against. Joe Fairless spoke at the Best Ever Conference a couple of years ago about having a thorn that pushes against you (metaphorically speaking). In other words, something that keeps you moving forward, productive, and active in some way.
The thorn is a metaphor for resistance — something that irritates you that you want to fix or improve. Being active may not be a 9–5 job, but it may be a form of contribution. For example, Bill Gates stepped down from running Microsoft to focus on being more active with his Foundation.
For most people, financial freedom doesn’t end up being champagne on a yacht and laying out on the beach as you wither away drinking piña coladas. It can be fun for a while, but it’s not sustainable.
Here’s an interesting thought. Research has shown when children come from wealthy families and are handed everything, they are more likely to become depressed and feel a lack of meaning in life. It has a lot to do with lack of resistance — if you don’t have to push against anything to achieve a goal, that goal loses its value and appeal. There’s very little satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
However, while some of the “grind” is necessary, it’s important not to overdo it. Otherwise, you can find yourself on the opposite end of the spectrum, which happened to me. I was depressed about a decade ago when I was working 100 hours a week in the oil and gas industry, which left very little time for family, dating, relationships, travel, and fun. It’s all about balance.
Finding Balance Between Health, Wealth, and Relationships
There’s so much marketing and sales in the health space these days. Since we live in a capitalist society, I suppose that’s to be expected.
But in truth, diet and exercise are really quite simple. You and I both know, generally speaking, what a good diet looks like. It doesn’t need to be complicated by vegan, keto, paleo, Whole30, or vegetarian labels.
Just pay attention to what you’re putting into your body. Avoid fried foods and processed junk food. Drink lots of water and eat more greens. Do we need thousands of books, programs, diets, and training to do this? Do you suspect that there were healthy people 200 years ago before all this nonsense?
As for exercise. If you’ve ever traveled beyond the United States to a country that is not capitalistic, you may have discovered that exercise can actually be free. Do we really need the luxury gyms, Peloton bikes to store in our basement, or the Orange Theory classes?
There’s nothing wrong with any of these items, but what about going for a walk, jog, or run in nature? Push-ups, sit-ups, and squats, all from the comfort of our home are still a valid way to get in shape — for free.
Here’s an interesting thought: It’s not what you do 10% of the time; it’s what you do 90% of the time that makes the difference. You can eat cake, ice cream, have alcohol, and eat french fries, but try to limit it to 10% of the time while doing the healthy stuff 90% of the time. It’s simple, but not easy.
Here’s my simple take on investing: Invest in assets that produce passive income. Then, use that passive income to enhance your lifestyle. That’s it.
These investments can be active or passive, and you can choose to invest in real estate or other asset classes like the stock market. If you want a deeper dive on this topic, check out the episode on the Actively Passive Show podcast I created called “The Lost Decade and How to Avoid 0% Returns on Your Investments.”
The last thing to mention about wealth is something I call the “success cycle”, and it’s a very real thing happening in our culture. It’s the concept of making a million dollars and then feeling like you need to make $2 million. Then getting to $2 million and feeling like you need $4 million. It’s never enough. There’s always someone doing better than you, financially speaking.
How do we avoid this? Try competing with yourself and focusing on self-improvement. Take the time to sit down and write out how much is “enough” for you.
In August 2020, I released an Actively Passive Show episode called “How Do You Know When It’s Enough?” Check it out for a more in-depth dive into this subject.
You may find that $1 million invested is enough. Think about it. The average individual income in the U.S. is around $55,000 per year. $1 million invested at 8% a year cash flow = $80,000. For a lot of Americans, $1 million is enough. Don’t trap yourself in the success cycle and miss out on more fulfilling aspects of life. Which would you regret most if you lived to be 90 years old? Not spending enough time with family and friends, or not making more money?
I’m no expert in this area. In fact, I want to be as candid and humble as possible in this category. I have struggled with balance in the relationship sector far more than in the other categories.
I mentioned that I worked 100-hour weeks back when and I didn’t have any kind of balance in my life. In fact, I had no time for anyone but myself. When I transitioned out of that environment, I struggled with spending enough time with my family. Then I started dating my wife (my girlfriend back then), and I lost touch with several close friends.
It’s been a work in progress, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that might help you:
1. Don’t be overly independent, thinking you can do everything yourself — but also, don’t be overly reliant on other people. People will let you down occasionally, but it’s a lonely road without people in your life.
2. You shouldn’t always get your way — but sometimes you should. Again, it’s the resistance that keeps us pushing and moving forward. In my opinion, this is what has made my marriage so amazing. My wife and I are both willing to share our opinion, but we compromise with each other as well.
3. Diversify who you spend time with. I spend some time with mentors who are further along than me in order to learn. I spend some time with peers, colleagues, my spouse, and family. I also spend some time mentoring and educating others.
It’s all a balance, and this balance provides perspective and growth, and the growth turns into fulfillment and happiness over time.
It’s not one thing that makes us happy or fulfilled. It’s a combination of all the things we have discussed in this writing. I wish you and your family the best of luck in your journey, and I hope you found this information helpful. For more insights on all things passive investing, tune in to the Actively Passive Show, with new episodes airing every Thursday.
To Your Success,
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.