I mean...At least it's a Dodge Viper!
Have you ever had that feeling where you felt like you had so much to do that you shouldn’t even sleep? Or you have so much to do that when you try to go to sleep you can’t because all you’re doing is laying in bed thinking about how much you need to do? If you are anything like me, I’m sure you have. Over the past couple weeks I had been feeling this way and coincidentally enough I have a friend who has been feeling the same way. After talking through our issues for a a few days, I came to a few realizations and a formula that has already helped me and hopefully can help you as well!
Before I dive head first into the pool and begin swimming through the waters of obligations, to do lists, goals, etc, I’d like to first talk about priorities and why it’s important to prioritize. Prioritizing achieves several things for us. It forces us to first analyze our goals and what goes into achieving these goals. It forces us to get detailed and to “cut away” the fat. In other words, eliminating those activities that are time wasters while doing only the things that bring us the biggest return for our time. By streamlining things, what I’ve found is that I can forget about things that would otherwise cause me to feel overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed is a stressful feeling. Stress stifles creativity. And without creativity I find it very difficult to efficiently come up with and write blogs like this one.
Both myself and my friend who I had this conversation with agreed that as we have gotten older it has become more and more difficult to eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed. Both of us work, have started businesses, do our damndest to workout 3-5x per week, eat well, and maintain our relationships. With so much to do it and not enough time to do it, it becomes more and more important to actually do the things in our Health/Wellness and Career/Financial pillars that have the greatest impact and in our Relationships(social) pillar that are most enjoyable in our lives.
Prioritizing is a very personal thing. We all have different goals. We all enjoy doing different things. However, this is the formula I have developed to help me better utilize my time. The formula assumes that you already have goals in mind, have to do lists a mile long, and need an efficient way to organize and ultimately execute your plans. It then takes something big(your goals) and narrows them down into smaller action steps and finally allows you to take a realistic look at what you have time, energy, and resources to actually accomplish.
I like to use a spread sheet to map this all out. You will use separate sheets for your goals list, goals list by each pillar in order, then a final sheet with your two biggest priority goals with steps for how to achieve them.
Step 1: Write out every single goal you can possibly think of. Use the pillars to help you:
Pillar 1: Health/Wellness,
Pillar 2: Career/Financial
Pillar 3: Relationships/Social
Step 2: Separate them into each pillar category.
Step 3: Prioritize them from most important to least important in each pillar category. This is an important step because if you are let's say pillar 2 heavy in your time and energy focus, this will force you to focus in on your other pillars.
Step 3: List out the activities/resources(energy, time, money) needed to reach these goals.
Step 4: Visualize doing these activities day to day. Get REALISTIC here. Don’t take on too much! This is my biggest challenge as I typically want to do 8 things at once. Remember, it’s better to do one thing really well then 8 things half-assed!
Step 5: Focus only on your top 1-3 goals and activities that are most important in each pillar and temporarily forget about the rest. It does not mean you will never come back to those goals. It just means that you are putting them on the back burner and will be coming back to them down the road.
Step 6: Make a separate sheet that lists your two biggest goals and the steps you will need to take to complete them.
Step 7: Map out how you will allocate your time day to day leaving social time and time for your regular maintenance activities (haircuts, dentist, etc.).
Step 8: DO THE FU@#ING WORK!
Often times, I like to relate things back to attraction. This process of prioritizing helps a man be more attractive for several reasons. For starters, it requires a man actually establish goals. Ask any woman and she will tell you that a man with ambition is attractive, especially in regards to having long term potential (Short Term Game vs Long Term Goal). Also, prioritizing helps to strip away unimportant things and eliminate stress thus leaving a man calmer and in more control of himself. Guess what, that’s attractive. And finally, if you know your goals, know what it takes to reach them, AND you know realistically when you are spending time reaching them and when you have time for women, you have just firmed up your Personal Boundary and improved your Strength of Frame. And you guessed it, that’s attractive!
This is Robert Kiyosaki’s “Cash Flow Quadrant.” It is the single BEST way to break down how money is made.
Here is a quick synopsis of the Cashflow Quadrant;
You start in the upper left hand corner(Quadrant I) as an employee. You receive a salary, possibly benefits, taxes are taken out of your paycheck, and on and on. Think corporate America for this quadrant. Moving to the next step is being self employed(Quadrant II). Here you work for yourself and are typically highly skilled in a trade or niche. Think Real Estate Agent, Private CPA, or Actor. You could also be an independent contractor who works for multiple companies/people within this quadrant. Moving to the upper right hand side of the quadrant is the business owner quadrant(Quadrant III). The difference here is that you have employees who work for you and you are not necessarily hands on with the day to day operations of the business. The last quadrant in the lower right hand side is the Investor quadrant(Quadrant IV). This quadrant is reserved for those who have money and are now investing their money into things that will make their money become more money.
I started this blog in an attempt to help ambitious self-driven men in all aspects of their lives by providing insights and ideas. We all have our strengths (mine happens to be in Pillars 1&3). And of course, we all have our weak spots. I’ll be the first to admit that Pillar 2: Career/Financial has been mine. I have no doubt been working on it and continue to take the bull by the horns on a daily basis to improve. My entire life I have strove to avoid the monotony of a 9-5 life. I’ve tried many, many avenues to avoid life behind a desk. I was dj, real estate agent, mortgage broker, outside salesman, bartender, and even started a beverage company. All were in pursuit of one thing; balance. That perfect balance of time, money, and freedom. I looked for this in the form of entrepreneurialism. Life in the fast lane right?…come up with a product/service/brand and release to the world and make millions…Yahtzee! If only it were that easy! My beverage company days taught me otherwise. I was overextended financially, undercapitalized, and way over my head. After a soul wrenching divorce from my business partner that ended in a lawsuit, I was forced to reevaluate and retool my strategy. Here is what I developed for myself and I hope it can be of some help to you as well…
The aim is to one day be in quadrant IV. But how do we get there? Well, unless you have the good fortune of inheriting a whole lot of money, a family business, etc. you are probably going to be starting out at Quadrant I. Here’s where the challenges begin. You must consistently be aware of yourself. Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. In your job search pay attention to these things because they are what will make a job a good or bad situation. What you are trying to avoid is taking a job that you spent two months looking for, interviewing, etc only to grow to loathe it a month later. If you do end up loathing it, realize first that it is in the no way the end of the world, second what it is that you dislike, and third the steps you need to take to move into something that fits you better. If you are new to the job market, use all of your job opportunities both good and bad to hone your self awareness and improve on your weaknesses. In order to transition to Quadrant 2, you will need to have a much better sense of your self as this quadrant will often times require a much more dialed in skill set. The transition from Quadrant I to Quadrant II can be very difficult for multiple reasons. First off, it represents the first shift in mindset within the quadrants. For this reason, we will focus solely on the jump to Quadrant II for the purposes of this post.
Many if not most of us of were raised with regimented employee mentalities. School is regimented and it teaches us to follow directions, memorize, and regurgitate. Check out Garret Loporto’s blog on schooling here for an in depth look at the current state of schooling. Yes it's from 2010, but with further growth of the internet his message is even MORE relevant today! Our parents want us to follow their directions. If we are obedient and do as they say then we are rewarded. In working a “normal” job or 9-5, if we stay within the confines of the job and do what our bosses ask of us then we are rewarded. To summarize the Quadrant I mentality: Life is regimented and habitual, you look to others for approval and act based on the rewards given, and the financial return is comfortable and steady. If you are a creature of comfort then stay here! This is your home…If you are like me and equate stability with boredom, then read on!
Enter Quadrant II. Life on your own. This quadrant is going to require that you have a stronger personal boundary than quadrant I. Here you are typically required to seek out your own work and you may even have to set your own prices and act as your own personal receivables department. Here are a few examples of self employed endeavors I have partaken myself. Real Estate Agent, Mortgage Broker, labrat, DJ, club promoter, product promotions, and massage therapy. All of these pursuits were different on the surface but they all share a lot of the same characteristics. You are on your own for finding work. Networking is hugely important. If you fail to find work then you make no money. Sometimes there are droughts. Sometimes money does not come when expected or it does not come at all(be careful who you work for when you step into quadrant II!). You have to keep your own records of who you work for and how many hours you worked for. And my favorite, you are required to pay your own taxes.
These are the downsides, now for the upsides. And yes, there are many!…Here are a few; You have a lot of control over your schedule. You have the opportunity to try any myriad of random jobs that come your way. Everyday can be different and unique. You can pick who you work with. And of course my personal favorite; leverage. What do I mean by this? Well, if you work a 9-5, chances are it is your only job. One employer=one source of income(I’m quick, I know). If you lose your job, you no longer have money coming in. If you were working making $55k/year, living at lets say a $50k/per year lifestyle, the thought of losing your one source of income could be pretty damn scary. So now with this fear firmly in place, what happens when your boss strongly asks you to work Saturday when you had prior plans? If you have balls of steel you may be able to say no, but chances are that fear begins to creep in and a scene from Office Space quickly takes over. So what if you do say no? Then your boss decides you are unreliable, disloyal to the company, and replaceable with some other yes man. You lose your job, realize you only have $5k in savings which will last you one month, and are forced to jump back into the job market and take the first job offer that comes your way. Not exactly taking your career path by the horns eh? I’m going worst case here, but you get the point I’m trying to make. With being self-employed your options become greater as time goes on(pending of course that you actually perform well when hired ha!). With greater options comes greater choice and thus greater leverage. Don’t like an offer, say no. Mid way into a project and don’t like the job you are being asked to perform, or the client, tell em to take a hike! Why? Because you have the leverage of choice!
Sounds nice huh? Like a dream come true compared to waking up everyday Mon-Fri or, if life really sucks, Mon-Sat. Now how do you realistically make this transition? First off, you need to minimize your liabilities. Sell off or eliminate the lease you are carrying on your Audi A4, get rid of your DirecTV movie and sports package or better yet eliminate cable all together(you need to be reading more anyway if you are going to work at a higher level), and for god sake stop blowing $100 on your bar tab every time you go out! Free yourself of obligations and you free yourself of your need to make money. At the same time, figure out what your next move is. If you're like me and you really like dealing with people, then maybe it’s working in promotions. You can start by finding some random weekend work to build up a resume and see if you like it. Then, if you like it, you can now find a longer term gig that will allow you to quit your 9-5 and give you time to setup other gigs for when your current gig ends. Since you are OF COURSE exceeding client expectations and building your network of friends in the industry, you are getting plenty of work and are well on your way to a much more balanced and interesting life. Another amazing thing will begin to happen during this transformation. Remember that dream you had of becoming a famous actor? Your new found confidence will spark that old dream and you will realize that you now have the time, flexibility, and extra money(since you eliminated all but the bare necessities to live off of) to pursue them. Pretty cool huh? Now beware of traps while you pursue your new found dream…
Let’s say that your goal is to in fact become an actor and it requires you to go to castings that take place primarily during business hours Monday-Friday. You have gone on ten castings and have yet to be casted for a part but you can tell that you are getting closer with each new experience. You have been freelancing in promotions which has allowed you the flexibility of schedule to go on all of your castings. The money you have been making, while not great, is enough to survive on. The current manager at one of the companies you do a lot of work for is leaving and informs you that you have been tapped to become the next manager. It means double the hours and more than double your current pay rate but you will be required to work business hours Monday-Friday. While it’s very tempting to take the job and get back to the comfortable lifestyle you once lived, don’t be fooled. Remember why you left that life in the first place. If you take it, you can all but kiss your aspirations of becoming an actor goodbye…
So remember to keep your Quadrant II mentality: Life is full of endless opportunity. You just need to go out and get it! While money can be slim in the beginning living in Quadrant II, remember, the bumps in the road are much much smaller than the pot of gold that awaits those who choose to stay the course…
For more on the Cashflow Quadrant, buy Robert Kiyosaki's book here:
I also highly recommend the first in his Rich Dad Poor Dad series: