by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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Please understand, I have had very different viewpoints on wealth and money throughout my life.  Don’t feel like you are way off base when you read this, or that one of us has a very skewed view of the world.  Life is a progression, and the more you learn the more this influences your thoughts about major life topics such as this.  That said, I want to share an idea that you might want to work towards sooner rather than later.  I heard this idea on a Ted Talk and thought it was a brilliant and different way to align your life.  Here was the premise that a billionaire had presented:

You should work 18 hours a week

Now, you might think “easy for him to say, he’s a billionaire!”   Not the point; what he was trying to convey was that you need to get so good at what you do, that you can earn your living working for six hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and have five days of the week to do as you please.  If you have the flexibility AND the means to do what you wish, you are free and you are far ahead of the game than almost everyone.  Allow me to unpack this further…

When I started out in my working career, all I knew was that I had to trade my hours of time for dollars in pay at the end of every two weeks.  I started out in “less skilled” jobs, and of course they paid accordingly.  I knew these two basic points at that stage:

–I would need to work more hours to make more money

or

–I would need to earn more per hour to increase what I earned without working more

This is not a fun equation to decipher, as both require work of some kind to solve the problem of earning more money.  One version was have even less free time by working more hours to earn more money.  The other required more school and/or experience to raise the rate of pay I could earn.  I tried a third approach, which was to supplement the lifestyle I wanted, but couldn’t afford, with my credit cards.  This is cheating the system, in the sense of spending money I don’t actually have, and showing the trappings of success before having achieved any actual financial success.  Trust me when I tell you, this did FAR MORE harm than good in my lifelong pursuit of finding true financial freedom.

So, I chose what appeared to be the lesser of two evils and have the most return on my effort, which was I went back to school online and got a Bachelor’s degree to make myself more marketable.  By having a degree to put on my resume, and a little bit of work experience in general, I positioned myself to get jobs that paid $50K a year instead of $28K.  That is a big difference, and for a while, I was satisfied with that.  But soon I adjusted my lifestyle to be spending all of that money and then some.  I needed a better way to manage my money.  As an obvious but counter-productive solution, I took another part time job teaching racquetball lessons at a local racquet club.  Now I had a day job of 40 hours and a part time job of 20 hours.  Here is the problem with that:

168 hours in a week

56 hours are spent sleeping  (8 hours a night times 7 days a week)

60 hours a week spent working

52 hours left over for everything else, including eating, grocery shopping, working out, and hanging out with friends or doing something fun.  Those hours are eaten up quickly when you look at it in this format.

I needed to find a better way, as I value my free time too much to have so little of it.  So, I tried several different day jobs that paid more money or had the potential to pay more.  Eventually (and I mean within the past ten years) I found my way into a job that I thought had the potential to solve my problem.  It took a while, I almost left several times for various reasons, but I am glad I stuck it out.  NOW, I have what I want.  I am expert in my day job role; it is highly likely that I am the best at my job in my niche industry.  This increases my value, and my flexibility.  Currently I set up my schedule so that I work in two 2 hour blocks per day Mon-Thursday and one of them on Friday.  I can easily shuffle this around, consolidate things into one day to have the next off, etc.  And I make enough money to have options on what I can do with my free time.  To me, this was always the goal.

Back to the Ted Talk, the billionaire made the statement that “You shouldn’t know what you are doing next week”.  I was surprised to hear this, as so many people are scheduled out weeks in advance on what they do, even with their leisure time.  His point was, if you have a friend that calls on Wednesday and says “We are partying in Ibiza this weekend, can you make it?” his answer can will YES.  By consolidating his work week into three days, he was able to be on his plane Thursday afternoon and in Ibiza by Friday Morning.  Now, he is a billionaire, has his own plane, and the funds to jetset like this.  For me, I have ZERO desire to party in Ibiza, so here is what my version of this would look like:

A Fly Fishing guide from the San Juan river in New Mexico posts online “the fishing has hit its peak for the Spring season, get here now if you can!”  I pack up my stuff Wed. night, work a half day Thursday and am on the road that afternoon.  I am knee deep in the San Juan River Friday morning, and I fish throughout the weekend and half of Monday before I head back to be at my desk Tuesday morning.

OR

On a whim, my wife and I decide that we want to get out of town.  We book a last minute flight to San Diego, get a hotel and spend the next couple of days lounging on the sand and eating in restaurants that we have never been to before.

To me, this is the life I want to live, and I am basically there.  My wife is a nurse, so she also has roughly the same schedule as I do.  She works three 12 hour shifts a week, and has four days off like I do with my approach.

The billionaire’s point was to reverse engineer your life to give you the lifestyle you want.  You cannot leapfrog your way to this lifestyle, you need to work to put things in place for this to be an option.  Being a nurse might be the easiest way, as you go to school for two years, get a first job then elevate to a higher level of nursing that pays well and gives you a set schedule that you can build a life around.  If you start a business, you’ll need to build it up to the point of financial stability, and start hiring and delegating to others.  If you work a regular day job, you better get damn good at it, rise to the top and give yourself the pay and schedule to live this way.  First things first, figure out the lifestyle you want to live, and then work backwards from there putting the pieces in place.  Get your finances in order, get debt free and stay there, and you will have a lot of flexibility to live the life you wish.

Plan well, then execute.  I wish you luck in your life’s endeavors.

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