This week has been a busy one at the Haroldsen house. We hosted a fundraiser for Utah’s governor, Gary Herbert, on Wednesday and what a great time it was. One of the best things about the event was that I was able to spend time with people I not only admire but who are also great friends of mine. Just the sight of good friends does something to boost the spirit and a night like the one we just had, with so many smiling faces around me, was like a big injection of joy.
Keeping yourself surrounded by your friends is about more than just having a good time, it’s essential to our wellbeing. POW survivors consistently talk about how having a buddy to talk to, to lean on, and to share their pain and hope with was one of the top reasons they were able to survive. Being with friends keeps you from feeling isolated, helps you keep life and what is truly important in perspective, bolsters your immune system, reduces stress, and gives you the energy and mood boost to get through demanding times.
I know we get so busy sometimes with work, errands, and family that we just don’t seem to have time to get together with others. But with all the benefits you get from having your friends around, it really should be a top priority. If you haven’t done so recently, gather together with those friends that are a positive and supportive influence and be sure you put regular gathers on your calendar and to do list. You should never be too busy to surround yourself with the very source that will help you climb your mountains and inject the kind of joy into your life that you are working towards.
I know everybody thinks that life is about getting to a place where you don’t have to work, where you can just take it easy and drink cocktails while sitting by the pool but I can tell you from personal experience, that is a road with few rewards. Work—having a job, a business, or personal objectives you are actively striving for—is something you will never want to be without. Work is not just for paying the bills, it is essential to having a fulfilling life.
Studies have shown that people are four times more likely to have a sense of contentment from work than they do from watching TV. That’s a pretty impressive statistic and yet, the majority of people (especially in the good ole U.S. of A.) spend huge amounts of time watching the tube. So why do we choose to watch TV rather than get to work on things that would further our personal and professional goals as well as provide us with more contentment?
It’s because work is hard. Worthwhile and challenging tasks usually take the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears and sometimes end up being a constant uphill struggle. Instinctively, we want to avoid what is difficult and TV can fill our time without taxing our brains or body. But it is the difficult work, the complicated and challenging goals we face in our day job or the effort we put into building a dream, that makes what we accomplish so satisfying. Watching TV, on the other hand, accomplishes little if anything and is not, at the end of the day, very fulfilling.
You probably enjoy games of some sort—tennis, golf, chess, sodoku, etc.—and you play because of the challenge and the way you get lost in it, looking forward to seeing what you can accomplish or motivated by that potential win. Likewise, in your work, if you take time to set difficult and complex goals and totally throw yourself into reaching those objectives, you will find that your contentment and happiness will soar, buoyed by your progress and that potential, if not actualized, win.
Bottom line: set up some very tough challenges for yourself, pushing yourself to do more complex and novel things (whether you’re a millionaire now or still working on it!). It’s the work that will lead you to a richer and more satisfying life and make the down time by the pool much more enjoyable.
I talk a lot about creating wealth on this blog because, honestly, making better money is a major goal for many people. However, not everyone wants to be wealthy, not monetarily at least. Some people have a different currency they want to invest and see grow.
Take, for instance, Daddy Bruce Randolph, a philanthropist and restaurant owner who, at the age of 60, after many years of hard times and failed businesses, scraped together enough money to open a BBQ joint in Denver. A year after he opened, not that much better off financially, he started serving free Thanksgiving dinners to the down and out in his community, a tradition that would last almost 40 years. He would also give away what he could to help the less fortunate on Christmas, Easter, and even his own birthday. Every year his generous events would get bigger and harder to finance but he’d still keep doing it. It gained him admirers all over the country, many of whom jumped in to keep the charitable events going as they grew well beyond his means. Because of his generosity, he had to live modestly but still, he was happy.
When asked why he gave so generously, Daddy Bruce said, “You can’t beat love. Nothin’ beats love. If you give one thing, you get three things back.” He was, in the truest sense of the phrase, a very successful investor. He invested in what he believed in most and gained the love and appreciation of thousands of grateful Denver citizens as well as the admiration of people from all across the country. Not that he was after the admiration, I’m sure, but if he was getting three times what he gave, he was certainly one of the richest men of his time, living a full, passionate life through bettering the lives of others.
I understand that kind of passion. I may have amassed significant personal wealth but the real joy in it has not been what I can buy but how I can use what I have to help make positive changes in other people’s lives. It’s why I wrote my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living”. It doesn’t matter whether your dreams involve increasing your monetary wealth or enriching the lives of others, the key is to live well and let your passion lead you.
If you are heading out into the world to make your fortune, build the life of your dreams, or simply become healthier, you probably already realize that it will be easier if you have some help. You have probably already done some networking and have started to surround yourself with supportive, passionate people who motivate you. That’s great. Keep it up. Not just for the time being but always. Expanding your network should not be a short term goal but rather an on-going and constant goal. You will never know just how much help you can get, or how much you can help others, if you aren’t out there meeting new people and exposing yourself to new ideas.
No matter what kind of goal you are working on or how far along you are, there is always someone out there who can make it easier, help you accomplish it quicker, or simply make the process more enjoyable. Networking, at a minimum allows you to expand your circle of supportive friends. It also gives you access to new ideas as well as views that offer insight into yourself and even your goals. Many times, a solution you are searching for comes to you through someone you meet incidentally, someone who has access to the people or resources you need. There are also those serendipitous moments where you end up meeting your next project collaborator, investor, or coach all because you reached out a hand and said hello. Networking is an amazing thing.
What’s more amazing about it is the impact you can have on others. You could be the good friend, solution resource, idea person, instigator of change, or next business partner someone has been looking for. But none of these wonderful things can happen if you don’t get out there and let fate and chance play their part. You don’t need to have a specific idea about who or want you want from your social networking, you just need to go out and see what pops up. The interaction alone will enrich your life. The opportunities you will open yourself up to could be invaluable.
How often do investors think about what is involved in their investments besides money? If you’re handing your money over to a stock broker, the time it takes to invest is small but you also take on significant risk. In real estate investing, there’s both money and time involved in getting it into shape to sell or rent. In a small business investment, the common approach is to put in as little money as possible but all your free time. So considering everything, what investment makes the most sense?
The answer lies primarily in the risk level of the investment and how much your time is worth. For instance, investing through a broker takes little time but the pay back is either very uncertain or very small. Small businesses often take years to turn a profit and your time investment, which may seem cheap or free initially, can be very expensive if you consider how much you could have made working more hours or a second job. Just think, if you could have gotten $25/hour working a second job, then that 20 hours a week you spent over 6 months getting the business up and running cost you $12,500 in lost income! How long will it take you to recover that investment through your business?
In real estate, you invest both a significant amount of time and, sometimes, money (see last week’s post and page 184 in my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” on how to get others to fund your investments) but the outcome is far less risky. The added bonus is that real estate will not continue to suck your time the way a small business often does, and the returns will inevitably be greater and more secure than stocks. This is why I really encourage you to look at real estate if financial freedom is a primary goal of yours.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t open that storefront you’ve been dreaming about or support your favorite budding green business with a capital investment—there are many factors beyond time and money to consider when deciding what investment is right for you—but just don’t pour your all your time and money into something that is not going to help you reach your financial goals in the near future. Keep an eye on the big picture. Because after you make your first million in real estate, you can pay someone to do all the hard work to get that business off the ground or invest in whatever you like. That’s the beauty of financial freedom.