It’s funny how hedonic adaptation takes place in our lives quietly behind the scenes, year after year. The result is that we’re basically just as happy (or unhappy) as we’ve always been.
As a kid, I had no worries, no stress and no responsibilities. I woke up in the morning, went to school (if it was a weekday) or played with my siblings or friends around the neighborhood (if it was a weekend). Pretty awesome life I had there.
Fast forward fifteen years and now my days consisted of clocking in day after day to pay back money I had already spent on things that weren’t even exciting anymore. Not a super fun situation (but a very common one these days among adults). Was I just as happy as when I was a kid? Yes, basically.
Today, I wake up when I want (typically after 9am or so) and spend the day doing work I generally enjoy (all with the freedom to choose what I do and when I do it). It’s pretty awesome compared to where I was five years ago. My happiness? It’s as it has always been.
So sure, happiness may be fairly constant over time, but stress and frustration are not. Clocking in (or just not being able to spend time outside on a beautiful day), for me, makes me extremely frustrated. I’m just not one to be told to sit and stay put under florescent lights when the sun is shining outside.
Also, the stress I feel when relying on a single source of income is too much to handle for me. Some people can set their lifestyle very high, living in a nice house, driving fancy cars and carrying tons of debt, all while relying on a single source of income and yet, they don’t have stress about it.
I can’t do it, folks. If someone can say two words and cut off all my income, forcing me to move or take a job I hate or worse… then I’m sweating bullets.
Sweating bullets was exactly what I was doing throughout my twenties. I was $25,000+ in debt… had a lifestyle greater than I could afford AND had only one source of income.
I have one word for that….Dependence.
You may enjoy being dependent, but I don’t. Okay, maybe you don’t enjoy it either, but perhaps you’re content staying there. I’m not. I will fight to escape it every time as if my skin were completely consumed in flames.
Why? Because, in that position, you have no options. You have no control. You cannot live your best life in that situation. It’s a MASSIVELY URGENT problem for me and I hope you realize that it is for you as well.
Since then (2008), I’ve completely climbed out of it and created a position of independence.
The Three Pillars of Independence
The way I see it, there are three pillars of independence. The three of them form a triangle when drawn out as shown below.
These three pillars of independence (as I like to call them) are what I’ve focused on since starting my journey to create my independence in 2008.
Together, they give you a financial and career independence that frees you completely from being dependent on any single employer or client. They give you a foundation of independence that will completely change your life and allow you to do things with your life that you never dreamed possible.
Let’s dive into each of these three pillars to explore them individually:
Your Independence Fund Gives You Breathing Room
Your independence fund is a big pile of money. It’s as simple as that. The size that it needs to be is different for everyone. For one person, it might be $200k, for another, it might be $25k. For me, the number ended up being around $85k.
Back in 2008, I was a single guy. I had $25k worth of debt, a $30,000 salary and monthly expenses at about $2,500 a month or so. Today, I have zero debt, about $85k in savings/investments, a $40,000-$50,000 income (best guess… it’s harder to calculate without a steady paycheck) and monthly expenses at about $2,500.
Same level of spending, but I now have $110,000 more dollars… That’s what I call my independence fund. It basically means that I have enough padding to weather any type of possible storm that could come my way. My independence fund also allows me to take risks such as quitting my $60,000+ per year job to focus on building my own independent business (the third pillar).
I could have gotten by on less than $85k in my independence fund, but when I hit that point, it just felt like enough. I think that’s how you know where your number is. When it feels right and like you have enough, then you’re there.
Your Independence Platform Is Your Foundation
Your independence platform is your foundation for your independence. It sets up a base from where you can launch your independence business (the third pillar) from.
Your platform is a network of relationships. It’s an audience. It’s a brand. It’s a marketing channel.
Since it’s 2015, your platform is likely an online platform. Worldwide internet usage will surpass 3 billion users this year. That means you need to build your platform on the internet. No exceptions.
You can create your independence platform with a blog, podcast, web show (YouTube video channel) or even in other ways (although those are the popular ways).
The question is which one (or ones) to do, not whether to do it. You MUST do this today. Again, it’s 2015. If you don’t have a home on the internet, then you’re losing.
An independence platform gives you a place to connect with others. It builds credibility for you. It allows you to showcase the value you have to offer the world. It builds a marketing channel for you.
Finally, it sets you up to build your independence business, which will be the third and final pillar to creating independence.
Your Independence Business Completely Severs the Ties
Your independence business COMPLETELY severs your ties of dependency on any person, client or job. Once you have your independence business built, there will be no more living in your parent’s basement. With an independent business of your own, you won’t be spending any more years of your life looking busy, being miserable at a job you hate or even putting up with crap from any client or employer.
At the point of having your own independent business, you’re free my friend. You’re free to ONLY do work you care about. You’re free to take time off whenever you want to (think unlimited vacation time). With a business of your own, you can throw out that loud and annoying alarm clock and start waking up naturally every day.
Having an independent business brings independence full circle in your life as you now have a big pile of money, your own platform and your own business.
This means if anyone starts pushing you around, you can tell them where to stick it. It means if you want to move across the country (or world), you can do it. It means if you want to take a trip to Hawaii or Europe, you can do it (and take as long as you want).
It means if you want to only take clients who you like working with, you can.
It means complete independence. The real deal.