I just got back from Cabo San Lucas and it was a relaxing five days of lounging on the beach, watching whales at play, eating fish tacos, and exploring the Baja. I rarely get to relax like that but I am making it a new habit because I had a explosion of creativity. Just sitting with a pad and paper watching the ocean, I came up with a dozen new blog topics and even a good topic for a book. I am really enjoying my time freedom which leads me to this blog post. What is the definition of time freedom and how can we achieve it? Loaded question!
Before I dig in let me start with a story that has lots of relevance. It’s a short story from Tim Ferriss’s book 4 Hour Work Week that takes place in Mexico (very fitting as I was just there) about a Mexican fisherman and an American businessman.
An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.
“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.
“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”
I love it! I see this story as an analogy for the fact that many of us take the long road to time freedom and that it may be right under our nose the whole time. I do want to point out that this is not a post to discourage building wealth or building a business but yet to remind you that financial freedom does not equal time freedom.
This Is Not What I Dreamed About
Often so many of us accomplish our goals and find that its “not what we dreamed about.” Some find themselves actually worse off then they were when they set out to accomplish their financial goals. We have to find that perfect balance.
Lets first look at an equation we all know well. Work Harder=More Money. Simple equation and in most cases it works. The more hours your work, the more you will get paid (or eventually get paid) BUT you are trading time for money and you are painting yourself into a corner because the more value your provide, the more important you will be.
The more important you will be, the more responsibility you will have. Your bank account may get fat but there is no exit strategy until you retire and “cash out.” You don’t own your career, IT OWNS YOU.
How about a smarter equation that can take care of both your time and financial freedom. Work SMARTER (automate) + Delegate (outsource low value tasks) + Passive Income = Time & Financial Freedom. Now don’t get overwhelmed from this equation. Its easier than you think. Let me break down each part of the equation.
Work smarter (automate)- What I mean here is that everyone (even employees) has the ability to create a more efficient system that makes them more efficient while accomplishing more in less time.
Delegate- Everyone has the ability to outsource low value tasks that are taking up too much of your valuable time. I have a VA I pay $20/week that does research and emailing for me. Can you afford $80/month to free up 10-15 hours a week? Sure you can.
Passive income- This is the fun part. This is where we make money whether we work or not. If you are an employee you may not have the ability to create passive income from your job but you absolutely have the ability to create passive income on the side with all the time you just freed up by automating and delegating.
There are dozens of ways to make passive income including; buying and renting apartments, building and online product, writing a book, creating a blog, having someone sell stuff on ebay for you, etc. Commit to learning about passive income and find the method you are most excited about. Here is a great list provided by an article in the Huffington Post.
What Does It Mean To You
So what does time freedom mean to you? Write down your definition and ask yourself what you would do to achieve that time freedom. My definition of time freedom is to be able to “do what I want or go where I want, whenever I want.”
If your were married and/or had children perhaps your definition would be having the ability to “spend time with those you love as much as possible and to grow that immutable bond.” It’s your definition so it can be whatever you want it to be.
Next use the equation I provided above and figure out how to automate, delegate, and create passive income. At first it will seem like you are working harder and working more hours but your goal is that illusive TIME FREEDOM so yeah you may have to put in the extra effort.
By changing your thinking from the first equation that traps you until you retire or die (yes some people die even before they get to enjoy their money and time freedom) to taking the initiative to working smarter, learning how to delegate, and learning how to create passive income, you will achieve the time freedom you dreamed of no matter what your definition is.
I want to finish with a great quote from my recent trip to Cabo.
“The longer you work, the shorter you LIVE.”
-Panama Jack in Todo Santos