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If trading hours for dollars is the only way you can generate an income, you’re guaranteed to be broke your entire life!

At fourteen and nine months of age I was legally allowed to get a job. I’d previously been employed by family and a regular Sunday morning cash job cleaning the public areas of a hotel but on the week I became legally employable I got my first job at McDonalds. As if it were only yesterday I can remember the experience of my first payday. Momentarily it was an experience of total freedom! I remember planning where the new found wealth would be invested days before my first payday even arrived.

When it did finally arrive, I withdrew a sum of money from the ATM and swiftly ventured towards my destination. It was a shop called Sunflower Music at the Pacific Fair shopping centre where I worked. Within minutes I was the proud owner of two new posters, they were of my two favourite bands at the time, Korn and Slipknot. Although I didn’t recognise it at the time, as I walked out of that shop I experienced something that would change the way I made financial decisions forever. After making the purchase, I remember coming to the realisation that those two posters at $10 each had taken more than four hours of my life to earn because I was earning $4.70 per hour. That may not seem like a big deal but I have since recognised the vast majority of adults fail to come to this realisation before it is too late, if ever. My epiphany was that every purchase I made would come at a measurable cost of my time if I was trading hours for dollars. I hope you understand the magnitude of what I’ve just said because if you fail to make this connection it will keep you broke for the rest of your life.

Even at fourteen it was clear to me that trading hours for dollars simply doesn’t work or make any sense at all. The funny thing about this statement is that it seems to be so blatantly obvious to me I thought it would be almost impossible to find someone who didn’t understand it. Maybe I would meet someone who didn’t get it at first but after explaining the mathematical equation they would surely turn around and say “You’re right… I just hadn’t looked at it that way.” The strange thing was, as I discussed this with people later on in life, not only did they not see it, they completely disagreed with me. To me the matter was a simple equation. Let me explain it in this way…

You see, if I were to give you my (over simplified) equation for financial success it would be this… TIME + MONEY = FINANCIAL SUCCESS.

The problem I found when I first began to discuss the topic with people, they thought I meant MONEY = SUCCESS or MONEY = HAPPINESS.

It’s important to point out that I see financial success and happiness as two different things. I don’t believe financial success guarantees happiness and I’ve had to spend as much of my life devoted to figuring out how to be happy from day to day as I have learning about how to become financially free.

Looking back on my early days of increased ambition and desire to achieve, I can see the reasons why my excitement was met with criticism and hostility but I didn’t see it at the time so I often found myself in the middle of heated discussions.

If my formula is TIME + MONEY = FINANCIAL SUCCESS then it seems ridiculous to me to try achieve the goal of FINANCIAL SUCCESS by giving up my TIME in order to get MONEY. It’s a simple mathematical equation that doesn’t add up because you need both! I also realised that my time was far more valuable to me than money so I needed to find a way not to waste it at a job if I was going to achieve happiness.

To make this equation even more ridiculous, consider this… Does it not seem completely bizarre to you that the majority of people willingly give up their time which is a commodity of extreme value. It can’t be reproduced or multiplied, you get to spend it once. They trade this in for a commodity of lesser value (money) which can easily be reproduced, multiplied, created or whatever way you want to look at it? Maybe I’m just a bit slow but that makes no sense to me at all!!

Whenever you hear the story of a man or woman on their deathbed reciting their final wishes, have you ever heard the request of “Bring me all of my money!” or “Can you please bring me some paperwork from my office, I’d like to do a little more before I die”? Not a chance, it is always, always, always, let me spend my last moments with the ones I love, let me spend my last moments reflecting on the times in my life that brought me the most joy! If this is consistently the wishes of those who have gone before us and experienced the feeling of their last hours, then why are we not using their hindsight as our foresight? Is this not the greatest insight to our own happiness that we could ever receive? If this is not the truth of happiness then I don’t know what is.

Hopefully you will come to the conclusion at a young age as I did that your time is far more important than money. If that’s the case I want to share one of the most valuable lessons taught to me by one of my first mentors…

Time is the most expensive thing you will ever buy!

As an entrepreneur, you need to be focused on generating income that isn’t directly related to the number of hours you spend at work. This is the thing that separates you from the employees who will be forever chasing a pacheque. Sure, they will never know the stress of wondering when you are going to be paid next during the early phases as an entrepreneur but they will also never know what it’s like to achieve total financial freedom. I would choose short term pain for a long term gain any day of the week!