Financial liberation is beyond most people’s reach because of the following four myths and destructive mind-sets:
1. The Retirement Myth
2. The Financial Freedom Myth
3. The Entitlement Mentality
4. The Fallacy of “Someday”
The Retirement Myth
The retirement myth is the idea that the purpose of life is to work for thirty years, save enough money, and then stop working and live off one’s savings. This destructive myth causes many people to stay in jobs they don’t like and that don’t allow them full expression of their best talents. It makes us sell our “birthright” for a “mess of pottage” in the form of golden handcuffs and benefits. It often leads to small lives built around limited dreams.
In contrast to this myth, the financially liberated find what they love to do, regardless of what it may cost them in short-term benefits and illusory security. If you’re doing what you love, why would you ever want to retire? Why would you ever want to escape? How can one retire from living their core purpose? In this mind-set, life is a continuum, where new life phases only lead to higher contributions.
The Financial Freedom Myth
The core difference between those operating under this myth and those with the retirement mind-set is that these people are just a little more ambitious. They don’t want to wait until they are sixty-five; they want to be free now. However, for most people, being financially free has very little to do with their highest purpose in life. It signifies freedom from having to work, without detailing the freedom to live and serve with more meaning. I associate it with the “playboy” lifestyle. As I’ve perceived it, it’s based on materialism rather than meaning. It hinges on having money, rather than revolving around values and ideals.
But more than this, my issue with “financial freedom” is that it is indefinite and dependent upon externalities. When will you be financially “free”? When you are worth $1 million? When you have $3 million of liquid cash? When your house is paid off? Is there not an internal liberation that one can achieve in spite of such external circumstances? Is it possible to transcend time and account balances and be free regardless by living your higher purpose?
The Entitlement Mentality
I’m not alone in believing that Americans, through ease and plenty, have developed an entitlement mentality. We feel entitled to retirement, to comfort, to job security, to health care, to work benefits. This leads to wallowing in victimhood, rather than achieving victory. It leads to the relinquishing of personal responsibility and perceiving that other people owe us our desired lifestyle. Rather than proactively pursuing personal fulfillment, we wait around for other people and circumstances to fall into place. We wait for our “ship” to come in, rather than swimming out to meet it, or simply creating it.
The Fallacy of “Someday”
“Someday I’ll own a business.” “Someday I’ll invest in real estate.” “Someday I’ll run for political office.” “Someday I’ll lose weight.” You’ve heard these and other similar thoughts expressed, or perhaps you’ve even expressed them yourself, right? We all do. The problem is this: When is someday? There are certainly things that require planning and patience, but “someday” is but a counterfeit of such wisdom and perseverance. The lack of money is just a symptom of the lack of purpose in one’s life; money cannot fill that void.
“Someday” is an excuse for playing small in the moment. If you really want something, then sit down and create a comprehensive plan for achieving it, complete with a timeline, detailed steps, and what you’re willing to do. The financially liberated don’t casually spout out “somedays”; they deliberately proclaim specifics.