If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”
― Dave Ramsey
I lived like everybody else. I woke up at 5:30 am to get on a train at 6:10 am, so I could be on time at work. Walking to the train station, I prayed I could stay at home with my family. I plugged through the workday without much interest, wishing I’d have been somewhere else. On a train back home, I usually napped fighting off the sleep deficit.
I spent a few precious hours living my life, taking care of household chores, and playing with my kids. I stole a couple hours from my sleep reading or playing computer games.
I had a life of an average Joe, living from paycheck to paycheck. Saving a few percent of my salary was a constant battle. I never tried to explore the life outside my small social bubble. My health was OK-ish; other than an infection about twice a year and murderous allergy during a pollen season, I was fine.
I participate in the elite coaching program (the price: five average monthly salaries). Other trainees are mostly from the corporate world and at the manager positions. I listen to their pain points and they are almost exactly the same like mine had been 10 years ago – stress and pressure in their day jobs, lack of time for self-care and for their families.
I fight off the urge to pinch myself. I enjoy my life so much better. The golden cage is not a danger for me anymore. I still work in the corporate world, but only 10 hours a week. I have three other solid income sources – book royalties, coaching, and my own business.
I make more money than some of my colleagues from the coaching program. I earn less than some of them. But I enjoy the most freedom out of them. I work 30-40 hours a week. If any of my income sources annihilates overnight, it will make exactly zero impact on my finances in the long term.
I don’t remember when I last missed my daughter’s singing recital.
I make sure I take care of myself, dedicating about three hours a day to my personal development, spiritual practices, and health.
I credit to those disciplines my good health. Other than COVID in October 2020, I wasn’t sick in 2-3 years. My allergy symptoms greatly subdued.
Living Like No One Else
10 days ago, on a whim, I decided to take a 4-day trip to Budapest, Hungary. My friend, Marc Reklau, invited me to come over. My schedule cleared when an event was cancelled due to COVID. Within one hour, I decided to go and purchased the plane tickets.
I dropped everything and visited my friend, who I’ve known only from online interactions. It was a Thanksgiving week, so I actually had fewer calls with my US customers and prospects. I worked a little bit, but the bulk of our days we spent on conversations, exchanging our experiences, and sightseeing Budapest. We ate out every evening.
This is what freedom means to me, and it was a hard-won freedom indeed.
I lived like nobody else. I woke up at 4:10 am to get on a train at 6:10. I dedicated my early morning to my small daily ritual, which objective was to remind me what my life priorities are and give me motivation. On a train to work, I wrote.
But that was just half of my commute. On the way to work, I also repeated my personal mission statement, trained on speed reading and read a book written by a saint for at least 10 minutes.
Whenever I could spare some time in my day job, I read, researched or listened to personal development programs. On a train back home, I wrote and/or napped.
I replaced watching TV, fiction reading and computer games with writing, researching, and studying. I learned how to publish and market eBooks on Amazon. That month, I published my third book.
Including my day job, I was working 12-14 hours a day during workdays and several hours on Saturdays. I started hustling so hard around April 2013 and kept hustling till February 2016. Or longer.
And I still had a life of a normal person. Household chores. Playing with kids. Church community responsibilities. Doctor appointments. Tax paperwork.
Spectators watching me from a sideline would have said I lost my mind and didn’t enjoy my life.
But what would they know? I utterly enjoyed those few years; at least in the moments when I wasn’t completely exhausted.
The Question of Price
I think the most obvious secret is that living like everybody else and like anybody else requires the same energy and effort.
I know very well the price of the day job stress; the numbing feeling when you immerse yourself in various mindless activities to forget about the everyday struggle; the empty void when you are spending hours doing something unfulfilling, day after day, after day.
I know very well the price of purposeful drive; long hours spent on your own projects with no support whatsoever; a fulfilling joy, when something you created helped another human being.
Achieving success is tough. It takes perseverance. The output is never guaranteed. A couple of my books were complete flops, and it hurt when long months spent on producing them provided very meager return. It takes time. The hustle takes ruthless self-honesty and responsibility.
But not achieving success is not easy at all. Look around. Don’t you know the stories of people who lived like everybody else and they wasted their health, or became addicts, or ended up divorced, lost lifetime savings and their homes, or landed in a mental health institution? Very often, success in the corporate world leaves a scorched earth. Pshaw! Often, just being average in the corporate world equals to paying the price in your health, relationships, spirituality, or just in plain self-worth.
The Law of Sowing and Reaping
Photo by Sami Abdullah from Pexels
I sowed for a few years like no one else, so now I can reap the benefits like no one else. And ‘everybody else’ was not doing much throughout the years I hustled, so they are in the same position they were several years ago – trapped in their day jobs, dependent on a single source of income.
The corporate salary is supposed to be a ‘safe’ income source. And usually it is, just up to the moment it’s not. When I got laid off in 2009, there was nothing safe about it.
We had savings for about two months of maintaining our modest lifestyle. I got lucky and found a new job in about a month, but what if I hadn’t? Our situation could’ve easily spiraled into downright poverty, in just a few months. ‘Safe’ income, indeed!
I’m not a multimillionaire. I still have to work and provide for my family every month. Yet, I enjoy a lifestyle of a retiree (but with more money) – I’m doing what I like to do and when I want to do it. Or a lifestyle of a business owner (but with less stress) – I, not anybody else, decide which project is worth investing my money and energy, and I am free to pivot or take a break whenever I choose.
And I can enjoy this kind of life exactly because I sowed like crazy for a few years.
Money Is Just One of the Fruits of Sowing
I’m reaping the fruits of relationships I’ve built.
My proofreader is one of my readers. She also helps me with copywriting. My friend is also my formatter and helps me with cover designs.
I had been active in a Facebook group for authors, and one guy from there offered free editing and marketing services for me. The book he helped me with became my first bestseller. I have scores of such stories.
I’m reaping the fruits of the reputation I’ve built.
My customers refer me to other authors. Referrals are my only source of business. When I practiced as a habit coach, it was enough for me to mark myself available on Coach.me, and every single week I had new prospects because they saw testimonials of my coachees.
I’m in the top 2% earners in my country, and I rarely work even 40 hours a week. I do what I (mostly) like to do. I have a feeling that I’m making the world better with my contributions. I give a part-time income to several people.
And I attend every family and social occasion my wife or kids want me to attend. I can drop everything and go on the 4-day trip abroad in a matter of hours.
I live like no one else in my neighborhood, because I put some extra effort no one else around was willing to take.
You can have freedom and resources to live your life like you want. If I could do it in a totally random fashion in one of the most competitive industries in the world (writing), you can easily get better results, faster.
Imagine the life you want to have. The life like no one else has.
Hustle for a few years, like no one else, and it may be reality.
Originally published at Medium.