I vividly remember sitting at my desk in early 2014. I was living and working in Birmingham as an IT support technician for one of the UKs largest MSPs. I remember looking around and couldn’t help but wonder whether this was where I wanted to spend the next 5, 10 or even 20 years of my life.
And no, I don’t mean that office, or even that particular company. I wondered whether I wanted to be stuck behind a desk, working a 9 – 5 job for a fixed salary to pay off a mortgage. Many of the older guys were doing exactly that, and by the time their debts were finally paid off, they were often too old to enjoy the small amount of financial freedom it had given them.
I decided that I wanted complete freedom – and I knew that I was never going to achieve it by building the dreams of somebody else (in this case the company’s Board of Directors). In fact, I discovered that this kind of freedom can only be achieved by focusing on three key areas of your life. These are freedom of time, freedom of money and freedom of location.
Freedom of Time
Freedom of time means that your income is not directly tied to your time. For example, there are only 24 hours in a day. Assuming you didn’t sleep and worked every single hour of every single day for 7 days @ $10 per hour – you’d still only be able to make a maximum of $1,680 per week. Of course, nobody is superhuman and most people can only work 8 – 12 hours per day. So given the time for money exchange model, it’s difficult to build any real kind of income.
Freedom of Money
Freedom of money means that you can do whatever you choose to do in life without having to consider whether or not you can afford it. Imagine being able to go shopping without looking at the price tags, or being able to pay for your parents retirement, or being able to send your children to the best private schools – all without having to consider the financial repercussions. Freedom of money quite literally means being able to do exactly what you want, whenever you want.
Freedom of Location
Finally, freedom of location means exactly what it says. Want to work from home and spend more time with your children? You can do it. Want to avoid the daily rat race that takes place in cities all over the world? Go for it! Want to travel the world and work from a beach in the Caribbean while you’re served beautiful cocktails? No problem! You don’t have a single physical location to be in and you can work from anywhere (e.g. I’m writing this post from the Gold Coast, Australia. Last weekend I was in the Netherlands. The week prior to that, I was on the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy).
To help this make more sense let’s also break down the primary three stages of life: which are childhood, adulthood and elderly retirement. During our childhood years we have often have lots of free time, but of course we’re too young to have any money. We’re also bound to the location of our parents. During adulthood we normally get ourselves a job, which means we finally have some form of income, but we often have to exchange this money for time and go to work in an office or another fixed location.
During our retirement we may have lots of money saved (if we’re lucky), and we may have the freedom to be wherever we want, but the downside is we’re usually short on time. I mean what’s the point in having lots of money if you don’t have many years left to enjoy it? And more importantly, what’s the point in having lots of money if you’ve become sick or in poor health? The ultimate goal is to have all three.
I believe that the perfect lifestyle is having complete freedom of time, money and location. And all while being young enough to enjoy it. So that’s the goal that I decided I’d set for myself – and while I’ve made huge steps towards it, it’s one that I’m still working towards today. Now I run a company that provides cyber security awareness training – but we’re not doing it in a traditional sense.
Rather than building a business with a physical office we’re building a distributed team, because I believe that other people should also be able to work from wherever they like. The software, processes and support structures within the business mean that any new person we bring on board can work from anywhere in the world too – so long as they have an internet connection.
I believe that the perfect lifestyle is having complete freedom of time, money and location. And all while being young enough to enjoy it.
Sure, you need a great product, but you also need a great business model. The income from the company is infinitely scalable and it isn’t tied directly into my time since we have no physical inventory and deliver a software product to our customers. It’s this scalability that largely provides complete freedom of money, which combined with freedom of time and location allows me to live a flexible lifestyle.
That said, it wasn’t easy. I’ve had to make lots of sacrifices along the way, and I’m sure that there’ll be many more to come. I had to give up my job in Australia to pursue that dream. I quit my full-time role in South Brisbane, which also meant giving up the Australian visa I’d worked so hard to achieve. I had to move out of a beautiful apartment on the beach, sell my car and many of my possessions, sink my savings into a high risk business and move 10,000 miles away from everything I’d worked so hard for. All to go back home and sleep on my Mum’s sofa in Birmingham – people thought I’d gone mad.
I think if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from the entire experience it’s that you’ve got to be willing to put your back against the wall. You’ve got to be constantly expanding your comfort zone. You’ve got to find out exactly what you want from your life and then decide that you’re going to do whatever it takes to get it. You’ve got to be willing to risk everything you have today, in order to achieve the life that you want for yourself tomorrow. After all, as Henry Ford famously said “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”.
So apply for that new job, go and travel that new country or start that business you’ve always dreamed about. You’ll always regret the things that you didn’t much more than the things that you did.