A few weeks ago I was sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Houston TX. I had been working on my laptop for a few hours when the 20-something girl behind the desk asked me what I was working on.
I told her that I help young people believe they can actually choose financial freedom.
We talked for a few minutes about money and how hard it is to learn how to manage it.
Then she said something funny.
“Well, it’s not like I’ll ever be financially free or whatever, but I’d like to at least get out of debt,” she said.
And that made me really sad.
This girl had already told herself the lie that she could never reach a place with money where she felt free. Where she felt at peace. She hadn’t even hit 30 yet, but she had already settled for a financially burdened life.
Like so many of us.
We think that financial freedom is a gift you receive or a place that you reach. We think it either happens to you or it doesn’t. You’re lucky enough to find it or you don’t.
But that simply isn’t true.
Financial freedom isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something that you actively choose.
What Helps You Achieve Financial Freedom
I know that sounds weird to say. That you just choose it.
After all, if you could just choose to be financially free, wouldn’t you?
But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.
Let’s look at this another way. Here are all of the potential things that could have an impact on your success with money.
- Knowing people that will help you get a high paying job
- Having parents who pay for college
- Having parents that taught you about practical money management
- Having parents at all
- Being naturally gifted in high paying skills
- Having tendencies towards saving rather than spending
- Working extremely hard to increase your income
- Working extremely hard to overcome negative spending habits and save money
- Having friends who are good with money
- Being born in a financially prosperous location
- Being born in a location with lots of career opportunities
- Being born during a time period of good returns in the stock market
- Not having to take care of your parents financially
- Receiving a substantial inheritance
- Choosing to take actions that put you closer to financial success
You’ll notice that some of these actions are passive and some are active.
Being born into a good family and in a good location are examples of things that happen to you. But working hard and choosing your friends wisely are actions that you take.
And of course, you don’t need to have all of these things to gain financial freedom. These are just possible routes that lead there.
However, there is one of these that every single person who has financial success must do.
Choice Is The Only Consistent Variable
Even if you are a trust fund baby or won the lottery, making choices is still a major factor in the equation.
As I’m sure you know, tons of people win the lottery and go bankrupt a few years later.
And there are plenty of people who inherit the family business and run it into the ground.
There are also lots of kids whose parents paid for college, helped them get a nice place to live, and set them up for future success and yet the kids can’t even hold down a decent job.
You may even know people like this.
But we don’t always remember. We have a tendency to focus on our lack of natural skills or luck compared with these people. We forget that they can still make choices that screw everything up. But just like choices that screw it all up, there are people who make choices that move them forward.
In fact, every person in the entire history of the world who is financially successful did so by making positive financial decisions. They did it, by choosing to take small actions every day that set them up for success.
No matter where they started on the path, they chose to spend less than they earned, invest wisely, and not go into debt.
They chose to work hard for their money and spend it on the things that truly mattered to them.
Regardless of your starting situation in life, the choices you make always matter. It’s the only variable that stays consistent across all forms of financial success.
William Jennings Bryan said it best:
Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.
The problem though is that most of us either don’t believe this, or we don’t want to believe this. Because if this isn’t true. If financial freedom isn’t something you choose. If instead, it’s something that just happens to you.
Then we’re off the hook.
We can just blame something or someone else for our financial issues, and it’s all good. But there’s a problem with that too…
Complaining Won’t Help You
It’s easy to point the finger at someone or somebody else, but the issue is that even if you’re right, it doesn’t solve the problem.
The problem is that you have financial struggles.
But the cold hard truth is nobody cares.
The problem with complaining, is that nobody cares.
Like, it sucks, I know. But it’s the truth.
But it’s the truth.
People care about themselves. People care about what directly impacts their own life. So when you complain, they may listen, but they probably aren’t going to care enough to actually do something for you.
Let me ask you this.
Have you ever gotten anywhere financially by blaming someone or somebody else? Maybe it was your parents for not teaching you, maybe it was the school system for not explaining student loans to you. Or maybe it was your crappy boss for not giving you that raise.
Whatever it is. Did you complain one day, and then all of sudden, have success?
Why? Because you can’t control other people’s actions and you can’t control the life you started out with. But there is one thing (and you can probably it), that you can control…
Choice Is The Most Controllable Thing
You don’t have any say in where you were born, how your parents raised you, your natural tendencies, or your God-given talent.
You don’t get to choose what century you live in and you don’t get to choose how other people treat you.
The only thing you have control over is what you do from here.
Some people think that financial freedom is something that happens to you. That it’s something that occurs if all of the right variables fall into place.
But that’s just not the case.
Sure, talent matters and some people do have a head start. But remember, nobody cares and you can’t change that.
The reason I harp on choice so much is because it’s literally the most controllable variable in your financial success.
You get to choose how hard you want to work and you get to choose how much money you want to save.
You can choose to be average at your job, spend more money than you make, and take out loans for everything. Or you can choose to save money, live below your means, and work your face off.
One of these paths leads to financial freedom and one leads to financial despair.
The choice is yours.
I’ll Leave You With This
Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 at the young age of 29. In 2009 he had this to say:
I have no choice about whether or not I have Parkinson’s. I have nothing but choices about how to react to it. In those choices, there’s freedom to do a lot of things in areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise found myself in.
Be like Michael J. Fox.
Recognize that the only path forward is by making choices. That’s the only way you can have the financial freedom you want.
If you’d like to learn super practical ways you can start choosing financial freedom. Sign up for my FREE 5 Lesson Email Course on Choosing Financial Freedom.