Earning Your Freedom

Mike Shell on boat

Photo by Christi Shell

As I sit here this morning in my favorite place watching ESPN College Game Day getting ready to spend the Labor Day weekend on the lake, I was thinking…

Over the years, I’ve asked many people what is most important to them. What I’ve learned is that while we all have different ways we like to spend our time, at the end of the day what we really want is freedom. That is, freedom to do what we want, when we want.

I want to share with you my beliefs about freedom and how to earn it.

An employee is hired to operate a system that another created. Their job is to operate the system; maybe it’s an engineer working for a large engineering firm or a physician working for a large medical practice. For that, the employee enjoys having a system they operate, but that they don’t have to create or necessarily keep updated. They enjoy the job stability.

The self-employed person is one who believes they can do it better, so they start their own firm or medical practice and create their own systems to manage the business. But, the self-employed person also operates the system. They are there, running the system they created. And they have to be there, or there is no system.

As they shift more toward freedom, they can become a business owner. The business owner hires all the necessary people to completely run the business. He or she can take nice long vacations without closing the business because employees are running the business. But, they still have to be the business owner and oversee the business as that owner, no matter if they call themselves President, CEO, or Chairman. It’s an active responsibility to oversee the business.

The ultimate freedom is the investor. The investor isn’t a business owner and operator, but instead an investor. The investor is passive in his or her investment. An investor earns profit and loss, like a business owner, but without having to actually do anything other than investing capital. The investor can sail the world on a yacht, see the country in an RV, spend every day at the beach house or mountains with the family, or do whatever he or she wants to do. The investor has full freedom. That’s what I think we all want.

Sometimes people truly love how they earn their capital. Maybe they can do it to the end. But more often than not, the aging process doesn’t allow them to do it to the end, so they’ve got to become an investor at some point.

There are many ways to earn freedom. We don’t have to start and grow a business to end up as an investor. You can be an employee and save and invest into a retirement fund. No matter how you do it, we all want freedom and that necessarily means earning and accumulating a retirement fund large enough that you find your own freedom to do what it is you really want.

I may have a unique perspective on this because I own an investment management business that helps people do that; I’m a trader, and an investor.

Have a great Labor Day weekend! and maybe the best teams win!

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