My biggest weakness is being unable to generate enough organic motivation to keep on hustling. I used to get up by 5am every weekday to work for 2-3 hours before work. Then I’d get home by 8pm and work another 1-2 hours on my side hustles. There was this massive internal drive to go all out to one day break free.
Now that I don’t have a day job, I get up around 6am and then zone out on my phone for 30 minutes before checking the refrigerator several times to see if there’s anything good to eat!
No wonder why my weight continues to creep higher. I’m just not trying hard enough. I admit it. Reaching financial independence has made me less productive by at least two hours a day. What a shame to no longer reach maximum potential.
Then one day I realized I had been sitting on two, $2,100 rent checks from my Pacific Heights tenants for one week. They’ve been great so far in terms of paying promptly. The only reason why I remembered carrying these checks is because I told my tenants to just take the cost of fixing the leaky kitchen faucet off their rent.
They reminded me they had already sent their rent checks, and given rent wouldn’t be due for another 3.5 weeks, they’d rather just get reimbursed directly. Oh yeah, that’s right.
The main reason why I forgot to deposit the $4,200 for a week is because I paid off the mortgage in 2015. After 13 years, the bank is no longer helping me stay financially disciplined.
Quarter Life Crisis
There’s so much history with this Pacific Heights rental property because I bought it when I just turned 26 in 2003. At the time, I was also losing my organic motivation after saving up around $200,000 and making $150,000 in a fortuitous internet stock four years after college. I knew I was lucky, but I was also tired of working 70+ hours a week.
9/11 was fresh on my mind and I was constantly wondering what was the point of working so long to make more money. I was incredibly tempted to just leave San Francisco and move to this beautiful 6.2-acre property my grandparents owned nestled in the Waianae mountain range in Oahu. Due to their advanced ages, they were no longer actively tending to the dozens of mango trees, pomelo trees, avocado trees, and orange trees they had planted decades ago. What a shame to see their hard work fade.
As I contemplate this quarter life crisis now as a middle-aged person, I realize how dangerous it is to grow up in a household with some wealth. As grade school teachers, my grandparents weren’t rich by any means. But they did buy this amazing property for $50,000 in the 1960s. If there wasn’t this property, I wouldn’t have even considered leaving work in my mid-20s due to a lack of options.
Taking on a $464,000 mortgage at 26 super charged my organic motivation. I changed from wanting to kick back in Hawaii to wanting to get into the office by 6am and outwork everybody every day. The last thing I wanted was to get laid off with such a large amount of debt. Debt saved me from short-circuiting my career by eight years.
If I moved to Hawaii at 26, I might be an incredible surfer by now. But I would have always wondered how far I could have gone in my career had I stayed. Now I have no regrets because I tried my best to get to Managing Director and failed.
Pre Mid-Life Crisis
When I left Corporate America in 2012 to focus on Financial Samurai, I never considered working part-time for anybody else. The goal was to concurrently build passive income streams and business income in order to never have to work again. It wasn’t until after being on my own for 1.5 years did I long to assimilate back into day-to-day society. Working by yourself gets lonely.
After consulting between November 2013 to December 2014, my enthusiasm for consulting began to fade. There were some personnel changes that helped accelerate my disinterest; meanwhile the learning curve had flattened. In order to energize myself to keep on going, I tethered 100% of my consulting income to paying off $91,000 in remaining Pacific Heights mortgage debt.
Such tethering allowed me to last for one more three-month consulting cycle with one company before finally calling it quits. Three months at this company wasn’t enough to pay down $91,000 in debt, so I took on two more clients until the goal was achieved by summer 2015. I was temporarily back to working 70 hours a week! Since that time, I’ve consulted for a couple other companies, but never with the same intensity.
If it weren’t for debt, I wouldn’t have gained three years worth of fintech and digital marketing experience. I never would have known what it was like to work with people who founded a seed stage company backed by Y Combinator. I never would have gotten to know various C-level executives that might look for media acquisitions either. Debt provided additional financial insurance through experience, which I can utilize if I ever need to go back to work full-time.
Organic Motivation Naturally Declines
For those of you who are in debt, embrace your debt in order to boost your organic motivation. Come up with a plan to pay it down faster. You won’t regret your achievement. The only caveat is that if you become debt free too quickly, you might accelerate your motivational decline. Therefore, the key is to time being debt free when you no longer have the energy or desire to work.
The opposite of organic motivation is inorganic motivation. Inorganic motivation is posting about your fabulous life on your blog or social media so you can gain adoration. But inorganic motivation can also involve seeking new challenges way outside your comfort zone. Unfortunately, inorganic motivation is hard to sustain because it doesn’t come naturally, at least to me.
It’s clear why there is discrimination against older workers for younger workers, especially at more nascent companies. The older you are, the less organic motivation you have. With more money in the bank and less debt, it’s natural not to want to kill yourself as badly as younger workers who have everything to prove. Further, older workers may have family they’d rather spend time with. Biologically, older workers may simply have less energy than they once did.
If you add up age discrimination in the work place, declining organic motivation, and a finite lifespan, you should have more than enough reasons to achieve financial independence as soon as possible!
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