There is a very old saying, “Hindsight is 20/20” which means that after events have happened, you have a clearer vision of them than before or while they occur.
If you are consciously seeking to live an intentional life, to become wealthy – or to at least be comfortable financially, perhaps you can use some of the below reflections on what I might have done differently to accumulate wealth.
Here are my reflections on a faster path to wealth. Here is what I would tell my younger self to do, knowing what I now know.
Look past your own world.
Observe the world around you and the people in it.
When your parents take you on vacation each year, really look at how other people live and what they do to earn money. Don’t just gawk at the scenery and fight with your brother like I did.
Look around you and see all of the businesses people are running! Take tours of factories and shops and talk to the people working there. Find out what they do, how they like it and how they got started. Talk to the manager or owner to see why they are in that position – what are the benefits and drawbacks. Know that there are more businesses than just retail stores!
Read biographies of successful people, instead of fiction. They will show you what is possible in other people’s worlds. They show you that there are many opportunities out there, if you just decide to do them – and give you some specifics as to how.
Show interest in the lives and works of the parent’s of your friends and sorority sisters. They are accountants, store owners, business owners, factory workers, lawyers, teachers, administrators and more. Find out what their world is like to see if you want to try it out.
In short, get a broader base of knowledge about the world and how it works so you can seek or build opportunities for yourself.
Understand the importance of knowing people.
Talk to successful people and find out how they got their start. Chances are someone recommended them for the job, or pushed them to challenge themselves, or contacted someone they knew to get them that first loan or book deal.
You are going to work in a corporate mail room and deliver mail to executives as a summer job. When you do that, don’t just deliver the mail! Strike up conversations with the assistants to the executives. Take note of how those executives carry themselves, speak and dress. Learn what you can about the function they serve in the company and why that function is needed. Don’t just deliver the mail and scurry back to the comfort of the mail room as I did.
Start a business or work in high school.
Studying isn’t everything. Sure, maintain your grades, but get some real world experience. Don’t wait to work until summers in college. I know you hate to babysit, but there are plenty of other self-employment options. Start your own tutoring service, build a baby sitter referral business, deliver newspapers, do something to gain exposure to the business world.
Open your eyes in college.
Look around at the world of business and decide where to head, then find a course of study to support that. Don’t take a degree merely because the information is interesting to you or easy for you. It’s hard to get a job with a liberal arts degree in psychology.
You attended a university that specialized in writing, you love to write. Think about a degree in journalism. Your future sibling in-laws won accounting degrees and became CPAs and CFOs, you could do that.
Get a degree that can land a job or help you start that business.
Use college facilities and contacts to land that first job out of college. Studying hard is necessary and beneficial, but it is not everything. Likewise, doing great at what you are hired to do is necessary and beneficial, but is not all there is to getting ahead in a job. Build contacts in the college recruiting office and networks within your degree field so that you can call on them to recommend you and refer you to the hiring managers in your field.
Get established with career or self-employment before starting a family.
Don’t rush into marriage and child rearing. Establish yourself in your chosen field first and then try to stay current within it. Or, develop a business you can run during those child rearing years – while at home.
You started a day care home to earn money to go back to college for a programming degree. You could be the owner of multiple daycare franchises by now. You recognized the need for fast food in that small town you lived in after marriage – go ahead and pursue that McDonald’s franchise – take that risk – Dad might even loan you the money to get started.
Satisfy your real estate investing cravings.
You know how much you love playing monopoly with your best friend. You see your parents renting out their former houses and getting rental income. Ask them about the ins and outs of real estate investing. Read books from the library about it. Take some action while you are in your twenties to buy a house sooner. Build up your properties by buying rental real estate in your thirties and forties.
Millionaire Corner statistics show that multi millionaires get a million or more in income per year from their rental properties (even after the real estate crash in 2012).
Don’t forget to do all the things I actually managed to get right.
I did, after all, end up with a wonderful family, kids and grandkids and am healthy, wealthy and pretty happy!
Be persistent, study hard, keep learning throughout life, save and invest and don’t take on uncontrolled debt. Make sure your future partner is financially responsible. Oh, and enjoy your life as you march through it – you don’t get a second round.
What do you think of my advice to my younger self? What would you share with your child self?