In the Western Civilization, I feel the masses are taught a blueprint to live their life. This blueprint is supposed to create a life of meaning, value and happiness. Major factors include your ability to have resources, relationships and good health. The blueprint looks something like this:
⦁ Go to school to develop a skillset
⦁ Get a job, start your own business or maybe both
⦁ Start building a family (the responsibility years)
⦁ After the responsibility years are over, reclaim your life so that you can live the rest of your years on your terms.
I think there is lots of data to support that this blueprint can create both success and happiness. The big question, “Is this the probable outcome or does life turn differently than you expected?” It is important to remember that there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between what is possible and what is probable. Let me share some data that convinced me that having the life I wanted required a NEW BLUEPRINT.
Let’s playout this blueprint over time and see what life looks like for most people. A US person will make about $54,000 per year which is 50 times greater than 2/3 of the world and 15x greater than the world average. Now let’s look at life over time if we follow this blueprint.
If you have a Bachelors degree, you will earn approximately $1.8 million in your lifetime. Men earn, on average, almost $1 million more over their working lifetime than women because women are more likely to take time away from the workplace, work part-time, or choose lower paying jobs with flexibility in order to be the primary caregiver of children. Even without these factors, the latest data shows that woman earn 80% of what men earn in the marketplace.
Now let’s play this out over time and offset the lifetime earned income to the lifetime expenses.
As you can see from the chart below from the Census Bureau Current Population Survey 2016, incomes start going backwards once we are over our responsibility years. This is typically the “catch up” time for most people as they use their 50’’s and 60’s to build enough net worth to enjoy some level of retirement.
Average and median income by age range
If I study this from the other side of the picture, accumulated savings, this further supports that this blueprint doesn’t create a compelling financial future. Almost 50% of all Americans have no savings. The rule of thumb for retirement is to have your savings at 10 times your final income. As you can see from the chart below, the blueprint really creates a financial picture where very few get to live life on their terms.
So what is the big lessons? For me it is to build a better blueprint and to do it as soon as possible. Take control of your life at as early age as possible. If you don’t own your financial future, you are a slave to the system. You always want to live below your means. However, my wealth grew when I had a major shift in mindset. That shift was to put my energy into creating more income, not trying to budget every dollar. This mindset allowed me to seek abundance vs. manage a life of scarcity. Although I was always a saver, as soon as I felt my budget was controlling my life, I put 100% of my focus on creating more income to overcome that challenge.
In the end, it comes down to three simple choice. The first is acceptance. You can follow your current blueprint and live with the benefits and consequences of that choice. In my book, that is choosing to live in a state of stasis or in a comfort zone. That type of thinking has never served me well. The second is to focus on what you cannot control. These are the victims in life whose narrative is about how the world and all those in it are the enemy. History shows this kills resourcefulness, stops change and leads you down a path of suffering. The only right choice is the 3rd choice – focus on what you can control. Any of us have the ability to change our lives. I have found that strategies to do so are easy to find and apply. However, change is more of an exercise in courage than mechanics. The big question is, “Do you have the courage to build the life you want or are going to compromise and build a life way below your potential?”