In most of the financial planning seminars that I have conducted, I’ve always asked the audience, “Who among you want to be rich?” Definitely, all hands would be up. No one dreams of being poor. My next question, “Who among you are willing to do whatever it takes to be rich?” Still all of them would raise their hands, although I could easily read doubt etched across their faces.
All of us want to be rich, but only a few will do what is necessary to make that dream a reality.
The mystery of why people find financial success an elusive goal is not far from the reason why our heart’s desires are not within our reach. We want to have a sexy figure, but who wants the sacrifice of waking up early in the morning to run 10 kilometers or even take a healthy diet? Surely, we do not wish to acquire a debilitating disease such as cancer, but do we have the willpower to quit smoking?
As Cicero once said, “What we pleasure, and rightly so, is the absence of all pain.” Meaning, if we are seeking something, we need to find ways of making it pleasurable to work toward achieving our goal. It is challenging to be rich because it will require us to do something painful, at least in the short term. Depriving yourself of drinking your favorite fancy coffee or wearing your favorite signature clothes, for instance, is not easy to do. In fact, it is more pleasurable to spend money on what we desire to have now. We are well aware that it is painful to be poor, but right now while we have money to spend, we cannot feel that pain. We only realize the pain of poverty when we have squandered all our hard-earned money.
Human nature dictates that we should enjoy the present. We always search for happiness that lasts now and forever. Unfortunately, wealth building does not happen overnight. Financial planning is one of the most important tools in wealth generation. It is defined as the long-term process of wisely managing your finances. Here comes the problem: if financial planning requires a long-term process, how can we become rich if we are motivated mostly by short-term wants? Becoming wealthy is important, but this goal is often jeopardized by short-term thinking. This is the reason why many of the corporate slaves who work more than 40 years of their life end up retiring with nothing. If you want to retire early in life, you need to start doing it the moment you receive your paycheck and think of it as a long-term obligation.
Yes, it’s okay to treat ourselves from time to time for the hard work we have accomplished, but we should not forget to develop a habit that will give us our desired result for the long run. Long-term obligations, such as sending our children to school and retirement will definitely happen. It is true that those might be considered painful obligations, and addressing those long-term goals will be the least painful alternative. People splurge on shopping sprees not because they don’t want to be rich but because they love the experience of having their temporary ‘wants’ satisfied now. Similarly, others are investing not because they don’t want to buy things, but they love the idea of long-term financial independence.
For sure, starting to set aside an amount for your financial freedom in the future will not create an immediate result. Just be patient, after five years of doing it consistently, you will realize that you are becoming more secure financially. You won’t get lung cancer overnight, so don’t expect that you can be rich overnight too. Persistence is the name of the game.
Many people are always on the lookout for the next big secret to becoming wealthy; the fact is—there is no secret. All you need to do is to follow the wealth-building process—earn more, spend less, save some, invest aggressively, and repeat the process. That’s it.
Why only a few of us become wealthy is revealed by the fact that no matter how simple the process may look, people find it hard to develop the discipline. But it is a choice: you may put an end to that short-term way of thinking, or you may suffer in the long run. It’s all up to you!