For every rule, there is an exception. And some rules are meant to be broken.
Sometimes having good rules of thumb serves you well, and other times those same rules of thumb might hold you back, box in your thinking, or perhaps decelerate your progress toward a goal.
Early retirement is no such exception. Rules work for many, but there are many roads to Dublin.
Accidentally Retired takes a look at some rules on the path to wealth and happiness that are meant to be broken.
I retired at 36.
Yet, I never worked over 40 hours a week, rarely traveled for business, and changed careers multiple times.
I ignored society’s rules.
Society’s norms are expected behaviors to help us all get along in a respectful way.
But norms are meant to be modified…and you can break society’s rules without bothering anyone at all.
If you want to build wealth and/or retire early, you need to see many of the norms for what they are. False constraints.
Society as a whole wants predictability, but I ignored some of society’s status quos, and you can too!
12 Society Norms to Break
If you want to build wealth AND a happy life at the same time, it is time to ditch many of these norms:
Norm #1: You have to work long hours to succeed
I can say without a doubt that you do not need to work long hours to succeed.
Hours worked doesn’t translate into wealth.
The more hours you work, the more likely it is you are wasting your time. You may be literally “filling” the time with things to do, rather than focusing on what you actually need to get done.
Instead of hours worked, you should focus on your effectiveness.
The most effective among us have the same number of hours as everyone else, yet they deploy them better, often much better than people with far greater raw talent.
– Peter F. Drucker, The Effective Executive
When your emphasis is less on how busy you are and how many hours you are working, and more on how effective and productive you are, the hours you work truly do not matter.
Norm #2: You need to be glued to a device 24/7
First, it was email.
Then it was instant messaging.
Now there are apps that are specifically designed to pull us back into them at a moment’s notice.
But here is the thing…this is a new “norm” that isn’t working. In fact, those who are most successful are doing the opposite -> they are leaning into deep and meaningful work.
So what do you do?
- Ruthlessly cut down on email
- Practice taking 24 hours or more away from your device
- Turn off all unnecessary push notifications
- Only use social media at specific times of the day
- Schedule time blocks for uninterrupted quiet time and deep work
Distractions are preventing you from being your most productive self. So do everything you can to prevent these distractions!
Norm #3: Failure means you aren’t successful
I have had many failures. But guess what? They all led to my success.
My first business failure pivoted me into becoming a software engineer.
Then my new coding skills prepared me for the next phase of my career when I combined my business and technical background.
All of the lessons that I learned from my failures, drove me to my eventual success.
Norm #4: If you win, someone else has to lose
Just false! I choose to “expand the pie,” rather than holding it all for myself.
Putting together win-win deals is the best way to drive forward in business and in life.
Win-win deals stay put a lot longer than deals that were win-lose.
And in most industries, there is room for many players.
Your competitors are actually your friends, your employee recruiting pool, and your motivation all wrapped into one.
Norm #5: You NEED to travel to network and make sales
Nope! In fact, I didn’t meet one of my business partners IN PERSON, until after we sold our company.
It didn’t matter.
We spoke on the phone or via video chat nearly every day. We kept in touch via instant messaging and email.
We trusted each other, and yet we never met.
The pandemic and Zoom have helped to make this more of a norm, but I suspect that people will forget how much you can indeed get done without travel.
When I did travel, I chose to try to kill two birds with one stone: I would take multiple meetings in one trip or travel to key events where I could take all of my meetings for the ENTIRE year.
Norm #6: Money buys happiness
This one truly has been shoved into us by our culture in every single nook and cranny.
But MORE money does not equal more happiness.
While there is a correlation between income and happiness, it begins to top out at around $75,000 per year.
Once you are making a certain amount, your happiness plateaus.
Happiness isn’t something that can be improved overnight. You have to work at it, day after day.
Money can give you the time to work at it, but you still have to work at it.
Norm #7: Wealthy people own fancy cars and big houses
Most wealthy people, in fact, do not own a fancy car or a big house. Those are people who want to look rich.
You can’t tell how much wealth a person has from the car they drive, the clothes they wear, the vacations they take, or the house they own.
I can afford a Tesla, but I don’t buy one.
I can afford a vacation home, but I don’t own one
Building wealth requires sacrifice and smart purchasing decisions.
Norm #8: Life shouldn’t be so hard
Live was NEVER meant to be easy.
Too many people want life to be easy.
They don’t want to go above and beyond at their job.
They don’t go above and beyond at home.
You will get a leg up simply by doing hard things others won’t.
Because life should be hard. And it is!
Norm #9: Investing should be left to the professionals
I really believed this one too. But guess what? Professional financial advisors ARE salespeople.
At the end of the day, only YOU are responsible for your financial success. Don’t leave it to others!
You can easily read 3-4 books and have a better handle on your finances and investments than 90% of the population.
- The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle (my review)
- The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins (my review)
- The Millionaire Next Door by William D. Danko
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Norm #10: Only high-paying jobs make you wealthy
I’m sorry to break it to you, but you don’t have to be a lawyer, doctor, or banker to become wealthy.
Building wealth isn’t about having a high income (not that it hurts).
No, building wealth is about keeping as much of your high income as you are making.
Career choice doesn’t matter: anyone can become a millionaire!
Norm #11: Relationships are easy
Anyone who tells you that relationships are easy clearly hasn’t put the work into their relationships.
They are in fact not easy, but hard!
- Relationships take sacrifice
- Relationships need constant nurturing
- Relationships take work
Anything otherwise is only what you see in a fairytale or movie.
Norm #12: Nice guys finish last
Nice guys finish first.
No one wants to work with a dick.
People want to work with others they respect and for whom they don’t have to walk on eggshells.
There are many, many, arrogant assholes who may have built wealth by being an asshole…but there are many more nice guys out there crushing it. It pays to be nice.
Society teaches us so many things that are straight up WRONG.
To build wealth and retire early, you too must break the rules!
Instead of blindly following the norms, flip them on their head.
See them for what they are: false constraints!
You don’t need to work 60 hours a week.
You don’t have to become a lawyer or a doctor.
You don’t have to be a dick.
Just be who YOU are. Work hard. And try not to keep up with the Joneses.
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