A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine sent me a meme he saw online.
We talk about wealth-building and financial freedom regularly, so he knew it would resonate with my mindset.
The meme was an image of a large traffic-jam, overlaid with a quote from the Pulitzer Prize winning American Journalist, Ellen Goodman.
Here it is:
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” – Ellen Goodman
For me, this quote embodies a lot of what I try to instill in my family, friends, and clients. Actually, anyone who will listen I’m eager to sway them away from this rat-race mentality.
A SLOW BOIL
People don’t proactively say they are going to do what Ellen is talking about.
But like the slow-boiling frog in a pot of water, little by little, we move down this path. And before we know it, we’re up to our eye-balls in debt, with an oversized house, and a high-end luxury car that we don’t need, and we’re trapped in whatever job we currently have that is helping to fund this “lifestyle.”
Like the frog, we’re “boiled.”
The real problem is that people are just following the typical path that has been laid out before them by society.
We’re told from a young age that the path to success is by going to college, getting a decent paying job in corporate America, buying a nice house, nice car, nice clothes, and then going on 2 vacations a year.
But if the path that most people are following is the right one, why are so many American’s living paycheck-to-paycheck?
Why is the median savings account balance for Americans just $5,200?
Why do 61% of American’s have less than $1,000 saved?
And why are people unhappy and stressed with their financial situations?
The answer is the typical lifestyle is a false path of success. The homes, the cars, the clothes; they’re all a façade.
They aren’t real wealth.
THE RACCOON TRAP
This façade is a trap that we allow society to set for us, and then we increase its effectiveness by buying expensive stuff we don’t need, forcing us deeper into the trap.
I remember reading the book “Where The Red Fern Grows” when I was younger. In the book, the main character, Billy, uses a trap his grandfather taught him to catch raccoons.
You drill a hole in a log and drop a small shiny object in the hole.
When a raccoon spots the shiny object, it will reach inside and grab it. But because the hole is too small for the raccoons balled-up fist to slide through, it gets stuck. And because the raccoon is too stubborn to let go, it can’t escape.
Then, along comes the hunter, and, well, you know the rest of the story…
Most people are doing the same exact thing. By grabbing onto our own “shiny objects,” we get trapped in the rat-race.
If we could only realize that by releasing our grip on the things we don’t need (nicer cars, a bigger home, brand-name clothing) we would be able to break free from this trap and begin living the life we truly want. A life full of purpose. A life free to pursue the things we are most passionate about.
DON’T KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN
The way to break out of this is to stop going through the motions with your head down, only worrying about making the next paycheck so you can buy the next shiny object that your friend just bought. Also known as, “Keeping up with the Joneses”
Don’t worry if others are still holding onto their own shiny objects.
While they’re trapped, you’ll possess the something much more valuable – The freedom to roam around and do whatever you like.