12 Lessons From A Year Of Work
1. It’s very unlikely that you’ll save your way to a life of luxury. Manage your expectations of what your money can do for you.
After several false starts, I started a couple of savings goals. Self-congratulations, but the interest on my savings was never really encouraging. All I had was some money I hadn’t come up with a reason to spend yet, not the makings of a retirement fund. So who was to blame? Definitely not the bank. You get what you put in, really, and low-key savings will always mean meager returns. That’s basic math.
2. Higher interest on savings doesn’t mean much if you don’t have self-control. You’re going to blow through all that money eventually.
You won’t believe the speed at which your savings are whittled down to poverty when you can’t hold yourself. It doesn’t matter what technology does to help you save, you need to bring you own discipline. Which means impulse buying is out and budgeting is in.
3. Because circumstances vary widely, ‘wealth’ is highly subjective. Define ‘wealth’ in the context of your circumstance so you don’t break yourself in the pursuit of the irrational.
It’s a universal theme, the pursuit of money, but everyone’s chase cannot be the same. For me, wealth means meeting my needs and having enough left over to save. It follows then that being wealthy begins with differentiating my needs from my wants so I don’t get frustrated because I can’t buy a fancy house or take a trip around the world yet. I live well without those things.
4. You can’t trust self-control with your money. Ergo, your money isn’t safe in a bank account, it’s just waiting to be spent. Find a place to grow it.
Money wasn’t created to be idle. When idle, it grows wings. Give your money roots by planting it as savings or investments. Otherwise, flight is inevitable.
5. A great team will take you further than you can go alone. Adapt to the team life, live for the team, sacrifice for the team.
There’s a sharp contrast between needing solitude (to get work done quickly, for example) and isolating yourself. The first is useful. The second will keep you out of the all-important information loop, deprive you of the benefits of great professional relationships and set you up for more work than you can handle. Mingle.
6. Investments should be synonymous with adulthood. The older you grow, the more money you should stash away.
I wish I had learned this at some point around age 18, not several years later. Call it remedial class, but the point of the lesson isn’t lost on me: Don’t ever play with your money.
7. Crap, no matter how attractively packaged, is still crap. Look for the layers and peel them before you commit.
In these dark days of LinkedIn pretend-influencers and shady ‘trainings’ (Recruiter Baiting For Beginners, anyone?) on WhatsApp, the lines between the real and the fake may have blurred considerably. But they haven’t disappeared, thankfully. With a little extra attention to detail, you can spot the difference. Look closer.
8. Bad internet service will ruin your best-laid plans. (Your network really is your net worth.)
That’s the deal with living in a connected world. Um, is it really living if you can’t connect?
9. Never underestimate the power of saving with people.
It’s true what they say about strength being in numbers, and if you’ve ever been the first to cash out in a rotating savings group, you know how sweet raising money with reliable people can be. This teamwork works.
10. Meetings can waste your life. Have an exit plan ready.
If I could recover all the hours I have lost listening to people enjoy the sound of their own voices at the expense of my time, I may be a wealthier man. Never again. When the agenda has been dealt with, I leave at the slightest opening. Because when the purpose of a meeting expires, the lives that carry on with it are wasted.
11. Don’t build anything for people without first asking them what they need.
Presumption is a terrible thing, and I’ve seen what happens when you go all the way in the wrong direction. U-turns can be pricey.
12. You may have more than one shot to get things right. Act like you have one.
The one-shot approach really does help you focus your energy and give (a good chunk of) your all. Half measures don’t get much done anyway.
Photo and GIFs are mine. Use without caution.