The Four Questions On Everyone’s Mind: Part 1 of 4
By Sam Makhoul
These four questions may not be something you would like to admit, but the research tells us that it is pre-occupying most people’s minds. In this article, I am going to cover the first question…
1. How Can I Make More Money? #Tree of Wealth
The reality is that, in our subconscious, there is a fundamental human need for freedom. And, like it or not, in today’s world, freedom comes from having money. Money to live life on your own terms. But the first step to having freedom starts with defining your wealth in the eight areas of life.
You need to define wealth as:
- Good health, high energy, peace of mind and emotional strength #Tree of Health
- Being in an intimate relationship #Tree of Love
- Having a loving and supportive family #Tree of Family
- Being in a job that brings the best out of you #Tree of Work
- Friends that bring you joy and fun #Tree of Friendship
- The time to read, learn and grow #Tree of Learning
- Having empathy and compassion for others #Tree of Charity
Ultimately, money is a double-edged sword. It can help you achieve those things listed above, but it can also stop you from enjoying them if your quest for money robs you of time.
The human desire for money:
There is a human desire for money and material wealth. This primal desire is natural and is the reason why humans have made progress. Like any desire, however, this can be corrupted. Let me explain…
In today’s society, there is underlying guilt associated with wanting to make more money. This guilt is sometimes propagated by popular culture and usually justified by misrepresenting eastern philosophies and misquoting bible scripture such as “Money is the root of all evil”. But the truth and correct scripture is that it is “the love of money” that is the root of all evil, meaning that it is greed and the pursuit of material things at the compromise of the eight areas of our life that is wrong.
You have often heard me say that “Owning things is not wrong as long as they don’t own you”, which means that you should never neglect your humanity in the eight areas of life for the pursuit of money. You should not define your identity by what you own. Things that can be taken away from you is like establishing an identity on shaky foundations. You will have an identity crisis and may end up suffering from depression if you lose some of the things that you own. And in this age of uncertainty and chaos, anything can happen.
This is not to scare you. In fact, it is to empower you to be fearless by living life without reliance on an addiction to consumerism. Getting off the hedonic treadmill is liberating.
One of the reasons I founded A Higher Branch Success Academy was because I saw many of my colleagues in the corporate world compromise (and in some cases destroy) their health, family and relationships in the pursuit of profit and promotions.
What is Real Wealth?
At A Higher Branch, we contextualize wealth as filling the fundamental human need for freedom. Freedom to live in the eight areas of life daily without neglecting any. Freedom to take care of your health, freedom to spend time with your partner, freedom to spend time with your children and family, freedom to relax and unwind, freedom to read a good book, freedom to ‘stop and smell the roses.
So I ask you… Where is the freedom in having to work long hours to buy things that sit there collecting dust because you don’t have the time to enjoy them? There’s no freedom in that! In fact, that is a form of enslaving yourself. I am amazed at how much time people spend at work and how little they spend on the other areas. That is not wealth. And for some, work is used as an escape from a personal life riddled with unresolved conflict and past hurts that we’d rather not face or fix.
So here is the principle I want you never to forget. Wait for it….
Freedom should not be defined simply by how much money you have but ALSO by how much TIME you have to enjoy in the eight areas of life.
The object of making money is to give you more TIME to do that, time to work less and live more. But there is an element even more important than time. It is your ENERGY level.
Now I think ENERGY is a better currency than both time and money. Because with high energy you can do more in your day. And ultimately, that is what living is all about. Having the energy to do as much as you can each and every day. In fact, life span should not be measured by the years in your life but rather the life in your years. That is, by how much you accomplish in the eight areas of life. As the saying goes, “I’d rather live a year as a lion than a thousand as a sheep.”
So ask yourself, do I have enough energy in my day to devote to each of the 8 areas of life? If the answer is no, then the reality is that you are probably neglecting one of those areas.
Can you guess where the true source of our energy comes from? Is it from eating healthy, exercising, doing yoga, meditating, sleeping well and taking supplements? Not really. These aspects affect the quality of your energy when it manifests itself, but they are not the source of your energy. In fact, the source of your energy is from living a holistic life in the eight areas.
Your source of energy comes from mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It is from love, family, work, friendship, learning, wealth and charity that we stimulate those three ‘energies’. That is why it is fatal to chase money, work long hours and neglect any of those areas. Every time you do, you will diminish your energy by that one. I have known people who eat so well, exercise and meditate and still suffer from fatigue. Why? Because they are neglecting one or more of the eight areas of life.
The Role of Money:
So, if real wealth is about having more time and more energy, the questions become; how do I have more of both? The answer does circle back to money and the money conundrum. And this is where the game of life balance is won and lost. Let me explain….
Whether you work for someone else or work for yourself, earning a living does NOT make you “free”. Only passive income does that; passive income from share dividends, positively geared real estate holdings and passive income from a business that runs itself whether you are there or not.
But does that mean you stop working when you have enough passive income? No, because your energy will come crashing down when you do. And remember what I said earlier. Energy is a better currency for freedom than time and money, acknowledging there is a synergy between the three elements.
Many people make the mistake of aiming to build up enough passive income sources so they don’t have to work at all. This approach is wrong on many levels. It’s like saying I want to get married so I can stop dating. You should never stop dating your partner in a successful relationship; otherwise, it will fail. Likewise, you should never stop working when you have passive income because the Tree of Work fills a fundamental need for fulfilment.
Fulfilment is a critical element in the eight areas of life needed for optimal energy levels. Working gives us purpose. If we focus on making a difference, working also fills the fundamental need for contribution #Tree of Charity, especially if we have a job where we get to see how the fruits of our labour directly help others.
As I said earlier, I started A Higher Branch Success Academy because I saw so many colleagues in the corporate world destroy their health and relationships in their quest to make money. Still, conversely, I also started to see colleagues over-correct by abandoning their work to pursue an overly obsessive healthy lifestyle filled with supplements and yoga classes, only to lose their way and lose their sense of self-worth. AND to their frustration, their energy levels came crashing down.
What is the answer?
So the objective is NOT to neglect the seven other areas of your life in the pursuit of building a business or climbing the corporate ladder.
Your objective is not to completely abandon your work when you make money. That will only make you feel lost and rudderless. And that’s not real wealth.
What is the objective, then? The objective is to work for love, NOT money. The objective is to work because you want to, not have to. The objective is to work for fulfilment and a sense of achievement. Ironically, people who take this approach make the most money because working for love makes you fearless and bold; and fortune favours the bold. This makes you play a bigger game and makes you more effective.
So, ultimately REAL wealth is about having enough TIME and ENERGY for the eight areas of life.
Money does play a role in giving you time, but only when you assess how much you need to live a happy life. For many, they don’t know how much is enough because the goalposts keep shifting every time they spend and borrow. The fact is that the more you spend, the more money you need to make and the more personal freedom you need to sacrifice. Most people say that they have a plan to stop and enjoy life when they reach specific money targets. That can be in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or even your 60’s. My argument is that the less you spend, the younger you can be to have that freedom. It’s a simple formula; If you want freedom at a younger age, spend less.
Unfortunately, the big challenge is in knowing what to spend on and what NOT to spend on. You don’t want to compromise your happiness by being too miserly and stingy. It comes down to what value you put on things. This is probably one of the most important questions you can ask yourself in life:
“Do I really need to buy this? Is the short-term boost in happiness
worth having to defer my sense of long-term freedom?”
The answers to these questions are outside this article’s scope, but I cover two scenarios that demonstrate my point in the podcast published on 15 April 2021; you can find this episode HERE. We will also be doing a deeper dive into this topic at Upgrade Your Life 2022, but I hope, for now, I have you thinking.
Therefore, the real question reframing wealth is this: How much money do you need to give you the freedom of more time? And the answer ultimately depends on how much money you feel you need to spend to be happy.
Whenever I suggest this to my clients, the following questions often pop up:
- How do I spend less? Meaning, what things do I really need to buy?
- How do I work less? Meaning, how much time do I really need to commit to my job or business?
- How do I live more? Meaning, do I really know what to do with my time? Or will I end up spending it on Netflix and other frivolous pursuits?
The answer to these three questions is a critical step in achieving freedom. It is also outside the scope of this article but will be covered at Upgrade Your Life 2022. If you would like to know more about our annual event, please subscribe to our mail list or Instagram to get the speaker announcement and be the first in line. Ok now that we have outlined the principles to defining your wealth let me take you through the….
The 2 rules to making more money:
Rule Number 1
Whether you work for someone or have your own business, my number one rule to making more money is to exceed expectations.
How do you do that? In today’s competitive world, you need to go above and beyond to stand out, attract customers or spark that promotion, and that is the reality.
What does it mean to go “above and beyond”? It simply means to make a positive impact on all stakeholders in all your interactions. Not just your end consumer, but with your team, your suppliers, and within your industry. Whether it is an email, a phone call, a face-to-face meeting, or any place on the value chain, your aim is to make the person you’re interacting with feel like your contribution made a material impact on the customer experience. You need to spark a response where the other person thinks, “wow, I was not expecting that.”.
In short, you need to make your contribution unforgettable, so people talk about you. This is how a personal brand is built, and a business goes from being small to being large. Remember that all big businesses were once small. And the main reason they became big is that they exceeded expectations and created a following of raving fans.
Rule Number 2
My second rule to make money is to invest in income-producing and capital growth assets. My investment strategy mix is unique to me but is not unique in itself. So, in all cases, you should get specific advice from your accountant or financial advisor.
I suggest you view investing in four primary vehicles:
1. Investing in yourself:
You need to see yourself and your energy levels as your number one asset. You need to view your energy levels as your number one currency because, in my experience, people with the highest energy get more done in less time, more sustainably and have the biggest impact. They tend to be the most energetic and engaged people in the room. As a consequence, they tend to make more money. Much more.
So you need to invest your money in things that make you happier and healthier. When I say on things, I don’t mean material things; I am referring to good quality food, quality supplements, good health care, meditation coaching, personal training, attending courses, mentoring, just about anything that boosts your energy and vitality.
2. Investing in your own business (if you have one)
If you own your own business, it is imperative that you invest your super profits back into your business after allowing for your living expenses. This is where being frugal in your early years is so vital to your future success. As a lawyer, I have witnessed the number one reason why good businesses go bad. And it is because the owners take out the profits to spend on material things instead of re-investing back into their own business. The second reason is where they invest their money into ‘other’ areas where they have no competency; typically, things like buying listed shares or cryptocurrency. Listen to my podcast for a deeper dive into this investment strategy.
3. Investing in other people’s business. That is Shares on the stock market/index funds.
This is not a contradiction of my number 2 investment vehicle. It is in addition to it. Only super profits should be involved in investing in shares and other speculative vehicles. Listen to my podcast on 15 April 2021 for my investment mix between direct shares and index funds. My 80/20 rule and when to cash in to buy real estate. There I also list some of the index funds that I like.
4. Real estate.
I suggest owning positively geared real estate as a safe and effective vehicle for building passive income and/or capital growth.
What mix between shares and real estate? My strategy is to cash in index funds holdings to purchase real estate, giving me a 20-30% equity stake in real estate. I also prefer positively geared investment unless there is potential for capital growth greater than market movements.
Please listen to my podcast for more explanation. Remember that all geared investment depends on your business’s profits and your personal tax position, which is why you should always consult your accountant for more specific advice.
But I hope I have you thinking about your investment strategy.