I don’t have a crystal ball, unfortunately, but having a vision statement is the next best thing. It’s amazing what a little writing, intention, and focus in your life will do for you.
When I first started writing my vision, back in 2000, my life looked nothing like it looks now.
I was working 80 hours a week at a six-figure job with nothing to show for it and had zero investing skills (actually negative investing skills—I knew just enough to be “dangerous” and I was!).
I was earning a lot of money, but I was also spending it all.
I was also (ahem) not exactly the most “self-reflective” person on the planet at that time. Kung Fu Girl at age 26, single, living in booming San Francisco and working for a dot-com in the height of the dot-com-party-mania, was chiefly concerned with two main things:
- Doing an excellent job at work (luckily I’ve always had a great work ethic), and
- Where the next party was.
That was it. Times were booming, money was flowing everywhere, I had a great, exciting, challenging, rewarding job, and the party never seemed to stop. I certainly wasn’t sitting around much crafting vision statements.
However, you may recall what happened near the end of 2000…from September of 2000 to January of 2001 the NASDAQ dropped 45.9%. I believe at the time probably 90% of my “wealth” (what there was of it) was in the NASDAQ—I had joined Intel right out of college and had a bunch of shares, and fancied myself an “investor” because everything had gone straight up from 1996 – 1999, I also opened up an E*Trade account near the peak in 1999 and bought even more tech shares, only to have them plummet from 2000-2001.
Chart Courtesy of Google Finance
But aside from giving you your daily dose of laughter, I tell you this for two reasons:
- Rather than the dot-com bust being a “horrible” event, it was just the wake-up call I needed, and
- I crafted my very first “vision statement” that year, and my life and circumstances have continued to improve dramatically every year since.
I wish I still had that original vision statement…I know it was a far cry from my current vision as I had yet to become married or have children or own a home. I could barely keep all of my financial accounts straight, let alone sell put options or use trailing stops or other “pro” techniques (hah! I had never even heard of them at that point!). I also had yet to start my first business (although I did so right afterwards, after writing it down on my vision statement…a successful Internet consulting business that I ran with Kung Fu Guy for many years).
Thankfully, I have matured somewhat since my “Y2K-the-money-will-never-end-and-the-party-will-never-stop” days, and my personal finance and investing knowledge and skills have increased tremendously.
In the past few years, I have made more money via investing wisely (finally) than I ever did at my highest-earning six-figure job, and I’ve successfully weathered the horrific sub-prime crisis (although it continues to play out and has now morphed into the ongoing global credit crisis, and I have a sinking feeling that no one will escape completely unscathed from that).
My current vision for financial independence is:
- I (along with my family) live in 3-4 places each year, spending three months during the summer on the lake in Michigan, 3 months at our home in the mountains in Argentina, 3 months on the beach in Hawaii, and 3 months discovering new countries and visiting friends in the Bay Area
- I own (or co-own with a partner) a successful, thriving web business that creates massive value for its customers and helps thousands of people take control of their personal financial situation and achieve the life of their dreams
- I “work” at my business from anywhere in the world and travel several times per year to conferences in my industry to network with interesting people who are also motivated and driven to create value in the world
- I spend my days creating and writing, and my personal network is filled with interesting friends and mentors who support me and are engaged in fascinating endeavors of their own
- Our family is active and does lots of activities together; depending on the season and our location, we bike, surf, swim, ski, snowboard, and ride horses. We have a passion for music and spend most nights having “dance parties” and making music on our many instruments
- I continue to grow my investing prowess and own multiple investments that provide me with a nice, sustainable monthly cash flow and are insulated from market “shocks”
- My assets are internationally diversified so I am not dependent on any one country’s system for my money or my income
It inspires me (and hopefully you) to know that I’ve already achieved much of the above. While I am still working on pieces of my vision, it’s amazing what just writing it down and putting the intention out there does for your progress.
It immediately puts your mind into a positive mode, and you start to ask yourself (if you’ve been honest with yourself and put down things that truly excite you…), “How could I start doing some of this now? I don’t want to wait!”
That gets the ball rolling.
Here’s what you need to do.
First, get out a pen and some paper and write down what excites you. Don’t worry about making it perfect, writing from the future or the present or the past, or about the difference between your vision/mission/goals/plans/strategies/tactics… Just write down what excites you about getting out of bed in a few years.
Second, identify what you want you – and your family – to be able to do without compromise. Refer back to the clarity of my financial vision statement. Use it as a guide to help you create yours.
Third, don’t hold back on writing down what you want to achieve. A powerful vision creates a strong push towards taking action that moves you towards your goals. Don’t hesitate to put your vision “out there”.
And finally, share it with positive people who will support you.
Let us know what you come up with.
[Ed. Note. Susan Fujii won the I Dare You leadership award back in high school and though the monetary award was tiny, the impact on her life has been huge. To this day she recommends William H. Danforth's book, "I Dare You!". You can learn more about Susan and receive her personal finance wisdom for free at www.KungFuFinance.com]