Written By: Mr. Horizon
Have you ever thought about how many hours you will work over your entire working life? For the majority of us we start part time work as a teenager and don’t stop until we are in our 60’s. The average working career is expected to be 50 years. At 40 hours per week for 50 weeks a year that comes out to 100,000 hours. For most of us we think that this is the way it has to be, that there are no other options. We have been told that this is normal, expected, or even honorable. This cannot be further from the truth. It is not normal to work at a company investing your valuable time and energy and creating huge profits for organizations that, at the drop of a hat or downturn in the market, will lay you off. It should not be expected to have loyalty to organizations who choose profit and greed over people and the environment. It should not be considered honorable to work relentless hours under unhealthy conditions to create profits you do not benefit from while your relationships, health, and life suffer. I want to take back control of my life. It will take time and yes, I am still going to do my part of creating huge profits for organizations that do not care about me, but I am going to do it with a goal in mind. I plan on getting at least 50,000 hours of my life back and I am encouraging everyone to do the same!
How do you get 50,000 Hours Back?
50,000 hours is about 25 years off of your career. I think most would say, “When I win the lottery I am going to quit.” Maybe others would wait on an inheritance saying, “I don’t need to work I have a big inheritance coming.” The first is a pipe dream and the second is just plain lazy. I am here to tell you that there is another way. It is not complex it is actual very simple and only requires 3 key principles.
1. Change Your Mindset
I am an American and, in American culture, everything revolves around being a consumer. At a young age status is based on the clothes you wear, the toys you own, and whether or not you have been to Disney World. As an adult none of this changes; the clothes are just more expensive, the toys are much bigger (houses, cars, recreation vehicles), and the vacations are whatever one-ups your Facebook friends. The only way to get 50,000 hours of your life back is to stop fitting in with the crowd and decide you want to do something different. Different is not easy; it requires time to unlearn habits and create healthier, new ones. For most of us that means reevaluating the house we own or are going to own. Get into a home that suites your needs not what the bank tells us we can afford. We have written about this in “Beating the Bank: Buying a House on Your Own Terms”. Is that brand new SUV really necessary or can an older reliable car do everything you need to do? Does the boat, atv, and snowmobile add so much value to your life you can’t live without them? What about the luxurious vacation? Can you have just as much fun taking your family to a National Park or visiting Museums or Zoos? How about a bike trip around your state or a weekend at the beach? It is all about understanding that we do not need to impress others with the things we own and most of what we own does not add value to our lives. Having less things and more experiences will not only cost you much less overall it will make your life more fulfilling. The most important thing you can do is look at a life through a lens where you are relentlessly focused on what adds the most value. You must break away from the crowds and find yourself living a more intentional life on your terms. It is like the stock market. Fear or greed win over all and we move as packs overbuying or overselling. The rich stay outside of the herd looking for opportunities. To get 50,000 hours of our life back we must step outside of the herd!
2. Work smarter and harder than anyone you know
We need to back up for a moment and understand that we are going to be working a shorter career than most. This means we have to be a superstar in everything we do and optimize our lives around being productive. The only way to get to principle 3 is to do what is called “Growing the Gap.” This means cutting expenses while increasing your income. This can be done at any point in your life, my story was not perfect as you can read in “Financial Freedom: Why it is Achievable for All Walks of Life”. Increasing your income comes down to working harder than others and creating value that cannot be overlooked. Then you can grow the gap. The majority of people who pursue financial independence at a young age are high achievers to the max. We work incredibly hard at work and get side hustles to increase our income. Typically, we get promoted quickly and standout from those around us. We do all of these things because we are relentlessly focused on our goal. In order to get 50,000 hours back we are going to need to exceed expectations in everything we do. In order to do this, we must have energy and passion. The passion should come from knowing we are making progress to achieve freedom, to take our lives back and live a life we dream of living.
3. Save as much as you can as often as you can and invest it wisely
Conventional wisdom tells us we can save as little as 10% of our income over our career and retire happily after 40 years of earning. 40 YEARS! What if your goal is 10 years? Then you need to turn it up a notch… or two. Think of a savings rate that seems outlandishly high to you and then increase it by 3-5%. Mrs. Horizon and I are targeting a 40% savings rate while paying off the house and a 70% savings rate after the house is paid for. You can see hour monthly savings rate on our Trail Log blog posts. Saving this much or your income can really cut down the number of years needed until you can retire. You can find a nice tool at Networthify that will show you how many years you need to work to hit your retirement number depending on your savings rate. Example if you work 100,000 hours and we equate that to 50 years and we want to save half of our working life or 50,000 we need to target a saving rate of 28.5%. For some that seems impossible, but after you have done step two this will be just a stepping stone on your way. Suddenly increasing your savings rate becomes easy and before you know it you could be saving 50% cutting your working hours by 70,000. Your mind has the ability to create whatever you focus on. Humans have a crazy ability to adapt to all situations. For most this means inflating our lifestyles to our income levels. For the few who pursue FIRE the opposite is true. Target that 28.5%, adapt to it and then increase it. Never let yourself get comfortable. Increase your savings rate every time you feel as if it is getting too easy. This perpetual focus will push you to savings rates that will have you walking away from the work place in 10 years or less.
I know I focused a lot on your savings rate above, but that is because it is the key to getting you to the target, the point where you can walk away. Once you get there you have to know your money will last. This is where we must invest wisely. We need to create income for the future. We need to ensure that our money will continue to provide for our families for as many is 50 or 60 years of retirement. To do this we need to study. We need to learn from others. I do not claim to be an expert in investing, but I read about it a lot. I suggest anyone wanting to do this does the same. In every book I have read there are some key themes that come up: Keep your costs low, don’t try to beat the market, invest for the long term, and reduce your tax burden. Learning to understand how to do all of these things and following some simple rules like we laid out in, The Horizon's "Golden Number" and why it is so much more than the 4% rule will help you achieve your goal.
Now that you got it don’t waste it!
We spoke a lot about how to get the hours back, but not once did we ever talk about the ‘why’s. You must have a why! Leaving your work just because you achieved your FIRE goal will not bring you happiness. Mrs. Horizon and I understand our ‘why’, but everyone’s is different. It is for each individual to soul search and find their ‘why’. After you find it, keep it, nurture it, and help it grow. This is going to be your fuel. It is going to help you achieve your goal. The focus and drive you need to accomplish this mission will come from your ‘why’. When you are at the finish line and ready to take that leap into your ‘why’ don’t waste it! Live life everyday as a gift! You have achieved your dream to get back 50,000 hours of your life that would have been spent working for someone else. Use these hours and don’t waste a single one. Life is too short to just wander through it. Clear away the clutter, focus on your ‘why’ and build a better life for you and your loved ones. Make the world a better place for tomorrow. You have at least 50,000 hours to do it!!!