As entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get trapped in the hustle cycle: work hard, stress, achieve a goal, immediately set a new one. We rarely sit back and consider what we are working toward or when we will stop.
On this week’s episode of SUCCESS Line I talk to Justine, a young Australian entrepreneur who is stuck in this very cycle. She runs a boutique digital branding agency and is a quintessential hustler; she is hard on herself and never takes the time to slow down and celebrate her wins.
So how does an entrepreneur like Justine know when she’s “made it?” At what point does she grant herself the grace to slow down?
Everyone’s final destination is different, but I have found a tactical way to more precisely identify where you are trying to go. With our clients at Brand Builders Group, we start with money. Although it’s true that money isn’t the end-all be-all, it is a concrete mechanism that we can all understand and one that helps us cement our goals.
If you’ve ever wondered how to measure your success, read on for my top three most important financial checkpoints.
1. Become debt free.
The biggest transformation in my personal life was not making more money; it was becoming debt-free. I didn’t realize how much stress my debt was causing me until I paid it off. Suddenly, the money I was making each month was entirely mine to do whatever I wanted with. It freed me from the constant stress, the feeling that I could never stop working and the thought that I would forever be playing catch up.
The financial freedom that so many of us are seeking does not necessarily come from a massive pile of money. It comes from breaking free of the shackles of debt.
Feeling wealthy happens more as a byproduct of being debt-free than it does as a result of accumulating more and more money. Figure out the shortest distance between your life now and a life that is debt-free. The financial freedom you desire might be much closer than you realize.
2. Find your retirement number.
Most entrepreneurs have a budget for today, but you also need a budget for the future—a dream budget.
What do I mean by this?
If you were living your ideal life, how much money would you need to pay your monthly living expenses once you’ve retired? When you identify that number, you can calculate how much you need to have invested in order to earn that monthly amount based on interest alone. Now you have a tangible number to work toward in your career.
For example, if you had $5 million invested, and you earned an average of 10% interest on that money, then that would throw off $500,000 per year to you to use to pay your living expenses without ever decreasing your principal. Theoretically, that money would never run out and you could provide yourself a very nice lifestyle for the rest of your life.
Being an entrepreneur is hard work. We make short-term sacrifices to see long-term gains. But your career doesn’t have to be one long chaotic sprint. Finding your retirement number will give you endurance, help you make strategic decisions and tell you when it’s time to stop (or at the very least slow down).
You don’t have to run on an endless, looping treadmill to nowhere—find your retirement number and give yourself a final destination.
3. Realize the power of infinite service.
With that said, no amount of money will ever make you feel fulfilled. No amount of achievement will ever make you feel worthy. No amount of possessions will ever give your life meaning.
Purpose, meaning and fulfillment come from asking, how can I help?
Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying you shouldn’t work hard or strive to make money. What I am saying is that money will not be the ultimate source of meaning in your life. In order to find meaning, put your life in the context of your relationship with others.
The quickest way to the feelings we all seek—happiness, joy and fulfillment—is through helping other people. And it is something we all can do today, regardless of how much money we make or at what point in our career we are.
At some point, another dollar in your wallet will not bring you more peace or happiness. So instead of searching for purpose in dollar signs, ask yourself: Whom can I help? And how can I help them?