I almost scrapped this article entirely. This has been a hard one for me to write. It makes me look like an ungrateful, spoiled-rotten Millennial. It is embarrassing, and I was afraid of how my family and friends might react.
Then I slapped some sense into myself. I would be doing a serious injustice to the BiggerPockets community if I wimped out and scrapped it.
Because the very reason I am embarrassed and ashamed is the very point of this article. It is my foundational “why.”
What is your foundational “why”? It is your gut wrenching, tear-jerking, knife-in-your-heart reason behind everything you do. It will likely be embarrassing, and it may even slightly offend some of those closest to you.
Once you can put a finger on your foundational “why.” You will feel like a new person. As Eminem so eloquently states, “you will have this newfound motivation to not give up and not be a quitter no matter how bad you want to just fall on your face and collapse.”
Let’s get to it.
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What is Your “Why”?
As in, “Why do you want to achieve financial freedom?”
You have heard this question a million times on BiggerPockets. The most common answers are to travel, to achieve financial freedom, to volunteer, to quit my job, etc.
For the longest time my answer was, “to travel and to spend unlimited time with my family and friends.”
While these reasons remain true, they are not powerful enough. It will be difficult for me to sustain this motivation for more than a couple of months with these reasons.
Seeking financial freedom is like climbing a mountain. There are going to be various points along the way where the view will be great and we are going to want to stop. With these reasons, it will be too tempting to stop at one of these plateaus where the “view” (or your life) will be good enough.
You will start saying, “I travel twice a year, that’s enough” or “I’ll be able to retire at 55 instead of 65; that’s better than a lot of Americans.” Don’t let yourself off the hook that easy. Dig deeper!
How do you find that motivation? That motivation to become this unstoppable force beelining it to the top of that mountain and achieving the ultimate goal of financial freedom?
Related: Why Following a Purposeful Schedule is VITAL to Happiness & Productivity
The answer is understanding your foundational “why”? Your foundational “why” is synonymous with your life’s purpose. It’s the real reason behind any sacrifice you make.
Keep reading so I can show you the 5-step process to finding your foundational “why.”
Getting to Your Foundational “Why”
The process of getting to your foundational “why” is simple. It involves having a conversation with your 3-year-old self. Please, do this in your head!
But this time, rather than ignore the silly questions your toddler self was notorious for asking, you will address them.
The only catch is that your 3-year-old self needs to start every sentence off with the same word. That word is “why.”
Always start this exercise with the 3-year-old you asking, “Why did you get out of bed this morning?” and respond to your 3-year-old self honestly. Your 3-year-old self will then respond with, “Why [insert your previous answer here]?” And you are to repeat this process five to eight times until you get to that gut wrenching, tear-jerking, knife-in-your-heart reason.
This is an important exercise. And I will warn you—you may feel ungrateful once you get down to the 5th, 6th, and 7th reasons. You may even feel as though you are offending some of those who are closest to you.
Don’t worry. The intention here is not to offend anyone, but it does mean you are getting closer to your foundational “why.”
Here is an example of the conversation I had with my 3-year-old self.
1. Why did you get out of bed this morning?
A: To go to work.
2. Why did you go to work?
A: So I can earn a paycheck and grow my career.
3. Why do you want to earn a paycheck and grow your career?
So I can increase savings and invest in assets that provide me passive income streams.
4. Why do you want to invest in assets that provide you passive income streams?
A: So I can be financially free, travel, spend times with family and friends, volunteer, donate, and not have to worry about a job.
Note: Most people stop here! While this can be powerful, it’s not powerful enough. It’s far too easy to say, “I travel enough” or “I love my job” or “insert excuse here” once your motivation wanes.
5. Why do you want to be financially free?
A: I was always told that the most basic form of success was to make the next generation’s life easier. I consider myself tremendously fortunate and am eternally grateful that each of the prior generations in my family worked hard to successfully create a better (and easier) life for the next generation to follow. That’s no easy feat, and I certainly do NOT want to end that streak.
To help answer this question, I performed an exercise where I reflected on my childhood to see what could have been improved. My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents made this a very difficult exercise for me. I had everything a kid could ask for: a wonderful family who selflessly worked (and still do work) to give my sister and I unconditional love, support, and guidance.
But after digging real deep, I figured it out!
Because my parents were working so hard, their time with us was limited. By limited, I do not mean that they spent n0 time with us. The time we received was plentiful, but it certainly was not “unlimited.”
We could never take vacations longer than a week. They always had to get back to work. The profane “we can’t afford it” catch phrase littered our lives and restricted us from living to our fullest potential.
My purpose, my foundational “why,” is to completely free up my time while never having to utter those “we can’t afford it” words again. That way, I can pursue my true passions. I can spend time with my parents as they grow old, my (future) wife as we grow old, and my (future) kids as they grow up and have kids of their own.
That is why I wake up, to go to work, to earn a paycheck, to invest in cash flowing assets, to create financial freedom.
Related: Working With Purpose: How I’ve Found Focus By Developing My “Why”
To be able to provide my family with what they want—which I believe more than anything will be my time.
How do I make my time spent with them invaluable and unlimited so I will rarely need to worry about leaving precious moments to “going to work”?
I need to create a passive income streams that sustain life’s expenditures. To simplify, with $10,000 of monthly passive cash flow and zero hours worked, I will be able to sufficiently support my family while making my time invaluable. Ten thousand dollars divided by zero hours worked is infinity.
Once I figured out my foundational “why,” my life went from average to spectacular. Knowing that I get a step closer to achieving my life’s purpose every day has sparked an unrelenting fire inside of me.
It is what gets me to wake up at 4:30 a.m. excited for work every day. It is why I own a duplex, but sleep in the corner of the living room. It is the reason I own a car that I don’t drive.
Most of all, it is the reason why I enjoy doing these things and will be able to sustain doing them for a couple of years, until my goal is reached.
So now, I need to ask: What’s your foundational “why”—that gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, knife-in-your-heart reason you wake up every morning?
Be honest with yourself and share below!