Not long ago, I was sleeping on a couch with my wife and our newborn daughter, just two weeks old, halfway across the globe.
After long days that began at the crack of dawn—4:45 am to be exact—in the gym training clients, I’d gaze out at the Dubai skyline.
The towering skyscrapers seemed to echo the immense weight of the dreams and hopes I carried for my family.
The echoing question ringing in my ears was, “Can I give them the life they deserve?”
At that moment, a yearning deep inside was awakened—a yearning I had felt before but could never put into words. I realized it wasn’t just about bills or luxury vacations.
No, it was about something more primal, a raw human desire for true freedom.
It was a call to not only secure our financial future but to liberate myself from constraints, doubts, and societal molds.
Many men feel this pull, this inexpressible need.
Yet, how many of us truly understand it?
At the very heart of every man’s quest for contentment lies not the acquisition of transient accolades or fleeting pleasures but the profound attainment of what I now call the five essential freedoms.
These freedoms are the pillars upon which a life of true happiness and fulfillment rests.
YES, that’s a bold statement for me to make.
And if you stick with me to the end, you’ll see why I’m so confident in saying this.
This essay marks the beginning of a five-part series, unveiling the truths behind my approach to achieving these five freedoms in life.
Today, I propose that for a life to resonate with meaning and vitality, one must journey towards these five essential freedoms, as they are the compass guiding us to our most authentic selves and our most fulfilling lives.
What I share with you stems directly from my own life’s journey.
As a father blessed with four beautiful daughters and as a husband in an enriching marriage spanning over a decade, I’ve navigated both the highs and the profound lows. I’ve built a foundation of financial freedom, established homes across the globe, and, perhaps most importantly, discovered a sanctuary of inner peace.
This tranquility stands in stark contrast to the dark days when I grappled with depression and suicidal thoughts, moments when I doubted if such peace was ever within my reach.
Every man’s journey is unique, yet in the countless conversations I’ve had with many highly successful men, a striking commonality emerges.
Behind the glitter of achievement and beneath the layers of accolades, there lies a deeper, more profound yearning. It’s not just about amassing wealth, gaining recognition, or even leaving a legacy.
No, it’s about something more foundational, more elemental.
These successful men, when stripped of their titles and trophies, seek the same things that every man, regardless of status or stature, desires. It’s the freedom to live authentically, to cherish moments without constraint, to pursue passions without the specter of regret shadowing every step.
Why are these freedoms so essential, you ask?
Because they represent the core of our very existence, they are the difference between a life lived on the surface and one that dives into the profound depths of experience. A life without these freedoms is akin to a bird with clipped wings; it might survive, but it never truly soars.
The allure of these freedoms is that they offer more than just a comfortable life; they promise a meaningful one. They aren’t about escaping from something but journeying towards everything that life has to offer.
Wealth freedom isn’t just about financial abundance but about the choice and agency that come with it. Time freedom is not about idleness but about indulging in what truly matters. Family freedom, internal freedom, and health freedom are the integral threads that, when pulled together, piece together a fulfilling life.
In our relentless pursuit of success, we often mistake the means for the end.
But the men who’ve indeed tasted success, those I’ve spoken with, they understand. It’s not about the number of zeros in your bank account, the square footage of your mansion, or the brand of your car.
It’s about the quality of life those zeros can provide, the memories made in that mansion, and the journeys embarked upon in that car. It’s about the essential freedoms that serve as the bedrock of not just a successful life, but a meaningful, joyous, and contented one.
And isn’t that what we’re all genuinely searching for?
If it is, then read on. As I want to answer what Wealth Freedom is…
The “F*** You Money” Philosophy
Do you have “F*** You Money”..?
Right now, I have sitting over two years worth of living expenses in a bank account.
And I know that on paper, it makes no sense to have multiple 6-figures of cash just sitting there when it could be invested elsewhere, but I’m not optimizing to make maximum profits. I’m optimizing for peace.
F*** you money isn’t about arrogance or boasting about one’s wealth. Instead, it’s a beacon of financial independence and a testament to personal empowerment. It symbolizes the unyielding strength to stand one’s ground and the undeniable freedom to choose one’s path.
I’ve done it before, and I suspect that if you’ve been running your own business for even a fraction of the time I have, you’ve done it too…
You’ve signed on a client and knew deep down in the pit of your stomach that you’ve just sold your soul. You’ve signed on a client that doesn’t align with your vision or values; you’ve signed up a client that’s an energy vampire.
Those demands that drain your passion, clients who don’t value your expertise, or projects that feel like they’re eroding your soul bit by bit. Now, envision having a financial cushion so robust that you could politely decline any client or project that doesn’t resonate with your core beliefs without the gnawing worry of where the next payment will come from.
That’s the power of “f*** you money.
This isn’t just about selective client choices. Life, especially in the entrepreneurial world, is unpredictable. It’s rife with financial ebbs and flows, market uncertainties, and unexpected challenges.
Listen to the wisdom of leading financial gurus, and there’s a consistent rhythm to their advice: it’s not about trying to outsmart the market’s every move but sticking with it through its ups and downs.
The real magic happens over time; longevity is the key. That enduring presence is where the mighty force of compound interest works, multiplying your wealth.
Having that financial safety net doesn’t ward off these challenges, but it offers a grounding amidst the turbulence. It’s a shield, a reassurance that even when the entrepreneurial seas get stormy, you have an anchor keeping you steady.
This is the sense of peace that I make decisions for.
When Lauren and I took the plunge and transitioned from Dubai to Bali over a decade ago, it felt like I was leaving everything behind.
The loyal clientele I’d nurtured and grown over two years? I handed them off, choosing to focus on the potential of my budding online fitness business.
You have to understand in 2014, online coaching was still in its infancy. It wasn’t the recognized or popular choice it’s become today.
Naturally, this left me oscillating between crippling self-doubt about the venture’s viability and an exhilarating vision of a thriving business with global reach, financial success, and the freedom to operate from any corner of the world.
But then, I blundered. Big time. A mistake that nearly obliterated our finances.
A mere fortnight into our Bali adventure, with our humble living room boasting only bean bags and a TV, the unthinkable began to happen: a significant chunk of my online clientele started dropping off.
They weren’t the ideal fit for online fitness coaching, and my prowess in the physical gym wasn’t translating effectively to my online programs.
Suddenly, I was gripped by anxiety and a palpable sense of failure.
It was soon after this I had my first anxiety attack, a moment I remember clearly, as I thought I was just going to drop dead by the side of my bed.
The dream of financial independence, of providing my family with the means to craft our destiny, seemed to slip through my fingers.
Think of financial security as the foundation of a house. The walls, windows, roof – all house parts – might be beautifully designed with the finest materials.
However, without a sturdy foundation, the entire edifice is vulnerable to the slightest tremors. Just as a house stands tall on a solid base, our lives, filled with dreams and aspirations, can truly take shape and withstand challenges when rooted in the strength of financial security.
Wealth Freedom isn’t about hoarding money; it’s about harnessing its potential.
With it comes an unparalleled peace of mind. You’re no longer caught in the relentless cycle of paycheck-to-paycheck living.
Instead, you gain the autonomy to explore the world, immerse yourself in new learning experiences, and contribute to causes close to your heart.
As a child, those rare dinners out with my parents felt like red-letter days. I sensed the financial stretch these outings meant for our family.
My choices from the menu were always guided by the price, often opting for the least expensive dish.
But true wealth goes beyond monetary measurements. It provides the irreplaceable gift of time: quality moments with loved ones, hours spent pursuing passions, and tranquil moments of simple existence. It’s the difference between merely surviving and genuinely thriving.
Today, my version of a “rich life” means enjoying meals with family and friends without giving the bill a second glance.
When I slip away discreetly before the end of a meal to handle the tab, friends often see it as a generous gesture. But in truth, it’s more for me than for them. It’s a personal celebration of abundance, a silent toast to the journey, and a profound, internal moment of gratitude that I have the privilege to do so.
The Cash Flow Conundrum: Recognizing the Difference Between Making Money and Building Wealth.
The ability to earn money in a business and the skill of building wealth through passive income mechanisms are distinct yet complementary.
A pitfall many entrepreneurs and business owners stumble into is mastering the art of income generation but neglecting the crucial counterpart—wealth accumulation.
They flash stripe screenshots of 6-figure months, yet their actual net worth tells a less glamorous story.
This is a lesson I learned from my great friend Alex Charfen, and it was a humbling revelation.
When I first learned this from him, it felt like a massive punch to the guts for my ego. I was just starting to get good at this money-making thing, but when I looked at the spreadsheet for my net worth, it was nothing to celebrate.
This is my wealth-building strategy right now…
- Build multiple Businesses (having profit share in all).
- Drive Profit in Business.
- Invest in High-Yielding Assets – I’m partial to real estate; it offers tax benefits, consistent cash flow, and typically appreciates over time.
- Live below our means.
- Channel those savings – grow my partner portfolio or obtain more revenue-generating assets.
- Maintain this momentum relentlessly (think long-term, even forever).
- Then, bask in the freedom to pursue the path I want.
As dull as this looks, it’s the blueprint for a freedom-fueled financial powerhouse.
When done right, and with the sands of time flowing in your favor, you’ll soon see your assets churn out cash.
This cash, in turn, buys you more assets, setting off a perpetual growth cycle.
Welcome to the world of compound interest, arguably the universe’s second most potent force, only trumped by love.
The magic doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a game of patience, discipline, and consistency. Which is why I suspect so many don’t follow it. They lack the strength of character to stick with it.
And this isn’t just about money. Compound interest is at work in your thoughts, habits, actions, health, relationships, and every other aspect of your life.
On the flip side, negative habits also compound, stealthily forging chains that seem inconsequential until they’re unbreakably tight.
The trajectory of your life largely depends on the cumulative impact of your daily choices.
Owning up to every outcome in your life – be it health, relationships, or finances – is an act that’s as empowering and liberating as it is daunting.
This is what I call being an adult.
Whenever peers or fellow entrepreneurs commend me on the unwavering growth of the businesses I’m involved in and my lifestyle, I can’t help but chuckle.
They’re under the impression that my wealth comes solely from my business endeavors. Well, they’re only half right.
A significant chunk of my net worth has been carved out through property investments.
Lauren and I took the property plunge when we were just 22.
Now, as I type this essay from the comfort of our fully-paid multi-million dollar home, it’s not to flex but to underline a point: If I could achieve this, why shouldn’t you?
The Invisible Scoreboard: Signifiers of True Success, Happiness, and Fulfillment
“Numbers don’t lie. Check the scoreboard”. – Jay Z
One of my best friends, James and I we’re having our weekly “bro date”.
Sitting at a cafe, we joke about how “us rich people” drink sparkling water. For the both of us, we rode a scooter that probably cost us around $5 a day.
No sound of ragging Lamborghini pulling into the carpark, just two barefooted guys that I believe have done a good job at harmonizing between internal and external scorecards.
How we measure our successes and contentment is deeply woven into our perceptions of self-worth and accomplishment.
On the one hand, we have the Internal Scorecards — deeply personal, introspective metrics that reflect our values, aspirations, and emotional well-being.
These scorecards are not flaunted but felt, not broadcasted but internalized.
They are the silent markers of our personal growth, the joy in our relationships, and the peace in our hearts.
On the other hand, we encounter the External Scorecards — the tangible, often flashy indicators of success.
These are the societal badges of honor dictated by popular culture and collective consciousness.
From the luxury cars we drive to the watches on our wrists, these scorecards are outward symbols, frequently seeking validation and often caught in the ever-changing whirlwind of societal trends and opinions.
While both scorecards play a role in shaping our lives, it’s essential to recognize their distinct nature.
One offers a deep, enduring satisfaction rooted in authenticity, while the other provides a transient thrill, sometimes at the mercy of societal whims. The true challenge lies in balancing both, ensuring that the external, more visible markers do not overshadow our internal measures of success.
Whether you want to admit it or not, we’re all playing status games.
Both “conspicuous consumption” and its counter, “conspicuous anti-consumption,” are deeply rooted in the complex theatre of status games.
The term “conspicuous consumption,” introduced by sociologist Thorstein Veblen in his 1899 book “The Theory of the Leisure Class,” reflects deliberately spending on luxury items to parade one’s wealth.
This ostentatious display serves as a means to elevate one’s social status, signaling to peers and the broader community that one has reached a certain echelon of financial prowess.
On the other hand, “conspicuous anti-consumption” flips this script, but the underlying game remains the same.
By deliberately downplaying or outright rejecting ostentatious displays of wealth, individuals are not necessarily removing themselves from the status game. Instead, they’re redefining it.
To call myself out, me rejecting the lambo and replacing it with a scooter despite having the means to do otherwise.
All I’m doing is playing a different side to the status game, signaling a different kind of elite status—one rooted in values, authenticity, or a sense of moral or intellectual superiority.
Yet, when we strip away the layers, both forms of consumption are rooted in the same human desire: to be seen, acknowledged, and valued by our peers.
Whether you’re displaying your economic success or your eco-friendly values, both are forms of self-expression vying for social validation.
One may flaunt wealth and traditional luxury, while the other touts progressive values and modernity. But at their core, they are two sides of the same coin, each hoping to carve out an identity and gain recognition in society’s eyes.
Neither is inherently superior; they’re simply different languages speaking to the same human need for affirmation and belonging.
Upon reflecting on the motives and goals of my life, particularly regarding finances, I realized I was sincerely searching for a sense of balance and contentment. The true allure of internal satisfaction is its lasting resonance.
It’s not just a fleeting feeling; it’s a state of being. Rooted deeply in personal values, passions, and meaningful connections, internal satisfaction provides a consistent backdrop of contentment in our lives.
It’s the warmth you feel when you’ve made a genuine difference in someone’s life, the pride in personal growth, or the joy of pursuing a passion project. This type of satisfaction is less about what you have and more about who you are and how you relate to the world around you.
It emanates from a profound sense of purpose, from living in alignment with one’s deepest values and beliefs.
Over time, it compounds, ensuring that our sense of fulfillment grows, making life richer and more meaningful.
I hope that the better I get at cultivating my character and life for have internal satisfaction, the more content I will be when lying on my deathbed.
External satisfaction, on the other hand, operates on the surface.
Earlier this week, I surprised Lauren with a new car. I don’t own one; my journeys usually involve picking up the girls from school or heading to the gym on foot or by bike.
The first time I sat behind the wheel of this luxury vehicle, a rush of excitement coursed through me. The experience was undeniably steeped in abundance. Yet, by the second day, I could feel the grip of hedonic adaptation. The initial thrill had dimmed, replaced by a growing familiarity and expectation.
It just wasn’t as cool anymore.
While these moments undoubtedly provide pleasure, they are temporary by nature. Once the novelty wears off, there’s an inherent need for the next best thing, an upgrade, or the next validation.
It’s a never-ending chase, a continuous loop of desire where today’s prized possession becomes tomorrow’s old news. The reliance on external factors for contentment makes this form of satisfaction transient and volatile. It can lead to a sense of emptiness, where the hunger for more never truly subsides.
What Would It Look Like, Is This Was Easy..?
Whenever I’m tangled in personal or business dilemmas, I often pause and ask;
“What would this look like if it were simple?”
Instead of spiraling into intricate solutions, my initial instinct is to pinpoint the simplest effective approach.
This same principle beckoned when pondering, “What if achieving true financial freedom was straightforward?” It dawned on me that before navigating the “how”, I had to understand the “why”.
Why did I desire financial freedom?
The ancient Greeks, particularly sages like Socrates and Aristotle, championed the concept of eudaimonia – a deep, sustained happiness rooted not in fleeting joys but in a life harmonized with virtue and purpose.
Financial freedom, to me, isn’t just about vast wealth. It’s the state where “my semi-passive income comfortably covers 200% of my ideal living expenses.”
The real quest is discerning what ‘ideal living expenses’ truly encapsulate and recognizing the game of status signaling we might be inadvertently playing.
Historical philosophies, from Western Stoicism to Eastern Taoism, have always celebrated the virtue of moderation. Financial freedom isn’t a passport to extravagance nor is it a vow of asceticism. It’s the liberty to relish life’s pleasures without drowning in excess. This equilibrium mirrors the timeless principle of moderation.
Existentialist minds, like Sartre and Nietzsche, posited that genuine fulfillment arises not from societal validation but from forging one’s own path and values. Financial independence unlocks the doors to nurture relationships, chase passions, and embark on a journey of self-discovery. Meanwhile, the allure of conspicuous consumption often hinges on external affirmation, hinting at a hunger for societal accolades over genuine self-contentment.
So, whether your vision of financial freedom resembles Warren Buffet’s in cargo shorts or being able to take your friends out for lunch not worrying about the cost of the bill, remember it’s your journey to curate.
Embrace it, tailor it, and most importantly, own it.