In this post, Aaron Sim, the Founder & CEO of Wealth Mentors (Promising SME500, 2012 and trained over 8000 students worldwide) shares his story of feeling trapped in life, and some words of wisdom about getting past your obstacles.
Aaron Sim here. It is an honor to share a bit about my story with you. Of course, you can find out more about it in my book. But here’s a section that I simply must share with you—because you might need to hear it. It’s like the apple that dropped on Sir Isaac Newton’s head and gave him a breakthrough. Perhaps this message will be your breakthrough too.
Let’s start. This might sound familiar to you. Not that it’s wrong, but it might be familiar.
- Study hard
- Get top marks in school
- Study harder
- Get top marks in university
- Get a professional job
- Work harder
- Get promoted
- Work even harder
It never ends. If you are like me, having grown up in South-East Asia, you were probably taught to get a solid professional education and work for a reputable firm because they would take care of you for life. I certainly did and from 20 years of age, I pursued the CPA. I worked part-time at a firm and got some practical experience whilst I studied for 4 years. It was the perfect opportunity to learn and earn money in the process. So when I qualified for a CPA in 1986, I got the opportunity to work internationally (in the UK) for Ernst & Young, a multinational corporation with 1000+ employees. I spent two years there specializing in computer auditing. And as I got more and more senior and became a supervisor for other qualified staff and trainees – my work hours and responsibilities increased and ever so gradually, the time I had for myself diminished. But still, I pursued more because of this one belief that many of us hold.
“You have to work hard to earn lots of money.”
Now, not to say that working hard isn’t a good thing. But with this belief about accumulating wealth, you will always be working harder and harder.
Beliefs are a powerful thing you see, they create the conditions which you have to live within and at times that can be limiting – in my case stressful.
For example, when people first believed that the world was flat, sailors were limited in their ability to sail past a particular point in fear that they would go over the edge and lose their lives. Of course today, we know that if you continue in some way or another, you can actually circumnavigate your way back to your point of departure.
So in my case, believing you have to work hard to create wealth leaves me at a dead end – when will we have the time to enjoy our wealth even if we have it? Or–is it truly wealth at all if you can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor? Wealth isn’t wealth unless you can enjoy it in good health.
So following this traditional path, I was working crazy hours for nine months straight just to turn around the figures for another company whose internal audit report showed they lost millions of dollars. I spent so much of my life working harder and harder to help another company reach its goals that when my first daughter was born in 1991, I didn’t even have time to be there for my wife. But if I didn’t work so hard, I wouldn’t get anywhere in life, right? The belief was that I would be incapable of supporting my family.
It felt like a catch-22. That’s the corporate rat race. Every morning you get up and prepare yourself to go to work; shower, breakfast, get dressed, travel by bus/train or drive your car, work from nine to five, get home to your family and have dinner, watch television or read the papers, then off to bed till the next morning.
Now I mean no disrespect, as you can see I have been there myself, and it is this exact reason I can articulate what the rat race lifestyle is like.
The problem is, even if you win at the rat race, as I thought I was…I was still living like a rat. You get two to three weeks paid vacation/sick leave each year and occasional overtime work. You get paid by your employer for your services every payday. If you do not like your job anymore, you will find another employer for better pay.
Year in, year out, it’s the same routine. You work for somebody else, but not for yourself. You focus your time, energy and effort in making somebody else richer. And this is the corporate race that most of us are stuck in.
As an employee, your income is limited. An average employee earning an average salary, if you do the sums, could hardly put aside a certain amount of money for savings for his/her future use. I found this out the hard way. After paying bills, taxes, my child’s education, basic accommodation and food expenses, you are left with the tiniest of ‘extras’ for future use.
Even an above average employee who could put aside some savings could hardly have enough for retirement use.
Let me give you an example. If you could save $20,000 per year, as an employee, it would take 50 years to get to $1 million. And even saving that much per year is a stretch if all you relied on was a job and savings.
All too often, people become trapped in this race and never bother to look where they are headed. Just like I did.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a huge wake-up call like I did in my forties.
Perhaps this is your wake up call. You don’t have to hear it the hard way like I did. You can hear it because you are listening actively. So pay attention. This bit is important.
I discovered that a more useful approach to simply working hard was focusing effort to acquire specialized knowledge to build wealth, rather than being stuck in the same repeating patterns. I found it more useful to follow in the footsteps of other people who have true wealth, and the non-conventional approaches to getting it.
People who have actual experiences on a subject are the ones you need to talk to in gathering information. Do not listen to hearsay or to those who neither know nor have any experience on the subject. With wealth; knowing is an asset, and not knowing is a liability.
Learning is the first step to wealth.If you want to create wealth and be rich, listen to millionaires or people who have amassed the amount of money that you desire, not from your friends who may be as broke as you are. I’ll give you an example – Joel Bauer, one of our international trainers and a world-renowned sales and persuasion guru did not go through the traditional education system. Joel was born with spinal meningitis and the doctor’s diagnosis was that he was going to die. In fact, they told his mother to go home so she wouldn’t have to endure the pain of watching her baby suffer in a hospital incubator.
They left Joel in an incubator (an encasing for premature babies) for two weeks and administered a drug that killed 98.2% of all children who took it. But Joel survived. And then for the first 7 years of his life, he sat in a corner and played with a piece of paper. Most of his mother’s friends and family said openly; “he is a retard”, “he’s a moron” and “he’s hopeless”. Joel failed first, second and third grade at school.
Then, at the age of seven years he learned magic and the psychology of influencing people – and by the age of 13 he was earning US$30,000 a year. By 15 years of age, Joel was performing on Carnival Cruise Lines and used the same skills to help huge companies attract customers at some of the world’s largest technology trade shows.
By the age of 33, with no formal education, he retired and was not dependent on a working income to live the lifestyle he wanted.
So I wanted to learn from Joel, and other than the fact that he is a great trainer who works alongside my business today, I found Joel fascinating for the new information and experiences he got outside of the traditional 9-5 career and education system. Remember…
‘Out of the Ordinary’ Information = ‘Out of the Ordinary’ Results
He became wealthy by choice, and he earned his wealth his way.
Now you might be asking: where will you find the time to learn and do all that? I understand. The last thing you want to do when you get home from a long day of work or from a long week of work is anything that requires mental effort or an output of more of your already drained energies. But that’s where the solution lies.
The solution starts with using the time you have to buy back the time you want. You see once you are caught in this cycle, you are only left with minor moments to think and act on something different.
Defining a ‘why’ for your wealth is important. You will always find time to do something that is important to you. Think about a mother who is caring for her newborn child. She makes it happen! If it’s important to you, that activity will energize and inspire you. And you can, bit by bit, every day, implement new knowledge (say 30 minutes a day) and get results.
Breaking it down into simpler, manageable chunks will equate to greater progress in the long run.
My experience is you do have to work, but you can work smart and with a mentor to accelerate your results. With a proper mentor (or friend you trust) who has been where you want to go, you can learn and apply their knowledge, gain experience and keep refining. More importantly, they will be able to guide you through the process as you unplug from the traditional programming and learn fresh perspectives to succeed in life.
Learn. Apply. Learn. Apply.
Go for it!