The anxiety swirling around the upcoming election is almost palpable.
People are agonizing over what the results might mean for job creation, Social Security, healthcare, college tuition, and other hot-button issues. Given the shaky state of the economy, some angst is surely understandable. But Greg Downing says it’s absurd to think that whoever occupies the White House for the next four years will seal your fate and make or break your future. “They” can’t save you. Only you can save you.
“Never has the phrase ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me’ been more appropriate,” asserts Downing, author of Entrepreneur Unleashed: Wealth to Stand the Test of Time as well as an upcoming book on providing a financial legacy for kids. “The blunt truth is that no American can afford to wait on salvation from any politician—or, for that matter, any employer or any teacher in any traditional school.
“The old formula that allowed people to build a comfy middle-class life is gone,” he adds. “Instead of obsessing over what you can’t control—like who’s in the Oval Office, for instance—it’s time to focus on what you can control. It’s time to make an about-face and learn how to think about work and wealth in a whole new way.”
Downing is referring to entrepreneurship. He knows firsthand how dramatically it can transform your life. Once a car dealership manager working grueling 80-hour weeks, he is now a millionaire many times over who takes four months of vacation a year. He made his wealth as a real estate investment business owner and motivational speaker, and he says regardless of the field you choose, entrepreneurship is the only logical path to financial freedom in a global economy where half of all college grads are moving back home jobless and saddled with debt.
First, let’s be clear: The entrepreneurship he espouses is NOT the “open your own restaurant and bust your butt working there seven days a week” variety. Rather, it centers on generating multiple streams of income (earned, passive, and portfolio) so that the money you make is not directly connected to the time you spend. (“Time is more valuable than money” is one of Downing’s favorite mantras.)
“A single paycheck, even two paychecks added together, is no longer enough to allow a family to live comfortably and provide for the future,” he states. “If you’re lucky enough to get a good job—and that’s a big if—you might be able to scrape by, but you’ll work yourself into an early grave. And, of course, if the job goes away, the money stops. It’s no way to live—and it’s no way to teach your children to live.”
Anyone can make the leap to entrepreneurship, and, subsequently, financial freedom, insists Downing. Sure, you may have to learn new practical skills—but mostly it’s a matter of changing your mindset. Once you break free of what he calls “middle-class programming,” half the battle is won. Here are some of his insights on how to do it:
Commit to changing your life—and don’t break that commitment.
Most of us do keep our word to others, or at least try to. And of course being trustworthy is critical to your success. (How else will we find investors and get return customers and referrals?) But what about the promises and pacts you make with yourself? Downing says most people are far more likely to break agreements with themselves than they are with others. Yet since becoming an entrepreneur requires a dramatic change in both mindset and habits, you won’t get far if you keep letting yourself off the hook.
“It’s easy to justify breaking an agreement with yourself because no one will ever know,” he points out. “Sometimes we even do it unconsciously. But make no mistake: Your private decision has consequences for both your future and your family’s future.
“Breaking any kind of commitment—even those that may seem insignificant—hurts us because our subconscious gets accustomed to our ‘crying wolf,’” he adds. “Then, when we want to make a big change in our lives, our subconscious simply doesn’t believe us. It will actually work against our success. So when you don’t do what you say you are going to do, you are actually giving yourself permission to falter, to quit, and to fail.”
Take action now. Don’t wait.
I’d like to build my wealth. I want to start my own business. It would be great to be in firm control of my financial future. These are nice, positive thoughts, but when they’re not paired with action, they are nothing but daydreams. Only action—not plans, not goals, and not ambition—gets results. Every day that you don’t take a concrete step forward is another day of the status quo, another day of accepting a mediocre, hum-drum life.
Downing teaches his students to take action toward their dreams each and every day. Even if it’s an imperfect action—even if it’s later revealed to be an out-and-out mistake—it’s still better than letting fear keep you stuck in an unsatisfying life.
“Life rewards action,” he asserts. “And yet, most people just keep going through their daily motions, procrastinating, thinking their ideas to death, and never moving forward on them. Every morning, ask yourself, What action can I take today to move toward my dream of financial independence and self-reliance? Then do it, for your own sake and for the sake of your family. Otherwise, one day you’ll look back at your life and realize that while you had good intentions, you did not create results.”