I recently came across a really interesting post in the NY Times called “I Want to Be a Millennial When I Retire.”
It’s worth reading first and then coming back to finish this post. I’ll wait.
The general premise is that a man who by all standards is the epitome of success contrasts his life to that of his son’s who is a singer/songwriter in his mid twenties.
His son gets to travel, do what he wants, and as the author describes it at the end he says his son’s success is “Off the Charts. He’s living like a millionaire retiree.”
I’ve got some thoughts on this that I wanted to share, as I think this directly relates to the choices that both I, and many readers of this blog have made.
Success Isn’t Necessarily What It Used to Be
First off, it’s great to see someone of an older generation recognizing that success isn’t necessarily what it once was. $2 mil in the bank, a couple rental properties and an annual trip to Hawaii is no longer the only definition of success.
As the author points out, his son gets to do what he wants, when he wants, and for so many people, that’s worth more than money ever could be.
I’ve talked to so many people that don’t get this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been berated over the last few years due to the unconventional path I’ve taken. So many have said it “won’t last” or that I’m “just on vacation until I run out of money and have to get a real job.”
Between the economy collapsing and technology advancing, all bets are off. If you were raised during my generation (I’m 28), you’ve seen a completely different set of rules. You’ve seen your parents who you once thought were invincible fall upon hard times, you’ve seen tech startups sell for over a billion dollars, and you’ve seen just how quickly new ideas can be adopted.
When you look at the realities of what we’ve seen during our 20s, it’s no wonder our view of success and what’s possible is completely different than that of our parents.
The Common Critique of the Millennial Lifestyle
In the article, there were hundreds of comments and many pointed out one very obvious thing: You don’t have to worry about money when you’re younger, but as you age, you have to deal with growing responsibilities.
This is a very valid point, and unless Max strikes it big, it could be something that he’ll have to answer to in a few years.
It’s worth noting though, that what Max is doing isn’t anything new. For decades people have traveled around with little money, trying to make it as musicians. It can be a lot of fun, but then most of those people end up throwing in the towel at some point and getting a more stable long term job.
That doesn’t have to be the case though.
I know hundreds of people that are living the exact same lifestyle as Max, but have just as much financial security as his parents.
Here’s what my year has looked like:
- I’ll have visited 8 different countries
- Played 75 rounds of golf, including a dozen of the Top 100 in the US
- I’ve directly helped no less than 50 people quit their jobs and build successful businesses
- I play guitar and make music weekly
- I helped put on a conference for 3,000 people from over two dozen countries
- I’ve been to every corner of the United States
I’ve done all of this while working less than 40 hours a week, and making nearly $150,000 this year.
You know what the most unique part about this is? It’s not that unique.
There are thousands of people doing their own variation of this. They get all of the benefits to Max’s life, without the financial worry.
How is this possible?
Because we grew up in a different world than those before us. We grew up in a world where if you come up with a solution to a problem, you have an unbelievable amount of resources at your disposal to spread that solution and create an asset for yourself, while potentially helping thousands of others.
You don’t need money, pedigree, or skills to get started. You just start. Get stuck along the way? Google is a powerful tool. Want a roadmap? Try Location Rebel.
Tristan makes web themes.
Liz is a freelance writer.
Derek teaches people how to write copy.
Dane and Andy help people build software businesses.
Steve helps people get in shape.
I could go on like this for days, telling stories of amazing people who get to live life on their terms, help other people, and make more money than they would at a day job.
The statement “When I grow up I want to be a millennial” is flawed in the sense that – you don’t have to be a millennial to do this stuff. I’ve seen everyone from teenagers to retirees recognizing what’s possible simply be using technology to solve a problem.
It doesn’t have t be risky. You can start these things while continuing to work a day job, touring around as a musician, or collecting unemployment.
It’s great to see Max and his lifestyle getting some credit – but the reality is, it’s not that unique. And frankly, if he got a little more creative, he’d be able to support his music with a business rather than odd jobs.
So who do I want to be when I retire? I guess I just want to be me.
What do you think about this? Agree? Disagree?