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Prosperity Through Simplicity

by Stephen Cook

2/2/2011

The theme of my teachings this year will revolve around the title of this article, “Prosperity Through Simplicity.”  But before we can begin to grasp this concept, we need to understand prosperity.

What does prosperity mean to you?  We live in a world where the first thing that comes to most minds is “someone with a lot of money and material possessions.”  If asked the question “Is someone who makes $1,000,000 per year prosperous?” the vast majority of people in this country would answer yes.  If I changed the number to $50,000, most would say no.

Let’s now throw something else into the scenario, and let’s talk about the needs of the individual.  If someone earns $1,000,000 per year but needs $1,500,000 per year to make ends meet, we’d see it completely differently.  However, if someone makes $50,000 per year and needs $25,000 to make ends meet, we’d begin to see them as prosperous.

Prosperity has nothing to do with how much one makes, but instead has everything to do with whether or not someone has more than they need.

As a coach helping people to live abundant lives, my biggest challenge is trying to get my students to understand that money is not the most important thing in life.  A lot of money isn’t going to help them live life any better than they live it right now.  Sadly, most of them have chosen to create a difficult situation for themselves.  They’ve created lifestyles that are tough to service and therefore make it very difficult for them to live a prosperous life.  Instead, their lives are consumed with working hard just to make ends meet, thoughts of how to make more money, and worry about whether or not they’ll be able to pay their bills in the future.  We’ve created a game that is hard to win.

I’ve used the term “I set myself up to win” quite a bit in recent years.  And that boils down to the fact that I’ve made life simple.  I have chosen to live a low maintenance lifestyle that makes it easy for me to win in this game called life.  It has provided me with the freedom to do the things that I want to do, not only with my time, but with my mind.  I don’t worry about how to make ends meet.

It wasn’t always that way for me.  Let me give you an example.  In 2001, it was not uncommon for me to make tens of thousands of dollars every month.  Sometimes those paydays were $20,000 to $30,000 at a time.  Other times, there were multiple paydays of $5000 to $10,000 a month.  In 2001, if I did a deal that earned me $25,000 that was enough to cover my expenses for the whole year.  So within the first few weeks of 2001, I already had earned everything I needed for the entire year to live my life well.  The rest of the year was a bonus.

As I continued to prosper, I decided to get smart.  I sought counsel from the pros and asked what I should be doing with all my money.  I was told to buy a home and get the interest write off (I was free and clear on my cheap condo) and I was told to invest my excess into other assets.  I followed all the rules and in a few years I amassed $7,000,000 in assets.

I was flying high and outsiders wanted to know what I was doing because they wanted to be like me.  They wanted their lives to be like what they thought my life was like.  But if they knew the truth, they might have reconsidered.  Many thought I was prosperous.  And at one point, (2001-2003) I was.  But in 2004 when I had it all, I was no longer prosperous.  At least not by my definition.

The same $25,000 that would have gotten me through an entire year in 2001 would get me through two weeks in 2004.  In three short years- doing what I was supposed to do- I had put myself in a position where I HAD TO perform at 25 times the level that I needed in 2001.  While the illusion of prosperity might have existed, I certainly didn’t feel prosperous anymore.  I was no longer free.  I’ve always worked hard (and don’t know that I’ll ever stop), but I no longer enjoyed it because I wasn’t working out of a love for work, but more so because the life I created demanded it of me.  It would not let me do what I wanted to do with my time.

I was a slave and I willingly gave away my life and my future.  I was consumed with thinking of ways to make money in hopes that one day I could make more.  Make more? How absurd!  I was already making so much.  I was in the top 1% of all earners in this country and trying to make more so that I could be free.  Sadly, most of the high-income earners in this country live that way.

Why did I want more money?  Because I was a slave to it.  I felt that if I could make more, I could buy myself out of the slavery that I walked into.  To add to that, it was very frustrating because I did every “wise” thing I was advised to do.  I played by all the rules and executed perfectly.  So I felt that it was me, that I was doing something wrong and perhaps wasn’t working hard enough or doing enough.  Maybe I wasn’t working smart enough.  The experts all said I was doing just fine, but I certainly didn’t feel it.  So I worked harder and pursued bigger things hoping that one day my break would come and I could be free.

I’m so fortunate and blessed to have had my eyes opened.  When I didn’t have much, I had it all!  When life was simple, I was prosperous.  When life was simple, I was free.  So I told others I was going back to simple.  I didn’t want the big company, I wasn’t going to build a real estate empire, I wanted to sell my business…  And the advice I got: “Steve, you can’t do that!” or “Don’t do that- it would be foolish to give up all that money!” and “If you do that, how will you live?  How will you continue to give?”  Everyone tried talking me out of it.

Simplifying and living freely goes against American values.  We call ourselves the land of the free, but we’re a land of slaves.  Slaves pursuing an American Dream that can’t give life.  In fact, we trade our lives away for it.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, not because it’s not true, but because it goes against the way nearly everyone else around you is living.  It’s my hope that this year, you will join me and truly strive for prosperity and not be scared to achieve it through simplifying.  Prosperity through simplicity is the path that I’ve chosen.  Do you have the guts to do so yourselves?

Thanks for reading! This is one of many Lifeonaire concepts that we teach our coaching students. If you’d like more details on the Lifeonaire Lifestyle then click the link below to make this year the best year of your life.

Click Here To Learn More About Living Like A Lifeonaire!

Comment by Chuck H on 4/21/2014 8:43:22 PM
Absolutely brilliant.  Just think if your home was paid off?  Youd only need a few grand a month to have a great quality of life.   Putting together a portfolio of rentals or other assetts to spin up that kind of money is VERY doable.  You dont need millions to make this happen. This is such sage advice that grandma always taught us but we didnt listen.  Well.  Luckily, I did.   Hey, I still have the high end corporate job and work a 40.  Because I like too, not because i have too.  Eventually Ill get outsourced or replaced with a younger sharper cheaper employee. It is a mind blowing feeling that you know what? Thats OK.  Im going to be just fine...  Thank you Lifeonaire for spreading the gospel.  Literaly and figuratively.
Comment by Party on 4/13/2015 9:22:51 AM
We are underwater with our house, and have a car loan. We live check to check, and now it looks like my husband may be forced to retire due to a medical issue. Where do we start on this journey? I have been selling off stuff from the house, we will have to move to a smaller single story place, but credit is bad, so I don't know wherever will go. We did the vision plan and are cutting our expenses. I work but part time at best, and I run a at home business. Not sure where to go from here.
Comment by Bryan Z on 2/16/2017 7:41:43 PM
I always wanted to become a real estate investor and after my second
triple bypass surgery I became familiar with social security. And decided to make my move. I got well educated the best I knew at the time. And taking advice from the masses I acquired tons of debt In my mind. But having fore children that wish to go though college. Now my company is still brand new I'm thinking on taking more debt to get to get the company moving. I'm kind of juggling that thought and still looking for a nitch to get things rolling. Any tips
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