Accumulating material wealth has never been easier. Historically, you need large capital or land to start with. Now you can start with nothing and make something out of it.
A few examples:
- You can learn a skill, and sell your skill leveraging the internet
- You can develop capability, and with the capability to get a job with Google in the US
- You can network better now that will open otherwise closed door for you.
The example abound.
If I should ask you, do you know at least two things you can do to be materially comfortable and financially free? I’m sure a few things would come to your mind. It could be that someone taught you those things or you saw it from someone else. Yet, until today, you’ve not any of them.
My concern about wealth heightened when I started explaining all these possibilities to people and their default response to me is always “that’s taking too long”
For instance, as you are now if you start saving from today, let me assume you are 20 years old, and you have to work for 30 years. Somehow you managed to save an average of N30,000 per month. Now imagine that you are earning a 10% return on that capital yearly.
At the end of 30 years, that amount would sum up to be about N65m. Now your 30k monthly contribution is only about N11m of that.
Maybe you are also even saying 30 years is too long already.
Another example I like to give is this. Take a skill and it doesn’t matter per se what the skill you take. Learn that skill religiously for the next 1 year and leverage the internet to tell the world about your knowledge of that skill. I bet that within that one year, you would have been well paid for your knowledge.
Well, truth is you won’t do it. I mean you won’t do any of the two things I put up there neither will you do any of its variations.
Well, that got me worried.
- Why are we hurting ourselves?
- Why do we see the path to what we crave but refuse to thread the path?
- Why do we make decisions today that will hurt us tomorrow?
There could be several answers for that and I found quite many answers for that in my search. But two resonated with me among all.
The two explanations came from Physics and Neuroscience.
2nd law of thermodynamics talks about entropy- the movements of things from orderliness to disorderliness. From riches to poverty and poverty to more poverty. In order words, the state of nature is for things to move from “make sense” to “not make sense.”
How does this affect you? It also implies that the natural tendency of the environment you live in is to take your from riches (if you were born with it) to poverty. Or from poverty to more poverty. That’s about your environment.
When I learnt that, I realized how the environment you find yourself in can immediately tell if you will remain poor or be committed to being wealthy.
Also, I learnt that you have to consciously cultivate your environment to optimize for wealth.
And when I say environment, I mean that in all ramifications. Both online and offline. Imagine what you have learnt from reading different articles on this blog since you discovered it. Now imagine you didn’t discover it. What’s the difference between both worlds? And I bet there might be other blogs you read as well that are keeping you in the state of perpetual decline. Get out of there now.
Just so you know, I relocated to Lagos because I knew what I needed wasn’t in my previous environment. Well, that was the lesson from physics. Things move good to bad in a state of nature. When you don’t act, you will decline from poverty to more poverty or from riches to poverty.
I didn’t stop there in my search for answers to my questions. Because I know a lot of people still find themselves in the right environment yet, they are not materially wealthy. Why? I continued to ask.
By the way, neuroscientists are those that study the workings of the brain and the nervous system.
So imagine you are in the 3rd week after you received your monthly allowance or salary. You know how that can be right? Just doing a count down to when the next fund will come.
Now imagine someone you’ve never met before walked up to you and ask you to give them money (a sum that is so uncomfortable for you to give). You can imagine what your reaction will be like right?
Now, here’s what neuroscientist found while researching similar questions as mine.
The same reaction that your brain would give to a stranger is the same reaction it gives whenever you are making decisions today that will cause you pain today but benefit you massively tomorrow.
In fact, they found that the longer you look into the future, the stranger you become to yourself.
And that explains why you will do things today that will harm you in the future. Your brain perceives your future self as a stranger and just as you wouldn’t go out of your way to give that stranger the money they are asking for in the 3rd week of your monthly allowance, you also won’t go out of your way to do things for your future self.
I was amazed at finding that out.
What conclusion did I draw from both findings?
I was designed to be poor and remain poor. My environment is governed by entropy and my internal system’s default settings are designed for me to make decisions that keep me in perpetual poverty. Gosh!! 👎
Well, not entirely bad (yet).
Knowledge gives light not darkness
As I’ve said when I was talking about entropy that governs our environment, the best way to optimize against that is to design your environment consciously. If you aren’t conscious about it, it will revert to default – disorderliness or poverty.
What does the knowledge about the workings of our brain tell us?
Since you know your default settings is to do things that will hurt you in the future, here are 3 things you can do:
- Convince your Present Self that your Future Self is, in fact, still You. If the central problem is that we think of our Future Selves as other people — people we clearly don’t mind screwing over — it follows that trying to identify more closely with our Future Selves will encourage us to make better long-term decisions. Instead of saying 1 year, if you frame it as 300 days, it can make a difference. I am doing this for the next 30 days may get you closer or doing it than saying 1 month.
- Forget about your Future Self and use your Present Self’s love of instant gratification to your advantage. While the tactic above can be effective in making better long-term choices, in the end, you’re still struggling against human nature. However, Our brains are hard-wired for instant gratification. Instead of fighting your Present Self’s need for immediate rewards, why not use it to your advantage?
- When most of us set goals, we focus on long-term results we want to see — e.g., losing weight, getting a promotion, retiring in comfort, mastering your craft, etc. While those visions of our Future Selves can be inspiring, when it comes to actually doing the day-to-day work it may be more effective reframe activities in terms of their immediate (or at least very near-term) rewards.
Now you know what forces are against you and what you must do to wage war against them.
Your environment is against you except you consciously choose it.
Your internal systems are against you except you consciously prime them.
But if you do, you can be unbounded.
This article isn’t to teach various ways to make you money but to highlight for you why you will still not have financial wealth or any wealth even if you know how to make it.
In my opinion, expect you to fight these tendencies, every other thing you learn will just go under.