The Best Is Yet To Come
If I could go back in time would it change a dam thing in my life?
Love the dumb things we do when were young but the best is yet to come
“Ding a ling-ling-ling….” I reach for my old style alarm clock on the bedside chest of drawers. Firstly as I always do I manage to silence the damn thing. Louise – used to this morning routine rolls over and tries to ignore me.
I switch the side light on and check the time. 3.45am. By 4.30am I am on my way to my gym studio in a lovely car only weeks old is still has that new car smell, and only sets me back a few hundred a month.
I pull into my car park – still dark I leave the lights on, on my car, until I unlock the gates. This six day a week routine I have down to pat. I could do it whilst still asleep. As I enter my studio I flick on the lights – they click on, one by one illuminating the labyrinth of gym equipment – all state of the art and brand new. The black steel frames contrast against the grey carpet and walls. Everything fits here – as in colour coded to a compulsive disorder degree.
Everything is black or grey giving the whole gym that photo negative effect – grey towels – black coffee cups – black coffee machine – black leather seat next to my computer sat on a black table – you get the picture.
I have a huge day ahead and got to work planning out my programs for each of my clients today. I don’t just train normal clients – oh no – I train the country’s top figure girls and many come from all four corners of our lovely country.
Business is huge – giving six figure income each year.
Life is awesome right? – Wrong!
The saying goes – be careful what you wish for.
I had strived to make a successful business and had achieved just that. I had everything and anything I wanted, apart from time!
I felt trapped in this money making machine I had created.
I had cars – mortgage – rent – bills – insurances, and countless other costs that needed eighty plus hours a week of work.
Sure I was doing something I loved – also working for myself, but I was running in a wheel like a hamster and I could not stop.
Every gadget bill and loan needed feeding – feeding with money. I was turning over a shit load of money each year only to give a huge sum to the tax man. I could not believe we turned over so much money and yet we were no better off.
As the years ticked by we seemed to never see an end to “overwork” I was always at work to keep us afloat. When we did have holidays I spent half of it asleep – worn to a frazzle from working too much. I hardly saw the family and our two kids were growing up so fast.
It took a huge wake up call to slap me to my senses. Five years ago Louise was diagnosed with cancer, four years this coming February 2019 we lost her. In her final weeks Louise told me her only regret was we worked too much and never had enough holidays.
When Louise was diagnosed – we had just started to implement a plan to rid ourselves of debt and minimise outgoings. We had been working hard to pay off loans and knock the mortgage down.
Louise being so strong needed to make sure I could keep this ship afloat without her – she needed to know the kids and I would be ok. So we downsized – selling businesses – and clearing away everything that was not essential, so there was no strain on living expenses at all. In her final year – we had got things in order – and she got to see how this new life setting would run.
We had cleared away every unessential, you would be surprised by how much crap you own that sucks money out of you.
We had got to that point whereupon you either push forward – and earn more, therefore earning more money – buying more things and working even more, or cut back on everything and reduce living costs.
We had decided that money was not everything – time was – time to us and to me at this point now in life – time is everything.
I feel different – I feel like something inside me has changed over the last few years – seeing Louise go through what she went through made me look at life and existence completely opposite to how I used to look at it. At times I feel heartbroken that Louise only got a year or so of this new life of living, something we should have done years ago. They say hindsight – well, I could kick the hell out of myself. I try to instil into everyone I come into contact with now – hence this article, that there is more to life than work.
Like I said I do feel changed I feel so different it is hard to explain, but I will try.
There is no aggression, no desire to work and earn money. What I earn now I give away. I work only a little to fund holidays for the family, what I live for is time with family. Like most men, I worked far too much and quality time with the loved ones was minimal, now that is all I want and crave.
Take Your Path
Now all the above said – this is my chosen path, after many many years on what I see was the wrong path for me I changed direction and found a whole new world I have never really seen.
Maybe chasing money and success was a knee joint reaction to being on my own at fifteen with nothing, maybe it made me overreach, by then I had reached a high and found out it did not make things better only worse. Little did I know that I had all I needed around me already.
Many can balance success and life. I got it wrong an ended up overshooting it. If you have found balance I am proud of you, be happy love life. If you feel like what I am saying here is you to a T, well only you can make the changes to life and those close to you.
Let me give you some points here.
Yes they sound simple because they are. Just the building a business or advancing up that corporate ladder at work minimising takes work at first. But – in the end you will find yourself free and happy.
The first thing you need to do, before anything else, is clean the house. Yes – bottom the whole house – why? Well you will find out yourself you have so much shit stuffed here there and everywhere that you don’t even use or look at anymore.
This, I think is cleansing – this allows you to see the wood for the trees, you will be surprised by how much dead money you have just sat there.
Here is what we did, I ordered a skip – yes a skip – and took a day off work. Anything I had not touched in a month went on eBay, or in the skip. The skip cost me £80 but I made £800 on eBay in a few days. I took that £800 and paid it off one of my card debts.
All together the clean out lasted around a month as I still found I could live without the stuff I thought I could not live without.
So again, I sold it or binned it, I ended up making thousands believe it or not – selling rare books and old bodybuilding magazines, old phones, I was seriously shocked at the crap I and my family had accumulated.
Not one of these things was that one ‘thing’ that made you happy.
Cleaning out the house decluttered not only the house but also decluttered me! It cleansed my mind, I had a clear focus and direction to what would actually make me content and happy – and that feeling was being free.
The Next Stage
After cleaning out the house and making money to pay off bills from dead money the next stage of this minimalist approach was put into action.
Over the years we as a family had racked up some serious credit card debt. This was built up as the years went by running a business and basically robbing Peter to pay Paul. Add to that holidays, cars, gadgets – and the mentality of “I will pay that off later when I get that next lump of money” – never really happened. Before you know it your working all hours god sends to fund everything and every payment.
So we consolidated all the card debt – business loans – car loans and what not, and had one lump sum. I then set up a three year work plan – to pay that off. So meals out stopped – sold the car – got a smaller one, big holidays stopped we just had a few long weekends away cheap.
This freed up a ton of money to pay off the lump sum.
Here is what I did; I would put in a tin all the cash I would earn selling things. Reducing out goings you name it – I would save £500 and pay it off the lump – without fail. You will be shocked by how effective and rewarding doing this is. Every month I felt freer and happier.
Once the debt was going down this in turn freed up monthly outgoings.
This allowed more money to be paid off the mortgage.
To further free up monthly outgoings we looked at all those incidentals you don’t notice.
I can remember freeing up another £90 a month over one weekend of going through Sky – phones – gas – electric – insurances – you name it – Louise got on the phone with every provider and by hook or by crook got them reduced.
The same month we reduced our cars also – going from two cars to one, this freed up a further few hundred pounds.
We were winning.
By the time three years of both of us really working hard we were really seeing the results of our labour and life was looking better. Then the aforementioned illness struck Louise and we had to minimalist even further in order to be able to run this ship alone without Louise. She only had a year or so but still thought of others and planning everything down to the last detail of how life for the kids and me would be.
We put our heads together, sold the gym, and built one at home so I could be here for the kids always – but still work a little. What mortgage we had not paid off we had insurance that covered the rest. Something we had never scrimped on and had paid since first starting work. We got eighteen months of the new life. I’m so glad Louise got to see the end goal in its working order. I am so glad she got to see the freedom of life we had created.
Today and the Future
Life is very minimal – at this point in life I have hardly any outgoings at all.
I have no mortgage – no business rent or rates and so forth. I don’t even own a car. Yes I sold my car and bought Molly her first car – why? Two reasons – one I work from home and really don’t need one, and two I did not want Molly to start life with a car payment. I am instilling in her – the ‘keep your overheads low point’.
We bought the car out right and this had no monthly costs. I only work now to fund holidays instilling again in the kids Molly and Louis that life is about doing.
I am also still doing that ‘saving in a tin’ thing – whereupon I save £500 and buy some dollars for trips to Florida and California. For me I would rather not have a car and nice things and spend money on DOING – enjoying a holiday with the family.
Sure many would read this and want the nice cars and everything as well as the holidays. But for me, having had that, I like this way of life much better. Some people as I said at the start of this article thrive on business – thrive on the work stress and love it, sorry it, not me.
The future is planned out for the ultimate minimalist approach to life. This I have already set in motion.
I bought a cabin over by the coast that we use at weekends now, with the plan of living there some day in the future. As the kids start to find their own footing in life and leave our home that will be the point that I will sell the house and give each of the kids a lump sum to put down on their own home.
This is when I will move in to the cabin along with a wonderful lady that was a close friend, who in time became part of me. Louise is with me every day and always will be – and I know she would want me and the kids to be happy. I am lucky that Joanne understands my life with Louise and we have built something special.
Joanne is amazing – and the kids love her. I feel so lucky to have had two wonderful strong ladies in my life.
I said a point earlier – that I am a changed man. I feel like I was broken – into a million pieces when Louise passed. I questioned life and its meaning. I could not begin to understand how someone who was such a good – good person could be taken away from us.
It took years of anger – and frustration – before bit by bit I built those pieces of myself back together – Joanne was there for every piece along with the kids. Kids are so resilient and strong – Molly being like her mum – strong as you could imagine is already making an amazing life for herself. Louis is very much like me in that he is more emotional and – for want of a better word – soft in a good way. Together we talk about mum often – and it does us both good.
Today I no longer have that work aggression – all I do each day now is do all I can for those close and enjoy each day to the full. When the time comes to move to the Cabin with Jo, I will only need to work a few days a month with my planned fitness weekends to give people a taste of the ‘quiet life’ along with training and nutrition. I will still crank out the odd book or do some art work as I age. The cabin’s overheads are so low that the need to earn is nondescript.
To wrap up this article – reducing, downsizing and minimalizing is not to everyone’s taste – but – some of you reading this will think – that’s what I want from life and there is nothing stopping you from doing it but you. I hope some of the ideas here have stimulated your mind to reach towards another goal.
You see for years I thought to be successful I needed to be a good business man and have lots of money.
I was the richest man in the world because I had a wonderful family and I was blind to see it. I cannot change the past all I can do now is be a better man.
“It is the heart that makes a man rich not according to what he has but according to what he is”
Henry Ward Beecher