“Being rich is having money, being wealthy is having time.”
Recently, I was on a 5 hour, 120km road cycle ride listening to the Rich Roll podcast (well worth a weekly listen).
The guest was Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired Magazine, and overall someone with a great idea of what the future could be like. He mentioned the quote above – wise words that seem to have been attributed to multiple people over the years.
Kevin was sharing his experiences of how in his 20s, when he toured around Asia, he spent years in developing countries learning more about their cultures. He spoke about how so many people from his generation focused on getting the right job, developing their career, and setting aside any dreams of adventure they may have had until later in life when it made sense.
When they had enough money.
In particular, he spoke about a friend who went to work on Wall Street or in business, but that had always had the dream to ride a motorcycle through China. This was something he would do once everything else in life was sorted and he had the money to do so.
Kevin’s perspective however, was that why not do it now? You could earn the money for such a trip working at McDonalds for a month! No need to have your entire life figured out first.
Ultimately, though, the friend never did the trip of their dreams – life got in the way.
Working for money is something (nearly) all of us must do. Unless you’re a member of the equestrian class, who ride rather than walk (or work), the amount you earn and save is dictated by your career path.
In our modern society, time and skill are the products in an open labour marketplace. Ever riskier trades and demands strip away personal time in a race to the bottom.
Some professionals can parlay advanced skills into a higher wage – but most are still bound by a 40 hour work week. Ambitious MBAs may earn more as time goes on, but the hours add up – and as they do, the salary effectively goes down.
The truly wealthy seek and guard their most important resource far more closely than their money. This resource is Time.
Regardless of your station in life or what you choose to do for work, every single person experiences the same number of minutes in a day. If you’re lucky (and focus on your health), you could see years or even decades more of life than less fortunate souls.
Wealth is being able to do the things you want, when you want. It is getting to spend time with your children, or with your friends. Its pursuing the things in life that are really worth it. Maybe its your artistic passion, or perhaps it’s just what truly makes you happy.
Overall though, it isn’t something you are obligated to do.
So what does this mean for your aspiring real estate agent?
When I was taking my 5 hour bike ride, it was a Friday morning. There was nothing unusual about it – it wasn’t a holiday or a long weekend. I simply chose to do what made me happiest that day, what I was drawn to.
Yes – I’d come off of a great year. In 2022, my business generated enough income that I would no longer need to worry about where the next deal came from (at least, for a while).
That’s bought me enough time to watch my infant son grow up before my eyes, and allowed me to train for ever increasing bouts of physical endurance (I’m considering an Ironman next year).
In reality, the average annual income for a real estate agent in my area is $50,000. As I’m fond of saying though, 95% of the business is done by 5% of the agents – and I’d imagine there are dozens of agents earning high six (and even seven) figure incomes.
But despite this disparity in terms of money, I think there is far less of a gap in terms of Wealth among real estate agents everywhere.
Many real estate agents are independent contractors – their own businesses. I am.
Almost everyone I know who is interested in becoming an agent is curious about how much time you get to spend doing what you want. I always tell them the same thing: its a free-form business. You can do it any way you wish, work as much or as little as you want.
But to be clear: no one will be there waiting with a salary, pension, and benefits. You have to put in the work.
Yes, we may be bound by Brokerages, associations, and those who seek to control us. But as a business owner, who decides what makes or breaks the back of the business, the options are all yours.
How will you spend your time?
No one will be there to deliver money to you. But – with the ability to determine how much income you want to earn, you also receive the ability to decide what kind of wealth you have in your day to day life.
If you spend all of your time enjoying your Wealth – time with family, hobbies and passions – you may find yourself lacking in Money. But if you chase only the Almighty Dollar, you’ll find yourself just another slave to a career, and your dreams eternally back-burnered to the wishes and demands of clients and bosses.
Is that really you?
Balance means enjoying Time and Money by working hard for both. When you build your business, keep the Wealth you hope to build in mind. Protect your time, select your clients carefully, and never trade your true calling for a quick buck at the expense of what really matters.
Life is a marathon, measured in decades. Don’t get too hung up on each hour.
Just don’t forget about the earning Money part, either.