In April, my wife received a phone call at work. It was one of those calls none of us wants to receive. Her 93 years young grandfather had been admitted to the ICU the night before. I put her on a plane that afternoon.
The choice was easy to make.
We had prepared for it long before we needed to make the decision. You see, my wife and I made the choice long ago to build an emergency fund and live debt free.
That choice was the initial one that leads me down the path of becoming a BRAND new me. It's a choice that has made all the difference.
I hear from many people I coach that they “need” to make a certain amount of money. Whenever this comes up I always ask why?
The answer almost always comes back to one thing, too much debt. Debt can and does severely limit our choices.
This includes career choices.
Before we chose to live debt free, my wife and I lived like everyone else. We were very normal. If we wanted something we bought it. After all, we had a credit card so of course we could afford it, right?
These life choices eventually caught up to us in the form of a $65K bill and a foreclosure notice. We had created quite a mountain to climb over.
So when clients tell me they “have” to make a certain amount, I know the feeling. When I saw this bill, a mixture of student loans, consumer debt and attorney's fees, I needed to continue to make my current compensation as well.
But that's not all I was limited to.
I couldn’t consider changing careers, pivoting into a new role or even moving to another company without making the same if not more in compensation. Debt removed my options and left me with only one.
Not wanting to take a second job (another choice) I started only considering higher paying positions. Talk about limiting yourself. Imagine the stress of interviewing for a job with higher compensation coupled with the burden of a foreclosure on your back.
Your interview answers become a script of what you think the interviewer wants to hear and you lose sight of how you can help make a difference for the company. How you can add value.
At the same time, my past poor choices were catching up with me, I was extended a job offer with a start-up consulting company to become their lead consultant.
This position would allow me to go do daily what I love to do; help businesses solve problems in unique and innovative ways. After all, I am a Maverick Leader.
I had been interviewing with this company prior to my “wake-up” moment. It was my dream job.
I was super excited about the possibilities and the opportunity to go do work I loved, work that mattered. However, the offer was for less than what I was currently making. It had tremendous upside on top of my base salary and even included an equity stake in the business.
But it didn't matter. The base was far less than I was making at the time and I “needed” to make the same or more.
My opportunity evaporated.
There was no way I could go to work for them at what they offered. I publicly and politely declined. I secretly cried.
It's taken me a long time to be able to talk about this part of my story. Now, ten years removed from that situation and 8 years debt free, I am thankful for it. That rolled up foreclosure notice in my front door handle was a wake-up call to change my ways, to climb my mountain, to become a BRAND new me.
It sucked at the time but it has helped me make smarter choices since. It made me wiser in ways I could never have imaged. I might even be a better husband and father for it. You'd have to ask my wife to know for sure.
Because we have no debt, I am now free to decide what positions I take, what company I work for. I’m not even chained to a specific career path anymore just because “it’s what I’ve always done”.
I can go work for a start-up, a large multi-national, a mid-sized company. I can go do work that truly matters.
Eliminating debt didn’t just take away a financial burden, it gave me the freedom to choose again. More importantly, it freed me up to become more of who I am, not the version of me that others wanted to see.
And that makes all of the difference.
Why am I telling you this? Because this Thursday I'm releasing a podcast with a good friend of mine, Steve Stewart. Steve is a financial coach, your financial architect, and as you'll learn in the podcast he hates your debt more than you do.
If you find yourself in the position I was in, buried in debt with seemingly no options, listen to the show on Thursday. Steve will help you see debt in a different light.
My hope is you'll read my story today, listen to the podcast with Steve on Thursday then decide to climb your own mountain and get out of debt once and for all. It's that important.
Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way.
QUESTION: Is debt holding you back? What career choices would you make if you were debt free?