Security. Zero debt. Passive income. These are just some of the many different visions people have of what it means to be financially successful.
However, these are merely pseudovisions, i.e., things that society tells you will somehow make you complete, like a college degree, a high-paying job, and a house with a yard and a white picket fence.
But if you are to take control of your financial life and live free, you need to create an authentic vision, one that is gripping, inherently emotional, and grounded in your reality.
In this episode, Dylan discusses the importance of creating a financial vision for the future, pseudovisions and how they lead to the civilized path, and how you can make a vision that speaks to you and you alone.
- [03:43] What a lack of financial vision looks like
- [06:02] How pseudovisions can keep you from taking control of your financial life
- [08:50] The importance of creating an authentic vision for your life
- [16:06] Identify your vision by writing your own obituaries
- [17:48] Three sentence stems that can help you determine your wants and goals
- [21:25] Assess your vision by spending a day by yourself outdoors
[00:00:00] Intro: Forget the civilized path. It’s time to break the chains of debt and dependency, take control of our financial lives, and live free. This is the Fiscally Savage Podcast.
[00:00:15] Dylan Bain: Hello and welcome to Fiscally Savage. I’m your host, Dylan Bain. And today, I’m going to start off by talking about a story that I’ve talked a lot about on this podcast and will continue to talk a lot on this podcast because it’s such a huge point in my life. After my principal had asked me to commit fraud and had been so tactful in pointing out that contracts for next year hadn’t come out yet, I found myself sitting at my kitchen table, looking out the window to the drainage ditch that served as my backyard, enjoying or perhaps just numbing with my third whiskey old fashioned of the night. I’m sitting there and I’m struggling with the idea that there’s got to be something more. I was working a full-time job and I had two additional jobs. And there had to be something more. I was working through what I thought my life was going to be and realizing that this life was not going to cut it. I was never going to get ahead. What was the something more? What was the thing that was possible? What was the thing that I could have if only I knew how to get there? What was it? What was I shooting for? What was the point of all the work that I was putting in?
[00:01:25] And it suddenly occurs to me that it’s a house with a yard where my kids are playing — not the drainage ditch I was staring at — a yard with grass and trees and a garden as two children laugh and play with a green ball kicking it back and forth as I am grilling our dinner on a grill. Steaks. Ribeyes. I could smell the meat cooking as my wife walks up behind me, puts her arms around me, and says, “I love what we’ve built.” That vision came to me in that moment of stress. That vision infused itself into the core of my being and that vision then drove me for the next five years through graduate school, through a new career, through a hundred-hour work weeks, through the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows. That vision drove me.
[00:02:26] Ladies and gentlemen, I talk about that experience in my life because it was a turning point. It was the point in which it went from the company man — from somebody who had been walking the approved civilized path that was laid out before me: go to school, do good in school, get a job. That job will support you and your wife. Turns out it was not because I had to have two additional jobs. And it was during that time Fiscally Savage started to become a thing as I started to revolutionize my life. Make progress, brick by brick, moment by moment, day by day, building the life that was that vision with the house, the yard, the steaks in the grill, the compliment of my wife. Everything that I said “no” to, every time that I walked away from a relationship, a friendship, or an opportunity in my current sphere, that vision was front and center. And as I opened what became Fiscally Savage, which is my personal and financial coaching practice, I’ve found that when clients come to me to talk about trying to improve their financial life, move forward in a career, or any of the other myriad of things that we focus on in individual one-on-one coaching sessions, I find that the biggest issue that I have to overcome with my client is that they don’t know what they want.
[00:03:43] Now, ladies and gentlemen, you can’t get to where you want to be if you don’t know where that place is. You can’t get to where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re going to. Nine times out of 10 the first question I ask is, what is it you wish to build in your life? And I’m met with a blank stare. A lot of times, particularly on the financial side of my coaching practice, I get answers like, I want to do it right. I want security. I want no debt. I want passive income. What’s interesting about all of those terms, ladies and gentlemen, is that they’re dead items. When somebody comes to me and says, well, I want passive income, it sounds like they’re reading off a YouTube script because that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’ve been told that there’s this idea of passive income that’s out there that exists and they can have it. If they just had it, then the rest of their life would be easy. There’s a couple of problems with that. Number one, passive income is not what you think. Number two, it means nothing to them. It’s just words. It’s just something they’ve been told they’re supposed to want. This is no different than the approved, civilized path of go to college, get a job, and then everything’s gonna be good. Just get passive income and everything’s gonna be good. Just have no debt, everything’s gonna be good. Have security, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
[00:05:02] When people walk into my coaching practice and say these things, there is no meaning behind those words. These people are suffering from a lack of vision. They’re stumbling along knowing that something in their life is not right; that they are dissatisfied; that they wish for something bigger; that they feel like they’re a zombie going through the motion. And is it any wonder, ladies and gentlemen, when so many of us that are participating in our current economic system are wandering through from civilized, approved path to civilized, approved path that a radical idea is that maybe we should change jobs, not just get out of the system, and go live life on our terms? That so many of us numb out with pornography, with drinking, with drugs, with video games, with mindlessly doomscrolling through social media. This, in my opinion, is the anticipated result of a population of people who lack vision.
[00:06:02] And society drives us with all sorts of pseudovisions. This is what I call “the approved path.” It’s these ideas of you go to college, you work hard, you keep your nose clean, and you get a good job, and then you’ll have all the things. And once you have the two cars and the house in suburbia with the yard and the white picket fence and you even have the lawn mower that’s a riding addition, then you will be complete. This is why the movie Fight Club, 22 years after it was released in theaters, still captivates the imagination of so many young men in this country. Because they make the point in that movie that when you follow what society has laid out for you, you become a victim of the IKEA-nesting instinct, to quote the movie. This idea that if we just have the dust ruffles that define us right as a person, if we get that right, whatever else comes, I’ve got that problem solved. And it’s not the problem we actually are trying to solve. It’s not the one we actually need to solve.
[00:07:03] To tell people that Joel, just be a good man and graduate from college. But it’s always weird to me when people say, what is a good man? A good man — and then, of course, you can insert all these things. In Jack Donovan’s book The Way of Men, he lists out a whole bunch of these. A good man is vegan. A good man loves Jesus. A good man pays his debts. But we didn’t ask whether or not that good man is actually a fulfilled man. We didn’t ask if that man is good at being a man. We didn’t ask if that man is living a fully embodied human life full of joy and community and connection. We’re given platitudes, like “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” And raise your hand if you actually believe that to be true. And if you did, in fact, raise your hand, I want you to take a good, long look in the mirror and ask yourself, if money were no object, would you keep doing it? If you found out that you’ve got seven days left on this planet, would you show up for that job that you love so much you’ll never work another day in your life? I’d be willing to bet you the answer is “no.” that’s because all of these pseudovisions, all the things that society continues to tell us are gonna somehow make us complete, is complete, unadulterated bullshit. There is a path out of this. And as I’ve become increasingly frequently fond of saying, yes, there is a way forward, but not everything we’ve carried with us to this point gets to come with us and these pseudovisions that have been handed to us through our culture, they get to stay here in the depths of this shitty place if we’re going to move forward.
[00:08:50] The first step on your path to financial sovereignty is creating a vision of your life. This vision must first and foremost be solely for you and you alone. This vision must speak to you from the neck down. We like to believe that if we could just think our way out of these problems, we’re gonna be okay. But, ladies and gentlemen, life is not experienced from the neck up. It is lived from the neck down. We can’t think our way out of this. We have to feel our way through this. Your vision must inherently be emotional. It needs to be gripping. It needs to get to a point when if you say it out loud, you find yourself choking back tears.
[00:09:38] It has been years since I had the vision of the house, the yard, the steaks on the grill, and the compliment of my wife, and it’s only been in the last few months as I’ve recounted this story over and over again that I can allow myself to feel the experiences that are the emotions of that vision without actually choking up. But when I first had it, I could not say it out loud. I, in fact, did not tell my wife about that vision for almost six years because I couldn’t get through it. Because I thought if I give it voice, then it’s going to blow away in the breeze like my words have done so many times before them. But that vision felt like my hair was on fire, like I wanted to get up and go. When I would sit there and I would think about what that house looked like, what the yard with the girls playing, what the steaks on the grill smelled like, what the sound of the sizzling was, and my wife’s voice saying, “I love what we’ve built,” I allowed it to grip me; to drive me. It made me like a man with his hair on fire. I wanted to run out my front door, grab the first person I see, and go “Check this shit out, you motherfucker” because I was so excited about it. When I was putting in hours after hours when I woke up at six o’clock in the morning and didn’t come home until midnight every night six days a week for two and a half years, that vision carried me through.
[00:11:13] And you might be saying to yourself, “Well, fuck. I don’t have that.” You might be saying to yourself, “I’m stuck.” Or you might derisively be saying, “Well, Dylan. Must be nice.” It is nice. You do have that. And you’re not as stuck as you think you are. The difference here is you’re telling me it must be nice to be able to have such a clear and defined vision. It is nice. But I also had to hone that. I had to allow it to possess me. I had to be open enough to be able to have that vision in the first place. Like you, I thought I was stuck. And once I had this vision, it was the shovel with which I dug myself out. You have this. Every person I’ve ever had come through my coaching practice, I can see clearly where their vision is. That’s, in fact, one of the reasons people come into the coaching practice to begin with, is to figure out their vision and they will kick and they will scream and they will fight me, but they still have it. And it’s up to them to be able to craft it. It’s up to them to have to accept it. All I can do is shine a light down the path. But you can craft a vision for you. You deserve a vision for you, free of the pseudovisions of society, free of the bullshit that you were told by your parents, free of whatever it is that your friends all grew up thinking we were supposed to have. What do you want? What do you desire? What makes you a man with his hair on fire who wants to get up and run out his front door and get going because the second you can take to make and collapse time between where you are and where that vision is is a second you so desperately wish to spend?
[00:13:03] Ladies and gentlemen, own your desires. What you want, your desires, are yours. Own them — without apology, without reservation. Whatever it is, own your desire. Be expansive. Say, “Yes, I am worthy of whatever this thing is.” Maybe it is, well, I wanna travel. Everyone says they wanna travel. Cool. If you have a college degree, quit your job and go apply to teach English overseas. And I promise you, you’re gonna be traveling. You can go to Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand. There’s tons of other options. “Well, I could never do that.” Why? Why could you never do that? If travel truly is your vision, if that’s what lights your hair on fire, I just handed you a path. And it’s a path I know works because not only did I do that, although I taught international schools, I taught mathematics ’cause I was a certified teacher, but my wife, she taught kindy — that’s kindergarten — in Taiwan for three years. My roommate who lives with me, she did that for a decade. I still have friends who are overseas who are doing that; that have taken them from Thailand to Myanmar to Angola and now currently France. I have friends all over the world who are doing that. So if travel is, in fact, your true vision for you, what are you waiting for, man? Memento mori — you are going to die. Life is short. Be expansive.
[00:14:25] But maybe travel is just one of those pseudovisions that society’s handed to you; the idea that that’s supposed to be the ultimate end all of our working life is, oh, well, I get to travel. Well, there’s no time like the present. You could travel right now. But maybe what you really just want is a house with a garden or maybe what you want is to open a tea shop that’s full of cats. I don’t know. It’s your vision, but you need to craft it for you. It needs to be emotional to you. You need to own your desire. You need to allow yourself to be expansive, to expand your possible because memento mori. Remember you’re gonna die. Tick-tock. It’s time to make a vision that speaks to us.
[00:15:13] Ladies and gentlemen, I’m gonna give you a couple of suggestions if you’re sitting there thinking, I want a vision. I wanna know how that feels. Dylan, what you’re describing to me sounds amazing. It is amazing. And here’s how I write and articulate my visions. I go through a practice at the end of every year where I realign my vision. When I had the vision that I started outlining at the top of the show, that only got me through five years, and that was almost eight years ago. So, there’s been other things that are driving me. I have a vision of which each and every single one of you as a listener is part of. So, how did I re-identify that when I wasn’t up against the wall looking at abject poverty and homelessness as brought in by my unethical principal? Well, I write my obituary at the end of every year.
[00:16:06] What I do is I sit down and I write two obituaries. I visualize somebody, a man that I respect highly. And I visualize this man as giving the eulogy at my funeral. And I write two of them. I write the one that that man would give if he was unabashedly honest about my life as it is right now. And then a day later, I write that eulogy for the one that I want him to give when I die at age 90. What I imagine I would want him to say standing there over my earthly remains. Those two obituaries are like the sides of a gun. The one that is today is the back and the one I want is the future of those two line up and that is the path I need to walk. And I always test this because I will take those obituaries into the bathroom. I will close the door so I can hear myself talk. I will look myself in the eye, in the mirror, and I read them out loud. And when I’m done, if I don’t feel like a man on fire, I need to go back and do it again. That might seem a little bit morbid to try to go and channel that view from the casket. But, ladies and gentlemen, memento mori. You are going to die. And that’s how it’s gonna end. Ideally, you’re going to leave an impression upon this world that you can be proud of, that people will honor for generations. But if you aren’t honest about what they would say now and you’re not honest about what you want them to say in the future, well, then they’re not gonna say much of anything.
[00:17:48] My second suggestion, ladies and gentlemen, if you’re thinking that writing your own eulogy seems just a little bit too morbid for you, I don’t blame you. But let me give you a second suggestion: sentence stems in the mirror. What’s a sentence stem? A sentence stem is something like, if only I had a million dollars, I would dot-dot-dot. Finish the sentence. And these are best done when you just answer whatever the very first thing that pops up into your head is. Whatever embodied emotional reaction. Don’t stifle down your feelings in these cases. You’re answering these sentence stems for yourself. So, ladies and gentlemen, go with the first gut instinct you have. That’s your body. You’re the person driving the car of your life. Your emotions, that’s it trying to speak. So, don’t gag it. Don’t let your intellect get in the way of your heart because your heart is the one that’s driving the car.
[00:18:45] So what you need to do with these sentence stems, I’m gonna give you three of them, is you go into the bathroom and you look yourself in the mirror. Now, why do you do this? Well, have you ever had that experience where you look somebody in the eye and they say something to you and you’re like, yeah, that’s bullshit. Well, that’s because we are very good at picking up nonverbal cues when somebody isn’t being entirely and embodiedly true with us. Well, when it’s you, it’s even worse because you know when you’re full of shit. So, looking yourself in the eye is the key here. So go find a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and here are three sentence stems that you can try: I want — now, finish the sentence. I want freedom. I want a hundred acres and five cows. I want to own a business. I want to be a chef. I want to stay home with my kids. I want out of this fucking two-horse town. I want to never speak to my parents again. I want to spend time with my parents before they die. Whatever it is, your first sentence stem is, “I want —.” Now, look yourself in the eye and finish it.
[00:20:04] The second one is, I will know I have arrived when —. I will know I have arrived when I never have to think about money again. I will know I have arrived when I have five lifted pickup trucks with different colored truck nuts. I will know I have arrived when I have a wife who can stay home with the kids. I will know I have arrived when my wife is a breadwinner and I stay home with the kids. I will know I have arrived when I don’t live in the US anymore. Whatever it is, tell me. How will you know when you’ve arrived? What are you shooting for? What are you doing today to make that a reality? Your third sentence stem is my desire is —. My desire is to never be married. My desire is to be married by the end of the year. My desire is five kids. My desire is to learn how to cook. My desire is to be off the grid. My desire is eight figures in my bank account. These sentence stems, ladies and gentlemen, when they are done while looking yourself in the eye and you believe the person looking back at you, when you do these sentence stems and you know you’re not full of shit, when you do these sentence stems and it scares you, now you’re getting to the core of what your vision for yourself truly is.
[00:21:25] Now, if your eulogy doesn’t work and the mirror sentence stems don’t work, well, let me give you a last suggestion. This one, ladies and gentleman, requires a little bit of prep time because it’s an all-day thing. And when I say that it’s gonna require prep time, you have to set yourself up for success here. Because if you’re getting to a point where like, I can’t write a eulogy. It just doesn’t feel right to me. And these mere sentence stems like that feels really awkward. Okay, here’s what you do. You need to take a day and go spend it with the land. You take the day and you set yourself up for the absolute best of success. Of course, every day starts the night before, so make sure you get some good sleep. Know what you’re gonna have for breakfast. Have a good breakfast. Start off your day by getting up and not looking at your phone. In fact, turn your entire phone off and wake up with the sun, if you can. Have no music, no phone, no distractions, no TV, no electronic technology of any sort during that day. Just make yourself breakfast, pack a bag, and get as remote as reasonably possible. A big park in nature reserve. These things will work out great. Spot by the river. The goal is to be as alone as you can with as few distractions as possible. And then just bring that question to your being. Hold that question in your mind. And just go for a walk. A nice, long, technology-free, distraction-free walk, and ask the land what the answer to your question is.
[00:23:04] I am blessed to live in Colorado, so I have access to huge, open spaces where I can walk for hours and not see anybody. And when I lived in southeastern Wisconsin, it’s a, well, it’s the space between Milwaukee and Chicago, so there’s people and stuff everywhere, and yet I still can walk along the shores of Lake Michigan or get out to one of the parks or I can drive out towards one of the farms and there’s some, you know, pass along some creek and stuff out there. This can be done, even if you live in New York City, just walking around Central Park. And I just told you no technology, but if you took some headphones and you put ’em over your ears, even if there’s nothing playing, people will leave you alone. Ask the land for an answer. I don’t know what type of answer you’re gonna get, but you’ll be a hell of a lot closer than when you started in the morning.
[00:23:49] In all three of these cases, ladies and gentlemen, one of the things I’ve observed in my coaching practice and helping people craft the vision that is emotionally meaningful to them, that will light their hair on fire, they need to be ready to hold and consider whatever response they get, whether it’s from the eulogy, from the sentence stems, or from the land. This is hard because a lot of times you will find out you’re living a life that’s not true. And my first vision for myself that was like this was easy because it was really a “Fuck you” to my principal. But the second one was a lot harder because I had to learn that everything I thought about myself was actually a domesticated effect — a pseudovision that was given to me by a society. I really thought that I was gonna be a partner for a public accounting firm, and I realized I had absolutely no desire whatsoever. My desire was actually just to use my job to facilitate my life. And since then that, of course, has continued to evolve.
[00:24:48] And that’s what’s going to happen, but you gotta have some place to start. You gotta start moving in this direction. Have an idea of where you’re going because the GPS system of your life, it’ll start navigating. But if you ever notice that you have to get in motion before the GPS system tells you which way to go. But the GPS system also needs an end address and that’s what your vision is meant to do. You’ll figure out how to get to that vision place, but only if you have it and start walking towards it. You have to be ready to hold and consider the response and understand that this is for you and for you alone. It doesn’t matter what your family traditions have been. It doesn’t matter what your mother or father thought for you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent your entire life trying to build up to what you currently have. If your vision doesn’t fit with that, well, then that means you’ve walked a path that’s brought you here, but it’s not for you. This other vision’s for you, and that’s what you need to continue to build for. And you only have to be happy with it for you. You are literally the only person that matters in this. And how will you know if your vision is true, whether your eulogy, your sentence stem, or whatever you did when you went and were with the land? Repeat it to yourself in the mirror. Look yourself in the eye and read it.
[00:26:07] I have a quarterly battle plan that I use to keep me going. I have four of them a year and written on top of it is my current vision. I read it to myself in the mirror. And I can’t get through it without having emotions, without choking up, without my tears coming to my eyes. When you find yourself in that state, when the emotions of the vision grip you, allow it to possess you. Allow it to take hold of you. Own your desires. Own that vision. Allow it to drive you; to be there for you when it’s dark and hard. When you are there, when you are finally at that precipice and you can feel the emotions of that vision reaching for your heart to possess you, let it. And I know what it’s like on both sides of that equation because eventually, once you get there, it’s gonna let you go. Because right before the pandemic, I was looking for a house. After 10 years and 13 addresses, I was finally in the market to buy a house. And I saw that there’s the house in Westminster, Colorado. I went and I pulled up to it. I entered the code, walked in the house, shut the door. And it instantly felt right. So much right it scared me. So much right I picked up my phone and called my wife and I said, “I think I’m standing in our home.”
[00:27:34] What was it? What was it about this house? What was it about this place? I couldn’t shake it. I walked up the stairs and out on the porch and immediately it was as if the ether materialized the grill sitting there where it would go and furniture started to appear in that house. And four weeks later, I was out on that porch grilling grills while my kids played in the backyard with a green ball and my wife walked up, put her arms around me, and said, “I love what we built.” My vision came true. I had never told it to her. And in that moment, I could feel the vision just letting me go; letting me go to find my next vision, the next thing I’m building. And that’s what brought me here to you today, ladies and gentlemen. And I want, in my truest sense of my being, for each and every single one of you to craft a vision that leaves you like a man with his hair on fire; that you allow it to possess you so that you can take control of your life and live free.
[00:28:40] Outro: Thanks for listening. If you like what we do here, please hit that subscribe button. Leave us a rating and review. And share the content with somebody who would benefit from the message. You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, all @fiscallysavage. And head over to fiscallysavage.com to get our free tools, suggested reading, and everything else you need to take control of your financial life and live free.