There’s no hiding from the fact I have grown to dislike elements of corporate life. After all, the whole purpose of the Hustle Escape is to escape that life and secure financial independence. But as I undertake my journey it would be amiss of me not to take account of some hugely important lessons it can offer, not least about planning and execution.
There are thousands of business case studies that underline the importance of well-executed strategic planning. Many are the success stories that now serve as inspiration for start-ups and businesses in turnaround, but there’s no shortage of business failure cases from which to take lessons either.
When it comes to those tales that focus in on corporate strategy, there tends to be a recurrent theme that connects the successes and the failures.
The strategy setting process begins by setting the vision: that guiding statement that outlines what the businesses’ desired future state looks like. This then sets the precedent for the rest of the strategy-setting process and the detailed plans and actions to follow.
So in other words, if the vision isn’t great, the strategy usually doesn’t stand much of a chance from the start. But if the vision delivers the structure, orientation and inspiration, it can be a game changer and a compelling picture that drives a business or person forward.
That’s why I have started my journey to financial independence by setting a vision.
This vision is designed to underpin every turn I take on my journey towards financial independence. Every incremental step in the plans to follow should set me further along the course to making it a reality. In short, it’s the raison d’etre for the Hustle Escape.
As I set to writing this vision, I decided that it needed four key qualities. Let me explain.
#1: Time bound
Not all vision statements set time parameters, but clearly a vision of future financial independence requires a deadline. Otherwise I’d risk giving myself an excuse to kick the can down an endless road.
Equally whilst I recognise that I will need ample time to properly and permanently change financial course, I also need a time horizon that is not galaxies away in the distance. I have identified that balance to be struck in the year 2025, in which I will turn 35.
The second quality my vision needed was ambition. This wasn’t going to be an objective for the fainthearted, and it would require serious, immeasurable amounts of effort.
I’d chosen the year 2025 with this in mind. It’s a highly ambitious timeframe, especially considering my current financial circumstances. And my vision of what I can achieve by this point is a big, bold picture of the future state.
But ambition must be tempered with realism. There was no point in me creating a vision so farfetched that it would serve to demotivate. If I stretched my ambitions too far and too soon, the vision would be counterproductive.
In spite of the ambitious end state, I sincerely believe that the vision I have set is achievable and realistic. With my structured and progressive approach over the timeframe, my vision of financial independence can be achieved. The real question that remained was whether I had the motivation to stick to the path.
#4: Motivational and Inspirational
So I had a vision that is both time-bound and ambitious – but also realistic in the light of my current financial circumstances. But perhaps that wouldn’t be enough.
What I really needed was a vision that also motivates and inspires. As the energy and enthusiasm dwindled, I needed a vision that would provoke the necessary emotion and excitement to reenergise and push me forward.
Perhaps it sounds odd, but I obsessed over the language of this vision for a few weeks. How I articulated the real defining purpose of the Hustle Escape in one statement had to me become a huge part of doing this whole thing ‘right’.
So what did I end up with?
I believe that soul searching and head scratching finally delivered a vision that provides that the right balance of these four qualities.
Here is the statement, which I call Vision 2025:
“To achieve – and to help others achieve – a level of financial independence and passive income that gives them the freedom to decline the unfulfilling and embrace the fulfilling for the rest of their lives”.
It isn’t designed to provide the answers, nor is it designed to be a rigid, quantifiable future state.
The hard specifics will come in the planning, but this may just be the most important part of the Hustle Escape. It will give me fuel when I’m losing hope, it will give me focus and orientation when I’m deviating from the course, and it will give me structure when I’m developing and executing the plan.
As Carl Sandburg once said, “Nothing happens unless first we dream.”