You Can Have It All. Just Not All At Once.

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FIRECracker is a computer engineer/children’s author, who used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada. But instead of drowning in debt to buy a house, she saved and invested instead. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her to retire at 31 and travel the world.
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Every time I post a Facebook photo, I get the same comments, over and over again.

“How are you doing this?”

“You’re so lucky! You get to do what you love without worrying about money.”

“I wish I could retire and travel around the world.”

And when I tell my friends it’s not impossible, that they can do it too, they just glare at me with the force of a thousand suns.

I get it. We’re all conditioned to think we CAN’T have it all. Either lock ourselves up for decades in a cubical prison, or end up on the street, holding a ”Will Paint for Food” sign while being surrounded by wild, feral cats.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Your choices aren’t starving artist or corporate slave. In fact,

You CAN Have It All. Just Not All At Once.

Okay. Hold it right there. What the heck am I talking about?

Let me explain.

Say you’re on a big project with thousands of tasks, all marked “URGENT”. And because you’re a freaking MACHINE, confident that you’ll hulk-smash everything into submission, you think “no sweat. Bring it on!”

And two months later, after hustling like your hair’s on fire, you finally managed to get it all under control.


But then, on your way out to grab a couple of drinks, your boss calls you into her office.

“What now?”

She calmly tells you to take seat, after giving you a look tells you you’re going to need WAY more booze than you thought.

Then she let’s it rip.

Your meticulously calculated expense reports? Riddled with errors.

The vendor contract you spent months negotiating? Reverted.

That lazy and disorganized development team you single-handed whipped into shape? Threatening to quit.

photo credit: Eric Chan @Flickr

You stare at her blankly. What the hell happened? You’ve been working 70-hour weeks! Where did it all go wrong?

Well, here’s the problem:

You’re concentrating on too many things.

Our brains can only focus on ONE thing at a time. When we split our attention across multiple tasks, we actually become LESS productive. Why? Because our brain cells are like tiny batteries. And when the energy stored inside those batteries gets depleted, we can no longer concentrate. So any work we do after that (even though it FEELS productive) is pointless.

So, how do we apply that lesson to our lives?

Focus on just ONE thing at a time.

By focusing on just ONE thing at a time, we can have it all.

What do I mean by “having it all”?

Well, to live a fulfilling life, we need 3 things:


MONEY. This one’s a no brainer. As much as people like the wrap themselves around the warm and fuzzy notion of “money is the root of all evil and I don’t need it”, the truth is that our happiness is intrinsically tied to money. We may hate to admit it, but, in order to be happy, we need money. We need enough money to keep us fed, clothed, and secure. The good news is that, above a certain threshold, extra money doesn’t actually add to our happiness.

So how much money is enough? The answer might just surprise you.

PASSION. Passion drives us. Passion motivates us. Passion is what we feel deep in our hearts, when we are our true, authentic selves. As Confucius once said “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” And I never fully understood this until I STOPPED giving all my time to a job I hated, and worked on building my dreams instead. Sure, it took a lot of work, sure it took many years, but I was much happier at the bottom of a ladder I wanted to climb, rather than on the top of one I didn’t.

FREEDOM. Without freedom, neither money or passion matters. Just ask the Wall Street hotshot who makes 6 figures but is forced to work 16 hours a day, or the Journalist how has to compromise on creativity in order to meet unreasonably tight deadlines.  In order to be happy, we need freedom.  Freedom to choose where we live, to choose who we spend our time with, and to do what we want with our time. This leads to happiness and fulfillment, because we can live our lives however we want.

So in order to live happy, fulfilled lives, we need all of the above: MONEY, PASSION, FREEDOM. (and yes, we need love, family, friends too, but I would argue that a fulfilled, happy person attracts more friends and has better relationships in general. So once we achieve the former, the latter will follow.)

But if we try to shoot for all 3, our energy levels quickly becomes depleted, and we won’t succeed in getting any of them.

Instead, we need to prioritize them in this order:

  • MONEY: Find ways to make more money
  • PASSION: Do what you love on the side
  • FREEDOM: Win Your Freedom with Passive Income


Find Ways to Make Money


I’ll be honest with you. This will NOT be easy. Unless your passion is something that also pays well, you may have to give it up (temporarily) and hustle like you’ve never hustled before. You’ll be bleeding from you eyeballs and sweating bullets, but it’s only temporary. And once you’re out, it’ll be worth it.

How do I know? Because I sold out my dreams to become an engineer. I didn’t want to be an engineer for the rest of my life, but I knew I couldn’t have money, freedom, and passion all at the same time, so I first focused on the MONEY.

I managed to get a high-paying, soul-sucking job at a bank, despite graduating at the bottom of my engineering class (hey, it’s HARD competing against people who put “binary” as a hobby on their college applications). Which just goes to show, you don’t have to be EXCEPTIONAL to make money. You don’t even have to be GOOD. You just have to be PASSIBLE.

And if someone—who sucked at engineering—like me, can get a well-paying job, you can too. You’re just as smart (probably even smarter), hard working, and you took the time out of your busy day to read this blog (thank you!), so I KNOW you’ve got the right attitude.

If you’re ready to take on the challenge, read MrMoneyMoustache’s “50 Jobs over $50,000“.



Do What You Love On the Side

A lot of people think doing what you love is easy. But in reality, it’s not. Being good at anything takes time and effort.  But once you develop the skills, it’s SO worth it.

Unless you’re already a PRO and swimming in cash,  I advise getting a job that pays well, and building your dream on the side. Studies show it takes 7 to 10 years to master something,  so unless you’re okay with living off mac n cheese, staying in your parents’ basement, while watching all your peers surpass you by selling out for high paying jobs,  I don’t recommend blindly following your passion…yet.

Farrah Gray once said “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs”, but I say,

“Get someone else to PAY you to build your dreams.”

Since I worked during the day and wrote at night, I didn’t have to worry about running out of money while developing my writing skills. It wasn’t easy, but it was WAY better than being a starving artist. And after 5 years of hard work, I finally achieved my childhood dream of becoming a publisher author. WOOHOO!

Win Your Freedom with Passive Income

Now that you’ve found ways to make MONEY and follow your PASSION, it’s time to use that money to win your FREEDOM.

How do you do that?


Every time you use part of your pay check to buy Assets that PAY you , you plant a seed. And when that seed grows into a tree, it throws off more seeds. And over time, you will have enough seeds to live comfortably for the rest of your life, when your passive income matches your expenses.

And THAT’s when you know you have are FREE.

So, by concentrating on ONE thing at a time, we can have it all.



So tell me, are you ready to have it all?

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