2020 was a bear for most of us in so many ways…
The threats to our health, our financial security, and even, for some, their physical safety – burdens that none of us had anticipated at the start of the year when the economy was booming and everything seemed to be going swimmingly.

Then COVID-19 invaded our shores and upended everything.

The most difficult thing I saw in 2020 was the helplessness experienced by so many people. Many were helpless to be with loved ones or to work as lockdowns and travel bans separated families and prevented workers from going to their jobs.

It was heartbreaking to see seniors locked in assisted living centers isolated from their families and frustrating to see workers eager to work but unable. The stimulus payments were a temporary relief but I can’t imagine there’s one hard-working American who wouldn’t have traded those checks in to get their jobs back.

Looking back, restrictions and shutdowns destroyed many businesses. I saw many businesses and people struggling; but curiously, I also noticed many businesses that didn’t suffer – some are even growing exponentially. The lesson learned was that it was possible to prosper during a downturn.

While many were trapped financially and emotionally from the chaos spawned by COVID-19 – prisoners of their circumstances – others were free of such worries. They had freedom – freedom from financial worry, the freedom to travel to open spaces, the freedom to continue to earn income without depending on an employer or the government.

This distinct group of individuals had the freedom from the worries of Main Street – the worries of how they were going to make the next mortgage payment or where their next check was coming from because they had planned for these turbulent times. They liberated themselves from a time clock long before the pandemic put their contemporaries out of work.

Even doctors and lawyers – who many in the public assumed would never have to worry about finances – struggled. The high rates of unemployment among the professional class was alarming. Many incurred debt just to meet their expenses.

Recessions have a way of exposing those who are living paycheck to paycheck and those who are financially free. 

The financially liberated discovered freedom by turning the tables on time. Instead of being bound by time and relying on time-based income like hourly wages or annual salaries, they broke free of time constraints. Instead of trading time for money, they figured out how to put their money to work for them – around the clock… unbound by time.

The financially free discovered income-generating enterprises that could be run from anywhere – untethered from any physical workspace like a factory or office.

Free to operate their businesses from anywhere, these individuals avoided the pinch of being locked out of their workplaces. Their workplace was in their heads… on their phones… on their laptops. Their workplace was wherever they went or wanted it to be.

Because of this financial freedom, in 2020, these liberated individuals experienced freedom so many others lacked – the freedom to enjoy life.

I know that many take issue with those who were unscathed by 2020 but instead of resenting these folks, many of us can learn from them. The reality is, the people who were prepared for 2020 were also people who suffered in 2008.

Back then, they were probably just like many of the people who are struggling in 2020 – professionals and laborers caught off guard by the Great Financial Crisis.

In the aftermath of the crisis, many decided to never have to go through that turmoil, stress, and heartache again. They pivoted and changed their overall strategy in 2008 just like many who are suffering today can pivot and change their financial strategies.

I don’t think people living in despotic countries like North Korea or Venezuela resent Americans for their lifestyles. I think they aspire to be like us and to enjoy the same freedom. You don’t have to resent those who are financially free. You can learn from them.

So what did those who suffered in 2008 do to avoid the same fate in 2020?

They first assessed their limitations.

What prevented them from avoiding financial disaster in 2008? What prevents you from being financially free today?

Here are some common limitations:

So what do financially free individuals do differently? How can you achieve financial freedom?

2020 was difficult and many wish it would just go away and disappear into oblivion. I’m from a different school of thought. I think there is much to be learned from 2020 just like the many lessons learned in 2008.

By pivoting away from relying on active income, those who were prepared this time had turned to passive income opportunities to generate multiple passive income streams.

They were determined to never rely on a single paycheck again. And you don’t have to either. The freedom you seek is within your reach. You just have to decide to pursue it.