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Mindset & Money | Designing Your Life

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Hosted by
Mike Ayala

On this episode of Investing for Freedom, Mike discusses designing your life. Mike emphasizes the importance of understanding what you really want, and actively designing the outcome so that you can work to achieve it.

“Make sure that you’re designing the life you want, and that you’re not letting life design the outcomes for you.”


0:00 – Intro
0:46 – Instead of letting life design the outcome, you’ve got to design your life with the outcome that you want
0:57 – Mike encourages you to sit down on a regular basis and think about what you really want and why you want it
2:59 – Mike shares a personal story that demonstrates how taking time to decide what you really want and designing your own life, gives you the tools to achieve your desired outcome.
8:28 – Mike speaks about a friend who won’t close on a business without first having identified a CEO, this helps keep him out of the weeds from the get-go
9:32 – Make sure that you are actively designing the life you want


Thank you for joining me on the Investing for Freedom podcast. Hopefully, the audio is pretty decent because I’m coming to you live from my recording studio in my Subaru WRX. So listen, I’m on the road, actually, it’s spring break. And we are currently in Santa Cruz, California, on our way in the RV from Phoenix, Arizona, up to not really sure where we’re going to end, somewhere in Oregon. We’re kind of taking it as we go. This is a trip that my daughter wanted to take, she’s always wanted to see Oregon, which by the way, I’ve always wanted to see Oregon too. And pretty excited. But here’s the thing that I am going to talk about today, it’s around designing your life.

So instead of letting life design the outcome, you’ve got to design your life with the outcome that you want. I’m going to share a couple of stories with you that I’ve really been thinking about. And I would encourage you to just really sit down consistently on a regular basis. And really just think about what you want. I know the five-part formula, you guys probably get tired of hearing it. And I know it sounds super simple. But if you really just sit down and think through this, what do you really want? Why do you want it? And don’t just listen to me say this sit down, take 20 minutes, take 30 minutes, go on a date night. Talk with your spouse about what you guys really want together? What do you want out of life? Why do you want it? If you’re single, just do it yourself. And actually, even if you’re married, do it yourself too. Because not everything in your world revolves around your marriage. You can do the same thing with your kids, what do they really want? Why do they want it? What happens is we let life dictate what we’re going to do to get it the third part. And you know, measuring results doesn’t even matter if you don’t know exactly what you want and why you want it. So many times we’re just rolling through life. And we’re just taking things as they come. And so as I started out by saying, you’ve got to design your life around what you want, and not let life design the outcomes because you’re going to wake up one day, and you’re going to find out that you’ve worked all these years for something you really didn’t want.

I have so many conversations all the time. Probably more around this than any single thing. I have conversations with people all the time that went to school, they got good grades, their parents wanted them to do something or they thought it was the right thing to do. So they go off to college, they did they get a degree. And then they go out and they, you know, they graduate, and they get a job doing something that they don’t love doing. They never really wanted to do. They woke up 25 years old, 30 years old, 40 years old, sometimes 55,60 years old, and realize they spent their entire life letting life design their outcome, letting other people design their outcome, letting their parents dictate what they really want. So again, I’m going to share a couple of stories here.

But when I exited my first business in 2014, which we started in 2004. Something interesting happened and some of you may have heard this conversation before and some of you may have not. Kara came to me and she said hey, listen, when our youngest child graduates, and I currently have a 20-year-old who’s almost 21, Dylan, and an 18-year-old Tim who’s almost 19, and then my daughter is currently 17. But at that point in time, this was 2012. And my wife Kara said to me, when Katyn graduates, our youngest child, she said, I want to take a year off. And I said, wow, that’s you know, that sounds great. That sounds awesome. She said, I really want to you know, we got married young, I was 20, she was 19 Dylan came when I was 21. Kara was 20. You know, we went right into raising children super young. Then when I was 24, and she was 23, we started our first company. And we’ve just been, you know, building businesses ever since. And at some points in time, you really got to as I’m saying, you’ve got to stop and make sure that you’re designing your life. And I think Kara and I’ve done a pretty good job. But anyway, she said to me, I want to take a year off when the kids are gone. I want to regroup, I want to come together, and you know, just get to know each other again. You know, we have spent the last 20 years of our life actually longer 25 years of our life raising children. Oh yeah, that’s great. That sounds like a great idea.

But then as I really started thinking about it, I was looking around me at the life that I had designed. And by the way, you know, we’ve always built-in vacations, we always built-in trips, we always kept family first. You know, there were a couple of times that things get in the way, we all get out of alignment and rhythm sometimes. But for the most part, we had designed our life, but Kara was asking a new question, one that I hadn’t really pondered. And I was thinking forward, you know, for 12 years at that point in time, and I thought to myself, there’s absolutely no way that I can take a year of my life off owning this business and operating this business that I currently operate. And to be completely honest with you. I have this natural ability and tendency, I’m a visionary. If you’ve read traction, or you know anything with EOS, I have a natural tendency toward, I’m a visionary. So it’s natural for me to replace myself and empower people around me. Even though it’s natural, you still have to hone that skill, and you have to get good at it. But I was looking forward, you know, 12 years, and I thought to myself, there’s no way I was basically filling the general manager role. And I thought to myself, there’s no way that I will be able to take a year of my life off the way that this business is currently operating and designed. And so one of two things, either have to hire a general manager over the next couple of years, or I need to be bought out. And my business partner, you know, he and I got along, you know, pretty well, for the most part, we had our ups and downs, like everyone will. And I often say you know, businesses like a marriage. So pick your partner wisely. But anyway, I looked forward, and I’m like, there’s just absolutely no way with this current structure that I’ll be able to take a year off.

And so things lined up. And I won’t go into the details on this particular podcast, but things lined up for me and him. And we were able to have conversations around him buying me out or me buying him out. And it’s interesting because once you decide what you really want, I want to be able to have the freedom to take a year of my life off. Why do I want it? Well, because my wife wants to regroup. And it’s really important to us to spend the next phase of our life which would be, you know, empty nesters regrouping and just getting to know each other again, not that, you know, we didn’t but that was the perspective after you’ve raised kids for 25 years like it’s time to regroup. So what do I really want? Want to be able to take off whenever I want, not just for a week or two, but an entire year. Why do I want it Kara really wants to regroup makes a lot of sense to me. What am I going to do to get it? Well, in this particular scenario, I could have, you know, had a conversation with my partner, which I did and said, hey, look, if we want this business to serve us long term, we need to hire a General Manager. And while we thought about that road, it wasn’t something that was going to work out. And so we went down a road of either him or I buying the other person out and it just so happened, he ended up buying me out in 2014. And so that was what we were going to do to get it. And, you know, the measurement of the results, it kind of, I guess, this is probably a bigger conversation. But, you know, I was making sure that we’re consistently creating the life that we want in order to be able to take a year off. And, you know, so that means once you’ve decided what you really want, and why you want it, which, again, Kara and I did, now I have to design my life around that all the time. And so that doesn’t mean I, you know, I’ve obviously started businesses, since then we’ve got into more investments.

But I look at everything I do through that lens, of setting it up from the beginning to be able to take a year off. Now, that does not mean that the day that I start a business or the day that you start a business, you will be able to take a year off. But what that does mean is that you’ve got to think about that through the lens
Of, you know, a period of time. And for me, it’s a year to a year and a half, I will not start something that I know that I can’t get in, get a leadership team and some process and structure in place and be out within a year to a year and a half. Now, that’s my current strategy. I will say as a side note, I have a friend who’s very successful, he invests in businesses literally all over the world. And he made a comment one day that they will never close on a business without first having identified a CEO. So he took it to a whole other level, where literally, they won’t buy a business, they won’t close on a business, unless they’re able to hire somebody from the beginning that comes in as an equity position or has the right to vest in and can literally keep him out of the weeds from day one. So that’s a whole other level that I’ve been pondering about, and want to eventually get to.

But at this point in time, for me, it’s all about you know, and I said a year to 18 months, but really, if I can get myself out and replaced in six to 18 months. That’s great. Now, obviously, there’s some investments out there that you can make that you don’t need to replace yourself at all. I mean, you partner with the right operator. You know, you’ve got a business that’s struggling, and you make some form of capital investment or you bring something to the table. You know, maybe you’re in tech and they need tech components, so you come by in and create economies of scale.

Anyway, long story short, make sure that you’re designing the life you want that allows you to get the life you want, and that you’re not letting life design the outcomes for you. And again, as I opened up with, you know, there’s so many people that I talk to every day, that find themselves, they wake up one day, and they realize that they’re a slave to their business, they’re a slave to their investments. Certain things are not what we thought they were, I talked to people all the time, that are passive real estate investors, and then all of a sudden, they have an exit or something like that. And they decide that they’re going to go into passive real estate investing full time. And what they quickly find out is that it’s not passive. When you start building a real estate investing business, it can be passive, but it can also quickly get you to a point where you’re running a second active business or even an active business. And so just make sure that you know what you’re getting into. And the bottom line is that you’re designing life and not letting life design your outcome. Hope that helps.

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