Common Barriers to Freedom Today

When Freedom Proves Elusive, What Are We Missing?

Picture of by Dr David Phelps

by Dr David Phelps

I wanted to give my field notes from my interactions and discussions with several key people in my network.

The following are the insights I gained and the warnings for those looking for a faster way to freedom and time.

I started investing in real estate on my own when I was in my early 20s. I was interested in how I could build real wealth. Why? It was about having the optionality and freedom that I now enjoy today.

This is something I really aspired to when I was a kid trying to earn money by mowing lawns, throwing newspapers, and selling greeting cards door to door to buy stuff that my parents wouldn't give me. Thank goodness they didn't. 

Things like a better bicycle, better tennis shoes, tennis rackets, tennis strings, a Polaroid camera. That’s how it starts when you’re young and it’s okay to start there. But where that desire came from was wanting freedom and some control over my life. That never stopped as I went forward.

The Importance of Education and Life Lessons

Even going through the iterations of college and dental school, I was always reading books about stewardship of money. Being an investor in real estate always made sense to me and that is why I was fortunate enough to get my dad to be my first joint venture partner on my first rental property back in 1980 when I was a mere 22 years old.

The rest is history, but throughout it all were many lessons, challenges, insights, mentoring, and a lot of exploration. All of this was beneficial to me but nothing in life goes straight ahead like you have planned.

In my experience, being on two different tracks – my professional practice and real estate investing – has been crucial in my pursuit of freedom and the autonomy I wanted.

My professional practice of dentistry gave me the safety and certainty we all aspire to have when we go into a profession. It also exposed me to the entrepreneurial aspect which inspired me to build wealth in different ways than the traditional way: Practice/work, save money, and accumulate a nest egg in the stock market or 401k.

Instead, I focused on real estate. I didn't even worry about the stock market or 401k because I was on the real estate track. I knew enough about it to understand that if I was disciplined and followed the lead of exceptionally good mentors, I could build lasting wealth in real estate.

Find Mentors That Will Make a Difference For You

I had to look hard for my mentors. This is something everyone must do to move in the right direction in the fastest possible manner. But you have to dig deep to find the right people and guides because there are all kinds of people selling all kinds of stuff.

This does not mean they are bad people. But is what they are promoting the right solution that works for you?  You have to find people who can provide evidence of the results you want in your life. 

That means you can have mentors for different goals, big or small. A mentor for tennis, for piano, for real estate, for business, for your profession, etc. 

I am grateful that I have found those people in my life. With their guidance, along with discipline and exposure to different mindsets, everything came together some 20 years ago when I sold my practice due to my daughter's health situation.

The Common Barrier to Wealth

Young people have always had the same aspiration. “I'm going to take on the world. I can make it happen. I'll hustle. I'll Grind. I’ll do what it takes.” 

There is nothing wrong with any of that. I had to work hard and grind it out when I was young to build up a business and have a better-than-average lifestyle for my family. These are things I can be proud of. They are things we should all be proud of. We expend a lot of effort to create things and make things happen.

The common issue I see today, whether you’re young, mid-career, or end-career is people don’t understand or take the time to learn the basic concepts of finance, investing, building net worth, and turning equity into cash flow.

They might be astute, they are definitely experts in their field and training, but they’re missing pieces of the puzzle. They were never taught and unless you have a propensity to dig in and learn it, it is not second nature.

You Just Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Many young people have high aspirations, but they’re going down the wrong road. They feel that if they are successful in one area, they will be successful in every area. That is not necessarily true.

We all need to hear insights from people who have done what we want to do. Not just me, I’m not successful in everything. But there are others who have been successful in many other areas of life. 

The key is to look for those who have done what you want to do yourself. Asking those experts for advice and insights is what will get you to where you want to go faster. Find your mentors and you’ll find a faster and easier path. Don’t figure it out on your own.

Those I speak to in mid-career generally have a good business. It is never perfect. We've had many issues in the last few years with labor shortages and COVID, but still, we survive and press on. This is where you might start getting tired of the grind and wanting to pull back.

The grind starts to wear people down in their mid-40s to mid-50s. The kids are growing up, they're getting ready to leave the house, your body starts to wear down, and you begin to realize that your runway is getting shorter. 

Yet many still feel like they can't let their foot off the pedal because they don’t have enough. They don't know how much is enough and never learned how to take equity and turn it into cash flow.

Then we have those at the end of their careers. They are looking for an exit from their business or practice, often within 1-3 years. Many come to us and are in a good position to do so. They just don’t know it.

They are afraid of not having enough. But many times when we look at the capital they have to deploy (particularly after they sell their business or practice), we reverse engineer a plan to their desired lifestyle after taxes and discover that it is very, very doable. This brings a lot of relief.

The Cautionary Tale – I Don’t Want This To Be You

However, there are also those who don’t receive good news. Some have worked hard, have helped many through their business, have put their kids through college, and have provided for their families. But they made some wrong moves financially along the way. They may still have too much debt. They may have wanted to expand their business or practice, but it didn't work.

Now they're in their 60s and wondering “How do I get off this treadmill?”

When we look at the assets minus the liabilities, the net worth, and it's meager. That is a tough conversation to have.

Those are the toughest ones to have because time is not on their side. Health is not on their side. They are wearing out. The grind has surpassed them. Getting up and doing it again and again every day after doing it for 40 years is something that many of our bodies can't take.

As much as you may love the work that you do and the satisfaction you get from helping people, no one can do it forever.

That is why I wanted to share my field notes today. You might be in that same era. You are working hard, staying afloat, securing your lifestyle as long as you can go to work. We all must realize that it won’t last forever.

The sooner you can learn how to change that model, the sooner you start to have less stress and more peace of mind. Why not do that earlier? Why wait until you are in your 50s or 60s and wonder where it all went?

Why not build this out in your 30s and 40s? Build a model that will get you to financial freedom which then allows you, gives you permission to take more time off.

You don’t have to grind all the time. You could spend time with your family now and not feel guilty on vacation because after three days you are worrying about everything going on at the business.

By the end of the vacation, you are miserable with worry and anxious to get back. I know how it feels because I was the same way until I saw things mapped out for me.

That is what I love to do today. I love to help others, as couples, map out their blueprint, get clarity on their future, and let them know there is a way to the freedom they want.

To your freedom!

– David


P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are some other ways I can help fast track you to your Freedom goal (you’re closer than you think) :


1. Schedule a Call with My Team:

If you’d like to replace your active practice income with passive investment income within 2-3 years, and you have at least $1M in available capital (can include residential/practice equity or practice sale), then schedule a call with my team. If it looks like there is a mutual fit, you’ll have the opportunity to attend one of our upcoming member events as a guest.

2. Become a Full-Cycle Investor:

There are many self-proclaimed genius investors today who think everything they touch turns to gold. But they’re about to learn the hard way what others have gained through “expensive” experience. I’m offering a free report on how to become a full-cycle investor, who knows how to preserve and grow capital in Up and Down markets. Will you be prepared when the inevitable recession hits? Get your free report here.

3. Get Your Free Retirement Scorecard:

Benchmark your retirement and wealth-building against hundreds of other practice professionals, and get personalized feedback on your biggest opportunities and leverage points. Click here to take the 3 minute assessment and get your scorecard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *