There is a saying, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a life time". That is something that most people subscribe to. Most people take the "learning to fish" as getting an education that will help a person use his acquired skill to make a living. However, there is a major drawback that is often ignored.
A person who has to fish to feed himself has to trade his time - a finite resource - to get the fish. This, in my opinion, is a very bad deal. Can't he catch fish without being present? Nonetheless, most people appear quite satisfied with the arrangement, and today you see at rush hour the majority of the population battling traffic to get to work, where they offer the best part of their lives to their occupation, and come back at the end of the day, to enjoy what's left of the day, to themselves.
I remember there was a time, when I was holding a job, when I never saw daylight - I was out of the house before the sun was up, and I was never home again until it was again dark. I resent the fact that I was giving away my time - the best part of my life - in order to make a living, but at that time, I couldn't find a way out. Although my friends and colleagues seem to accept this way of life, I searched deeply for a way to break free from the "system". I do not want to have to work for a living. I do not want to have to give away the best part of my life to a company. I wanted to retire as soon as possible.
In my search for release, between 1999 to 2003, I became involved in Multi-Level Marketing (MLM). For a while I was fanatical about the MLM concept and thought it was my way out. MLM companies paint a picture that this is the avenue for me to become my own boss. It was also through MLM, during that period of time, that I discovered the books "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki, and "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stanley. These books confirmed to me what I have already known, that holding a job until retirement age is not something I desire for myself, and whatever it takes, I have to make plans to break free.
Although MLM works for a lot of people, and I would certain not discourage anybody from trying it, as time progressed, I slowly realised that MLM is not for me. I don't find having uplines or downlines particularly appealing. And when MLM companies change their policies that affect my income, the very idea that I am my own boss turned out to be an illusion, for me at least.
Isn't there a way that I can enjoy this life to the fullest, without holding a job, without offering a product or service, and still be able to earn an income? A healthy income.
It was somewhere between 2003 and 2005 that I discovered the flaw in the rule, "teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a life time." That is not good enough. What you need to do is "teach a man how to build a fish trap, and he will have disposable time to enjoy for the rest of his life."
I built my first fish trap in 2003. At that time, I don't even realise I was building a fish trap. It was only when the fish trap began to catch fish, without my direct involvement, that I realised what I have done. And having realised it, I continued to build more and bigger fish traps to catch even more fish. On hindsight, I am pleased with my choice. To have a purposeful life, you need to build your own fish trap.
As you would expect, fish trap is a metaphor. It's a metaphor for a system that can earn you an income without your personal input. During my MLM days, I was introduced to the concept of passive income - you earn as a result of other people's effort. That's okay, but wouldn't it be even better if you earn as a result of, nor people's effort, but machine's effort? I mean, with people, you have to encourage them, motivate them the whole time. Sometimes they get tired, sometimes they get sick, and sometimes they just do not respond. With machine, you can just leave them running on their own. Better still if the machine needs only minimal supervision, maintenance and oiling.
The biggest ocean to set up fish traps is the Internet, and the best fish traps are websites. If people ask me what I do for a living, the right answer is, I'm a web publisher. I am like a book publisher, except I don't print out books that require chopping trees and afterwards collect dust. Instead, I create websites that generate an income for me 24 hours a day, through advertisements and sales. The sales on my websites happen without my personal involvement. That is passive income.
I'm not saying that the web is the only fish trap in the world. It just happens to be the type that I know how to build. Different people own different fish traps. If you have an extra house or an extra room to rent out, that's your fish trap. Anything that can generate an income without involving your time and energy is your fish trap.
Earning from the web allows me to indulge in all my passions. I don't have a boss to determine how much my salary should be. It is nobody's business how much I earn. I don't have a retirement age - when that age arrives, my colleagues will be out of their job, while my income remains unaffected. I have no uplines, no downlines, no product to sell, no services to push, no customer complaints to attend to.
To be fair, building websites that earn sufficient to be worthwhile is NOT EASY, but it is WORTH THE EFFORT, and I would strongly encourage anybody to pursue passive income, if not through website, then through some other means.
I fully understand that in this world, we are often conditioned to accept our fate. One of them is that it is perfectly normal for people to hold jobs. You hold a job, your sister holds a job, your parents hold jobs, all your friends too. But is it worth trading this most precious commodity - your time - in exchange for something so finite, money, which you can easily blow by buying a car or a house?
If you care for yourself, consider building your own fish trap.