You get one life, one opportunity to make it a good one, and guess what? Your hands are on the wheel, and you are in full control of the trajectory of your life.

I read two books in 2015 and they both changed my life. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki changed my whole paradigm about money and wealth, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle gave me the awareness that I have the power to dream and create my dream life.

I was taught in school, from my parents, and from everyone around me to go to school, get good grades, go to college, get a job—preferably a job with a pension. I struggled as a young person in high school with what I wanted to do with my life. I had an interest in the medical profession, but I wasn’t passionate about it. I wasn’t passionate about anything really, except travel. The only things I daydreamed about were the places in the world that I wanted to explore.

In high school, I was restless. I wasn’t comfortable doing the status quo high school thing, I was antsy, and I yearned to do something bigger, and better. I knew as a young person I was meant for something great. I was stuck between mundane high school and it’s lack of challenge and adventure, but on the other hand, I couldn’t wrangle in my passion—I had no direction or clarity. I had an awareness of my predicament, so instead of going straight to college to waste time and money on an unsure path, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. I chose the Navy because it gave me the best chance of traveling the world. I knew if I joined the Service, I would get to travel, make money, buy myself some self-discovery time, earn the G.I. Bill which would pay for future college, and get out from under my parents’ wings and on my own two feet. I skipped the last year of high school and shipped off to boot camp at the age of 17.

Fast forward a few years. I completed my four years in the Navy after a strong desire to learn and grow, again, I was restless and unfulfilled. I decided to study Hospitality and Travel Administration at Metropolitan State University in Denver. Yes, I was able to at least confirm and get some clarity that my love for travel was not just a phase, but a gift and passion given to me for a higher purpose. I finished my bachelor’s degree and took a job in Waikiki working on a tourist submarine. Again, I got restless because the job wasn’t challenging and I couldn’t see a clear path forward. I was unfulfilled, an all-too familiar feeling up to that point in my life.

I ended up taking a General Ranger position with the National Park Service. At that time, I had someone in my life who was a Law Enforcement Park Ranger, and I thought it seemed interesting enough to pursue while I figured out what I really wanted to do with my life. That decision lead me to becoming a Law Enforcement Park Ranger, which lasted nine years.

It didn’t take long for me to lose interest in the career path I chose. It was good enough to keep me there—good enough pay, good enough daily work, good enough satisfaction, good enough time off, good enough daily life…just good enough for me not to be uncomfortable enough to make a change…until I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

The basic concepts from Rich Dad, Poor Dad that were life-altering for me was the fact that I was trading my time for money, and that the amount of money I could ever make was capped within the structure of the government hierarchy. I learned that the ultimate way to make a living is for your money to make money—buy assets that pay you cash flow and appreciate over time. That was how the wealthy make and grow their wealth. When I read that book, I was first amazed that I didn’t know such a simple concept, then I was angry that no one told me about it. I was 35 years old! I had lost so much time!

The next book, The Power of Now, was one I read just in the right progression of time. What I learned from that book was to take responsibility for everything in my life that had happened to me and for me, and that I needed to take responsibility for everything leading up to where I was at the time, at that moment, and forever. When you take responsibility for your situation, even if it is someone else’s fault, it gives you the power to change the situation. I learned that I am in full control of my life. I can dream big and live a big life, or I can live in fear and have a mediocre life.

I did a lot of self-discovery and practical learning beginning in 2015, and it took me two years after reading those books to completely unroot my life, develop the mindset I needed to jump from the security of a bi-weekly paycheck, trust myself enough that whatever I put my mind to I will succeed in, then I finally pulled the plug on my old life, and took a chance on a better future. Was it scary? Absolutely. Was it risky? Well, was it risky living an unfulfilled, mundane life? Did I struggle and even fail along the way? For sure! But I’m better, stronger, and more resilient because of it. I discovered that at my core, I am en entrepreneur, and that was the first element of clarity I discovered about myself.

I dreamt big. I dreamed of ditching all of my possessions to simplify my life so I could travel the world freely. I designed my life so that I can work from a computer anywhere in the world. Once I had the plan laid out, I did it, I executed on my dream. Dream it. Design it. Do it. It is that simple. If you immediately thought of an excuse for why you can’t live your dreams, let this be the seed of awareness that you have some mindset work to do.

I love to help people design their path to financial freedom. In all of my learning and discovery, it all comes down to owning assets that pay you cash flow. When you have enough assets paying you cash flow each month, and you have enough cash flow that you can comfortably live off of it, you are essentially financially free. It isn’t about the money, it is about the time freedom. If you want a workbook to help you figure out your financial freedom number, go to my website, and download Your Guide to Financial Freedom. It will help you get from where you are and on your path to financial freedom.

👩🏻‍💻 Melanie is a lifestyle design enthusiast, digital nomad, location independent traveler, and is always looking to connect with like-minded non-conventionalists. She is the Founder of Freestyle Capital Group, she is a Private Equity Fund Manager, and a Co-Sponsor on institutional-grade, commercial real estate projects. Melanie provides a boutique experience for her investors, and aims to have a personal relationship with every investor-friend. Melanie is looking to do life with people—some may call it work, she just calls it living.