Motivation Monday: Disrupting the Salary Trap

Apr 04, 2022
Pilot Andy Brown - founder of ONE LIFE

At 2am on a freezing February morning, I boarded a National Express coach to Newquay.

All I had was £40 in my pocket, a surfboard and a rucksack.

I was 16 years old and leaving home, and this was my plan: Become a pilot.

As the bus headed south, I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I’d bet everything on making this happen.

Bearing in mind I had little to no education (I walked out of school at 15), there was a bit of a hill to climb.

It was February of 1986 and I’d survived this far, so there was no going back now.

By the time I reached Newquay I was down to less than £30. Things were tight. I had £150 in the bank and that was it.

Finding the cheapest, grottiest guesthouse I could, I negotiated 50% down and 50% at the end of the week. I think the landlady felt sorry for me.

After a well earned surf off Fistral Beach, I set out to fund the project of becoming a skipper.

At the time there was a very sketchy surf bar where the manager who was more interested in my ability to pull a pint of Fosters than my age, gave me a trial starting that day.

I was going to be paid after each shift, so this was perfect in keeping myself afloat.

Game on!

Fast forward to 16th March, 1991 and I was taking my first official flying lesson.

It had taken much longer to get there, but I was on the way to getting my wings.

When I was around 9 or 10 years old, ‘Uncle Brian’ used to take me flying in his plane. Boosted up on cushions I’d sit in the right hand seat of the cockpit and marvel at what was happening.

On one incredible flight around the skies of North East England, I engraved an image into my mind…

Endless blue above, layers of light white clouds below - it was magical.

THIS was the vision that kept me going on my journey. This is what made me unstoppable.

The picture you see on this blog is almost a copy of the one I fixed in my mind all those years ago. Except in this one, I was pilot in command.

But this little anecdote isn’t about me...

It’s about resourcefulness and vision, it’s about how badly you want something.

2 years ago I had a new vision; for Jules and I to go and live in Spain.

And for this to happen, we had to make BIG sacrifices…

The plane and car had to go, Jules had to give up her near 6-figure salary, and we had to get rid of a lot of stuff we couldn’t take with us.

Brexit was in full swing, COVID was kicking off and borders were closing.

But we were unstoppable. Come hell or high water (it felt like both at the time), we were going…

We created vision boards and put them up around the house. We started downsizing and Jules worked her 3 months notice.

Was it tough? You bet it was at times. And still there are challenges as we integrate into the Spanish system.

For Jules, the biggest challenge was giving up her salary.

Letting go of that ‘safety blanket’ was one of the hardest things she’d ever done.

But today, on this particular Monday morning, we got up leisurely, had our cuppas and discussed our plan for the week ahead.

Jules is off doing her workout and I’m sitting on the terrace typing this blog.

No leaving the house at 6am in the cold and dark, heading in for another 5 days of crushing work politics…

Those days are gone.

Does she still miss the salary? She did in the early days.

But as our new life unfolded we put in ‘Anchor Points’ - those little reminders of why we are here and not back in the hideous grind of the 9-to-5…

The boulevard of palm trees down to Bunker Beach, the road signs in Spanish, the cafe culture, the Buenos días from the happy, smiling groundsmen - they all go to remind us of why we put in the hard yards.

Our new life costs about a third of what it did back then, but our quality of life is 10X.

So often we live to our means, but that doesn’t mean we’re living.

When you get stuck in the Salary Trap, you’ll make your life fit around that alluring monthly pay check.

So if you’re sitting there reading this whilst enduring another hideous Monday morning at work, let me leave you with this;

If flash cars, big houses and fancy watches aren’t that important to you, maybe your perfect day is closer than you think.

The first thing to do is create that vision. What does your ideal life look like…

Then think about how much you REALLY need to earn to achieve it.

You might just be surprised…

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