“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” – Lenin
2020 has been a year where a lot has happened. Some of it good; a lot of it bad. But I think most of the coming decade is going to be difficult. Sorry to be so negative. Anyhow, 2021 is near so it’s a good time to take stock and make plans.
I’ve highlighted a few characteristics that I think are going to bring me the most benefits in the years going forward, and here they are:
No. 1: Prudence
We’re going see some real hard times for families, individuals and companies worldwide. I would implore everyone – it doesn’t matter how rosy you see your future – to get rid of your debts (if you have any).
Another thing that you can do is look at your expenses; are you spending too much on anything? I’m doing this to my own business at the moment. I’m changing my hosting from LiquidWeb to Cloudways (affiliate link), it’s going to save me a fortune! You may find that you’re paying over the odds for some online services.
Look at your bank statements. And, if you see you’re paying, for example, Netflix a lot of money, ask yourself what are you using Netflix for. Is it to educate yourself in order to become a better human being?
Now that I’ve made my home business leaner, more of the money I make is going to end up in my pocket. I would urge you to do the same both in your business and your personal life.
It’s boring, it’s what your parents told you, but it’s a great maxim: earn more than you spend.
No. 2: Diversification
Whether you are investing money, working on a business, or in any sort of commerce at all – diversification is key.
If you’re investing money, you put money in stocks, bonds, commodities, property, in all markets, all across the world. What if you were heavily invested in travel and petroleum stocks before COVID came? What if you were heavily invested in Asia before the Asian financial crisis? The three rules of investing are: Diversify, diversify, diversify.
If you’re earning money online, don’t earn money from just one source. Don’t rely on Facebook, Amazon or Google – or any one platform. They could change something in an algorithm or they could kick you off their platform and you’ll lose all your income overnight. See: My Facebook Business Page Has Been Unpublished!
If you’re earning money offline, the same rule applies. Don’t rely on only one source of income. If you only have one job with one company that is risky as there will be loads of companies going out of business in the coming years. Try to pick up extra jobs outside your main gig, just in case.
If you’re doing freelance work, make sure it’s not just one client, make sure you’re not just on one freelance website, diversify, and see if you can work for as many people as possible.
And, if you’re a couple, a husband and wife team for example, make sure you don’t both work in the same industry – that could be dangerous.
So, across the board: investment, online working, offline working, business, freelancing, everything you do, make sure you diversify.
Don’t put all your financial eggs in one basket.
(For many people, their only investment is their house and they only can work one job, that’s the nature of the world we live in. I know a lot of people don’t have a choice in all of this. I’m just saying in a perfect world we all need to diversify.)
No. 3: Independence
In this post-Covid world, financial independence and location independence are going to be huge.
More and more jobs will be going remote. A flexible attitude to when, where and how you work will be key. Becoming location independent over 6 years ago was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
You can go to parts of the world where you like the lifestyle, you can live legally with a visa, you can work and pay tax, etc. You can earn money, actively or passively, in a strong currency (like the US dollar) but you live in a country where those dollars will buy you so much more – so you now have the opportunity to save money.
But, what happens when the country you’re in suddenly changes its visa requirement, or if there’s political conflicts, or their currency suddenly strengthens? If you can remain independent of a physical location, it will suit you well in the years to come.
No. 4: Creativity
Technological improvements in AI, 5G, automation, robotics, etc, are going to cause significant job losses. So try to pivot yourself from being skilled to being creative.
But it’s also going to be lucrative to be able teach people.
All we have is ourselves. And if you pitch yourself as an expert in any given field that helps and educates people – then you have a product that will always be in demand, rather than just another skill.
The ability to think outside the box is going to help you more in the future than it ever has done in the past.
If you stay creative, you stay interested in new ideas then you’re likely to be more relevant in the coming years.
No. 5: Humility
This is difficult for me to explain. It’s more of a hunch.
I’m living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I know a few Americans here. I know supporters of both candidates from the recent elections and there’s quite a lot that unites them: They are all very unhappy, angry, and take themselves and their beliefs very seriously.
I think people who have very strong beliefs and identify with certain political movements are more likely to be unhappy. And I also think that their judgment is more likely to be impaired due to their attachments to political ideas and values and their identification with those political ideas and values.
And it doesn’t have to be political; it can be other values as well. I think pragmatism over dogmatism is going to be very useful.
Humility in the face of these huge great problems keeps you happy. We don’t know the answers; we’re only human.
I’m only one human being with limited intelligence and limited education. I don’t have all the right answers for the world. It would be ridiculous to say that I had.
But I have a feeling, that humility in the face of these divisive issues is going help you.
It’s going to stop you getting in to arguments; it’s going to stop you going down rabbit holes. Humility allows you to take a step back and think seriously about what it is you can improve upon in order to protect, grow and thrive in the years to come.
What do you think?
So those are my 5 Essential Characteristics for Success in the 2020s. What are yours? I’d love to know.
Leave your answers (and questions) in the comments below.
William Cunningham (Reggie) says
Very good points, Rob. Your content is always quality. My 5 top characteristics are.
4. Personal development (which includes creativity)
5. Awareness (spiritual, social, personal/family, etc. to be able to modify your direction or plans)
Rob Cubbon says
Thank you, Reggie. Looks like we’re more or less on the same page with this one 🙂
Hi Rob All well and done but it’s not going to be easy no matter which way you look at it. Thank goodness I receive a sizable inheritance. Can’t tell you how much as I don’t want anyone knocking at my door.
Rob Cubbon says
I’m very sure it’s not going to be easy, Grahame. But at least some of us can be well-prepared. I like your website’s domain.
Bruce Jones says
Rob all excellent ideas. A big yes on developing several streams of income and for getting rid of debt. Paying attention to science I put up near the top. We are going to need it.
Rob Cubbon says
Thank you, Bruce. Yes, scientific development as well as technological development are going to be huge going forward. Only this week there was an announcement from an AI company about their ability to accurately and quickly predict the shape of proteins – which could mean rapid advances in the way human diseases are treated including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and malaria. Work that used to take years can be done in days. There are going to be enormous societal changes coming.
Deon B says
I think that humility is a powerful attribute, and it’s good to see it included in your list.
Something to possibly add? Flexibility, which requires humility. We need to keep our minds open to sometimes going with the flow, and letting things be, even if they’re not always pleasant ie a global pandemic/shakeup, restrictions on travel, an unknown future.
I believe that to find real purpose and peace, we need to accept and embrace change, which is difficult for some people. I admire the Buddhist teaching that we shouldn’t expect life to conform to our expectations. Letting go of some expectations is a potent flexibility superpower. There may be lots of needing to let go in the coming years, as you mention in your intro.
Thanks for your efforts to empower the creative community Rob!
Rob Cubbon says
Hello, I’m writing this from a Buddhist country, as you know, so I also admire Buddhist / Taoist teachings about yeilding, trying not to crave so much, going with the flow, etc., and I think that they can help us in these difficult times. I definitely see this attitude plus meditation helping me not get sucked into the quarrels that are around us at the moment. Thank you for your comments, Deon.
Stuart Simpson says
Some good pointers here, Rob.
In terms of location independence, you can live overseas even on a visa provided you can return to your own country if you have to. The potential problem occurs if you have to return and can no longer afford to live in the West which is comparatively so much more expensive than elsewhere in the world. Like your financial point, it’s about spreading risk and not having all your eggs in one basket.
Rob Cubbon says
Hello Stuart, a very good point! Ideally, you would live in a “cheap country” but still earn the “expensive country” income. You can’t count on anything. “Cheap countries” can turn into “expensive countries” overnight as a result of exchange rate changes, and I expect them to get more volatile in the coming years.
John Ravi says
It really was a great read! Now we are in 2022, and I think this year is off to a good start for me. I had some success and some good news right in the beginning, and I really hope it goes well this year. I enjoyed reading this article very much, and I think these characteristics would definitely be important for success in the upcoming years. Thanks a lot for sharing your thought, I will definitely try to add these to my life.
Rob Cubbon says
Hey John, thank you so much for your comment. I wish you all the success in the world for the 2020s and beyond and I’m sorry I’m late to reply to your comment.