Financial Freedom: Spartan or Athenian?

Last week, I talked about the Four Freedoms of Entrepreneurship. Today, I wanted to take a deep dive into one of the most important pillars – financial freedom.

Financial freedom is probably the number one most sought-after milestone for anyone who jumps into freelancing, consulting, or owning an agency business.

But there are two mindsets when it comes to financial freedom and knowing which mindset resonates with you is key to achieving your own entrepreneurial freedom.

The Spartan Mindset of Frugality

Frugality means living a simple life. It means you have a budget and you need to count the pennies carefully, so you don’t overspend. It means you have a fixed amount of money to spend, and you need to control your impulses to not purchase all the things you want, instead focusing on fiscal austerity.

The ancient Spartans were the epitome of frugal living. They ate what they needed, trained to survive, and dedicated their life not to seeking pleasure in life but becoming the best warriors the world had ever seen. Training to become the best warrior was the end-all-be-all and leading a simple life was good enough.

If you approach life from a minimalist point of view, then this type of financial freedom mindset is for you. It’s the type of financial freedom advocated by Mr. Money Mustache and his leagues of Mustachians. You, in essence, limit your consumption to achieve financial freedom.

The opposite of the Spartan mindset, of course, is the Athenian mindset.

The Athenian Mindset of Abundance

Abundance, on the other hand, is the opposite of frugality. It means exploring life to the fullest. It means you indulge in the things you love because you can. It means increasing the amount of money flowing into your finances so you can support doing things you enjoy outside of work and your other responsibilities.

The ancient Athenians were the epitome of abundant living. They sought to expand their territory and spread their way of life. They valued beauty, music, literature, drama, and art. In Athens, you could pursue an education in science and art versus the Spartans who only cared about military training. It was Athens that gave us Aristotle after all.

If you approach life from a “live-life-to-the-fullest” point of view, then this type of financial freedom mindset is for you. It’s the type of financial freedom advocated by I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. You purposefully engineer a business that supports your lifestyle endeavors so you can do things you want – whenever you want. You work hard to build a business that replenishes your finances so you can do the things you want because it’s fun or makes you happy. You don’t restrict your consumption to achieve financial freedom, instead, you create massive value for those you serve via a business that constantly replenishes your financial accounts.

Spartan or Athenian?

Before you set out to attain financial freedom, you need to decide what financial freedom means to you. Be clear about your mindset.

Does financial freedom mean living a Spartan or Athenian life?

If you’ve chosen the path to become an entrepreneur, chances are you’ll be living both lifestyles at some point. To lead an abundant life you sometimes have to start as a Spartan and be frugal. As time passes, and your business takes off, you can trade the Spartan life for an Athenian life.

I have gone through both phases during my entrepreneurial journey. There have been years of Spartan times, where every available resource went into building my business. There have been times of abundance, where my businesses provided outsized value to my company, my employees, and my customers.

For many of us, financial freedom comes from owning a business that generates revenue to support your lifestyle, location, and work-life balance.

So are you a Spartan or an Athenian?

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