June 21, 2023

How to Make Difficult Decisions and Why I Decided to Give Up Firefighting (DF#102)

How to Make Difficult Decisions and Why I Decided to Give Up Firefighting

Here's a Framework For Making Difficult Decisions

Changing careers is tough and you’re always faced with difficult decisions!

In this episode, we delve into a comprehensive framework that will help you tackle difficult decisions with confidence and clarity. Making tough choices is overwhelming, but armed with our practical step-by-step approach, you'll be equipped to make the right decision when the time comes.

We also explore the personal journey of our host, Ryan, who made a bold decision to leave behind a career as a firefighter to pursue the creation of this very podcast. We’ll go over the decision making framework through his experience making the most difficult decision of his life: leaving firefighting. We’ll highlight the teachings so you can apply this framework to your tough decisions.

Tune in to learn how to make difficult decisions and learn how embracing change will lead to personal and professional growth.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone facing a difficult decision or seeking inspiration to pursue a new career!

Enjoy the episode!

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Want to learn about why college degrees became the 'standard' and why it shouldn't be required for entry level jobs? Check out the previous episode!

Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Hannah [00:00:00]:

I just saw a video of a teacher who quit teaching and went to work at Costco. And she was much happier at Costco because it actually made her the money she wanted. And she said the environment was much better. And in the comments were a bunch of people shaming her for not following her passion and following her heart. And I thought that and that is exactly what I'm addressing here that really bothers me because people confuse passion and work constantly.

Hannah [00:00:57]:

Welcome back. Welcome back to the podcast. As always, folks, ryan and I are stoked to have you with us today.

Ryan [00:01:02]:

Today we have a very important topic that we're going to be talking about. We are going to be talking about how to make difficult decisions in your life and the way that we are going to do this. I'm going to give a framework of how you and I make difficult decisions in our life and what has helped us. But we are also going to look at an actual difficult decision, the most difficult decision that I've ever made, and walk through how I made that decision. So the reason why we're making this episode is because there are many times in your life that you're going to have to make difficult decisions. If you don't have a framework or an idea or a process or a system of how to make these difficult decisions, these decisions can be very, very draining and very tough on you mentally and then it could bleed into physically and affect other areas of your life. So some examples of difficult decisions just in the professional space could be if you are thinking about getting a certification in a certain software, whether that's Salesforce or we had Matt Chicano from SaaS on, or any of these other softwares, as I addressed in that episode. Briefly, you are hitching your wagon to that company and to that software just for a brief moment. And it takes a lot of time and effort and sometimes to money to make those decisions. It could be moving for a job. It could be attending a boot camp.

Hannah [00:02:36]:

This is a hugely important topic as people are coming to the realization that they have to change things in their lives in order for their lives to go how they want them to go. There's a saying Ryan and I have that we quote often, which is, you can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want. When you're trying to figure out what you want and how to get there. You are going to have to make trade offs. You are going to have to decide that's not worth pursuing. And this is in order to get you closer to the goal that you're ultimately trying to achieve. When you do that, there are going to be painful decisions. They're going to take a lot out of you, as Ryan was saying, especially when it comes to time and money, like deciding what you're going to learn, deciding that you're going to leave your career and go into a new one, deciding that you're going to try something you've never done, deciding you're going to move for a job, as Ryan said. And all of these things are really difficult to talk over to come to a conclusion on. What we've realized is that a framework really helps.

Ryan [00:03:28]:

Some of these difficult decisions could even be good decisions, but just difficult to make. An example could be if you have two job offers, but one is an hour commute away both ways, so it's 2 hours round trip, but it pays 25% more, and the other one obviously pays 25% less. But it's work from home or remote, which is a really good decision to have. For a lot of people that are listening to this right now, that would be an amazing situation to be in and that would be an amazing problem to have. That said, it's still a problem. It's still a decision that you have to make, and it's difficult to know how to come to the right answer. So like I said, we're going to go through the framework of how to make difficult decisions, how we've used this in our own life and how I've used this to make the most difficult decision of my life. I'll give it to you right at the beginning. The most difficult decision of my life was to stop being a firefighter. In order for this to make sense, I have to give a lot of context of the thought process of the decisions that I made prior to making the most difficult decision of my life.

Hannah [00:04:40]:

And why you made them.

Ryan [00:04:41]:

So to start everything off, I want to start at the beginning. The beginning of this tale is going to be when I was 16 years old and I got my first job in the restaurant industry. I was a dishwasher. And I really wasn't very stoked on being a dishwasher, although I was okay with it. I had never held a job before and it was okay. It was fine. I just thought to myself, I remember the very first day of work, I went there, trained. There's not much training to be a dishwasher other than, okay, well, the dishes go here. This is the dish pit. This is how to operate it. If these chemicals run out, then okay. And then when you're not at this dish pit, you have to go to the other dish pit because you're running both dish pits.

Hannah [00:05:24]:

Anyway, even though you and I have both said before, this is not looking down on dishwashers because a good, fast, efficient dishwasher can make or break a restaurant. It's kind of insane, actually.

Ryan [00:05:33]:

Right. And you can go back to a couple of episodes ago where I spoke about the transferable skills that I learned from being a dishwasher, but that's not about this episode. I realized the very first day of work that I was like, man, this sucks. I don't want to do this for another 50 years. That's crazy. So I made the goal to retire by 40, and I didn't even know what that meant. I didn't even know how to go about it. I wasn't sure on what the specifics were, but I just thought to myself, I can't do this for 50 more years. No way. Not till I'm 66 years old or 65 years old. I think at the time that retirement age was actually 62 and a half, but now I'm 65. As an aside, we've talked about this a little bit before about retiring by 40. Saving is the base skill for early retirement and living the life that you want. Financial independence. Fire, I guess, is what it's called now. F-I-R-E Financial Independence. Retire early. That wasn't around. Or maybe it was. I just wasn't a part of that community back then, and I'm still not really part of that community. I should be, probably. It probably helped me make better decisions, but I figured this all on my own. So if you're interested in it, there are a lot of different communities out there for you. There's Quora, there's Reddit as well, and you can go to different fire communities. There financial independence.

Hannah [00:06:55]:

And for those of you not as financially literate as me, this is just a little offshoot. But getting into that fire subreddit is wildly interesting.

Ryan [00:07:02]:

Just so you know, once you realize that saving is the base skill, quickly you also realize that you have to increase the amount of money that's coming into your family or into your own household to actually hit that goal, because it is a very lofty goal that most people don't ever reach. A lot of people don't even reach retirement.

Hannah [00:07:23]:

Yeah. Nowadays it's getting less and less frequent all the time.

Ryan [00:07:25]:

So because I realized that I needed to increase the amount of money that I bring in, I figured there were a couple of different paths for me. Two paths. One was going the path of being an employee at a company, making a lot of money. Or the second one was to be an entrepreneur, build a business, those types of things. I ended up choosing the latter, building a business and entrepreneurship. But I did that while I was working a job. But most of the jobs that I was working weren't going to be path number one, which was going to basically make a lot of money.

Hannah [00:08:01]:

Yeah. So for people that choose that path too, usually they're either working at some job that pays like an astronomical amount of money or they can just save a lot a lot a lot.

Ryan [00:08:09]:

Well, really what it is for the people on the first path is actually you can go to someplace that makes a lot of money in cash. So someplace that you're making 200, 300, 400, $500,000, which is very far. And few between, but definitely possible if you skill up enough and you choose the right industry. And you get very targeted with your career mapping. The second path for being an employee would be to go to a company that you think is on the rise that gives out equity with their compensation package. Exactly. So you go and you work for early stage startups and maybe not even early stage because maybe that's even too risky and you're hitching your wagon to something that's pre revenue, pre idea, pre product. Maybe those aren't the best places to go. Instead you look at startups and I'm using air quotes for those that aren't watching that have a little bit of background and a little bit of validation in the market that says okay, this company is going to be around for a little while. And I have conviction because the market has dictated that this company is valuable. And even if you are getting into a company that is 500 million dollar market cap or that's the value of the company at the time that you join if they become a multibillion dollar company which may or may not be likely depending on the industry that you're in and depending on the company and the people that are running it but if you get in early you will ride all of those gains all the way up and you will be a millionaire. Assuming that all of that goes right. Difficult to do, that for sure. But it's also difficult to choose the second path of being an entrepreneur which is just as if not more risky.

Hannah [00:10:01]:

Yeah, as you and I both know.

Ryan [00:10:02]:

So because I knew that building a business was risky I wanted to hedge my bet or lower the downside risk. So I was always looking at building businesses while I still had a job. So I was a bartender and I was building a business. I was in sales and I was building a business. I was in sales and I was building a business and then eventually I was a firefighter building businesses.

Hannah [00:10:28]:

I see a theme.

Ryan [00:10:29]:

Right? Exactly. And so that's how I prefer to do it because I think that there is a lot of pressure off of you and the business and you don't have to have the business make money in order for you to live. All of the sales can be like gravy on top or the cherry on top of the Sunday. So that's how I think of building businesses.

Hannah [00:10:53]:

And we've talked about this before on this podcast, but Ryan and I are big advocates of don't build a business when your back is against the wall because it's very stressful and it makes you make irrational decisions versus having money coming in the door and being able to build strategically instead of feeling trapped and having to make income off of a business.

Ryan [00:11:10]:

Yeah, exactly. So a really good example of that, we get comments like this all the time, and we talk to people like this all the time. You'll lose your job or you'll get fired. And you've had this idea for whatever the idea is burning in your mind, sitting in the back of your mind, always on the back burner, thinking, okay, well, now that I'm fired. And now that I have this severance, which a lot of people don't get severance, but some people do get severance. Do you think? All right, well, I have this severance package, and I have this idea. Well, now is the time to go ahead and execute on that idea. I think that that is not the way to go about it. I think that you should get back out there immediately and start looking for a job. And if you want to start prioritizing making a business, well, then find a job that has the hours or the resources or helps you learn whatever you need to learn to help you start your business. So I didn't grow up wanting to be a firefighter, as you can see right now. I was very practical in my approach to jobs and careers and building businesses and money. Very practical on it. I was not one of those people. And I've worked for those people, literally, I've worked with those people who have always had the idea that they wanted to be a firefighter. They always wanted to run lights and sirens and go to a big fire and go and help people. I was not one of those people, as you can tell by my journey so far. And so I was literally and this might be TMI, but I was literally we'll just say in the restroom, as most people do, right. And you're on your phone because there's nothing else to do in there.

Hannah [00:12:55]:


Ryan [00:12:56]:

So I was sitting in there, and we were living in Savannah George at the time. And I just remember that I got a text message from two of my best friends who are at this time, they are firefighters at the time. When they text me, they sent me a text, both of them pretty much at the same time in different text threads, saying, it's time to change your life. And it was the picture of the application opening for the Honolulu Fire Department. At this point, I wasn't even thinking of being a firefighter. We had things going well in Georgia, where we were at. So they explained the schedule to me, and I thought it was a great opportunity to work and still have free time. Also a really good way for you and I to go back to Hawai'i, which is where I'm from, which is why I always say hello at the beginning and the end of this podcast. It's just how it is and who I am. So I thought this was a great opportunity for me to have more time to work on a business, but also still working full time, still making full time income, but also working on a business. Great opportunity for me to go back home.

Hannah [00:14:12]:

Yeah, it just seemed like a door open to us and you and I try to look for those and when we see them, we try to walk through them if we're able.

Ryan [00:14:19]:

The next thing that I thought with Firefighting is that in Hawai, at least they have a pension. So I thought to myself, okay, I'm all about lowering the downside risk. Well, because they have a pension, I can get hired, I can work for 30 years. And then on the other side of that, I have guaranteed money coming to me for the rest of my life. And so that's kind of perfect. I get to cap my downside risk by being able to work the firefighter schedule and then I am able to still pursue the unlimited upside that entrepreneurship and running a business and building a business affords me. So for me, it really was the best of both worlds. That being said, at the time, I didn't realize that firefighters are four times more likely to get cancer than your average Joe on the street and that their life expectancy is also shorter than every other person, which, having been one.

Hannah [00:15:21]:

You know, probably realize why that is.

Ryan [00:15:23]:

So this is all to say that I approached Firefighting and my career from a very practical standpoint and always had that goal in mind of retiring by 40. But really the goal underneath that was to create a successful business because that's how I was going to reach that end, right? Those were the means for me to reach that end. That's a really practical approach that I suggest for a lot of people, it helps you to keep everything straight and not get emotions involved.

Hannah [00:15:55]:

This loops into something that we say often, which is your job does not have to be your passion. Do not confuse those two things. This is not to say that you can't love your job or really like the work that you do. That's not the same thing at all. What I am saying is trying to free people up from this, I have to follow my passion and that means I have to follow this specific career path or I have to buy these papers. So I'm allowed to proceed down this career path in order to pursue my passion. Your passion should be something deeper that you can access in other ways. I'm not saying that there's a right or wrong way to do this, but I do think that's really important because as Americans, it is drilled into us from the time we are in school, that our passion is whatever our work should be. That leads a lot of people to feeling trapped, to spending massive amounts of money on college degrees and to not knowing how to back out and retool and look to get into a different industry if they are not happy in the one they are in. This is a little off topic, but I just saw a video of a teacher who quit teaching and went to work at Costco and she was much happier at Costco because it actually made her the money she wanted and she said the environment was much better. And in the comments were a bunch of people shaming her for not following her passion and following her heart. And I thought that and that is exactly what I'm addressing here. That really bothers me because people confuse passion and work constantly. It's something that's done on purpose. We are taught that on purpose because it's advantageous to convince people that they have to walk a specific path in order to access their passion.

Ryan [00:17:23]:

Yeah, well, it's great to have passion if you can pay for your groceries.

Hannah [00:17:27]:

It's like passion is not going to pay your rent. Passion is not going to pay your groceries. And the other thing too is a lot of people like, well, you may be working in your passion field except for maybe the people you work with kind of suck and you don't like it. And it's a draining environment for you and it's very mentally taxing. And at the end of the day, you don't have anything left for the things you actually love, like your friends or your family or your pets or your house or your apartment or whatever you're taking care of. And that's a huge thing. And I think that that's something that a lot of us fall victim to.

Ryan [00:17:56]:

And I want to jump back on track here because we're not even halfway done with this. Long story short, I apply, I take the entrance exam, there's a written and there's a physical. I interview, I beat out thousands of applicants and I get accepted into the recruit training as the top 46 candidates or so out of whatever 5000 that applied.

Hannah [00:18:17]:

It's a very competitive application process.

Ryan [00:18:19]:

It was top 46. The only way I'm saying I was the top 46 just because I was the first off of that test and there was like 46 people in my recruit class so far in this story. As we were talking about, I took a very practical approach and calculated approach to getting this job. You got to remember that I was a Joe Schmo off the street. I was a bartender. I was in sales at the time. I was kind of doing both and then I was an entrepreneur. I didn't know anything about firefighting. I had never handled anything fire hose, I had never gone into a burning building, I had never pumped chest on CPR, none of that. So I took a very practical approach to getting this job. So I knew what I wanted. I got the skills necessary to get hired for that job. I studied for the exam, I prepared for the interview, got the job. Those are the exact same steps that we teach people to do with how to find a job backwards. And we will put a link to that episode in our show notes here. If you want to take a free course on learning how to get hired for your job and the job roles that you want, you can go to degreefree co GetHired, and there's a seven day GetHired challenge that you can do. It's totally free, and you will learn a different lesson of how to get the job you want every single day for seven days. So, as you can tell, it was a very practical approach. What I didn't expect is I didn't expect to do exactly what you said, which was find passion in it. And really I fell in love with the job. I absolutely loved it. It was something that I wasn't expecting and it was something that I wasn't ready for, because I absolutely loved being on that fire truck, working with those guys that I was working with and really helping and serving the community, especially in Hawai. The community that raised me and was responsible for the man that I am today and the man that I became. So I wasn't expecting all of that going into it. As you can tell, this was all very, very practical. This is a means to an end, and that end was to retire by 40 years old. But before that, it was to allow me to have the space to build a business. So I'll jump ahead in the story. I did that for a few years. We had another business prior to degree free, prior to what we're doing right now. And I will put links to some of the resources in there, some of the features that we got, if you want to learn a little bit more about that business. But I'm not going to talk about that too much here. But at the same time that I was doing that business, you and I were doing that business and I was working full time, you were working full time. We wanted to work and start this degree free thing because we saw that there was a problem and that you were succeeding in your career without a degree. We were meeting all these people that had found success without a degree that would shrink into themselves. They didn't have the vernacular, they didn't have the right words to be proud of what they had done. When the college thing came up, I was a college dropout. I was a college dropout and they would shrink. No, you're degree free, stand tall, it's all good. And I knew it, especially for me because I was doing a job at the time that didn't require a college degree. I was pumping chess and running into burning buildings that doesn't require a degree. In fact, majority of the people that I worked around who were much better at their job and my job didn't have degrees. So it really struck home this whole degree free thing which is why we started it.

Hannah [00:22:04]:

Yeah, and we were talking about it constantly at the time too. We were just seeing more and more things that were making us suspect that there was more underneath the surface than we were seeing and we wanted to talk about it.

Ryan [00:22:15]:

We didn't start this with any business plan or anything like that. We really just wanted to get information out to you folks. So we started this podcast two years ago. We also started a TikTok. Eventually, over time, it started to pick up steam, it started to show that it had legs and that people were resonating with what we were saying and the message that we are still putting out to this day.

Hannah [00:22:38]:

And we had people bending over backwards to come on the podcast and tell their stories because no one had ever asked them before.

Ryan [00:22:44]:

Exactly. So we were then struck with a decision that we had to make or we felt like we had to make, which was do we want to try and scale degree free? Do we want to try and get this out to more and more people to try to help more and more people get the work they want without college degrees, without that discrimination, without that stigma of not having purchased a piece of paper? Or do we want to continue on the path that we were on and only be able to work on this in our free time of which we.

Hannah [00:23:17]:

Did not have much?

Ryan [00:23:18]:

Exactly as you said, as we talked about, we were both working full time. We had a business, a brick and mortar business, brick and mortar business, services business and then we had degree free. There wasn't a lot of time left in the day so we thought what was the best way to accomplish our goals? And the goal being retiring at 40, if that is still our goal.

Hannah [00:23:41]:

This goes back to what you were talking about beginning. There's a few levers you can pull if you are trying to achieve a specific goal, especially if that goal is financial. You can either earn more or you can shrink your expenses. And that is the crossroads at which we found ourselves.

Ryan [00:23:54]:

The thing about what you just said, which is why I said in the beginning, when you start on this fire path, the base skill is going to be minimizing your expenses. But what you'll know is a simple math problem you can only minimize your expenses down to zero. You can't minimize your expenses down to negative. It just doesn't work that way. Nobody's going to pay you to minimize your expenses. Nobody's going to pay you to do this. But on the upside, you can always make more money. The upside is literally infinite. So you're going to have to get the base skill of not spending money down or spending less than you take in. But ultimately, you are going to have to figure out a way to increase your income, or at least that's the easiest way to get there, rather than just trying to minimize expenses. Minimize expenses. Minimize expenses. Increase your income. Increase your income. Increase your income. And that can go to literally an infinity. So we had a decision to make. We had all of these things, but we looked at which one had the most legs and which one we were the most passionate about and which one we wanted to work on about employment. One of the things that we talk about is not being passionate about your job. You don't have to be. Obviously you can be. As you can tell, I was very passionate about firefighting. But you don't have to be. The paycheck that you get is just a means to an end. And that end is living the life that you want and achieving the goals that you want. The second point that I wanted to make is when you're doing entrepreneurship, that is a little different sometimes. A lot of times you want to at least have a little bit of passion behind it because you are going to be spending a lot of time building that business. And so if you're not getting any enjoyment out of the process of it, then maybe it's not the right business for you. So those are two separate things that you can look at in different ways. And I know a lot of successful entrepreneurs that don't look at that at all and also take a very practical approach to it. And you can do that as well. There are people like, yeah, I run a dump business, like a garbage pickup business, heavy items or bulk item pickup business. I don't like trash. I like money. And I like the thing that money affords me to do. And that's why I started this business and that's why I grinded it out and that's why I have 25 employees now, so on and so forth. So there is definitely a practical approach that you can take there as well. Saying for most people, the passion is what's going to get you up in the morning. The paycheck is what's going to feed you for your meals.

Hannah [00:26:33]:

And I realize this is a divisive point because people will either put their foot down on one side or the other, which is you have to love what you do or you can't keep doing it. But then you'll see every. Other week on Clickbaity Headlines, somebody will say so and so says that you don't have to love your job and that's bullshit. And then the next week it'll be like so and so says you have to love your job to keep doing it and be successful, et cetera, et cetera.

Ryan [00:26:53]:

So the decision that was in front of us was we wanted to make degree free work, but we wanted to do it in the least risky way possible because we're all about lowering the downside risk, as we've already talked about. So we thought about all the different options that we could do to lower the downside risk while still trying to swing for the fences with degree free. And that's the reason why you're listening to this podcast right now. If you're listening to this podcast right now, it's because of that decision that we made. The decision was either to stay in Hawai and continue to do exactly what we were doing or it was to move somewhere else with a lower cost of living for me to basically quit and for us to try to scale degree free and get this out to more and more people. Okay, that wasn't the decision, and I'll tell you why that wasn't the decision. Because in theme, with lowering the downside risk, I knew that it wasn't necessarily risky for me to leave firefighting, at least in this way at this time. Because in my collective bargaining agreement, because as long as the fire chief fire one, as long as he signed off on it, I could leave for a year and then come back with my same amount of seniority with my years and I could come back with my seniority and my place on the truck. And it would be all good. So I put that into motion. And that is something that a lot of people do not take advantage of. Not just talking about the leave without pay, but I'm talking about fringe benefits for employees. And I know this by talking to a bunch of people in HR, a lot of times people will just go and they'll quit or they will not take advantage of their education credits to go and get that certification. That you want to go and take that class, that you want to learn that skill that you need to level up in your career. So this is just a point that if you're working at a company, ask for your benefits package and then go and use those benefits to get you ahead further in life towards the goal.

Hannah [00:28:56]:

You'Re trying to reach.

Ryan [00:28:57]:

So now we're at the actual difficult decision that I have to make, which is are we going to go back and are we going to take these gains and move back to a place that has a higher cost of living that goes back? And I have a job that takes up full time because firemen, although we only work ten days a month. It actually worked out to 56 hours a week because of the 24 hours shift nature of it. But it took more than that because I worked at a busy station and I was woken up five to six times a night going to different alarms for people. So I would always have to take a nap afterwards. So it would really run your life. Being a fireman is really a lifestyle, especially if you work those 24 hours shifts. If you work in a department that has twelve, it's not so bad. But 24 hours is a lifestyle and it affects everything really. It affects your family, it affects your sleep, it affects your life. So we have to make the decision, are we going to stay in a lower cost of living area and continue to grow and help people get jobs, increase and grow this movement, or are we going to go back and I'm going to go back to working on this part time. We'll take the gains that we've taken this year and we are going to go back and hopefully build on that. Just living in a higher cost of living area with me spending less time on it. And that was the most difficult decision of my life. The reason why it was the most difficult decision of my life was because I never thought that I would work for something that wasn't money. Yes, I was getting paid as a firefighter, but I was making more money in our brick and mortar business in Hawai and it warranted me to quit being a firefighter and work full time in that business. But I didn't want to because I loved firefighting so much. So I definitely didn't do firefighting for the money, although I got paid. So that's not accurate, but I think you understand what I mean.

Hannah [00:31:04]:

Yeah, I definitely do.

Ryan [00:31:05]:

Because of that, it made it really difficult because it wasn't a logical choice. There wasn't logic involved, and it was just emotion. So I had to figure out a way to make this decision. And this is the way that we've always made decisions. It just takes a long time.

Hannah [00:31:21]:

Also, quick note there, it's okay if the emotional factor in your decision making is the one that wins out. There's no right or wrong way to make these decisions for yourself.

Ryan [00:31:29]:

Yeah, exactly. Both answers can be right in this instance. For you listening to this, you probably have a problem that is very similar, that has two options or three options that all could be correct and there's.

Hannah [00:31:42]:

No clear wrong answer. And that's what makes it so excruciatingly painful to make these decisions.

Ryan [00:31:46]:

And this is where that framework comes into play. Thank you for listening to all that preamble. And I'm going to get into the framework right now. When I was first thinking about doing this episode, I thought about just making it, about how to make difficult decisions and then giving you the framework that might have been better for you if it was. If you would have liked that better, go to YouTube and comment on it and be like, I don't want to hear a life story, Ryan. Just get to the meat of it. If you liked that story and that helped you concrete some things in your mind, then please let me know as well. Go to YouTube and comment on this video. I'm testing out different formats and different ideas for you and we make this podcast for you. So if you don't want to listen to my life or anything like that, then let me know please, and we'll maybe try something different next time. So the first thing within this framework is to get clear on your goals. So the first thing that I had to do was I had to get clear on my goals again. The goals that I had in front of me or the things that I was thinking about at this point is, is it still my goal to retire at 40 years old? Is that still the target that I want? Because if that is my goal, then it's going to look like this. The next goal that I had to ask myself or think about was, is it my goal to be a firefighter? To be there when people are having the worst day of their lives, to be there and show up and bring order to chaos? Is that my goal now? So getting clear on your goals in the very beginning is crucial. Crucial, because a lot of times you can even stop right here. A lot of times for the simpler problems and for the simpler decisions that you're making in your life, this might be all you need to do. Get clear on your goals. And then it will immediately become clear which steps and which action and which decision that you need to make. You might be thinking, okay, well, I want to work from home. And so you have that decision that I talked about in the beginning of the show, which is this 25% pay increase to go into the office, 1 hour that way and 1 hour this way. So 2 hours on top of an eight hour workday. That's 10 hours that you're going to be spending doing work things. Or do you have the option to work remotely and work from home? Well, if your goal is to work from home, it's very clear right off the bat, or at least it should be for the most part, boom, that's it. Now, if you're struggling with money and the goal is to make a certain amount of money, but also you'd like to work from home, well, now this is where going deeper into this framework really, really helps and really, really makes sense. And also identifying what you need and what you want from a job, which we go over in our seven day get hired challenge like I said, it's free. You can go to degreefree co GetHired to sign up for that course there. So the best way to do all of these steps is to write all of these down. You can do this any way you want. You can just take out a legal pad and write down your goals and write down each goal that you have and the decision trees that those goals would lead to the decisions and the actions that you would have to take to get to those goals. You could do that or you could just put it into an Excel spreadsheet, a Google Doc, whatever is easy and convenient for you. The main thing is to write all of this down so that you can name your demons and get this out all on paper so that you can always go and refer back to this later.

Hannah [00:35:27]:

I will interject here, too, and say that something that Ryan and I do that everyone is going to think is super weird. But we have a whiteboard in our living room and we use that thing religiously to make decisions because it really helps to be able to write something down and for both parties to look at it and just be able to sit together and see what we're talking about up in front of us more objectively. And for us that has been huge. As entrepreneurs, as spouses, that's just been something that has been extremely, extremely effective in helping us to make good decisions or just make decisions at all and understand how those decisions spill over into other areas. And that's something that you can grab one on Amazon, Walmart, whatever. But that really did change our lives when we started doing that.

Ryan [00:36:13]:

Yeah. And if you don't want to be weird like us and put it in your freaking living room, you can not be weird and put it in your garage or something.

Hannah [00:36:19]:

That's true. That's true. You could, you don't have to put it in your living room. Yeah, that's not, that's not an obligation that you have. You can put the whiteboard wherever you want.

Ryan [00:36:28]:

Right? The garage makes sense because then you can pull out some folding chair, move the car out, put out some folding chairs, and then you can do whatever it is that you're doing on the whiteboard.

Hannah [00:36:39]:

Ryan has before proposed putting the whiteboard on wheels so we can wheel it around the house to have presentations in different rooms. I had to put a stop to that.

Ryan [00:36:47]:

That's the key. So after you get clear on your goals, the next thing that you want to do is you want to write down your assumptions. The assumptions that you write down, they're going to be your predecision assumptions. They're going to be two different types of assumptions that you're going to write down first. You're going to write down the assumptions that you are making to make the decision. So what I mean by that for my example, I'm making the assumption that both of the things, both of the choices that I have in front of me are mutually exclusive. I can't live in Texas in a lower cost of living area and take advantage of minimizing my expenses, but also making more money because the state tax burden is zero compared to Hawai where it's like 11%. So it is mutually exclusive that I can't live here, take advantage of those things, also have the free time to work on my business and then also be a firefighter in Hawai and fly back and forth or something like that. So that's the assumption that I made predecision. So you write down all of those assumptions there. The second type of assumption that you are going to write down and identify is going to be the assumptions that you think are going to happen once you make the decision. So once you make the decision, what is going to happen? So going back to the 25% more for an hour of your life both ways? Well, I am assuming that I'm going to make more money and therefore be closer to my ultimate goal of being financially independent, but I'm also going to have less time with my family. Those are the assumptions that I'm making. The other assumption, if you stay home and you take a 25% pay cut is I'm assuming that I won't be able to afford XYZ. I'm assuming that I will have more time with my family. You just write down all of the assumptions that would happen after you make that decision. So this is a good time to stop because whenever I talk to other people about this framework, they're like, wow, for every single decision that I have to make, I have to do all of this work for it. I have got five different options. That's going to take forever because I have to get clear on my goals. So you have five different goals and then you have to write down your predecision assumptions, two different types, which all can have multiple assumptions underneath it. I have to do that for every single one of them. The first thing that I want to say to that is if you're at this point really try to narrow down your goals to one or two. Right, narrow down your goals to one or two so that you can look at only making one or two decisions.

Hannah [00:39:33]:

Yeah, because analyzing multiple as opposed to just two choices is very difficult.

Ryan [00:39:37]:

Okay, let's say you can't do it, you still got five. That's fine. Sometimes it's like that. You still got five different goals or you have five different decisions in front of you. That's fine. Yes, you do have to write down the assumptions for each one. This process isn't going to be quick. The more difficult the decision, the longer this is going to take. Although the more you do this exercise, the better and better you get at it and you will do this quicker and it will happen faster.

Hannah [00:40:08]:

Yeah. It's not nearly as difficult for us to do this as it used to be.

Ryan [00:40:11]:

This decision that you're making, the only reason why you're going through all of this is because it is going to have a major impact on your life. So give it the time that this decision deserves. For me, this decision took literally weeks, if not months.

Hannah [00:40:28]:

Yeah, we talked about this for a very long time.

Ryan [00:40:30]:

So the next step is going to be making your decision, and this is going to be analyzing the assumptions and outcomes or perceived outcomes. Right. The assumptions of what you think is going to be the outcome and figuring out which one of those you can live with or which one of those serves your goals the most. If you can't figure out which one serves your goals the most, then look at it the opposite way. Look at which one doesn't serve my goals, which one serves my goal the least that will help to eliminate especially if you have more than two, that will help eliminate things much quicker. And then you can start going back and looking at which one is going to help you reach your goal the fastest or the quickest. So for me, I had to look and say, well, the shot of retiring at 40, is that more important than immediacy of me feeling unfulfilled or fulfilled? That's the question that I had to answer because those were the options that I was looking at because we weren't going back to Hawai for money.

Hannah [00:41:32]:

No, that's a terrible place to go if you want to make money.

Ryan [00:41:34]:

It's not only about making money, but it's also about saving money. Because what we were talking about right. Making more money or the minimizing expenses, the minimize your expenses, isn't really possible there. It is much higher than most places in the United States, so it's really not the best place to go for that. So really, for me, it was just do I want to feel, quote, unquote, fulfilled and give up the shot of retiring at 40? Not give it up? It was still possible, but it would be much harder because I would have a lot less time to work on the business that would eventually get us there. Because being a firefighter is not going to get me to that goal. Because I made $50,000 a year or whatever it was as a firefighter, because I didn't really do it for the money. Doing that is not going to get me to retiring early. It can get me to retirement 30 years later. That is possible, definitely, but it won't get me to that retiree by 40. So then I had to think to myself, okay, well, is there another way that I can feel fulfilled? Is there another way? What was it that made me feel fulfilled in that role? Well, for me, what made me feel fulfilled in that role was helping people. I'm super duper selfish, and I like to help people. It makes me feel good. I don't help people because they need help. I do it because it makes me feel good. And that is what I was chasing after. That's what made me feel fulfilled. So I said, okay, well, can I do that in this business? And after a long think, it really took a lot of thought, but after a long think, yeah, I definitely think I can. The difficult part about it, the reason why it took such a long think, was that firefighters, I'm a child, right? Like, I am like twelve years old, and it is very obvious to me that I'm helping somebody because fire house burning, water me out.

Hannah [00:43:31]:

This is men in a nutshell.

Ryan [00:43:33]:

That's how simple all of this was. You arrive and there's a dead person on the ground, and then hopefully if you do successful CPR, that person at the end of it, they're not dead. It's that simple. So I had to think about, can I get that same level of fulfillment, doing degree free, doing this type of work and helping people in this way? And after a long think, yeah, I think I can. The problem with working like this, which is why I always ask people to leave comments and connect with us on LinkedIn. I'm Ryan. Mariama. She's Hannah. Mariama, LinkedIn. Please connect with us. The problem with doing it in this format, the way that we are doing it, is we're very disconnected from the people that we're helping. And so I would love to hear from you. We'd love to connect, love to hear your life story.

Hannah [00:44:18]:

We sometimes don't hear the result until years to months after someone has used what we've taught them in order to get work.

Ryan [00:44:24]:

Exactly. And that is what we are working towards and working for. We are trying to help as many people as possible because it makes me feel good. So once you have your decision made up, you just have to make up your mind and then start acting. So that's going to be the next step, and that's going to be outlining, your next steps. Now, this is a part of the process that just within the past couple of years I moved to after making the decision. I used to have this before making the decision, but what I found was happening was that it was too much. There was too much to do prior to making the decision. And I started to use it as a procrastination tool whenever I had a difficult decision. And I had five different options, and I had to outline my next steps for each single thing that's possible, I started to do it, and I think, oh, man, I'm getting so much done. I'm getting so much done. I'm getting so much done. But I really wasn't. I was just procrastinating on actually making the decision that I needed to make. Because the next steps, regardless of how difficult those next steps were and are, it's not going to affect the decision that I make. So this is something that's personal to me. If you find that it's better to put this step before making your decision, then please do so. But I put this step at the end. Now, I have a very strict rule of doing three things. Don't outline more than three next steps. Because if you start to outline more than those three next steps, once again, you're going to get paralyzed. And it's very easy to start making a list of 100 next things to do.

Hannah [00:46:03]:

Yeah, immediately overwhelming.

Ryan [00:46:05]:

But the fact of the matter is, you probably don't even know what you need to do. But you do know your next three steps. By the time that you hit step six, seven, eight, the consequences of step one, two, and three are already playing out and playing out in a different way than you thought it was. So maybe six, seven, and eight is not even relevant anymore. And so now you wasted all of that time and you procrastinated all of that time away when you could have been just making your decision and then executing on your plan.

Hannah [00:46:33]:

Wow, that was a really good way to explain that.

Ryan [00:46:35]:

For me, it seems very simple. But here are my three next steps. I'll just tell you what mine were. Mine was to call my captain, to call my chief, and then to call my family. So I called my captain, telling my boss that, hey, I'm not coming back. I needed to call my chief, who was my boss's boss, and tell him, hey, I'm not coming back. And then I needed to call my family and say, hey, we're not coming back. It can be that simple. Those three next steps can be that simple. And it seems like, wow, that was really, really easy. That's all you had to do. Sure, I mean, it was easy when you think about it. But it was very difficult for me to actually pick up that phone and make all three of those phone calls because it was very permanent. And you're going to have that same permanence when you turn down that 25% pay increase. You're going to have that same permanence when you shut a door. So it can be this simple. It's just not always easy to do the next step. That's why I definitely suggest keeping it to three. So that it's very easy. And you just boom. One, two, three.

Hannah [00:47:42]:

Super manageable.

Ryan [00:47:43]:

And then the fourth step, you are going to figure out what your fourth step is by the time that you're done with your third step. And if you don't know yet, you'll figure it out. I promise you, you will.

Hannah [00:47:55]:

It will come to you.

Ryan [00:47:56]:

Now, after you have made this decision and you've executed your three next steps. You would think that it's done at this point, but now comes the most important part. And the most important part is going to be doing a post mortem analysis or an after action report for those in the military or emergency services, those types of things. You're going to look back at the decision that you made and the way that you made that decision and see if the outcome matched the assumptions that you made. If the outcome was negative or positive, if the outcome was what you thought would happen, and if you were happy with that, if you made the decision the correct way. What we would do in firefighting, that wasn't a formal report. After a fire, we would all sit down in a circle after we get back to the station and we all decon, decontaminate our stuff. We would sit around in a circle and we would just talk about what happened, what we saw when we rolled up on the scene. So you arrive on a scene and there's five guys in your truck, or four guys, and you would see this dynamic environment in front of you. By the time that you get out of the truck, everybody kind of goes their separate ways. Everybody has a different job because there's so many things going on. So it really makes sense to sit down afterwards and where we would hot wash this thing and just say, I saw this happening, saw these fire conditions. And so I went to the right, I pulled this hose and I sprayed down this area. This is what happened. And then the next person would go say, this is what happened, this is what happened. And then everybody says, well, was there anything that we could do different? And a lot of times, yeah, there's a bunch of stuff we could have done different. And you go over everything that you could have done differently. The different decision making process that you had and that you could have made differently. So that is exactly what you're going to do here. You are going to go through and figure out whether or not the outcome was what you wanted. The most important thing here is did you use the correct system to make this decision? A lot of times the system that you use is more important than the decision you made because you're always going to have to make decisions later in life. You're always going to every day you have to make decisions, but you're going to have to continue to make difficult decisions. So you want to make sure that the system and the process that you use to make decisions is correct and it works for you. That is the number one thing that you want to make sure that is sound. If decision you made had a really negative outcome, is there anything that you can do to go back and change all of that? I'm not saying go back in time and make a different decision. But you have consequences to the decision, negative consequences to the decisions that you made. Is there any way that you can roll those back? Whether or not you missed out on a sale or something like that, can you call that client back and try to get that sale back?

Hannah [00:50:57]:

Yeah, cancel selling your house, tell your job you've changed your mind and you want to stay.

Ryan [00:51:02]:

Exactly. Is there a way that you can negate those negative outcomes? Same thing. If it is a negative outcome, where did your system break down? Because ultimately this decision making framework shouldn't have negative outcomes because you have a goal and you are making decisions based off of that goal. Now it might have other negative outcomes that didn't have to do with that goal, but you were already expecting those already or maybe you weren't. So where in your decision making process did that break down? Was it that you didn't think of thing of negative outcomes? Did you not think of negative externalities prior or did you think that this was going to happen and instead why happened?

Hannah [00:51:45]:

Yeah, your assumptions were wrong.

Ryan [00:51:47]:

Exactly. And that is where doing this post mortem analysis, this is what's going to make you a better decision maker for the long term is not only doing all of this, pushing your decision through this framework, but then going back and looking at the decision you made and whether or not it was correct. Now, the key to this all, and I promise that I'm almost done people, the key to all of this is to keep iterating on this process. You want to make sure that you keep iterating, keep iterating, keep iterating. If something in this decision making process is not working for you, this isn't the end all be all of tough decision making frameworks. If you like the system, please steal it. If you think that this is a bunch of BS, don't use it. The main thing is to use a system, figure out what went wrong, what went right, whether or not the system served you well, and then to keep changing and iterating on it. And the last thing that I want to talk about here was the question that I get asked the most once I tell people this life story of mine, which is people always ask like, do I regret it? It's a really tough question to answer because that job was amazing and I never felt the way that I did when I was doing that job with my crew mates and my station mates and helping the community that raised me. As I talked about, there was nothing like it. I've never experienced anything like it in my life and I don't know if I'll ever experience anything like it again. But I don't know if that's a bad thing. It was a great time in my life. I enjoyed it. And I'm. Very fortunate that it gave me the time and space to help me figure out other businesses so that I can help other people doing other things. But on the downside of being a firefighter, like I said, I worked at one of the busiest stations. I woke up like five times a night. And that humans aren't meant to wake up that often. And it's not like your baby's crying or something like that.

Hannah [00:53:35]:

It's not temporary.

Ryan [00:53:36]:

Or it's not just that you have to walk into the other room and console your child. You have to jump in a truck and then go do work because somebody is having the worst day of their life. And they called you. They called me and they expected me to show up not tired and not groggy, and they expected me to bring positive change to this situation. So that is something that I like now. I get to sleep through the night, which is something that I didn't get to experience. There's a lot more time that I have now with family and friends, time that I never thought that I would ever get. I thought that I was going to work a third of my life, because it is a third, right? Ten days a month out of a 30 day month, I was at the station, or I expected to be at the station. So for firefighters that work, the type of schedule, you're at the station for ten years out of a 30 year career, you miss ten years of your family's life.

Hannah [00:54:29]:

When you say it like that, it's really wild.

Ryan [00:54:32]:

Yeah, it's crazy. And so, no, as of right now, I don't regret it. I am very happy with the decision that I made and very happy to help all of the griefy people that listen to this podcast and listen to our TikTok and take our courses. Very happy and very excited. That is the framework for making difficult decisions in your life. If you like this episode. If you have any comments on this episode like I said, I thought about doing this episode and I could have just given you the framework and it would have been about half the time. If you would have enjoyed that better, then please go to YouTube and comment and say Ryan cut all the BS. Just give me the meat. All right, that's fine. That's fair. That's a fair criticism. If you like this, also go to YouTube and please let me know. That's very helpful. Like I said, I make this show for you. And as you can tell, I care. I really do. And I want this to be the best that it could possibly be for you.

Hannah [00:55:44]:

Yeah. The goal is to encourage you and equip you to make these decisions and achieve the goals that you are trying to achieve. Everybody has different ones. And so the best thing that we can do is help you by showing you the frameworks that we use to make these difficult decisions to get us closer to the goals that we have so you can get closer to yours.

Ryan [00:56:01]:

And like I said, if you want to take the seven day Get hired challenge, it's a free seven day course that you can sign up for. You can go to Degreefree co GetHired, and you can sign up for that right now. It's seven days of learning how to get the work that you want.

Hannah [00:56:15]:

If you want to get more from Ryan and I, go to Degreefree co newsletter to sign up and get our free weekly newsletter. We are writing about things that you need to know about the job hunt, about educating yourself, about making money, and about things like making difficult decisions.

Ryan [00:56:30]:

Like this last thing before you go. We talked a lot about building a business in this episode, or at least the decisions behind building a business and making those decisions to start one, and how to do it in a thoughtful, least risky way possible. If this is of any interest of you, go to YouTube and comment and then also go to Degreefree co newsletter and sign up for that newsletter. The more people that encourage me to start making content about building a business, the sooner it's going to happen. I know that there's a small subset of people out there that want business content. If that's you, then please let it be known and please let me know because I want to make what you need.

Hannah [00:57:11]:

I was talking to some folks in our career change crash course about this and we do get this question a lot. And Ryan is extremely good at creating businesses from the ground up. So like you said, if that's something you're interested in, hit us up, let us know and maybe we'll start working on something.

Ryan [00:57:27]:

Definitely. And that's pretty much it for this week. Until next time, guys. Allah.

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