Feb 19, 2007

Life cycle of a Lagosian

Monday - Friday
Wake up at 5 am. Prepare for & leave for work at 6 am. Work from 8 am - 8 pm (+/- 2 hours). Get home at 10 pm. Sleep at 12 am.

Wake up at 10/11 am. Visit Mechanic, Drycleaner/Laundry, Electrician, Store, Estate Agent, Market etc. Get back home and sleep again till evening.

Sleep, sleep, sleep!

Lagos today is divided geographically into different regions, most prominent of which are the Island (Consisting of V.I., Ikoyi, Obalende, C.M.S./Marina), Island Extension (Lekki, VGC, Ajah & Beyond) and Mainland (every other place). Unfortunately, provisions for proper flow of traffic between these three regions have become grossly inadequate and insufficient, largely due to the ever increasing population of people & vehicles and other contingencies which have become common during rush-hours. All these result in one thing - Traffic Jams commonly called "Go-Slow" or "Hold-up". In a bid to avoid these hold-ups, since Go-Slow is no longer a tenable excuse for lateness to their offices, Lagos workers have resorted to leaving their houses very early. Thus they have unconsciously prepared the time table above without realizing it, and for some workers, this time table begins as early as 5:30 am.

Let's take the example of a newcomer to the Lagos corporate world, someone fresh from school & NYSC. He successfully (and fortunately) gets a job with Big Firm in Big Building on Victoria Island. As is usual, he stays on the mainland, say Ojodu/Berger. In order to get to his place of work on time, he has to follow this time table strictly day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year. In some years, marriage comes in. This is followed closely by children. He becomes a family man thus, responsibilities increase, and so do expenses. At work, he gets a promotion and/or a salary review, or he changes jobs (not as easy as it sounds) all in a bid to earn more income. He buys a car or two, moves into a bigger house or starts building his own house, his children grow and need to be sent to school - he does not want them to suffer like he did and so sends them to the best schools he can afford or barely afford. After 5-10 years of working in Lagos, many things have changed about him. His outlook has changed, his income & possessions have changed and invariable, his age has also changed. However, one thing refuses to change. The time table! Yes, he remains bound to it ... following it daily, weekly, monthly. In fact, it probably gets worse. Some weekends find him in the office, and he often has to go on some official trips meaning he won't sleep at home on some nights. Time becomes an asset not to be joked with and he tries to outsource every activity that could take out of that time e.g. Car Wash, Laundry, Household activities, etc. And time keeps ticking, and he keeps working, and the time table remains, followed strictly to the letter.

I've been a loyal follower of this time table for some time now, and so have many of my friends. You can see us on the roads every working day of the week in a never ending flow of traffic all going towards one direction. I can almost imagine some deity firing a gun while yelling "On your marks ... Get Set ... GO!" in the wee hours of the morning, signifying the start of a race. I also imagine all the athletes taking off from various starting lines into the race against time.
For the next 5 hours, the tracks are busy accommodating the "racers" The major track is the 3rd Mainland Bridge, side tracks are Herbert Macaulay Road Yaba, Dolphin Estate Ikoyi, Falomo Bridge, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Broad Street Marina, etc. God help you if you're caught in those tracks at the wrong time. Between 5pm and 10pm (in the evenings), the tracks are reversed and the racers face the opposite direction. Day in, day out, this race goes on. I looked into my crystal ball ... and I do not see a change in the next couple of years. People will always work in places much farther than their places of residence. And since they will always have to work, they have no choice than to keep to the time table.

I've had lots of meditations, and I'll share some with you. A question you should ask yourself is this, "Do YOU have to work?" If you lose your job right now, how long can you survive? Or let me put it this way, if your salary is stopped, will you continue working? Agreed, there are some people who are working because they love their job and they would gladly do it for free. However, at least 95% of Lagos workers work because they get a paycheck at the end of the month. This seems to be a steady source of income and so they spend each day working in earnest waiting for "Month End" when questions like "Them don pay?" & "Money don enter?" would be answered in the affirmative.

Now think about this, what if you could get different paychecks from other places or avenues? What if you had Multiple streams of income flowing your way daily, weekly, monthly and yearly? What if your extra income could match and even surpass your salary? What if your sources of income are guaranteed and secure? I'm sure you would say goodbye to days of waking early and rushing into the traffic to get to work, without giving it a second thought. Well, I have good news. There are ways out. You can get multiple streams of income. You can become independent of your salary ... in other words, you can be financially free.

In the next few weeks, I'll be posting a series of articles on "Managing your finances". Now I don't claim to be a financial expert, neither am I financially free (yet), but I do have enough knowledge to give you some tips and point you in some right directions. Right now, I'll give you 2 requirements with which you need to get started. They are foundations which will keep you going for a long time.
  1. Have a good reason why you want to be financially free. Ask yourself this - If you don't ever have to work again, what would you do with all that spare time? Think about your hobbies and all the things you want to achieve but cannot because of time. It's very important because without a good reason, chances are you'll never be financially free.
    "'Why' is what separates us from them, you from me. 'Why' is the only real social power, without it you are powerless" - Merovingian in the movie The Matrix Reloaded.
  2. Have lots of determination. The road is never straight. As you begin, you'll have to take some risks and more often than not, you'll record some loss. But don't see it as a loss, see it as a price of learning. No knowledge is ever wasted. At a point, you might even be worse off than your current position ... but don't give up. Stick with your plan and keep educating yourself. It'll pay off some day. Sooner than later.
    "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison (Inventor of the Light bulb)
Reflect on these two points and watch out for the articles. Wishing you luck in your quest for financial freedom.

Yours in the race,



Niyi said...

Great, inspirational post.

How long does it take you to get to work in the morning?

I agree with you- having multiple streams of income is very beneficial.

Ahabue said...

Cool write up. Never knew you were such a prolific writer. You got me reading the whole article again. It makes me remember my Naija working experience…. Things may not be as bad abroad but the rat race prevails everywhere and it takes determination to break free from it.
I do agree with you, we need to get to the place where we are financially free. Get out of the rat race but all that depends on the steps we’re taking right now… Look fwd to hearing the concluding part of the gist. Take care

FunMe said...

Hello!!! did you say 95% of lagosians work for money? This is understated in my opinion, I think 99% of lagosians work for money and it's not because they love their jobs.

I really love your tips on financial freedom particularly the importance of knowing why you need to be financially free.

I look forward to reading the rest of your articles on financial freedom.

Sola said...

Its true we all want financial freedom. However, we still need to face the fact that even if you are not part of the rat race, there is a major prob with traffic....u will feel it somehow.

In addition, some offices shld move to the mainland....I think if we can tax organizations based on their location probably they will develop new areas and the focus wont be on the Island only.

Tayo said...

Thanks for your comments.
>Niyi - I used to leave home at 5:45 am when I was working in V.I. to get to work at about 6:30 am. Then I would sleep in my car at the car park until 7:45. Imagine that ... lol
>Funmi/Ahabue - I'm seriously working on the next articles on Finances Management. I don't want it to be all theory. I want it to be so practical anyone can follow it. They'll come up soon
>Sola - Very good idea.Hopefully the next leaders of Nigeria will be revolution thinkers who'll think of such ways to ease society problems.
My fingers are crossed ... but my faith is great. Nigeria will be great.

KD said...

Insightful...further comments to come later

truth said...

I'll probably love to stop the paid job young yet it's of utmost importance to keep one's mind preoccupied.I guess that means engaging in some entrepreneural venture...this is where I'll hang on to your 2nd tip on determination.

Tayo said...

Thanks Truth for stopping by. I'm currently working on the second article in that series. Please bear with me just a little while longer.

Dami said...

great article! stumbled on this blog by mistake ;)

Tayo said...

@ dami, thanks. Please keep stumbling here .. but don't fall o! lol