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Big Brain Boosts

March 15, 2019 by  
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One of my favorite things about the brain is how a new, unique, or novel situation – seeing something totally new or having a new experience – can pump your brain and your body up and suddenly make you feel fantastic. The brain seeks and loves novelty. Novelty really does do great things to our brains. This brain stimulus is what motivated me to travel the world, to see new countries and cities, and to meet new people in different cultures. Even when I’m a bit fearful to visit a rough, semi-dangerous and poor country, like some that I’ve visited in Africa and the Middle East, I push myself to follow the advice in Susan Jeffers’ great book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

When I see and experience all the unique and novel neighborhoods, cities, countries and people in my travels, it gives my brain and life a huge boost. Even our short trip to the Indian Wells tennis tournament last week, watching guys like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was a good brain booster, partly because we stayed in a new place, in a beautiful big house with friends, met and befriended new people, and drove through unfamiliar areas of the wonderful desert towns of Indian Wells and Palm Springs. Even the super oversized palm trees they have there (they are twice a tall as Hawaiian palms) turned my head and gave me a rush.

You don’t have to go out of the country, or even out of your city, to get a big brain boost from seeing and experiencing new and novel things. Just taking a walk or a drive through a totally new and different part of your city, or going to a big game or competition with new friends (maybe one that features a sport or some big event that you have never seen in person), can perk up your brain.

A big reason I go on so many hikes in the mountains is that I almost always see something novel. Even a totally super twisted tree, or an oversized or undersized deer or elk, will give my brain a rush. And, if I see a bear, yikes … my brain gets a rush but my adrenaline is instantly overloaded too. I don’t like that as much.

The bottom line is, don’t ever let up on seeking out new and different places, people, and experiences if you want to stay excited and turned on by life. Keep your brain and body excited and curious and you may not only live longer, but you will probably be healthier and certainly more fulfilled and content.

One more helpful hint – if you are not already signed up with a travel service like Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, or Priceline, you should do that inasmuch as they send you many super deals on airlines and hotels. I’ve seen prices as low as $390 round trip to Paris from Salt Lake City and under $200 to Hawaii. Also look at sites like TripAdvisor or the experiences listed on Airbnb to find unique tours and guided experiences doing things and seeing stuff you might never have known existed. By the way, I have just scheduled a trip to Cuba this summer which will be country number 92 that I have visited!

When You’re Not Brave

March 1, 2019 by  
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This week I want to continue on this big thing we all know and have experienced called fear. Let me start by asking, what do we know about these fears?

Well, first remember that fear is a natural emotion, one that must be understood, confronted, and controlled. So maybe when you have great fears for whatever reasons, this would be an appropriate time and place to “fake it till you make it”. Some people who know me are surprised to learn that I have been very fearful many times but have gone ahead and done the “fake it” thing.  Maybe we ought to whistle a happy tune and no one will suspect you and I are afraid. If we pretend to be brave, acting the way a brave person would act, the results can be amazing.

Consider the many times you have lain in bed thinking about some tough assignment, something that you are slightly or very fearful of doing. If you’ve never done it before, quite naturally you are reluctant and anxious. For example, if you are giving a speech for the first time to some very important people, or asking a banker for a huge loan, or presenting an offer to buy a particular property for a ridiculously low price. Or it may be visiting a new state, city, or country, or being a master of ceremonies. If you are normal you become very fearful with these new situations.

Whatever you have to do on that particular day as you lie in bed, if you have a few fears of doing it, they will only intensify the longer you lie there and think about it. What will overcome those frightening thoughts and imaginings is action. Even if it is incorrect action, get up, get going, and get the blood running and the brain thinking. Take a shower, get on the phone, write a few text messages and emails, go see people, or set up a lunch appointment. Make things happen!

Action overcomes fear because most fears are in your mind and action lets the physical part of you dominate for a while. The physical side of you needs to dominate because the mental side of you, in many cases, has become too introspective and too analytical. We tend to analyze so many things to death. We have all heard of “analysis paralysis,” which is more than two cute rhyming words.

Sometimes we think too much. In today’s educated, deep thinking and analyzing world, it sure seems that we have a lot more planners and thinkers and analyzers than we do action people. Obviously, we do need some kind of plan, but the greatest plan in the world is worthless without action. I would much rather have a mediocre plan and some real action people to carry it out than the most phenomenal plan in the world with a bunch of inactive and do-nothing people.

Action really is the critical key to huge success and accomplishment. I have never met a person in my life who has total confidence in themselves and doesn’t experience fear from time to time. There is not one of us human beings on this planet who won’t have some serious questions about their own ability to succeed in every new venture they start. We all need to remember that and as the great title of Susan Jeffers book says, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”!

The Fear Factor

February 22, 2019 by  
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Sometimes I re-read my own words from my journals and books that I have written, and it inevitably surprises me how my own words can reinvigorate, inspire and motivate me. And now that I’m almost 75, I suddenly realized how much this thing called “the fear factor” was holding me back on some of my projects, big dreams, and desires.

Quoting a few highlights from my own book, The Courage to Be Rich (I hope that’s not plagiarizing–ho ho):

ACTION GETS THINGS DONE. When we are fearful of something, if we push ourselves to take action, many times that will totally overcome our fear and a big plus is that we get stuff done and isn’t that pretty much the whole ball game or at least a lot of the game. Without action you could be the greatest financial thinker, have the highest IQ, and end up with very little money or even broke. When we are fearful, we really need to give ourselves a big push, even if we stumble and blunder a bit.

FEAR OF STARTING. Getting started is really the most frightening and the hardest part of virtually any task. But even if you do something wrong, at least “do something”. I am not saying take risks larger than you can afford. We all should take risks gradually, whether they are financial risks, social risks, or any other kind of risk.

Some time ago, I was on a flight and as we began our final approach (I wish they wouldn’t call it “final approach”) and as the plane was descending, I noticed the lady next to me was very nervous and somewhat freaking out. Thinking that if I diverted her attention by talking to her, that might calm her down and it did until the pilot let the flaps down and the plane lurched and bounced a bit. I quickly explained to her what the pilot had just done and that gave her a bit of relief. I then suddenly realized that I was in the same plane, in the exact same situation, but my heart rate and blood pressure were normal, unlike my seat mate.

CHRONIC FEAR IS YOUR REAL ENEMY. I knew the damage fear could do because it had done damage to me in the past. I finally realized that I was letting fear dominate my thoughts. I decided to do something about it. Since I travel a great deal, giving seminars or negotiating real estate deals and since being relaxed and rested at the end of a flight is important to my performance, it was very important not to waste so much energy wrestling with fear.

It didn’t take much thinking after that to figure out that the fear factor entered into many of my decisions that had far greater implications than did flying. Why should I let myself be fearful of flying or anything else? After all, does that fear change the outcome of the flight or my financial conditions? People who are the real doers and the super successful people in life face frightening situations almost every day, but they don’t let those confrontations with fear scare them to death or slow down their progress or stop their actions.

I want to write more about the “fear factor” in my next blog, but for now I will end this blog by listing some very common fears.

  1. Giving a speech to a large audience.
  2. Fear of making a fool of yourself.
  3. Fear of losing all your money–or at least a big part of what you have.
  4. Fear of losing your friends.
  5. Fear of losing the love and respect of someone you love.
  6. Fear of criticism.

There are certainly a lot more fears than this short list. Take a look at yourself and analyze your own fears and ask yourself the question as to whether those fears help your situation in the long run or even in the short run.

P.S.  I read that if you take a commercial flight, at random, every day for the rest of your life it would be about 20,000 years before you got on a plane that crashed–so obviously the fear of flying on a commercial plane in totally not rational!

 

Refilling Your Social Life in a Fulfilling Retirement

February 8, 2019 by  
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The great thing about regular work or a job is that it gives you a good reason to get out of bed each morning and get going, and it is very important when you retire is to set something up that replaces that for you. One way to do that, as I mentioned in last week’s post, is put yourself to work in a way that can better the world.

As you push yourself to get involved with a charity, or whatever it is that you choose, you will find that you can replace what your work gave you in terms of structure and routine with the activities of your new mission. This will give you something to get you out of bed but, just as important, that structure and routine will also give you a new social aspect to your life.

Most of us develop a significant social life that revolves around work, but then, when we retire, this is often lost. So, getting involved in a charity or other organization can replace what you are missing when you leave your job or no longer work. It will do all that while you do a little something to make the world a better place.

Most of us humans really don’t realize how very important our social contacts are until they disappear or are greatly diminished when we retire. It’s not that you won’t know those same people or continue to have great friendships with some of them, but when you’re no longer working together, you are suddenly not nearly as involved in each other’s lives and you don’t see each other nearly so often. Most people will greatly miss the regular social contact if they do not replace it with another purposeful and regular activity that also involves time connecting and interacting with other people.

Each of us will have our own plan but here is what I plan on doing to push myself to create a new routine, structure, and source of social connections in my life that will make me get out of bed every morning and look forward to the day: I would like to teach grade school, high school, and university students in classes on writing, marketing, public speaking, financial methods and strategies, and maybe even tennis, on a regular scheduled time and day. I know quite a bit about all those subjects, and I do love to teach others how to do these things and show them how they can have great success and a huge sense of fulfillment and satisfaction from learning these new skills.

So, my challenge to you is to start thinking about your own retirement and start making plans on what you will do to create routine, structure, and social connections. Make a list now, even if you are many years away from retirement. You can change up that list as things come to you but just being aware of the necessity will help you create a fulfilling plan. You won’t be sorry if you do that now!

The Freedom of Structure

January 25, 2019 by  
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I’m reading a great book that my son gave to me, titled What Will I DO All Day, by Patrice Jenkins PHD.  It’s all about retirement and how it can be either a really good thing or something that drives you crazy. And it can all start long before you retire. It may even start from the moment you just begin thinking about what the heck you are going to do when you retire.

Most people think, “Oh, it’s going to be great when I retire. I’ll have all that time to do all those things that I’ve wanted to do but haven’t had time to do.” But when people actually retire, many of us can become very frustrated because, all of a sudden, we don’t have a routine or the structure that a regular job gave us. Now we must set a routine and a structure of our own and that takes some thinking and some work.

So much of what this author talks about that needs to be done also applies to all of us in our daily living long before we even think about retirement, such as setting goals, writing them down, and writing daily “to do” lists. We all know, or should by now, that when we write down a list of things to do the night before, the likelihood of us following through and actually adding action to that list and doing it, increases big time. I’m sure you have seen that happen in your own life.

Patrice has a chapter called “Structure is Freedom”. When we are working full time, structure doesn’t seem like freedom. She tells the story of this one guy by the name of Jim. Jim said, “You have to know what you’re getting up to each day.” Here is what she wrote about Jim and what Jim’s thoughts were:

“When Jim first retired he was looking forward to having his days free to do anything he wanted to do. But, after a few months of this, he told me that he, ‘found it to be more work not to work. My energy level was lower than when I used to work 10 hours a day. The truth is I was puttering around the house most of the day.’

“It was at this point that Jim acknowledged that having more structure in his days would improve life in retirement. He started scheduling appointments, making commitments, and setting deadlines. He decided to set his alarm for 7 a.m. and start each day with exercise. He made a rule to turn the television off by 9 a.m. so that he could start doing something more productive. Jim also volunteered for a couple of organizations which required weekly commitments of his time and talents. He told me these changes gave his life a more focused direction. ‘Now I know what I’m getting up to each morning,’ he said. ‘I really needed the structure to give me the freedom to enjoy retirement.’”

What Jim learned is something we should all focus on and be sure we do it whether we are retired, close to retirement, or many years away from that status. Yes, our full-time jobs give us structure and a routine, but our lives can be, and will be, so much more fulfilled and productive if we set up our own routines and structure totally independent of our jobs. Now that I’m semi-retired I am going to work much harder on my own routines and structure too.

The 100% Return Goal

January 18, 2019 by  
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As we begin a new year it’s a very good time to remember the basics, specifically the basics of financial independence through which you make and keep your own fortune.  It’s so easy to forget the basics, especially when we are all caught up in the details of our daily lives, even those details that are involved with building our wealth. For example, if you have a big problem with the plumbing at a rental property or the property taxes just got bumped up, it’s easy to focus on just that, but that can get you frustrated or make you kind of space out on your overall plan.

What you should not forget is that you have to continue to look at the big picture, looking for ways to take advantage of leverage whereby you could earn as much as 100% of your money due to compounding. I’ve certainly been there and done that. Even on the very property that is giving me fits, I many times have failed to step back and realize that my equity on that very property has already exceeded a 100% return on my money and I should be motivated and reminded to keep doing that.

There is a simple example that I used in my fist book, How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You, where I showed how 1 single penny a day compounded at 100% a day turns into just over $339 million on the 35th day alone. Now I know there is no way you can compound your money at 100% per day, but it is possible to compound your money at 100% per year, especially in the first few years. The key to those huge numbers is using other people’s money (your leverage). So, maybe only 10, 20 or 30% of the price you pay is with your own money and then the rest is in a loan from the bank or the seller for the balance. It’s not only possible but many people are doing just that, every day, including myself and many people that I know and have helped.

I do know that finding beat up properties these days can be a bit more difficult, depending on where your market is, but things change and prices go up and down and you and I need to always be looking for those bargains, especially those properties that need fixing up, the ones I like to call “dirt bag properties”. Then, always remember that good ole leverage formula:
If your down payment is only 10%, and you improve the property enough to increase the value by 10% you have made a 100% return on your money. That formula is a little simplistic since it doesn’t take into account your expenses, but you can keep those pretty darn low if you do most of the work yourself. Just don’t let the goal of a 100% return on your investment scare you away because it seems too difficult. If you can get even part way there, say just a 30% return on your money per year on only $10,000, that fraction of the big goal will still add up to over $1,124,000 in just 18 years.

My big point here is that we must keep the big picture in mind and remember that those potential returns are there. If you do, it becomes easier to not be deterred or discouraged by those plumbing issues, property tax increases, or other relatively minor problems.  Keep your eye and your dreams focused on the big prize, because it is all together very possible to achieve that big goal.

My Words Out Loud

January 11, 2019 by  
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I have something very special for you today. Please take a listen to this pod cast I was on recently. There are a few things I share on it that I think can be very helpful to most people. I hope you like it and, if so, please share with others. Thank you so much for taking time to listen. This kind of thing is part of what I am doing to really try to be of help to others. Maybe it’s my age but I am all about sharing and helping these days!

 

The interviewer is Michelle Brown, a fellow Salt Lake City resident who teaches Life Story writing workshops. Get a nice warm beverage and sit back for a really interesting conversation. I hope you find it helpful and motivating!

 

The Time to Start is Now, Again

December 28, 2018 by  
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I hope you are all enjoying your holiday time with family and friends. I sure am! It has kept me very busy. So this week, let’s look back at some wise words that are always good to hear again. This is my post from way back in December of 2009, updated a touch for today:

This coming week is when you start getting asked, “What are you New Year’s resolutions?” Hopefully you have a detailed, clear, and measurable set of resolutions to answer that question with. If you’ve got that–fantastic. But now, when do you start on it? Without a start date and the first few actionable steps planned out, what chance do your dreams have of becoming real?

My first suggestion is that you make your start date TODAY. That’s right – start now. There is no reason in the world that you can’t take those first, maybe very small but necessary steps, towards your goals. If you haven’t clearly defined your goal, then that is your first step. If you know what your goal is but you haven’t written out the first steps, then your first actionable step is to make that list. And the first thing on that list should be the next step you’ll take, scheduled, if not for the same day, the very next day. You should always know what the next step is and exactly when you will take action on it. A lack of specific planning is the death knell for most dreams.

Now as I mention in my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, you don’t need to know every details of every step you will need to take to reach your dreams. Much of what you’ll need to do will only become obvious as you progress. The important thing is to keep moving forward. There will be times that you will have to take two steps back and head in another direction but the fact that you are continuously working towards your goal guarantees you will reach it! The only way you’ll fail is if you stop working towards it.

So, whatever your New Year’s resolutions are, whatever goals and dreams you want to realize in 2019, don’t just talk about them, get them done. Start now, keep it going, and look forward to an amazing year.

The Eve of a New Year List

December 21, 2018 by  
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As you may have noticed, especially if you followed my advice from my blog post about the subject matter a couple months ago, it can be very helpful and profitable to set your daily goals the night before. Sometimes this list making even influences your dreams in a very positive way. You see, by setting your next day’s goals the night before, you will notice that, most of the time, you wake up thinking about those goals and are so much more likely to act on them and make them happen. Of course, I’m talking primarily about your small daily goals or tasks. These are usually the kind of things you expect to, or hope to, accomplish that day. However, this can be applied to bigger goals as well.

Being that we are so very close to the end of the year, it can be, and usually is, the best time to begin to set your big yearly goals for what you are going to do, achieve, accomplish, or earn, in the new year. It is certainly a good time to set your mind on the direction of your new year, and so why not write them down? You would be writing them down at the end of the year rather than at the end of the night but it’s the same kind of list – preparing you to get going on your goals once the new day – or new year – starts.

As you know, when you set those goals and write them down, your brain can, and usually does, take over and persuade, coax, cajole, and even force you to get to work to accomplish those objectives that you have set for yourself. So, take time in the next few days to thoroughly think through what you want 2019 to be for you and what you are going to get done. Include both financial and nonfinancial objectives like helping others, spending more time with family, world travel, etc. Do it! You won’t be sorry!

So, what are my personal goals for my 2019 year? Yes, I have some financial goals, but for me I would like to do more writing and get my autobiography done. Also, on my list is the giving of time and assistance as well as money. I have already started in on this list. Just in the last few weeks I’ve given my time at an elementary school, assisting a 3rd grade teacher and, oh wow, what a great feeling that gives me!

Physically, for my 75th year on this planet, I want to get in, and stay in, super physical shape. I want to look like, act like, and have the energy of a 35-year-old. I know that is not going to be easy, but I do believe it to be possible and, besides, the rewards that I have heard about through other people are fantastic. Those who do aim for super physical fitness, and stick with it, are shown to have a much longer life. And I have to tell you, I do love beating those much younger people on the tennis court, something which happened a lot in 2018 and I plan to repeat in the coming years!

Secrets to Authentic Happiness

November 30, 2018 by  
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I think I came across the best reason for keeping a journal of your life or, as my good friend Rich Harvey used to call it, a reason for people to “Journal Their Journey”.

Just the other day I picked up one of my journals dated 10-26-2003 to 6-12-2004. My comments about what was going on in my life at that time quoted a great book that I had totally forgotten about entitled Authentic Happiness, by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D.

In his book, Dr. Seligman talks about what real authentic happiness is and how we can capture it and keep it. Finding and enjoying real happiness is not done through seeking and finding pleasure and the same goes for seeking happiness through just staying busy – it just doesn’t work. Great and authentic happiness is experienced from gratification. So how do we become gratified?

Much of gratification comes from “production”.  When we produce something of great value to others and/or ourselves, we end up with a great feeling of satisfaction. Here are Dr. Seligman’s 8 common ingredients and psychological components of gratification:

  1. The task is challenging and requires skill.
  2. We have to concentrate.
  3. There are clear goals.
  4. We get immediate feedback.
  5. We have deep effortless involvement.
  6. There is a sense of control.
  7. Sense of self vanishes.
  8. Time seem to stop.

Dr. Seligman goes on to talk about depression in today’s world and how widespread it is. It has increased by a huge amount in the last 40 years and the average age of depressed people is much younger today. That certainly gives more credence to the importance of setting big, tough goals. If your mind is firmly set on your goals, it’s more likely that your mind will not be spending time reflecting how you feel in the moment. Plus, there is the big extra benefit that setting big goals does energize us both physically and mentally because of the chemicals released by our brains, as I talked about in last week’s blog.

But why is depression so high in wealthy and healthy countries? The author’ s theory is “that an ethos that builds unwarranted self-esteem, espouses victimology, and encourages rampant individualism has contributed to that epidemic.” Another reason is our huge reliance on shortcuts to happiness. Every nation builds more and more shortcuts to pleasure … TV, drugs, shopping, spectator sports and high sugar food and drink. Gaining these and many other things take very little effort on our part these days.

A major symptom of depression is self-absorption. The depressed person thinks about how he feels a great deal of the time – excessively so. When a depressed person detects sadness, he ruminates about it, projecting it into the future, this in turn increases his sadness in his life and across all his activities. In contrast, gratification is the absence of feeling sorry for yourself.

What we all need to do more of is realize that there are no shortcuts to the kind of fulfilling gratification we all crave, and realize we need to focus more and more on our goals, big tasks, and our production as well as giving up the constant self-worry and self-absorption. You may have noticed that really happy people, for the most part, spend the least amount of time home alone – they tend to have a rich and fulfilling social life, which really is the opposite of being self-absorbed.

Next week I’m going to talk more about this great thing called “Authentic Happiness” that Martin’s book gives us such super insight into as well as talking about how understanding where it comes from can bump up our happiness factor and enhance our lives.

 

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