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The Simple List

December 16, 2016 by  
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Last week, I suggested you make lists of what you want to do, accomplish, become, and experience in the coming year. Those, of course, are called goals or resolutions and to begin thinking about them early on can lead to much better goals and better ways to reach them. So, what did you come up with?

For some people the list can get pretty long with many, many goals and objectives. Recently I’ve been reading Living the Simple Life, a book by Elaine St. James. At one point in her life she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do and become so she starting writing and making lists of different categories. She came up with five categories: Personal, Career, Financial, Spiritual and Civic. Then she made a list within each category. Under ‘Personal’ she’d ended up with a list of 20 items. That was a lot of goals to aim for all at once.

She goes on to recommend that if you want to simplify your life, you might want to limit your resolutions and goals to just a few. She says, “If you’re an incurable list maker, be open to the possibility that you may have to cut your lists back to more realistic proportions. If you’re not a list maker by nature or by habit, you might find it helpful to come up with a brief list of four or five things you’ll want to concentrate on as you begin to simplify your life. Just don’t get carried away.”

I totally agree with keeping the number of goals or resolutions that you make to just a few. Why? If you set too many or create goals that are too big, it may not be achievable and you may become very, very discouraged and depressed when you see yourself falling way short of your objectives. This can lead you to totally throw in the towel and give up, convincing yourself that resolutions–whether they are made at the beginning of a new year or in the middle–just don’t work, at least not for you. So, I hope the lists you made this past week (or are about to make) are not too long or too huge.

That is not to say that great, big goals are not okay because they are. But if they are really huge, they probably need to be spread out over many years so that they are manageable. So, look at what you’ve formulated for the new year and break these goals down into the smaller steps it will take to reach them.

Also, break them down into regular and specific items such as what you are going to do each day and maybe even what hour of the day are you going to work on them. Then, next, determine what kind of progress you’d like to see. Ask, yourself where do you want to be by, say, the end of January and then end of February, etc. Remember, baby steps can turn into a thousand miles, given enough time.

So, concentrate on those small things but keep on doing them each day and each week. Next week I’m going to talk more about financial goals that, of course, can help you with many other goals.

 

 

The Easier Way to Reach Your Goals

November 12, 2016 by  
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Okay, first of all, there is no particularly ‘easy’ way to reach your goals but there are certainly easier ways and harder ways. Whether your goal is to make a million dollars, write a bestselling book or visit 100 different countries, the easier way to reach those goals includes a very simple thing … making lists. And I don’t mean in your head. I mean writing that list down. Why does writing out a list make reaching a goal easier? Because if you write it down it does some very good stuff inside your brain.

Chapter 7 in Henriette Klauser’s wonderful little book entitled Write It Down, MAKE IT HAPPEN tells the great story of her friend Sydne who turned her life around mainly from the single action of writing down her list of goals. Klauser says, “Writing a list gets it out of your head. Heads can be dark swamps, the conversations, the constant chatter, whatever you want to call it, keeps interfering. Writing a list gets it out of the swamp, onto paper. You can see a list in black and white and it’s real. When you reduce your goals to a list, it helps keep your focus.”

So, if you write your goals it basically changes things in your brain. She goes on to say that if your lists are very specific your brain will more likely help you reach those goals. “When you are vague and general, you are safe. Get to the essence of it; that’s when things happen. Nothing can happen when you’re generalized and safe–nothing changes.” When the writing of those lists put Sydne on the path of reaching virtually all her goals, her motto then became simply “Do it easy.”

The author’s advice is to “use listing as an opportunity to crystallize your intent–to learn what matters most to you.” She goes on to say, “Keep that list handy, and look at it regularly, especially if you lose heart or feel scared. Emblazon it in your mind. Repeat to yourself ‘This is what I want and it is waiting for me.’” Remember, keep your list very specific even for things such as buying a car. As the author says, “Don’t simply write ‘car’, write the type of car with make, model, and mileage.”

I must say that goal setting and writing down the specifics has changed my brain and improved my life in many and huge ways. When I was 27 years old I set the very specific goal to make a million dollars by the time I was 30 and yes I wrote it down and looked at that written goal on a regular basis. I went to work to find ways and means, along with great help from a couple of fantastic mentors, to hit my target. Oops I missed the goal, that is I missed the date by one year but reached it at age 31. Pretty much the same thing happened when I set the written goal to write a bestselling book. That book was How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You which eventually sold over one million copies.

I am absolutely convinced that writing it down did in fact change my brain and made it all happen.  I know that it works and if you are not already writing your specific lists of goals down, I hope you start doing so right now.

 

 

Just Do It with Baby Steps

September 9, 2016 by  
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As I mentioned last week, the way to reach huge goals is through the many little baby steps you take, one at a time, to get there. Reaching any big goal will have its difficulties but I think we all need to keep reminding ourselves that a big part of hitting our big goals is keeping focused on those baby steps and not being too hard on ourselves when our progress is not as fast as we want it to be.

This concept works for anything you are after. If one of your goals is to save up many thousands of dollars so you can make investments that will put you in a great position to retire, allowing you to do whatever you like such as traveling the world as you please like I do, you just start with a few baby steps. What those baby steps are depends on what you can manage. The important thing is to get started.

Let’s say you are on a real tight budget now and you just can’t afford to save the recommended 10% of your income. That’s okay, just make those baby steps do-able. You can squeeze your expenditures a bit and save just 2 or 3 percent for the time being, then after a while try to increase that to 5% and once you are doing that comfortably, push that towards 10%. The saving of just 2% right now might seem like it will never amount to big bucks, but over time it does add up because it helps you form a habit that makes it easier to increase the percentage as time goes on.

It’s not just money that works this way. For instance, most people would not think they could drop down and do 100 pushups without stopping, but most people could do 5, 10 or 20. To be able to do 100 pushups just use the baby steps concept by doing those 5 or 10 now and add a one or two more every other day and you may surprise yourself, and everybody around you especially if you or 70 or 80 years old, how easy it was for you to reach that goal!

The same goes for just about every goal we may set. Baby steps really can lead to world breaking records or at least big time records and success in your own life. And it’s always a good idea to share the baby step concept with your kids, parents and friends. Once they see how well you’re doing, it’s sure to motivate them to do better on their own goals. So share the idea and encourage those around you. If they follow it, they will not only feel great about their accomplishments but they are sure to give you lots of thanks and credit which feels pretty good!

 

 

 

Breaking Big Goals into Baby Steps

September 2, 2016 by  
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A couple weeks ago I suddenly realized that since I got a Fitbit and starting keeping track of my daily steps that my 4,000 steps a day had slowly risen to more than 20,000 steps a day. I had walked the equivalent of a third way around the world since I began with my goal of more movement and more exercise. My big goal now is to walk all the way around the world–or rather the equivalent of that.

I am a big believer in setting big goals, in just about every aspect of life. I’m talking about diet, weight control, fasting for health, and of course in financial matters. But how do you accomplish these huge goals? You take it just one baby step at a time. My January 7th blog was all about how after you set a big goal, it’s a very good idea to concentrate on taking baby steps so you are less likely to get discouraged and give up when you don’t think you are going to reach your goal.

For example, I read a study years ago that going without food for 24 hours every week or even every month is very good for your overall health, longevity and, of course, weight control. Knowing that, I started with baby steps by skipping a meal every few days and then slowly I took another baby step and skipped 2 meals in a day which lead me to go 24 hours with any food and only drinking water.

Those baby steps lead me to hit a big goal I set, one that seemed almost impossible when I set it. The big goal was to go a full week without food and believe it or not I did just that. The first and second day were the toughest but after that it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be! And wow did I ever feel fantastic toward the end and even after it was all over. I then felt that I could accomplish almost anything in entire the world!

That is just one example of how small steps can add up to something really big. Next week I will talk about how you can do this with your financial goals and the importance of sharing what you learn when you see how baby steps can work for you.

Rewards Beyond Fortune and Fame

August 26, 2016 by  
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When I was young I was so very much into myself.  I craved success, financial and non-financial.  Oh man, how I wanted to be rich and famous! I went after both with great passion and energy. I worked hard and long to reach my goals. They consumed me!  And after many years, it paid off. I made millions and even got my 15 minutes of fame with a segment on Tom Brokaw’s nation wide NBC news show and a front page story in the Wall Street Journal. And yes, I thought I was pretty hot stuff. It was all very satisfying and rewarding.

However, over the years my idea about what is truly rewarding changed. Just 2 weeks ago I received the richest reward I could hope for, one that far exceeds the rewards that I had from fame and fortune. It happened on a little island called Whidbey, just west of Seattle Washington.  I had taken some of my kids and grandkids for a summer vacation and we stayed at an absolutely beautiful multi-acre estate called Quintessa owned by 2 lovely ladies, Tessa and Carrie.

My wonderful and huge reward came when Tessa, after learning my name, told me about how my books, tapes, and periodical, The Financial Freedom Report, was the key that motivated her to buy a number of income properties, including the heavily wooded Quintessa Estate with its ocean view and accommodations for up to 32 people.

Tessa stood there and thanked me so many times it was almost embarrassing. In the last 10 to 15 years, I have received many, many letters, emails, and phone calls with thanks and appreciation from people whose lives have been financially improved, but Tessa’s story and her enthusiasm given to me in person was like getting hit in the face with a brick–a good brick of course!  It brought to my mind, very forcefully, just how much more value and reward there is in helping people, so much more than fortune and fame.

The irony is that back in my younger days I was being very selfish, seeking my own fame and fortune but over time it led to helping many other people which was an unexpected bonus and a wonderful reward. It certainly made me want to work harder to help more people. I found I wanted more of that wonderful feeling, a feeling that surpasses anything I get from fortune and fame.  It took a bit of time to learn that lesson but I don’t think I will ever forget it.

So let’s all try to reach out and help those around us, whether it be family, friends or complete strangers. You may not even know what you have to offer but the rewards for finding out are amazing.

P.S. If you want to stay at the Quintessa estate, it is located at 3493 French Road, Clinton, WA, 98236, or contact them by email at thequintessa@gmail.com. Quintessa is set up in such a way as to help our kids and grandkids do some major bonding which is exactly what happened!

 

Following the Rules of Law and Honesty

August 19, 2016 by  
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As I mentioned last week, if you really want a fast rise to the top of your financial mountain, you may want to consider bringing on partners. Partners can give you so much more leverage. Sounds simple, right? Well, there is a bit more to it because there are laws that govern when you seek or solicit other people’s money, rules that were put in place to keep investors and their large investments safe.  That’s the first big key item to be aware of when bringing on partners. The second is that you will benefit tremendously from being completely honest as well as understating earnings expectations but I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

What the law says about soliciting other people’s money for your investments varies according to the type of investment. For complex and higher-risk investments, US law requires that the people that you approach must be so-called ‘accredited investors’ or ‘qualified investors’.  They need to have a minimum of a million dollars’ net worth (excluding their residence) or have at least $200,000 dollars in annual income (or $300,000 of joint income) each year in the last couple years to qualify. This law helps to insure these investors are in a position to make large investments as well as being people who should have the knowledge to wisely handling their finances.

You are not required to audit your partners to prove their financial standing but if it’s obvious that a potential investor is fudging their numbers, then you need to use common sense and back away from that investor. There are some lower requirements if you raise money by alternative finance means such as crowdfunding (collecting funds in small amounts from a large number of people) but the total amount of money that you can accept is limited.  Bottom line here is when you are looking for partners you should only approach those people that you are pretty certain qualify under the rules for your country and state. So know the laws that would govern your dealings with investors.

Now, onto the second key item for super success. This is a pretty simple concept but it’s one that far too many people miss out on.  A primary reason this next key item is so important is because it can bring in additional investors without hardly any effort on your part.  And all you have to do is be totally upfront and honest with your partners and never over estimate what the financial return to the investor is going to be.  If anything, under estimate and try to over deliver.  No one minds being surprised that they made more money than they were led to expect they would.

Not long ago, I was looking for a partner to invest in a very secure property that I had found. I was pretty sure I could deliver an 8% annual return on it but I told the investor that I thought the return would be around 7%. So, when I later on delivered an 8% return the investor was so pleased that he told other potential investors about his experience. That is how you get a lot of new investors. It is also the best way to advertise or market your products, if you have any.  The thing to remember is that people will more readily trust someone or be ready to buy from them because someone they know and trust referred them.

So if you are in a hurry to make a lot of money, consider the partner option but follow the rules and take good care of you partners.  The extra bonus to you is that as you help your partners improve their financial status and situation you will receive many thanks and appreciative comments. It is such a great feeling to know that you are helping other people as you help yourself too!

Powerful Daily Questions

July 29, 2016 by  
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In the last few posts, I’ve been talking about Marshall Goldsmith’s great advice that you can read about in his book Mojo. He reveals ways to greatly improve your odds of lifting your Mojo (your personal happiness and fulfillment in life) and increasing your chances of making greater progress toward your goals and what you want your life to be.

One of Goldsmith’s very effective methods was to ask his friend, Jim Moore, to pose a daily list of questions that Marshall had put together. These questions included want Marshall wanted to get done and how he wanted his life to be. Both men were amazed at how well that daily questioning worked. Even though they lived miles apart and Marshall does a lot of traveling, their commitment to this has them connecting on the phone and going through the process of asking those same questions about 85% of the time. The process has kept Marshall focused and moving forward.

So if you want to greatly increase your Mojo and reach your goals, write a list of what you want to get done and how you want your life to be and then find a good friend or a close relative to ask you those questions on a regular basis. Remember that it’s important to keep track of your progress as well so you can be inspired by your success and work on the areas that might need a boost.

Although you will want to come up with your own questions, I thought Marshall’s basic 6 questions might be helpful:

“Did I do my best today to …

  1. Be Happy?
  2. Find meaning?
  3. Build positive relationships?
  4. Be fully engaged?
  5. Set clear goals?
  6. Make progress toward goal achievement?

After this list, Marshall goes on to list questions he specifically needs for himself such as, “How many minutes did you spend writing?

Then there are some health questions such as,” How many sit-ups did you do?” To which he gets to answer with statements like “Today I did 200 sit-ups at once. Not bad for a 64-year-old guy.” You know that has to be encouraging!

As for work, it might be “With how many clients are you current on your follow-ups?”

Then there’s family and relationships. “Did you say or do something nice for your wife? How about your son or daughter?”

In the book he also asks himself, “Why does this process work so well?”  The answer is that it forced him and his friend Jim to “confront how we actually live our values every day. We either believe that something matters or we don’t.  If we believe it, we can put it on the list and do it! If we really don’t want to do it, we can face reality and quit kidding ourselves.”

The above is just a brief sample. Your list should be much longer but how long depends on what you want to get done in your life.

Marshall asked his wife, Lyda, a psychologist, if she thought this process would work as well with a computer-generated list of questions instead of sharing with another person.  She said, “No, it is a lot easier to blow-off a computer than another person.”

So the bottom line for you and me is to start making our list and then find a friend to help, the kind of friend that you trust and one that won’t criticize you when you fall short of your goals and ambitions. You can do likewise for your friend and together you can really build up your Mojo!

 

 

The People Who Changed My Life

June 24, 2016 by  
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Last week I said that I was going to give appreciation and thanks to those people that inspired, helped and directed my life and personal development and those that lifted my financial life to great heights.

The first and probably most powerful financial mentor was Larry Rosenberg of Denver, Colorado. Before Larry came into my life I had read a few financial books that somewhat helped me start to improve my financial situation, books that taught me that the first step is to save money out of each paycheck, at least 10% but more if you can swing it.

However, what Larry Rosenberg really did to lift my financial sights to great heights was to show me what he’d done, starting basically from scratch, using financial leverage and compounding. When he sat down with me and showed me on paper what could be done with as little as $1,000 dollars, a few years’ time, and hard work, I was blown away. Thousands turned into millions and it wasn’t just a theory. He had done it! I quickly saw, and he agreed, that I could do the same thing. So I set out on my financial path and yes, it lead me to millions.

So thank you Larry. I appreciate you and I will never forget you. You not only influenced and lifted my financial world but because of you I’ve passed your directions and formulas onto literally thousands of other people. Your great influence is huge and growing and it’s so big it’s probably unmeasurable.

Larry also put me onto Bill Nickerson’s great book, How I turned $1000 into Millions in My Spare Time, in Real Estate, which gave me more details on what I should be doing and how. Later I was privileged to meet and get to know Bill very well. So a big thanks to Mr. Bill Nickerson too!

These two gentleman were a big influence but there are still more to thank. Next week, I’ll send out a few more thank you notes and show you what people have done for me and, in turn, for you!

Risk is Not for Herds

June 10, 2016 by  
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Last week I talked about risk taking and how the willingness to take risk when it comes to investing is critical.  Those people who really want to attain Financial Freedom or FF need to look at themselves to determine their tolerance for risk.

As a real estate investor working towards achieving FF, it’s important to understand your own temperament, and your ability to assume that element of risk.  It’s important to know your limitations and not torment yourself with sleepless nights by taking unnecessary risks in trying to keep up with others whose capacity to assume risk might be much greater than yours.  This decision may slow you down on the road to FF, but what is FF without some enjoyment, comfort and happiness along the way?

Everyone has a level and a threshold for tolerance and excessive and unnecessary risk will only create anxiety and tension and may well shorten your life.  So take a hard look at yourself and measure how much risk are you willing to take that doesn’t make you worry you to the point of causing pain, anxiety and suffering in your life.

But keeping in mind our objective, achieving FF, it is important to remember that the greater the potential risk the greater the inherent reward will be. It is also almost impossible to avoid every risk at any one time in selecting an investment. In order to achieve and maintain high rates of return, which are critical for achieving total FF, one must be prepared both mentally and emotionally to incur a higher than average risk. So look hard at yourself and measure how much risk you can handle.

Remember that “eagles don’t fly together in flocks.”  So if you are going to make it big you can’t just go along with the flock or the herd.  If you earnestly desire to achieve FF today, you must learn to assemble all the facts, calculate the risks, be decisive, and then act accordingly.  Statistics and history prove that the majority of people fail to ever become FF because they do not have a specific plan. They are content and willing to wait patiently throughout their lifetime for Social Security or they are looking for that one super great investment or the lucky lottery number to suddenly become super rich.  Don’t follow those kinds of people. Work on your plan that will take you to total FF over a reasonable period of time and you will reach the level of Financial Freedom that you set as your goal.

Avoiding Your Own Loss Aversion

June 3, 2016 by  
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Statistics indicate that the majority of people are security conscious. This fact has been verified in a number of studies which concluded that many people people’s fear of failure is twice as great as their desire to succeed. Some of these studies also noted that in general, there will be up to 5 times as many people choosing a stable situation than people choosing an option with recognized risk. In order to achieve FF (Financial Freedom) you cannot be afraid to fail or take a risk.

Our tendency to avoid risk is known as loss aversion. It means a person believes that if they lose something, say $50, their level of unhappiness with that loss will be significantly greater than the potential increase in happiness if they gain $50.  Its apparent in our everyday lives. People will order the same thing off the menu every time simply because they are afraid they might not like what they order if they try something new, even when there is a good chance they could find a new favorite. Similarly, people put their money in low interest bearing savings accounts rather than put any of it some kind of investment account that will most likely make them significantly more in interest, primarily because there is some chance of loss. So it sits in the banks making next to nothing.

The problem may come down to a belief that one has no control over the outcome of their circumstances, be it their food or their investments. A class of Harvard graduates was asked what they believed were the necessary ingredients to become financially successful.  Their conclusion was summed up in two words, “Greed, and Luck.” I couldn’t disagree more.

If you consider the statistics I mentioned, you might very well conclude that only one out of five people will ever have FF. But that is just a statistic and has no bearing on what YOU will achieve. You can decide to take the risk and be that much closer to FF. Next week I will talk more about risk taking and what you as an investor need to understand about yourself.

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