February 28, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

Ok … this week I will give you what I think are some of the high points from Kelly McGonigal incredible book, The Willpower Instinct. These are more of those notes taken from my summary sheets that I make and keep from the best books I read and want to revisit and remember.

The Willpower Instinct is a truly life changing book if you put the concepts and findings into practice.  I highly recommend you get it and read it carefully.  Below are the points that jumped out at me. In some cases I am giving you quotes and in others I am giving a summary in my own words.  The subtitle of the book is great: “How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More”. The book covers all this and more.

Mark’s notes from The Willpower Instinct:

P. 20 Most of our choices are made on autopilot.

P. 20 Self-awareness is one big key to will power.

P. 21 When you are distracted, your impulses usually over rule your long term goals.

P. 21 To have more self-control, develop more self-awareness.

P. 23 The brain is remarkably responsive to experience.

P. 24 Ask your brain to _____________________________ (you fill in anything you really want) and your brain ends up helping you do it.

P. 26 Meditate on a regular basis — it will help you increase self-control. For example: lose weight, kick bad habits, etc. Meditate 5 minutes a day can make a huge difference.

P. 42, 43 Exercise is like meditation it makes the brain bigger and faster and improves willpower.

P. 43 A big mood booster is a simple 5 minute walk outside.

P. 45 Exercise gives you more energy than you spend.

P. 69 If you are looking for a big change of any habit, look for small ways to practice self-control.

P. 129 When we free ourselves from the false promise of reward we often find the thing we were seeking happiness from was the main source of our misery.

P. 132 We must distinguish between wanting and happiness.

P. 144 Many studies show that self-criticism gives less motivation and worse self-control and is the biggest predictor of depression.

So, without even reading the book, you can see the value of the information just in these notes. And how easy is it to review and remind oneself of this great information this way?

My Treasure of Quotes, Part 1

February 21, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

Last week I talked about how I get so much out of the books I read because of the way I take and record notes and quotes. Here are a few of the quotes and the page numbers, which I logged onto my summary sheets from a couple of the best books I’ve read lately in recent years.

From Robert Lustig MD’s great book Fat Chance:

P. xiii Sugar is killing us.

P. 137 High fiber appears to limit total food intake.

P. 119 Orange juice is worse than sugar soda.

P. 125 Alcohol increases fat around the liver.

P. 140 Exercise works at so many levels (mainly improved health) except your weight.

P. 145 Diet is about weight and exercise is about inches and health.

P. 148 Consistency in exercise is the key.

P. 207 Eat real food.

P. 214 Don’t eat anything 4 hours before bedtime.

P. 186 Vegetables give you fiber and micro nutrients.

P. 154 Resveratrol is very good for you–keeps inflammation down.

P. 144 Protein does not stimulate insulin or hunger.


And from the excellent book called Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

P. 2 Ask yourself if you’re happy and you will cease to be so.

P. 2 Happiness… gained by being fully involved with every detail of our lives–good and bad.

It’s the unintended side effects of one’s dedication to a course greater than oneself.

P. 3 The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretch to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile.

P. 6 Flow will happen by examining the process of achieving happiness through control of one’s inner life.

P. 6 Investing in consciously chosen goals creates a more complex being –by stretching skills, by reaching toward higher challenges.

P. 10 Regardless of your material conditions you can improve the quality and happiness of your life.

P. 18 A person who can’t override their genetic instructions when necessary is always vulnerable. Instead of deciding how to act in terms of personal goals, they have surrendered to the things that their bodies have been programed for.

p. 24 A person can make himself happy, or miserable regardless of what is actually happening “outside” by just changing the contents of consciousness.

P. 31 The mark of a person who is in control of consciousness is the ability to focus attention at will–to be oblivious to distractions, to concentrate for as long as it takes to achieve a goal and not longer.


Did you feel a little overwhelmed by all the nuggets of wisdom in these two short lists? Pick out two that really struck you and ask yourself what it means to you. This is what you will get from reading and making note of the important items in important books like these. As you can see with the book Flow, I was only able to list here what I pulled from it through page 31. There are so many other great quotes and ideas in there that can be tremendously helpful. You should go out and buy the book.  Then when I cover some more quotes from this book and others next week, you can compare your list to mine.


Active Reading

February 14, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

Great books can do great things for you in your life. They certainly have for me and I use a simple method to make sure I don’t forget what I’ve learned from the best books I’ve read. It’s really simple and I highly recommend you give it a try.

First, as I read, I underline the best points made by the author, the ones that jump out at me and instruct, inspire and motivate. Next I make a note in the front or back of the book, with the page number and a short summary of what struck me as a real gem. After I have finished the book I take an 8” X 11” piece of card stock paper and transfer all the page numbers and quotes onto that paper. Then, anytime I need a mental, emotional or motivational push I quickly and easily review my notes of a particular book. It’s easy and simple.

As I have said in the past, and as it was preached to me by my mentor Paul J. Meyer, “It’s better to re-read or re-view over and over, 20 or 30 or 100 great books than to read 1,000 average books”. I have never forgotten that and it have served my life and dreams very well.

In looking through my stack of 8 X 11 cards I see my notes on books like “Satisfaction”, “Outliers”, “Flow”, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, “Tipping Point”, “Fat Chance”, The Power of Now”, “The Willpower Instinct”, The Four Doors”, and of course a couple of my books “The Next Step to Waking up the Financial Genius Inside You”, “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. That is to name just a few. Next week I will give you a few of what I think are the best short summary statements from a few of those books to show you exactly what I mean, what jumps out at me and what helps me like I am pretty sure it can help you.

Asking for Courage

February 7, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

In last week’s blog I promised I would give you my definition of  ‘Courage’ so that we can look into what it can mean to you and how you live your life.

Courage is going against the odds or against popular opinion.  It’s doing what most people are unwilling to do because of the criticism and lack of support they know they will receive from family, friends, or even strangers.  Courage is living your life for you.  It’s setting your own rules and policies and taking full responsibility when you fail or stumble. It’s resisting other people’s attempted manipulations of you.

Courageous people do not accept traditions, conventional wisdom, or pat answers without close scrutiny and severe questioning.

I came up with that definition in 1983 when I was 39 years old,   for my book The Courage to be Rich and I think it holds true today.  (Side note … Susan Orman used that title later for her own book which I found out, to my disappointment, is totally legal.) But sometimes it’s hard to know what you are accepting without question or not. So let’s ask ourselves a few questions.

Before reading this list of questions that can help build your courage, let me suggest you make a list of the areas in your life that you might want to focus on, areas you think would benefit from a big dose of courage.

Did you write those down? Good. Now, ask yourself,  Do I want to have …

The courage to be rich?

The courage to be famous?

The courage to be the very best in my field?

The courage to be super generous?

The courage to be super healthy?

The courage to be totally physically fit?

The courage to write a great book or give super speeches?

The courage to love and be loved without conditions?

The courage to help others to the max?

The courage to win at the game of life?

This is not a complete list. If you have other things you want or think you want, add them. And keep asking yourself, what do you want courage for?

It is not just a matter of asking yourself about your courage. You have to act in a courageous way. Here are a few keys items to help you obtain and keep that courage.

1.  At first take small steps in areas that you want to build courage, especially if you have great fears.

2.  Repeat those small steps over and over again.

3.  Slowly begin to take larger steps.

4.  Use plenty of “self-talk” or “positive affirmations” and always be aware of what your internal voice is saying so you can direct it towards your positive courage goals.

5.  Involve allies to help you stay on course.  Be sure to pick those that will fully support your objectives and goals.

7.  Practice confronting your fears and then analyze the reasons for those fears.

One last thought….I just read this line in a novel and thought that it was very profound……”The more you learn, the less you fear.” Arm yourself with knowledge, primarily the knowledge that you can and will face and overcome your fears.


Increase Your Courage Factor

January 31, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

As you continue with that forward thinking, planning and goal setting for this New Year, consider and think about the level of courage you have and the possibility and methods you might want to adopt to increase your “Courage Factor”.  Why? Because it’s been pretty well established that without courage most of us wouldn’t get very far and our lives would be, and will be, far less than they could be.

So just what is this “Courage Factor? It is being so stubborn that you simply won’t accept defeat. It is the stuff that makes champions in sports, heroes in war, huge successes in business, and highly accomplished individuals in life. With it you can do almost anything.  Without it even a brilliant person accomplishes very little.

Our English word “courage” comes from the French word for heart. Whether you call it great-hearted, stouthearted, or strong-hearted, the people who accomplish what they are after and leave the world a better place along the way are people with courage and, of course, a lot of heart.  Criticism won’t turn the courageous from their path. They are too self-assured as well as being willing to take responsibility for their choices whether they result in failures or successes.

So this week as you continue working on plans for what you want to accomplish in the coming year, remember that “courage factor” and try to make yours stronger by pushing yourself to do what you want to do, not what other’s want you to do! See how that feels and if it feels right, hey, just keep on doing it!

Next week I will talk about my personal definition of courage and some more ways to improve your “courage factor” so you are the unstoppable force in your life that you know you can be.


Small Risks Take on Big Fears

January 24, 2014 by  
Filed under blog


Fear. It’s something we all deal with on some level. Some fears are good for you and can save your life such as the fear of falling off a cliff so that we keep a safe distance from the edge or the fear that pushes us to panic a bit, to hide, run or climb a tree depending on what dangerous animal or person we suddenly run into.

But there are those illogical fears that really don’t help or protect us; in fact many fears keep us from enjoying a much more rewarding life. Probably the biggest fear that holds us back is the fear of trying something totally new. It could be anything from giving a speech to a large group of people, playing a brand new sport or traveling to a faraway foreign country for the first time.

Why do we have such life constraining fears and what can we do about it?

I think the “why” is because we think we may fail and/or make a fool of ourselves or, in the case of flying to a foreign country, we fear all the unknowns, like whether the people are mean and dangerous or whether we might get lost or if the plane may crash. (By the way, the fear of flying is one of the biggest yet more illogical fears people have. I read sometime ago that if you were to fly on a commercial jet every single day, statistically you would fly for 29,000 years before you got on a plane that crashed.)

So what does a person do to overcome the fear of doing or trying something new? Susan Jeffers suggests in her book Feel the Fear and Beyond that you try “expanding your comfort zone”. And if you set about doing what she suggests on a regular basis you will gain a ton of confidence and greatly reduce your fears.

She says “one way to easily expand your comfort zone is to take a little risk each day.” When she’s talking about taking risks she’s not talking about physical risks but rather the risk of facing your fears and trying something new. The first step, as she advises, is to come up with thirty risks you could do in a month and write them down. Then each night, pick one to take on the following day and add it to your schedule by placing it on your calendar or daily planner just as you would a doctor’s appointment. As you do this, you will begin to slowly expand the size of your comfort zone and your world and then will be much more likely to face and conquer much larger fears.

So why don’t you sit down right now and see if you can list thirty risks or fears that you want to overcome in the next month? Like I advise with anything, break it down into small manageable steps and you will be able to take on anything.


We All Age but We Don’t Have to Get Old

January 17, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

On January 8th I launched what I call my “90 Day Super Quest”. That quest is my ambitious goal to get myself into the best possible physical and mental shape of my entire life!  My birthday lands on the 90th day of this quest–and I turn the big 70 this year!

I am a week into my “super quest” and I’m right on schedule with my workouts which include tennis, weight lifting, sit-ups, push-ups and stretching.  As for the mental side of my quest, I’ve been doing pretty good keeping up with reading, writing, making new friends and spending lots of time with old friends as well as my family, of course.  But, I’ve noticed a problem.  It’s that old demon … that negative inner self-talk.  Since I’ve set the 90 day goal I’ve been way too focused on my age and the fact that I am getting older. That number 70 has dominated the chatterbox inside my head and not in a positive way.

However, today, I just happened to pick up a book that I’ve read and written about many times and it flopped open to page 55 where the word “aging” jumped out at me.  It’s the book that Susan Jeffers wrote entitled Feel the Fear and Beyond. This is the follow up book to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Here’s what she says about aging and what your inner voice should NOT be saying about the subject:

“I am getting older now.  Aging is horrible. I wish my body were young again.  Look at those wrinkles.  Who could love a face that’s old? I hate it. Pretty soon no one will want to be around me.  When I was young, I could dance all night.  Now I don’t have the energy.  Why do people have to age?  I wish I could be young forever.”

And here is what she says we should be saying to ourselves:

“I love aging.  My children are grown and now I’m free to do the thing I put off doing.  I’m glad I joined the gym.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in such great shape.  I’m going to learn all I can about keeping myself in the best of health.  I have so much to look forward to.  I learn and grow every day of my life.  I wouldn’t want to go back one day.  Why would I want to go back?”

With all my focus on hitting 70, that number became set in my head, like a heavy, unmovable, concrete block.  I have now realized that I need to get rid of that and ask myself the question that I used to ask so often, something we all should probably ask ourselves whenever we think about aging: “How old would I say I am if I didn’t know?”.  When I ask myself this question I can honestly say I come up with the answer of 44.  So I guess on April 8th I will be in the best physical and mental shape of my life as a 45 year old. That sounds pretty good to me!


The Gift of Journaling

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of a “journal of your life”.  I’m talking about something much more important than just keeping a diary.  Yes a diary is part of it–recording where you go, people you meet and what you experience–but to make it life enhancing and with maximum meaning, you must write and record your inner thoughts, not just what has occurred. Things like your biggest dreams, goals and ambitions will help you define what you were thinking about in prior years. You can find these insights to be extremely valuable when you go back and review those years.  It’s like having your own personal time machine.


In the last few days of 2013 and the first few days of 2014, I’ve had such a wonderful time  reviewing my past experiences including my trips, the people I’ve met, my various goals as they changed and re-focused over the years and, most importantly, my inner thoughts along the way. Think about it–what a great thing it is to be able to relive and bask in all that was great this past year and also have the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons from both the good and the bad stuff that happened. Sometimes it’s like reading about a totally different person; in many ways you are a different person now than you were a year ago.

Also try to take the time–usually at the end of a year or the beginning of a new year– to go back and revisit myself when I was a 30, 40, 50 or  60 years old.  In fact, I can even visit myself when I was 18 and 19 years old since that’s when I started my journal.  Believe me, some of my thoughts back then were down right funny and crazy. Sometimes, especially as I visit that 35 year old Mark Haroldsen I am embarrassed and don’t even like that guy.  Wow, was I ever a hyper driven self-centered business and real estate warrior.  That guy was so full of himself and with so much physical and mental energy! (I’d sure like some of the energy now but without the huge ego.)

If you have not kept a journal of your life before now, it’s not too late. No matter what age you are, be sure to write down what you are feeling as well as your inner most thoughts including your relationships, dreams and goals. Record your successes and failures and what it caused your mind to think. Express in detail your positive and negative thoughts, your great fears and your great strengths.   And when you use your own personal time machine and later review your journal, be it months or years later, I promise you will reap great rewards and learn so much about yourself. You will be thrilled that you took the time, even it is done just weekly or monthly or even once a year. I think to know yourself is probably the biggest “gift” that you can give yourself and to journal throughout your life is one of the best ways to do just that.

The 8 Step Goal Setting Review

January 3, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

Ok … I have to tell you first that I am sitting on Kalapaki beach in Kauai on the last day of 2013 as I write. This wonderful environment is so conducive to reviewing the past year and making plans for the next.   2013 is over and the big, big question is how am I going to make 2014 even better than 2013 was?

I think since we are starting a new year it’s helpful, to me and I’m pretty sure to you too, for me to quickly review 8 good hints that will help all of us to make 2014 a super great year! And, yes, you probably already know some of these and are applying them but a good review and refresher course are always a good idea. So here you are:

  1. Set a big, big over-all goal for 2014
  2. Set lots of small goals broken up into daily and weekly goals so they are achievable.
  3. Write your goals down and review them often
  4. Remember to always keep busy. Research suggests that a broad goal of simply staying busy is better than doing nothing and will help you to stay happy.
  5. It takes 66 days to change a habit and 80 days to develop a solid, healthy habit so keep at it until it does become the habit you want it to be.
  6. Because, when it comes to that “good ol’ self-talk” it has been shown that asking yourself rather than telling yourself that you are going to reach a goal is much more effective! So start asking the question “Can I reach my goal of _______?” Then answer by saying “Yes, I can.”
  7. The key to change and or control is “awareness”. Pound that into your head. Always be aware and observe you internal dialog, paying close attention to what you are thinking. Yes, that’s thinking about thinking and if you do that consistently you will find that it helps you see what you need to change and how to change it.
  8. According to David DiSalvo’s book What Makes the Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite you should spend more time reading about people who use self-control and discipline. By doing that you will boost your own self-control and self-discipline.

Now that you have a list to go by, go ahead! Create those goals and take the steps needed to make them happen!

3 Steps to Keep at Your Goals

December 27, 2013 by  
Filed under blog

Wow! Can you believe it … only a matter of days and 2013 is history! I don’t know about you but I swear every year passes by faster than the year before and when I was a kid they seemed to drag by at a snail’s pace.  And now as we face a new year most of us start thinking pretty much the same thoughts: What might we be able to accomplish in the next year. If you’re like me, you also look back at the year just finished to see where you were successful and where you fell short.

Now, though, it is mostly about setting goals and making specific plans as how to reach those goals.  Those goals usually involve money and business success with many of us, especially those of us that are a bit older and want to live life to the very fullest, also setting goals that revolve around health, weight and fitness. However, there is usually one very big problem–those goals that we set usually get dropped, forgotten, or pushed aside after 2 months (or less!)  Why is that and is there a way to not let that happen?  From my experience and from my reading and research there is an answer and the key is taking these three steps:

Step 1: This is critically important–you must WRITE the goals down and be sure to REVIEW them often, at least once a week although it would be better if it was every day, especially after the first or 2nd month or if you see that you are slipping.

Step 2: Share your goals with family and friends or others that want to accomplish similar things.  You see, when you let others know what you are trying to do they can give you support and remind you to stay on course. They can be your cheerleaders and even give you a bit of a hard time when they see you falling short of your goals. Yes, that kind of support can sting a little but it can also motivate you to show them you can succeed. Not sure these methods of support will work? Just look at the great success that AA has had by having regular meetings with all those in the room having the same goals and sharing their successes and failures with each other.

Step 3: Read and re-read books, articles and blogs that motivate you and remind you to keep on track. Just a few relevant words at the right time can really kick things back into full gear for you.

When I follow these 3 steps I find that I can stick with my goals for the entire year and I am pretty sure it will work for you too. So, for your first goal of the year I suggest this: Give these 3 steps a try and see if it doesn’t bring you great success with your goals!


Next Page »