To my fellow travellers.
I hope these helps. When I really understood these things and put them into practice my financial life changed for the better. Yours will too.
Tip #1: Money is ALWAYS an inadequate motivator.
Until you realize that though – you’ll probably spin in circles trying to “get rich” and wondering why you’re never getting there. The thing with using money as a motivator is that it works in the short term but when things get hard it’s pretty easy to say “ah forget about the money – I’m ok with what I’ve got”.
To be truly motivated to push through the inevitable challenges you need to get clear on the real reason you’re doing what you’re doing.
Freedom to create my day was so important to me that it consumed most of my thoughts. Not being free slowly began to choke me, especially when freedoms I used to enjoy in my job slowly slipped away. I had a vivid picture of what I wanted my days to look like and that picture is what compelled me to quit my job years earlier than we had planned.
That burning need for control over my time and desire to be free was my motivator.
I quit my job not because we were at the point where we were financially ready for it. I quit my job because I could no longer stand to live my life the way it was a single day longer. I was ready to kick butt, get kicked, and get back up to kick butt again to make my dream of freedom a reality. I never considered going to find a new job – I set out to create the life I am living now. That was my motivator. Not money. For most parents, having more time to be with their children and be present for their family is a very compelling motivator. For others, it can be a more material desire at first (like a great home or a fun car or a family vacation), but it often evolves to something less tangible. It doesn’t matter what your motivator is, I just want you to know that if you’re using money or a goal like “get rich” to motivate yourself, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Tip #2: You can be right or you can be rich, but most of the time you can’t be both.
Dave is in a year long business mentoring program and I recently had the opportunity to eat dinner with many of his fellow mentees. The woman in the group who has arguably seen the biggest improvement in her business as a result of the mentoring told me her success secret:“I just do what I am told. That’s it.” She doesn’t waste time arguing why she has done it the way she has done it. She doesn’t resist the suggestions – she just follows the process and suggestions and she is getting amazing results. Very few people do that. Most people would rather be right. They’d rather explain why they think what they think or do what they do – even when they are paying five figures for a mentor.
Tip #3:Success and failure are not nouns. Let go of it. You are never going to be a success nor will you ever be a failure. You will succeed at some of the things you try just as you will likely fail at some of the things you try.
Tip #4:Return should not be measured in isolation. Where there is a return there is a risk. You MUST look at what you have to spend in terms of time, energy, and money AND what you are risking to get the return for it to make sense. (Want more on risk? I created a video on how to analyze risk in real estate deals a little while ago – you can check that out here).
Tip #5:The only place you can start is where you are right now.
Everyone wants to start at the front of the line but that’s not how the world works. Take the grocery store as an analogy. Do you ever struggle to pick a line at the grocery store – wanting to find the fastest one? Do you ever find yourself in the slowest line wishing you’d picked a different line? Do you ever switch lines? Most of the time when you switch lines you don’t get through the line any faster than if you’d just stayed in line. Once in awhile you do … but you’re always second guessing yourself for making the choice instead of entertaining yourself by reading the latest headlines on US Weekly. But you always get to the front of the line if you just pick one and get in, right? And sometimes another line opens up and you get to jump ahead a bit because you were already in line! The only real guarantee is that if you never get in line you never get to the front. Your life is like that too – so stop deciding which line to get in and just do it!
Tip #6: Master energy management not time management.
I know so many people who say time is their biggest obstacle to achieving their goals. Yet those same people can tell you all the latest on celebrities, tv shows and movies because they’ve collapsed in front of the tv for four hours at the end of each night. I’ve realized that time is not their issue – nor is it mine. It’s energy. I now structure my eating, exercising and work schedule as much as possible around using energy and then renewing energy. There’s too much to cover in this short section but simple things like getting more sleep, drinking more water, taking short walks, and cutting out sugar can add several hours of focused energy to your day. And what you can do in two goal focused hours is pretty astounding. I would argue that you can do more in two hours like that with high energy than most people do in an 8 – 10 hour work day.
Tip #7: The pursuit of perfection will paralyze you.
When you seek perfection you’ll freeze up and not be able to move forward. Focus instead on what is “good enough” and what you can do TODAY to move forward. We love the saying “sloppy success is better than perfect mediocrity” which we heard first from Alex Mandossian. Keep moving forward – it’s not about perfection it’s about progress.
Tip #8: Every day is a good day unless you choose for it not to be.
This lesson is from my Grandma Broad. She always tells me that if it’s not a good day it’s my own fault. I used to find that a little annoying because if a teacher gave me a bad grade or my brother hit me I figured it was not my fault things went badly. I have come to realize that everything in my life comes down to choices. Often a decision I made caused something to happen to me – so I had control over it in the first place. Or, even if it wasn’t my decision, I have a choice as to whether I let it ruin my day or not. I am not a bottle of happiness every moment of every day but when I am grouchy I do know that I am choosing to be that way and being happy is as simple as choosing to be happy.
Tip #9: Create different problems for yourself.
One of my biggest pet peeves is people who always complain about the same problem. I have a hard time understanding why they haven’t done something about it. They probably like having that problem secretly … they must! I have lots of problems too! I prefer to consider them challenges – but still. I have things that aren’t going well too. And every time I solve one problem I seem to create a new one … but that is ok for me as long as I am not dwelling on the same problem day in and day out.
Tip #10:Create more happy moments.
Make a list of the happiest moments in your life. You’ll realize that none of them (or very few of them) involved money. Usually they involved achieving something challenging for yourself, a great moment with friends or family, or an incredible experience of some kind. One of my happiest days in recent years was when I was with Dave in the Saskatchewan Pavilion of the 2010 Winter Olympics watching the Canada vs US mens hockey gold medal match. It was such an incredible experience. We didn’t know anybody else in the pavilion yet we all felt like friends. And when Canada won in overtime it was an explosion of joy heard all over Canada. I never felt more Canadian pride and joy before that moment. It was easily one of the happiest days of my life. That experience cost us less than $50.
Wealth is important but it’s not everything. Don’t get too hung up on it. Give yourself some room to just enjoy life. Figure out what moments made you really happy and strive to recreate those moments more often. When you stop focusing on money and focus more on happiness, somehow more money just seems to flow your way anyway.
It’s not that hard to make money. It really isn’t. Keeping it, growing it, and using it to it’s fullest potential to create a life you love is the more difficult part. These 10 things are all realizations, tips or strategies that have made a big impact on my life in the last two years in particular. Since leaving my job I’ve experienced bigger challenges in my life than I ever faced before (and I didn’t steer clear of challenges before … it’s just that independence is a whole different animal!), and bigger moments of job and achievement. It’s been a wild roller coaster ride of glee, fear, and excitement and every day the ride gets more and more rewarding. I wish the same for you.