In Pursuit of Happiness

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Happiness makes life worth living. In the absence of happiness, life is a zombie existence.

Every human being strives for happiness. This desire to be happy, directs our behavior.

For some, that behavior favors short-term happiness at the expense of long-term happiness (immediate gratification). For these individuals, they pursue activities that create immediate happiness. Unfortunately, short-term happiness is fleeting.

For others, they pursue activities that produce long-term happiness. The pursuit of long-term happiness, however, requires sacrifices most are unwilling to make (delayed gratification). For those individuals who are willing to make sacrifices today, happiness, when it eventually comes, lasts for many years, perhaps even a lifetime.

So, there is a war waging within each of us pitting the desire for immediate happiness today, against the sacrifice-dependent desire for long-term happiness tomorrow.

Those who have created a script of their ideal, future life use that vision to create and pursue goals that will help them realize the dreams that produce their ideal, future life.

The pursuit of goals, however, comes at a cost – sacrificing today’s time and money that could otherwise be used to create immediate happiness.

Having a clear vision of where you want to end up in life, gives you superpowers. Those with a clear vision of their future life, are able to marshall the willpower and internal resources to overpower the desire for short-term happiness as you pursue activities that will pay dividends down the road which produce long-term happiness.

It’s a choice each individual makes – short-term happiness (immediate gratification) vs. long-term happiness (delayed gratification).

Success Hinges on How Much Value You Add to the Lives of Others

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Two of the three paths to wealth are:

  1. Becoming a Virtuoso and
  2. Pursuing a Dream

(The third path is the Saver/Investor path).
In both cases, the determinant of success hinges upon how much value you add to the lives of others.

Most people have a “what’s in it for me” attitude about doing business with others. And most people are not successful and thus, not wealthy.

Successful people have a “what’s in it for you” attitude. And that attitude is a game changer.

It shifts the focus from all about me to all about you, from selfishness to selflessness, from taking to giving.

Wealth is merely a byproduct of success and success is a byproduct of how much value you add to the lives of others.

But how do you know if you are adding value to the lives of others in such a way that it elevates you above your competition?

To answer that, you must answer the following questions:

  • Does what you do improve the lives of others in some way?
  • Does what you do exceed the value provided by your competition?
  • Does what you do consistently exceed the expectations of those you serve?
  • Are you able to charge your customers, clients, etc. a premium for that value in the form of higher prices, fees, etc.

If you were Apple, the answer to all of those questions would be YES.

Developing a niche is a great way to get a YES to each one of those questions. Niche’s require that you become a virtuoso.

Pursuing a dream is another way to get a YES, as well. Successful Dreamers are typically entrepreneurs who have a unique product or service that sets them apart from everyone else in their industry.

Ignorance is a Habit

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Pondering the direction of your life is a Rich Habit. It’s a Rich Habit because it creates awareness. Pondering requires that you ask yourself questions about your current life circumstances. Asking those life questions forces you to answer them:

  • Are my current life circumstances what I expected at this point in my life?
  • Am I making as much money as I expected?
  • Why don’t I make more money? What’s holding me back?
  • Do I have as much in savings/investments that I expected to have at this point in my life?
  • Am I saving as much as I expected I would be saving at this point in my life?
  • Am I healthy?
  • Do I exercise as much as I should? If not, why not?
  • Do I eat healthy most of the time?
  • Do I have strong relationships with others?
  • Am I investing in those relationships like I should?
  • Do I love or at least like my job?
  • Do I work with people I enjoy being around?
  • Do I work hard enough?
  • Is there something I really would rather do to earn money?
  • Do I regularly set goals?
  • Do I achieve my goals 100% of the time?
  • Do I have bad habits? If so, what are they?
  • What habits should I have that I don’t?
  • Do I treat others right?
  • Do I treat my family right?
  • Am I happy most of the time?
  • Am I angry too often?
  • Am I grateful for what I have?
  • Do I envy what others have?
  • Do I spend too much money?
  • Do I waste my money of unimportant things?
  • Am I charitable with my time and money?
  • What non-profit organizations should I devote some of my time to?
  • How much money do I spend every month on housing, my car(s), entertainment, alcohol, drugs, gambling? Am I spending too much on those things?
  • What do I spend my time on every day?
  • How much of that time is wasted time?
  • Do I waste too much time watching TV, Netfilx, YouTube, etc.?
  • Do I waste too much time trolling the Internet?
  • How many books have I read the past few years, other than for recreation?
  • What am I doing to improve my life circumstances?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What makes my heart sing?
  • What do I want my obituary to say about me?

When you ponder, when you ask yourself life questions, the answers to those questions creates an itch that must be scratched. Life questions, irritates the subconscious, which then goes to work, behind the scenes, to seek solutions and correct the imbalance. Intuition, or that voice inside your head, soon follows, newly directing your behavior.

Unfortunately, most people won’t devote any time pondering and asking questions about their life because, deep down, they know they will not like the answers.

Ignorance is not bliss. When you ask, and you shall receive ……… wisdom.

Technological Habits

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We are living in an age of unprecedented technological advancement. New technologies force widespread change. Most view such change as a good thing. Society is advancing, so that is good.

But technological change makes repeating a behavior easier to do and can easily become a habit. The question is – is that new behavior good or bad?

YouTube 

YouTube can be a good or bad habit. I often use it to help me figure things out or develop new skills: build a horseshoe pit, understand how the seasons work, do a pig roast, build a fire pit, etc. So, for me, YouTube is a good habit. But YouTube could easily be a bad habit. Using it for entertainment transforms YouTube from an educational habit into a recreational, Do Nothing Habit.

Twitter

Twitter, when used to acquire information, knowledge, or for business, is a good habit. When used as a platform to incite unrest, agitate, fight, disparage, etc., it becomes a bad habit.

Facebook

When Facebook is used to build and maintain relationships, that’s a good habit. When used to brag about a vacation, express a political opinion (all expressed political opinions are divisive, which harms relationships) or to disparage others, it becomes a bad habit.

Instagram

I just learned that you can use Instagram to create stories. If you use Instagram Stories to help promote your business or to share valuable knowledge, then it becomes a good habit. If, however, you use Instagram to create weekend videos of you partying, it becomes a bad habit.

Cell Phones

Using cell phones to help you maintain your relationships, your business, to read books, for eduction, etc., is a good habit. Using cell phones for recreational purposes transforms that cell phone into a bad habit.

Apps

There are close to four million apps out there, which you can download for various purposes. If the apps help you become more productive, healthy, or to improve in some way, they are a good habit. If the apps are recreational, they become Do Nothing Habits.

Technology, therefore, can create good or bad habits.

Awareness is the key to keeping your habits under control. Because technology is so swift, it is easy to forge a habit before you become aware of its deleterious effects.

What technological habits have you created? Are they good or bad?

Those who take control of their lives, take control of their habits. You are the CEO of your life.

How Many Types of Habits Are There?

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Habits come in all shapes, sizes and complexities.

Habits fall into two broad categories: Keystone Habits and Ordinary Habits.

Keystone Habits are unique and powerful habits. What makes them unique and powerful is that they give birth to other habits. Because they cause the creation of other habits, Keystone Habits impact other areas of your life. They have a domino effect. Once forged, they will begin to change other behaviors.

An example of a Keystone Habit is jogging. Once jogging becomes a habit, it will create other habits, such as eating healthy, avoiding junk food, moderating your consumption of alcohol or driving you to reduce or eliminate a cigarette smoking habit.

Some habits are less powerful, stand-alone habits, that have no impact on other areas of your life. They are known as Ordinary Habits.

An example of an Ordinary Habit would be brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or mowing your lawn on Tuesdays.

Within these two broad categories of habits, however, are numerous habits. Some habits create happiness. Others sadness. Some help you to become successful and wealthy. Others drag you down to poverty and failure. Some help you maintain good health. Others are toxic and destroy your health. Some improve your knowledge and skills. Other habits keep you ignorant.

Habits are not something to be ignored. They are literally driving the car in which your life is the passenger.

If you ignore them or pay them no mind, they will drive you to awful places. If, instead, you are acutely aware of your habits, you can avoid bad ones and forge good ones. You’ll like where that car takes you in life, because you are telling it where you want to go through your habits.

Awareness and tracking of your daily habits is a prerequisite for changing them. Once you know what your habits are, you can change them. Adding and subtracting habits becomes much easier when you know which ones to add or subtract.

Six Success Traits of Every Self-Made Millionaire

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Tom Corley boats - cropOne of the frequent questions I am asked is: “what makes successful people successful?”.

Put another way, what were the common success traits of all self-made millionaires, I found in my Rich Habits Study?

There were six traits that almost every self-made millionaire seemed to possess:

  1. Passion
  2. Curiosity (Desire to Learn)
  3. Focus
  4. Hard Work Ethic
  5. Patience and
  6. Persistence

What’s even more interesting is that, according to the wealthy individuals I interviewed, those traits were dormant most of their lives and only came to the surface after they decided to pursue some dream.

These traits did not manifest themselves all at one time. Like dominoes, one success trait set off another success trait and another and another…

The success trait, however, that set everything in motion, that brought all of the other success traits to the surface, was passion. And what brought passion to the surface, was, in every case, the pursuit of a dream.

When you find your dream (see Dream-Setting Process) and decide to take action on your dream, like a mushroom, passion bursts forth. Passion fuels your desire to learn everything about your dream. Fueled by emotional energy (passion), this desire to learn unleashes within you the ability to focus for long periods of time. This focus makes it appear to the untrained observer that you possess some incredible, relentless work ethic. That work ethic gives birth to patience, as you are forced to face and overcome problems, obstacles and pitfalls. The ability to overcome so many things gives others the impression that you are persistent.

Think of the pursuit of a dream as the fuse that sets off all of the different fireworks you would see at some major event or celebration. Each one of those different fireworks represent the different success traits.

We are all genetically hardwired with these innate success traits. Finding your dream and taking action on it, sets them off, exposing them for all the world to see.

Until you take action on your dream, those success traits will remain dormant, waiting for you to light the fuse.

There’s a Roger Bannister Hiding Inside of You

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On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes. Most thought it was impossible. Roger didn’t. It became his obsession. He literally thought of nothing else. He had limited training time, due to his medical studies, but according to Bannister, when he wasn’t studying he was thinking non-stop about breaking the 4 minute mile. In his mind, he had already decided he could do it.

For Roger Bannister, that four minute mile goal forced him to step up and modify his training. Necessity is the mother of invention and for Bannister, his limited available training time forced him to discover a new training approach that is still in use today by elite runners.

Successful people, like Roger Bannister, have one thing in common – some huge goal that occupies their thinking to the point of obsession. Obsession with respect to dreams and goals is one of the Rich Habits because when any individual becomes obsessed, they become unstoppable. No problem, no obstacle, no pitfall, no wall will stop the individual who plants their flag of obsession.

The trick is finding your obsession. How do you become obsessed with something?

Obsession is turned on like a switch when you have a clear vision of something you want to achieve. So, the starting point is deciding to do something really challenging. Something that forces you to become something you currently are not in order to get the thing you want.

When you pursue some huge reach-goal or lifelong dream, you stir the passions deep inside of you. That passion toggles on the obsession switch and that obsession will drive you to find creative, novel processes or habits which produces small, positive results that eventually leads to success.

What’s your 4 minute mile? What do you desperately want to have or be? The answer cannot be general, like “I want to be rich.” It must be very specific, just like Bannister’s “I want to break the 4 minute mile.”

Spend a few quiet minutes every day meditating or pondering about what your 4 minute mile is. If you find it, your life will change in ways you cannot even imagine.

Millionaires Share Their Boring Secrets of Success

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Each day a tree will grow a little more. It’s impossible to see the changes caused by the growth on a day to day basis. But, if you were to fast forward ten years and compare pictures of the old tree to the new tree, the change would be obvious and significant.

Self-made millionaires are really no different than trees. Each day, they do small things that inch them closer and closer to success. It’s impossible to see the benefits of doing those small things on a day to day basis. But, if you were to fast forward ten years and compare pictures of the non-millionaire to the millionaire, the change would be obvious and significant.

Most people, however, only see the picture of the millionaire standing on top of his or her mountain of success. They marvel at the wealth and success that was created.

And they desperately want to know their secrets to success.

“How did you become rich?!”, is what everyone wants to know.

That’s actually the very question I asked myself back in 2004. I then spent the next five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. The result of my findings became my Rich Habits Study.

In my Rich Habits Study, I asked each millionaire 144 questions in order to find out their “secrets to success” and shared my findings in various books I wrote, the most famous one being Rich Habits.

If you were to ask my group of millionaires how they got so rich, here is what they would say:

I did the following things, every day, that enabled me to grow into the person I needed to be in order to acquire the wealth I now possess:  

  • I read to learn every day for 30 minutes or more.
  • I kept in constant touch with certain influencers, certain important, success-minded people, and I built strong relationships with them over the past ten years. Eventually, those influencers helped open doors for me during my journey towards success.
  • I honed and improved my skills every day. I deliberately practiced those skills every day. I also sought feedback from others who watched me perform my skills.
  • I listened to and followed the advice of mentors who helped me during the pursuit of my dream and my goals.
  • I exercised aerobically every day for 30 minutes so I could keep my body and brain strong. My strong body enabled me to work long hours. My strong mind enabled me to find creative solutions to problems and overcome numerous obstacles.
  • I ate healthy every day in order to nourish my body and my brain, which helped my body and brain function at a higher level.
  • When I encountered any problems or obstacles that stopped me in my tracks, I focused like a laser to solve those problems and overcome those obstacles. Oftentimes, this need to focus required that I sacrifice time with my family and friends.
  • I worked hard every day to maintain a positive mental outlook. Especially when things were not going my way. I was able to do this because I knew exactly where I was going. I had a clear vision of my destination and that destination kept me focused on doing the work I needed to do in order to reach my destination.
  • I spent less than I earned and then invested my savings prudently. Because I had savings, I was able to take advantage of opportunities that came along during my climb up the mountain of success.
  • I always did my homework before taking any risk. I knew every conceivable outcome and had a plan in place to deal with every conceivable scenario, including worst case scenarios.
  • I focused like a laser on a specific goal every day until I achieved that goal. Then I set another goal and pursued that goal. Eventually, I achieved all of the goals that helped me realize each one of my dreams.
  • I always sought to exceed the expectations of everyone I did business with. This helped build confidence and trust and this generated more business and more revenue.
  • I controlled my emotions and tried to remain on an even keel when dealing with others. No one wants to do business with someone who is not in control of their emotions. As a result, more people wanted to do business with me.
  • I was careful how I spoke to others. I refused to curse or use language that offended anyone because I didn’t want to damage any valuable relationships I had devoted many years to building.
  • I treated everyone with the respect they deserved. Those that treated me poorly, I refused to do business with. Those that treated me with the respect I deserved, I did more business with.
  • I limited my exposure to toxic, negative people. They just drag you down and infect you with their negativity. My positive outlook helped keep me focused on seeking and finding solutions to my problems. Positivity made me a problems-solver. Negativity made me a problems-finder. 

There are many more things the collective millionaires in my study would be happy to share. Unfortunately, most people would stop listening. These millionaires would lose their audience half-way into their list of “secrets”.

The sad truth is that most people are looking for a speeding train they can ride up the mountain of success. When people say they want to know the secrets to success, most really only want to know the short-cuts to success. They want some world-shattering, aha nugget of information that will guarantee them success in a very short period of time.

They most definitely don’t want to listen to a boring list of daily habits.

The truth is, the secrets to success are the little boring things you do every day, that nudge you inch by inch, up the long, steep mountain of success.

Consistency in doing those little things, keeps you growing and moving forward in the realization of your dreams and achievement of your goals.

The little daily consistent things you must do to become successful are not exciting “secrets”. They are boring habits. But they are boring habits that guarantee success.

The #1 Health Habit

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Getting adequate sleep every day is the #1 most important health habit.

Adequate sleep is not measured by the number of hours you sleep every night. Rather, it is measured by the number of full sleep cycles you get with each night’s sleep. The number of hours you sleep, therefore, is less important than the number of complete sleep cycles your body requires every night.

The average adult requires between four to six sleep cycles a night. Each sleep cycle is composed of five separate levels of sleep: alpha, theta, delta, rapid eye movement (REM) and then back to theta.

The first three sleep levels (alpha, delta & theta) last approximately 65 minutes. REM lasts 20 minutes and the final level of sleep, theta, lasts 5 minutes. So, each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes.

Four sleep cycles is about six hours of sleep. Five sleep cycles is 7.5 hours of sleep and six sleep cycles is approximately nine hours of sleep.

Five sleep cycles a night, or 7.5 hours, is optimal.

Certain individuals are able to complete an entire sleep cycle in as little as sixty minutes. This is why some individuals require less sleep than others. It all depends on how many sleep cycles your body requires every night.

Why is sleep so important to good health?

Good Brain Health

Sleep improves memory, learning and allows the brain to clean its brain cells of free radicals that accumulate during the day, as the result of eating food.

The dream phase of sleep is when brain cells are bathed in neurochemicals that help consolidate learning and memories. It is also when the brain removes or deletes memories that serve no long-term purpose.

Restores Immune System 

Sleep restores your immune system, which becomes depleted and overused during the day.

Blood Sugar Levels Rebalanced

During the day, the body’s glucose levels and insulin levels surge and wane. During sleep, glucose and insulin levels are rebalanced and fine-tuned in preparation for the next day.

Nourishes Gut Bacteria

During sleep, the microbiome, or bacteria inside your gut, is fed and nourished, which helps your gut bacteria flourish and grow.

Improves Cardiovascular System

During the day, blood pressure levels rise. High blood pressure damages the cardiovascular system. Sleep forces a reduction in blood pressure, restoring your cardiovascular system to a healthy state.

Good Organ Health

During the day, your organs work tirelessly to maintain all body functions. When you sleep, organs are able to rest and restore their equilibrium, teeing them up for another day of work.

If you do nothing for your health, get adequate sleep. Sleep is the most important health habit and it should be your #1 priority.

In order to become rich and successful, your body and brain must be healthy.

As one of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study said to me: “You can’t make money laying in a hospital bed.”

Night Owl or Lark?

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A great deal is being learned from the study of sleep. The mysteries of why we sleep are being unraveled.

One of those unraveled mysteries has to do with why some are early risers while others are not.

The circadian rhythm is the internal clock that determines when we fall asleep and when we wake. According to experts in neuroscience, such as Dr.Matthew Walker, this clock is approximately 24 hours and fifteen minutes, or approximately, one day.

The suprachiasmatic nucleus, sitting in the middle of our brain, just above the intersection where the optic nerves switch sides, is the internal biological clock that governs our sleep-wake cycle.

As Dr. Walker discovered in his twenty years of studying sleep, not everyone’s circadian rhythm is the same.

About 40% of the human population are morning types. These individuals wake early and go to bed early.

Another 30% are evening types. These individuals wake late and go to bed late.

The remaining 30% are somewhere in the middle.

One’s affinity for being an early bird or night owl, therefore, may not entirely be determined by your sleep habits. It might have everything to do with your genetics. You may not therefore be, by choice, a night owl. Your DNA could be making that decision for you.

And here’s the big takeaway. Because some people are genetically predetermined to be night owls, they are on an uneven playing field. Society’s nine to five work schedule puts night owls at a decided disadvantage, since such a work schedule clearly favors the 70% who are not night owls.

Job performance of night owls is not optimal in the early morning hours. Even worse, due to this rigid nine to five work schedule, night owls are in perpetual sleep depravation mode, which impairs their long-term health, acuity and emotional stability. If you are a night owl, working in our nine to five world, you are susceptible to poor health, foggy brain and unbalanced emotions.

So, which are you – an early bird or night owl?

If you are struggling on the job, it might not be that you are in the wrong career. It might be that you are working the wrong hours in your career. Nine to five is holding your back from peak performance.

If you are stuck in a nine to five job and are one of the 70% who are not genetically predisposed to be a night owl, you can habitualize waking up early, thus maximizing your peak performance to match your genetically predetermined circadian rhythm.