Is Your Income Yours?

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You work for it. Every day you devote a huge chunk of your day to earning your income. But is it really your income?

If you’re like 90% of the population, your income doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the bank who holds your mortgage. It belongs to the credit card companies. It belongs to the company you pay your car lease to.

In fact, your income belongs to just about everyone, except you.

And that 90% happily accepts this insanity. Or put another way, that 90% is unwilling to make the hard choices that allow them to regain possession of their income.

But there are a few who refuse to play this game. These are the individuals who diligently save 20% or more of their income every month and somehow are able to make due on the remaining 80%. For these individuals, at least 20% of their income, they can call their own.

And, every year, as their saved income grows due to prudent investing, they inch closer and closer to owning 100% of their income.

Their invested savings grows and compounds and they are able to use that money to pay down their mortgage, buy stuff without credit cards and purchase, not lease, their cars.

We call those people who own 100% of their income, rich people.

Maybe the goal should not be to become rich. Getting rich sounds too hard anyway for most people. Maybe the goal should be simpler – to increase how much of your income you actually own.

Your Beliefs and Your Habits Can Alter Your Child’s Genes

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Inside every cell in your body is a nucleus. Inside every nucleus is DNA. And that DNA is supposed to be identical in every nucleus of every cell. It is your unique fingerprint.

But what is DNA?

Each one of us inherits 23 chromosomes from our Mother and 23 chromosomes from our Father. Residing on each one of those 46 chromosomes are genes. It is estimated that humans have approximately 23,000 genes. One single chromosome can, therefore, have hundreds of genes.

Each gene = an instruction, or computer code, that tells individual or groups of cells to perform specific tasks. Ideally, these tasks are intended to keep us alive and healthy.

So, your DNA is actually an instruction manual the body reads every day so that it can do what it needs to do in order to keep you alive and healthy.

But, an individual cell’s DNA can change, or mutate. These mutations occur for many reasons: diet, lifestyle, environment and ……

Habits and Beliefs.

That’s right. Your habits and beliefs can turn on or off certain genes. This is known as Epigenetics. Through Epigenetics, chemicals can be added to genes that turn specific genes on (methylation) or turn specific genes off (demethylation).

The release or triggering of these chemicals can occur in various ways and two of those ways is by your beliefs and your habits.

Example: If you believe you are about to be attacked, this stress trigger turns on the gene CYP17, whose job is to convert cholesterol to cortisol, preparing you for fight or flight.

Your habits and beliefs, therefore, can cause the release of certain chemicals that alter your genes. This is not only your problem, however, for two reasons:

  1. You can pass your altered genes on to your yet-to-be-conceived children and/or
  2. Your beliefs often become your child’s beliefs, thus causing your child to alter their own genes.

So, be very careful which beliefs and which habits you forge. Negative beliefs and bad habits can cause harmful genetic mutations that negatively affect you, your children and their progeny.

The Power of Emotions

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Emotions are like steroids with respect to the brain.

Our strongest, longest-lasting memories are always emotion-based. Loss of a parent, loss of a child, illness, major wins, major losses, getting that first “A”, running your first marathon, speaking in front of a group for the first time, writing your first of many books, etc.

Whenever emotion is involved in forming a memory, the number of neurons called into action is 10 times that of a non-emotional memory. Plus, with an emotional memory, the memory is not isolated to one part of the brain (the cortex), like all other memories. The emotional memory is linked to two parts of the brain: the cortex and the limbic system.

Emotions are also very powerful when it comes to habits. In fact, Emotional Habits are the most powerful type of habit any person can forge.

Emotional Habits, like emotion-based memories, are forged as a result of some powerful emotion.

Let me give you some real-life examples.

One person I know runs almost every day. They’ve been running every day for more than thirty-five years. As a result, this person is very lean, very healthy and in top physical condition. Why did this person forge this particular habit?

One of their parents was obese and struggled with Type II Diabetes most of their adult lives. This person loved their Mom and watched her health deteriorate until she died of Diabetes-related causes.

One of my childhood friends never had a drink of alcohol. This wasn’t easy, as most of our mutual friends began experimenting with alcohol in our teens. But not this one friend.

One day I asked him why he didn’t drink. He said his father, who had recently passed away, had been an alcoholic.

Emotional life events can become a catalyst in forging habits that elevate us and dramatically improve our lives. They can also be a catalyst for forging habits that drag us down into the abyss, creating a life of misery.

Life has a way of pulling the rug out from underneath us. Oftentimes, these are emotional events that stick with us forever. How we react to that rug being pulled out, shapes the life we lead.

Why We Get Tired

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Everyone, at some point, hits a wall.

When you are focusing on a project or some task for a number of hours, you deplete the easily accessible stores of glucose that the body has at the ready. Glucose is a sugar that serves as a primary energy source for every cell in the body.

When easily accessible glucose reserves drop to a certain level, the brain sends you a signal to either rest, eat or engage in a habit.

Depending on which course of action you take, these diversionary tactics buy the body time to restore glucose levels. Once the glucose level is restored, your brain sends you a signal that it is OK to resume working on your project or task.

If you ignore your brain, it will punish you. Your cognitive ability will decline dramatically and you’ll find yourself making mistakes. Or worse, your brain will force you into a dreamlike alpha state, which is a precursor to sleep. Falling asleep, while driving a car, is an example of the brain shutting down due to glucose deprivation.

Whenever you find yourself hitting a wall while working, grab a healthy snack.  Apples, bananas, oranges, pineapples, cherries, avocados, raisins are all good glucose-packed snacks. If you eat carbs, such as bread (whole wheat or multi-grain = good carbs), just remember that carbs will require some additional processing (digestion) time before they are converted to glucose.

If you hit a wall, while exercising or while engaged in some physically demanding activity, such as a half marathon, tennis match, basketball game, etc., our amazing bodies have a solution that does not require you to stop. During vigorous activities, the body shifts to a ketogenic state.

When our muscles and livers run out of glycogen (glycogen is converted into glucose), the body must turn to fat. The fat is broken down and converted into ketones. Ketones are a superior fuel substitute for glucose. These ketones are then sent around the body, via our blood, to where they are most needed.

Doing Nothing is a Habit

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I spent five years studying the daily habits of 361 rich and poor people and in my bestselling books, Rich Habits and Change Your Habits Change Your Life, I shared some of the important findings from that study.

In my research, I learned that there were specific habits the self-made rich adopted that enabled them to achieve their dreams and their goals. This included things such as:

  • Experimentation – Experimenting with new things in order to uncover an innate talent or passion.
  • Reading – Reading 30 minutes or more every day for self-education.
  • Build Rich Relationships – Building relationships with the right people – other future millionaires.
  • Dream-Setting – Pursuing goals around your dreams.
  • Taking Calculated Risks – Calculated risk is a type of risk that requires you to do your homework before investing your money.

There are many others (over 300) but I think you get the idea – the rich are habit-driven.

My research also led to another proprietary discovery – those who were not rich also had habits, however, many of those habits were Do-Nothing Habits:

  • Not reading to learn, is a habit.
  • Not exercising every day, is a habit.
  • Not eating healthy, is a habit.
  • Not pursuing your dreams, is a habit.
  • Not creating and pursuing goals, is a habit.
  • Not returning phone calls immediately, is a habit.
  • Not waking up early to pursue self-improvement, is a habit.
  • Not saving money, is a habit.
  • Not prudently investing your savings, is a habit.
  • Not being frugal, is a habit.
  • Not doing more than you are paid, is a habit.
  • Not avoiding time wasters, is a habit.
  • Not doing what needs to be done (procrastinating), is a habit.
  • Not networking with other success-minded people, is a habit.
  • Not making happy birthday calls, is a habit.
  • Not making life event calls, is a habit.
  • Not taking personal responsibility for your life, is a habit.
  • Not volunteering for a worthwhile charity, is a habit.
  • Not being charitable with your money, is a habit.

Most people have Do-Nothing Habits. As a result, most people struggle in life. Some struggle financially. Some struggle with poor health. And some struggle with their relationships.

Do-Nothing Habits are like a mirror, they reflect back the life you have chosen for yourself through inaction. Oftentimes, it’s not what you do that determines the circumstances of your life – it’s what you choose not to do.

 

Pump Up Your Faith

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I’ve learned from interviewing 177 self-made millionaires that faith comes and goes. One day you’re up and faith is abundant. The next day, everything is going against you and faith is replaced with doubt and uncertainty.

What kept most of the millionaires I studied going, what enabled them to survive the ups and downs, were habits. They forged certain habits that were specific to whatever dream they were pursuing. They engaged in those habits, when everything was going right and they engaged in those habits when everything was going wrong.

The reality is that faith will not keep you in the game.

Habits will.

Habits keep you moving forward. They enable you to survive until your thrive.

But faith is, nonetheless, critical to success.

After eight years of pursuing my dream, faith to me is really about being pumped up about what you are doing. When you’re pumped up, your focus and productivity skyrocket. You get more accomplished when you have faith. Habits keep you in the game, but faith elevates your game.

The problem is, faith is fleeting.

So, what can you do to pump up your faith?

When things are not going my way, when life seems intent on stopping me in my tracks, I pull out something I call my Dream-Setting Script.

A Dream-Setting Script is a script that I write about my ideal, perfect life. It requires that you pretend it is a few years into the future. In that future, your life is significantly better than your present-day life. In 500 to 1,000 words, you describe your much-improved future life. You include details about what you do for a living, how much you make, where you’re living, what cool stuff you own, how you spend your day, etc. With words, you paint a picture of the life you desire.

Creating your own Dream-Setting Script is enjoyable. It’s allows you to use your imagination – to pretend.

And, the best part is, you can create as many scripts as you like. I often create a new script when my life is in suck-mode. It always picks me up.

To date, I have accumulated about sixty of these Dream-Setting Scripts.

Just the other morning, I was feeling the wrath of life and pulled out my Dream-Setting folder, where I keep all of my scripts. I spent an hour reading through all of them. When I was done, I felt as if I could conquer the world. My mindset went from negative to positive.

My faith, as they say, was renewed.

 

Does Your Stuff Own You?

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One of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits study told me that the biggest mistakes he ever made was buying a 100 foot yacht.

It had always been a fantasy of his to own a yacht. He said he and his wife, who were in their mid-70’s, envisioned spending their final years cruising around in their yacht to exotic places.

Now, he was worth about $22 million and the yacht set him back about $5 million, but it wasn’t the $5 million that was the mistake. Yachts can lose value, but they can also appreciate in value. So, as far as he and his wife were concerned, this was akin to buying a house.

The underlying mistake was the cost of maintaining the yacht. That cost included the financial cost of regular maintenance and a crew: Captain, first mate and a cook.

The stress, the headaches and the time it took out of his day in dealing with his crew and his yacht was taking a toll on his health and became more than he could bear. My millionaire sold his yacht. He said it was one of the happiest days of his life. He said he felt like he was set free.

Another millionaire in my study had three homes: their main home, a farmhouse and a home by the beach. After a few years of owning these three homes, she sold all but one. The stress of dealing with the problems associated with maintaining three homes was affecting her health and also affecting her marriage.

Most people don’t have problems like that. But, even for the average person, the stuff you own can end up owning you.

A vacation home sounds nice, but buying one doubles your home ownership problems.

Buying a high-end luxury car sound nice, but maintenance and insurance costs on luxury cars can be two to three times higher than the maintenance and insurance cost of normal cars.

I can go on with other examples, but the point I want to make is that the more stuff you own, the more problems you have. You minimize your problems in life by keeping your life simple.

Keeping life simple means not owning a lot of stuff. The less stuff you own, the fewer problems you have and more control you have over your life.

Why Compartmentalizing is Critical to Success

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One of the interesting discoveries I made in my Rich Habits study was that self-made millionaires created multiple streams of income. Three seemed to be the magic number.

But the questions I often get asked are:

How were they able to avoid spreading themselves too thin?

How were they able to focus their time to each of their businesses?

The answer is – by Compartmentalizing.

Compartmentalizing is the act of single-mindedly focusing on one thing for a number of hours and then moving on to the next focal point.

Millionaires are so good at this, that it almost appears, to the untrained eye, to be an inherently unique trait possessed by the mighty few.

Only it isn’t.

It’s actually just a habit.

And, it’s a habit anyone can forge.

Once I understood how millionaires Compartmentalize, I forged this daily habit. Here’s how I did it.

I have three core businesses:

  • CPA Firm – 5 employees and about 1,000 clients
  • Financial Planning Company – I am part of a company with 130 financial planners.
  • Rich Habits Institute – I write books, I write articles for the media, I do speaking engagements, I do media interviews on my books and research and I occasionally offer Rich Habits training sessions to the public.

I typically manage my CPA business from 9am-5pm.

I typically manage my Financial Planning business from 5pm – 8pm.

I typically manage my Rich Habits business from 4:30am – 7am.

Occasionally, these businesses cross each other, but I do my best to focus on each core business by devoting specific, daily blocks of time to each.

This is something I learned from the entrepreneur-millionaires in my study. They Compartmentalized their businesses and by doing so, they were able to single-mindedly focus on each individual business at a time, ensuring its best chances for success.

If You Don’t Ask You Won’t Get

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As a rule, most people do not like asking others for things.

Asking for what you want can make you feel like you are burdening someone or make you feel obligated to them.

But I learned from my Rich Habits research that self-made millionaires get comfortable being uncomfortable with a lot of things. Asking for what they want or need, is one of those things they became very comfortable doing.

They learned to get comfortable asking for help, advice or guidance in solving a problem.

They learned to get comfortable asking for others to mentor them.

They learned to get comfortable asking for money from family, friends or prospective investors.

They learned to get comfortable asking some prospect to buy their product or service.

When I became President of The Ashley Lauren Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps families struggling with pediatric cancer, it became apparent that I was going to have to get comfortable asking people for money.

As an adult, I’ve only ever had to ask banks, venture capitalists or private equity investors for money for the various business ventures I’ve been involved with over the years. That was easy for me to do because that was in my wheelhouse – something I was comfortable doing due to my finance background.

But asking individuals to fork over their hard earned money for a charitable cause was something new for me and outside my comfort zone. It took practice, but after seven years in working with the Ashley Lauren Foundation, I’ve gotten pretty good at asking for money.

The discomfort of asking for what you want diminishes every time you ask.

What I did find interesting and unexpected is that asking for help from others actually strengthened my relationship with them. We grew closer. The roots to our relationship tree grew deeper. This is because, asking for what you want forges a special kind of bond between two people; a unique bond that essentially says we have an investment in each other.

So, get comfortable asking for what you want. That’s what self-made millionaires do. The odds are pretty good – there’s a 50% chance you might get a yes.

A Closed Mind Invites Poverty

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In 2004 Mark Zuckerberg invited 5 people to his Harvard dorm room to discuss a business opportunity. Only two people showed up.

Today, those two people are worth billions:

  • Dustin Moskovitz – $16.1 billion
  • Eduardo Saverin – $10.3 billion

Nothing is more costly than a closed mind.

Closed-mind thinking shuts the door to opportunity. What causes a closed mind?

  • IDEOLOGY – Unwavering beliefs that have locked in your thinking. Most of these beliefs are inherited from your upbringing. Sometimes, the are adopted from the thinking of influencers or significant others. Ideology, when it goes unchallenged, acts like a wall, blocking out any challenges to your thinking.
  • IGNORANCE – When you lack knowledge, you are unable to see opportunities when they present themselves.
  • OVERACTIVE EGO –  Having an overactive ego means you think you are always right. This closes your mind to new information, new ideas and new facts that could be critical to your success.
  • LOW SELF-ESTEEM – When you have low self-esteem, you undervalue your own thoughts, ideas and personal power. Low self-esteem is like a self-manufactured braking system that stops you in your tracks, preventing you from moving forward.
  • HATRED – Hatred is one of those costly negative emotions that consumes your thinking and your actions. When you hate someone, you ignore what they have to say. When you hate something, you dismiss it. In both cases, you lose. You lose because hatred has closed your mind.

The self-made millionaires in my study developed the daily habit of keeping an open mind. Those with an open mind are thirsty for new information, new ideas and new facts. As a result, they are constantly growing in knowledge and wisdom. This new knowledge and wisdom opens their eyes to opportunities to make more money.

Those with a closed mind struggle with poverty because opportunities to make more money are invisible to them and pass them by.