Making a Down Payment for a Better Tomorrow

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There’s an old saying:

A Fish Rots From the Head Down

What this means to me is that poverty begins in the mind.

According to my Rich Habits Study, most of the rich (76%) are born into either poverty or the middle-class. According to the 2016 Wealth X Census, 75% of the rich are born into either poverty or the middle-class.

It’s what happens after you are born that determines whether or not you will become rich and successful. And the path towards wealth always begins in the same place – the mind.

Those who rise up from poverty or the middle-class have one thing in common – they change their thinking. They do this a number of ways:

  • Associate with other, success-minded people who infect them with their upbeat, positive, success-thinking.
  • Find success mentors in life. who infect them with their upbeat, positive, success-thinking.
  • Read books of other successful people who rose from poverty or the middle-class.
  • Read books, articles, blogs or listen to TEDx talks or podcasts that inspire them or help them grow in knowledge and wisdom.
  • Surround themselves with experts who wisely council them.
  • Find partners who can help them advance in their careers or realize a dream.
  • Avoid or disassociate themselves from negative, toxic people.

Success is a process. That process always starts in the same place – the mind.

If you want to succeed in life, you must change the way you think. You must become upbeat, positive and optimistic about life. You also must increase your knowledge.

These things require an investment – an investment in yourself. You invest in yourself by building relationships with other success-minded people, finding success-mentors and by seeking to gain knowledge you don’t currently possess.

Make this investment a daily one. Build daily habits to forge relationships with success-minded people. Build daily habits, such as reading to learn, in order to increase your knowledge or listen to podcasts, audio books or TEDx talks that help you gain knowledge.

How Long Does It Take Before the Rich Habits Begin to Payoff?

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One of the questions I get asked a lot from the media is this:

How long does it take before the Rich Habits begin to produce results?

According to my research, some Rich Habits start to pay dividends immediately and others take many years.

If the Rich Habit you adopted is Dream-Setting (defining your dreams and then building goals around those dreams), it will take you about twelve years.

The self-made millionaires in my study with this Rich Habit became wealthy ($160,000 or more in annual income plus $3.2 million in investments) after twelve years.

If the Rich Habit you adopted was living below your means, saving at least 10% and then prudently investing those savings, this will take you the longest – on average thirty-two years.

The self-made millionaires in my study with this Rich Habit became wealthy after thirty-two years.

If the Rich Habit is daily growth so that you can become an expert in your industry, this will take you about seven years.

It took the self-made millionaires in my study who became experts within their industry, about seven years to get there. They did this primarily by reading or relentless practice.

If the Rich Habit you adopted is to become healthy by exercising aerobically 20 minutes or more every and and eating healthy food, you will see immediate benefits after about one month. It will take you another twelve months to lose most of your fat. Lastly, it will take you twenty-four months from the date you adopt this Rich Habit to be in the best physical health of your life.

Habit change is not an immediate gratification thing. It takes time for good habits to begin to pay dividends. It all depends on the Rich Habit you adopt. Rich Habits intended to make you wealthy, take the most time. Rich Habits intended to transform you into an expert in your industry also takes a long time. Rich Habits intended to make you healthy, take the least amount of time.

Here’s Why You’re So Unhappy

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The two main causes of unhappiness, in their order of significance are:

  1. Unmet Expectations and
  2. Lack of Control Over Your Work Life

Unmet Expectations

Definition of Unmet Expectation: Expectation + Negative Outcome.

The University College London is well-known for it’s numerous, groundbreaking studies, such as the Habit Study, which readers of my articles are very familiar with.

Another significant study they authored involved happiness, or rather, unhappiness. In this 2016 study, the researchers found compelling proof that expectations are the most significant factor in determining your level of happiness. Put another way, Unmet Expectations are the #1 cause of unhappiness. When you set your expectations too high and then the outcome you desire fails to meet those expectations, you become unhappy.

This is why it is so important to set expectations which are conservative, i.e. low. Lowering your expectations does not mean being pessimistic. It means being realistic. It is human nature to create unrealistic expectations. We, as humans, have a tendency to look at things through rose-colored lenses. Removing those lenses and setting realistic, or conservative expectations is one of the most important things you can do to minimize unhappiness.

Lack of Control Over Your Work Life

Two important studies focused on the effects of not having control over your work life.

In the Whitehall Civil Servants Study, 17,000 British civil servants were part of a longitudinal study (long-term study). Those civil servant bureaucrats who were the lowest in the pecking order, were unhappy with their lives.

The Bell Labs Study on one million Bell Labs employees, similarly found that those employees who were at the lowest levels within the organization, indicated that they were unhappy.

Together, these two studies concluded that individuals who do not have control over their work lives, were chronically unhappy. Worse, these unhappy individuals also had significantly higher incidents of heart attacks.

The stress caused by having little to no control over their work lives elevated cortisol levels (stress hormone), which depressed their immune systems, leading to a greater incidence of cardiovascular disease.

If you want to be happy, you need to manage expectations and find work in which you will feel valued and appreciated. This will also lead to a stronger immune system, less disease and a longer, healthier life.

What Do You Want Out of Life?

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Success visits those who are very clear about the direction of their lives. It ignores everyone else.

If you want to succeed in life, you need to get very specific about what it is you want in every aspect of your life. You need to think about everything you want. You need to write down what you want. You need to pursue what you want.

Clarity starts the process. Clarity creates the vison. That vision then turns on three very powerful parts of the brain:

  1. Reticulating Activating System (RAS)  – This is the goal management system of the brain. It is also where intuition resides. The RAS, when toggled on, goes to work in helping you achieve your goals. Some neurologists refer to it as the brain’s GPS System for goals. This GPS System, when toggled on by a clear vision, then starts to search the external environment for anything and everything that helps you in realizing that vision. When it sees something important, it whispers in your ear.
  2. Pleasure Center of the Brain – The Ventral Striatum & Nucleus Acumbens become highly active when you have a clear vision of your life. These are also known as the pleasure centers of the brain, rich in dopamine receptors. Dopamine is the happiness and fear conquering neurotransmitter. Higher levels of dopamine make you more adventurous and less risk-averse. Having a clear vision activates these two portions of the brain, making you feel happier, more decisive, more confident and more willing to take risks.
  3. Amygdala – This is the emotion center of the brain located in the Limbic System. This is also where passion resides in the brain. Passion is a form of energy far more powerful than willpower. Passion stimulates you to take action. Action makes your goals, dreams and wants possible.

So, in order to help you zero in on your vision and get these three powerful parts of the brain working for you, let me ask you some questions:

  • What do you want your life to look like in, say ten years?
  • What ideal, perfect job do you want?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • What kind of home do you want to live in?
  • How much money do you want to make every year?
  • What can you do today to increase your income down the road?
  • How much money do you want to have in the bank?
  • What awesome stuff would you like to own?
  • How much do you want to weigh?
  • How healthy do you want to be?
  • How long do you think you’ll live?
  • What can you do to extend your life?
  • What type of people do you want to surround yourself with?
  • What would your ideal perfect day look like? List your daily future activities.
  • What makes you happy?
  • What makes you sad?
  • Who makes you happy?
  • Who drags you down?
  • Who is holding you back from your ideal perfect life? Is it you or someone else?
  • What’s holding you back from your ideal perfect life?
  • What should you be doing to improve your life?

These are questions that require specific answers. If you want to have a successful life, you need to create a blueprint for your ideal, future life. You need to be clear about what that ideal, future life looks like. You need to create a clear vision of that life.

Once you figure out what your perfect life looks like, your subconscious (RAS) will toggle on and begin to go to work, behind the scenes. It will start to nudge you in certain directions. Your intuition will be re-calibrated and will tune you into what you need to do. It will begin to whisper in your ear. Your entire brain will start to go to work for you in delivering the life you desire. Clarity of vision, supercharges your brain and floods you with the passion energy that makes the impossible possible.

Embrace Disgust

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When Og Mandino, author of The Greatest Salesman in the World, was at his lowest, he used what little money he had to purchase a gun so he could end his life. Thankfully, he could not pull the trigger. But, that low point in his life, that disgust at being homeless and having lost his family to alcoholism, forced him to reevaluate and change his life.

Mandino eventually did turn his life around. He took his disgust and used it to transform himself into one of the most successful inspirational self-help authors in the world. His books and his wisdom live on, long after his death.

Most do not have to fall as low as Og Mandino. But many, at some point in their lives, experience disgust at the way their life is going. Some bury their disgust in alcohol, drugs or food.

Others, however, take a different path. They use disgust as a springboard for change.

Disgust is a byproduct of human evolution. Its intended purpose is to agitate us in order to force us to change the way we are doing things. Without disgust, humanity would not have achieved so much.

If you are disgusted with your life, that’s life way of prodding you to change what you are doing. You are in good company if you are disgusted with your life. Many successful people began their march towards success when they became disgusted with their life. Disgust, when used as life intended, is like jet fuel. It can lift you to heights you only dreamed of.

Will you use disgust as a springboard for growth and change?

Never Let Doubt Stop You

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Self-made millionaires swim in a sea of doubt.

In my interviews with these extraordinary individuals, I was surprised to learn that while they were on their journey towards success, they were filled with doubt.

What human being wouldn’t? Every day they faced challenges, had to navigate obstacles, made copious mistakes and generally felt like they were pushing a big ball up a hill. But they never quit because they believed in their mission. They believed they would ultimately succeed, despite swimming in a sea of doubt. How did they do it?

Self-made millionaires relentlessly seek to improve, to get better and to grow into the person they need to become in order for success to visit them. They are able to overcome their doubts by embracing certain success habits:

  • Daily Reading to Learn
  • Seeking Out Mentors
  • Daily Practice
  • Learning From Their Mistakes
  • Getting up Early and Putting in the Hours
  • Focusing on Improving Their Strengths
  • Finding Success-Minded Partners
  • Surrounding Themselves With Optimists
  • Avoiding Pessimists
  • Never Quitting on Their Dreams and Goals

Success is hard. It requires almost superhuman effort. You will be filled with doubts; doubts that shadow your every move. But doubt does not stand a chance when you are filled with passion and a clear vision of what you desire.

Self-Made Millionaires Are Truly Superhuman

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Human being are hardwired to be followers. When we don’t do as others around us are doing, it creates stress and anxiety. This desire to follow the herd is a byproduct of human evolution.

During the early part of our human existence, we quickly discovered that when we were part of the herd, it was harder for predators to attack. The Herd Doctrine ensured the very survival of our species. We so desire to blend in, to acclimate to society, to be a part of the herd, that we will do almost anything to avoid standing out in a crowd. It’s not theory. It’s science (http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/131009/srep02905/full/srep02905.html). Many years ago Candid Camera decided to test this science in their famous Elevator Prank (http://www.maniacworld.com/peer-pressure-on-the-elevator.html). As funny as that Candid Camera prank was, it highlighted the lengths people will go to be part of the herd.

In the U.S., we have a big herd – approximately 326 million. You can further break our U.S. herd down into various income strata (source Census Data 2015):

  • Poverty or Near Poverty Herd – Approximately 84 million people
  • Middle Class Herd – Approximately 215 million people
  • Non-Millionaire High Income Herd – Approximately 16 million people
  • Millionaire Herd – Approximately 11 million people

Most people stay in the herd they started out in for most of their lives. So do their children and their grandchildren and so on. Why is that?

While this Herd Doctrine helped humans to survive, it is also the reason why so many wallow in mediocrity. When you are doing what everyone else in your herd is doing, you will only do as well as the other members in your herd. Your financial well-being will mirror the herd’s financial well-being. Your income, the house you live in, the car you drive, the clothes you wear and all of the stuff you own will be roughly the same as every other member of your particular herd.

The only way to improve your financial life is to escape your herd. You must defy your herd by separating yourself from it in order to achieve success in life. And that’s not easy. In my book, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, I share several stories of self-made millionaires who were able to break free of their poverty or middle-class herds and go on to achieve enormous financial success in life.

Well-meaning family, friends and colleagues try to dissuade anyone pursuing anything that other members of the herd are not doing. This includes big goals or life dreams. They will tell you: “the risk is too great”, “what if you fail?”, “you will jeopardize your career”, “you could go bankrupt”, “are you sure you’re not making a mistake?”. This onslaught of doom and gloom forces most to stop in their tracks and return back into the herd.

Depending on the study, 76% or more of the wealthy are self-made – meaning they started out either poor or in the middle class. There aren’t many of them, however. Only 2-5% of the poor or middle-class are able to break free from their poverty or middle-class herds and become rich.

Separating yourself from your herd requires almost superhuman effort. This is why self-made millionaires are truly exceptional individuals. Their path towards success is a very lonely one. They must defy everyone they know inside their herd – their family, friends, neighbors, and other individuals – in order to break free from their herd prison. Not at all an easy thing to do.

So, if you are considering pursuing a big goal or life dream, you must, at some point, confront and overcome the well-intentioned members of your herd who will try to dissuade you. It won’t be easy. Your evolutionary conditioning and the evolutionary conditioning of those inside your herd will fight you every step of the way. But boy is it worth the fight.

When you defy the Herd Doctrine and escape your herd, enormous financial rewards, personal satisfaction, joy and happiness await you at the end of your journey.

What Does Pursuing Success Really Mean?

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In order to truly pursue success, you must accurately define what success you are pursuing and when. You must have a clear vision of the dream you want to realize and then take action.

When I was just starting out in my career as an accountant, success to me meant becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). So, for two years, I studied and kept taking the CPA exam until I passed. When I received notification that I had finally passed the exam, I felt like a huge success.

Once I got my CPA license, I decided to go to graduate school to get my Masters in Taxation. Now, success to me meant getting that Masters Degree. When I completed my last course and received my Masters Degree in Taxation, I felt successful.

One of my most important goals in life was to get all three of my children through college. Towards this end, I saved as much money as I could every month and pursued additional streams of income. I obsessed over this goal for 15 years. In 2015, my last child graduated from college. In my mind I felt like a major success.

In 2009, I decided I wanted to write a book. In took 18 months for my first book to get published. When I held that book in my hand, I felt like a huge success.

After that first book, my definition of success changed. I decided I wanted to become one of the most successful self-help authors/experts in the world. I am still pursuing this success.

You see, your definition of success changes during your lifetime. It’s not necessarily fixed in stone. Dreams change as we get on with life. And that’s ok. The key is to see each dream through – to never quit until you realize the dream.

That’s what the successful, self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits study did. They pursued success until they realized each one of their dreams. For some it took longer than for others. But the one common denominator they all shared is: they pursued a dream or big goal and did not quit until they realized success.

Dreams provide the vision, action makes those dreams become reality. Success is the realization of each one of your dreams.

The Power of Pivoting

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We lionize successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. They inspire and motivate us to pursue greatness. We study them in order to learn their secrets to success.

When we peel the onion to their success common factors such as pursuing a dream, having a clear vision, working long hours, persistence, passion and focus often reveal themselves.

But there’s another lesser-known factor that gets very little attention – the power of the pivot.

Successful entrepreneurs learn how to pivot – to shift gears, change direction and alter their course or the path they take in order to achieve success. This may be the real secret to their success.

A typical airplane flight is off course 90% of the time during its flight. Pilots and the onboard computer systems continuously focus on the end, the destination, and make constant course corrections during the flight in order to arrive at the destination.

Successful entrepreneurs are not different. They make constant course corrections during their success journey in the pursuit of their dreams and goals. When their actions do not produce the results they desire, they pivot. When the people they work with are unable to help move them forward, they find other people. When a product or service fails to deliver, they tweak that product or service until it sells. They constantly alter what they are doing, find another route and then take that route. They do this over and over again until they achieve their goals and realize their dreams.

 

 

If the Rich Read Every Day Why Aren’t You Reading?

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One of the stats in my Rich Habits research that stopped me in my tracks was this one:

88% of the rich read 30 minutes or more every day for self-education

I was doing a podcast interview yesterday. The host shared a story about a self-made millionaire he had interviewed.  At age 20, long before the millionaire became rich, he had attended a seminar. At the seminar there was a self-help speaker. The speaker told the audience that if you wanted to double your income in one year, start reading for self-improvement every day. So, the very next day, the 20 year old started reading everything he could to help him improve his life. He read self-help books. biographies of successful people and other success-type books. Within one year, the now 21 year old had doubled his income. He continued this Rich Habit for the rest of his life and eventually became a self-made millionaire.

One Rich Habit was all it took.

Reading to learn and to improve will introduce you to new information and new knowledge. It will open your eyes to the opportunities that are all around you. Reading is a common denominator among all successful people.

If rich, successful people read every day for self-improvement, why aren’t you reading?