You Tube Challenge

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

Success requires change and one of the seven steps to change is growth. You grow by learning. This learning can be knowledge-based, skill-based or both.

One of the advantages our generation has over all other generations is easy access to information. Information that can accelerate change, leading to success and producing wealth.

If you were to peruse YouTube, you’d find a lot of videos. Many of those videos do nothing but feed time-wasting habits. But many of those videos also educate.

When I decided I wanted to build a horse shoe pit in my back yard, I visited YouTube. There, I found an abundance of videos explaining and showing exactly how to do that. I watched a few videos, took notes, and after about an hour, went outside and began building my horse shoe pit, based on my notes.

Although I had never built a horse shoe pit before, the education I acquired from those YouTube videos helped me to build the perfect horse shoe pit.

What new knowledge or skills would you like to acquire?

See if you can make a list of twelve. This will become your Growth List.

Next, find a binder and put your Growth List into that binder. This will become your Growth Binder.

Then, each month, focus on one of the twelve items on your list. Visit YouTube and watch at least three videos about the item on your list. Take copious notes. Review your notes. Try to summarize your copious notes into a one-page summary. Then put all of your notes and summary page into a Growth Binder, with a slipsheet or topic separator, in order to separate it from the other items on your Growth List.

If an item on your list is skill-based, make sure you practice what you’ve learned, after reviewing the notes. This will help reinforce what you’ve learned and help you develop a brand new skill.

Do this for each item on your Growth List. After twelve months you will have advanced your knowledge and your skills enormously.

Ideally, if your Growth List is tied to your dreams and goals, it will help move you forward towards the realization of your dreams and goals.

Good luck!

The Advantages of Growing Up In Poverty

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

Those who struggle with poverty, while growing up, see the world as a very different place than those raised in the middle-class or in wealthy households.

In my Rich Habits Study, 41% of the 177 self-made millionaires were raised in poor households. Yet, somehow they managed to break out of their poverty as adults.

Ironically, according to my research, being poor actually endows you with certain advantages over the middle-class and the wealthy.

More Willing to Take Risks

One of the common denominators among all of the self-made millionaires in my study, was the need to become comfortable with taking risk. Growing up poor forces you to take risks in the pursuit of wealth. Overcoming the fear of taking risks, therefore, becomes a habit.

With respect to my Rich Habits self-made millionaires, the fear of taking risk resurfaced only after they accumulated their wealth. At that point, the fear of losing their hard-earned wealth motivated them to hire wealth advisors, insurance agents, CPAs, Estate Planners and other financial advisors to help them preserve their wealth. So, becoming rich actually lowered their tolerance for taking risks, risks which could potentially decrease their wealth.

Desire to Change is Great

Poverty can either beat you down or make you stronger. For the self-made millionaires in my study, it made them stronger. That’s why they were in my study – poverty motivated them to achieve.

Their desire to become successful and rich drove them to transform themselves. This desire to change motivated them to learn what they needed to know in order to succeed. It also forced them to develop and perfect superior skills in order to earn more than their competition.

Superior Work Ethic

A hard work ethic is a prerequisite to success. Those who are raised in poverty, have no choice but to work hard. Thus, the poor develop a hard work ethic. When you are able to combine that hard work ethic with your dreams and goals, what a powerful combination!

If you grow up in an environment of comfort, you might be less willing to do the hard work success requires.

Failure Doesn’t Scare You As Much

One of the downsides of failure, is that failing at something can put you in the poor house. When you grow up poor, you don’t fear poverty as much, because it is something you are familiar with and something you survived. Therefore, failure does not frighten you as much and, in fact, emboldens you to take risks.

Poverty Removes Rose-Colored Lenses

When you grow up poor you see things through a much different lens. You know life can be very hard when you are poor. Things can and do go wrong. You know that because you experienced that growing up in poverty. The experience of poverty allows you to see things as they really are and not allow yourself to be blinded by unrealistic rose-colored optimism.

Being anchored in reality, allows you to see potential pitfalls ahead of time, which enables you to navigate and pivot around those pitfalls. Those who are not raised in poverty, might see things as they wish them to be and be blind to reality, until it hits. And when it hits, it’s always a surprise, leaving you ill-prepared to deal with that reality.

Comfortable With Failure and Setbacks

Those who struggle with poverty become familiar with failure and setbacks. Consequently, when things go wrong, as they often do in the pursuit of wealth, those raised in poverty don’t raise the white flag and surrender. Rather, they see failure and setbacks as normal and something that can be overcome.

Accustomed to Sacrifice

Growing up poor means you are unable to possess the things non-poor people take for granted. Poverty forces you to become accustomed to doing without. This actually is a great advantage. The pursuit of wealth always requires sacrifice. Sometimes for many years. If you’re accustomed to sacrifice, it’s less painful and more tolerable.

Frugality is a Habit

The poor have no choice but to be frugal with their spending. They forge the frugality habit at a very young age. And, as you know, habits are hard to break. This frugality habit, therefore, follows the poor into their wealthy adult lives.

Growing up poor is not necessarily a disadvantage. Poverty forces you to develop certain traits that can actually be leveraged to your advantage, helping you in the pursuit of your dreams and goals.

Why Bad Things Happen

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

Do bad things happen to you?

How often?

Seldom, occasionally, more than occasionally, all the time?

If bad things are a part of life for you, it’s time for some serious introspection.

We are creatures of habit. That means we do things without consciously being aware that we’re doing them.

When life goes wrong too often, that’s a red flag that your repetitive behavior, thinking and choices, also known as habits, are to blame.

Relationship Problems

Relationships are the currency of the wealthy. Wealthy people build strong, powerful and lasting relationships with upbeat, optimistic, enthusiastic, can-do people.

If you’re having relationship problems, there are two main causes:

#1 Your Relationships Are Toxic

You have surrounded yourself with toxic people. Toxic people have Toxic Traits that throw wrenches into our lives and those Toxic Traits eventually become intolerable:

  • They constantly complain
  • The constantly criticize
  • They are negative
  • They are pessimistic
  • They are on an endless search for problems
  • They struggle financially
  • Their lives are filled with drama
  • They have addictions

#2 You Are Toxic

You possess Toxic Traits and those Toxic Traits eventually become intolerable to others, destroying or impairing your relationships.

Job Problems

Wealthy people make themselves Un-Fireable. They do this in three ways:

#1 They Become Virtuosos

Every day they invest in themselves by growing their knowledge and perfecting their skills via daily practice. This transforms them into Virtuosos, experts in some particular niche. And because they are Virtuosos, they are indispensable to their employer or customers.

Those who struggle keeping a job have not invested the time in improving their knowledge or developing superior skills. As a result, they are expendable, and among the first to be fired.

#2 They Are Likeable

Successful, wealthy people are likeable. People want to work with them and do business with them. As a result, they have strong relationships with the people who matter the most – superiors and customers.

Those who struggle keeping a job may be victims of their own lake of likeability.

#3 They Build Relationships With Decision-Makers

Wealthy people work hard in building strong, powerful relationships with decision-makers. They talk to them regularly, they make an effort to learn more about their lives and their interests and they do whatever they can to help make their job easier. They acknowledge birthdays and life events.

Money Problems

There are essentially three ways to create wealth:

  1. Save/Invest – These millionaires reduce their standard of living in order to live off 80% or less of their income. Then they prudently invest that 20% prudently, every year, for many years.
  2. Become a Virtuoso – These millionaires either have a unique knowledge-based expertise or developed some expert skills that set them apart from their competition. As a result, they are able to charge a premium for their products or services or are able to rise up the corporate ladder and become beneficiaries of wealth-building stock-based compensation.
  3. Entrepreneurship – These millionaires pursue a dream and keep pursuing that dream until they succeed.

If you’re struggling financially, it is most likely because you are living beyond your means. You could be living beyond your means because you don’t earn enough to meet your living expenses or you make a good living but spend too much money.

Health Problems

The wealthy in my Rich Habits Study habitualized good health. They did this a number of ways:

  • Eating Healthy
  • Daily Aerobic Exercise – Aerobic exercise has five important benefits:
    1. Improves Mental Functioning
    2. Improves Health
    3. Boosts the Immune System Which Helps Prevents Disease
    4. Reduces the Effects of Chronic Stress
    5. Makes Us Feel Happier
  • Sleeping 8 Hours a Night – There are many benefits to a good night’s sleep:
    1. Sleep Repairs Cell Damage
    2. Sleep Creates Memories
    3. Sleep Clears Out Waste Material Within Each Cell
    4. Sleep Helps Grow & Repair Muscles
    5. Sleep Erases Bad or Unimportant Memories
    6. Sleep Grows & Distributes New Brain Cells
    7. Sleep Restores Willpower
    8. Sleep Reduces Inflammation and Helps You Think Clearer
    9. Sleep Cleans Brain Cells

If you want to get off the problem treadmill, you have to make yourself aware of the habits that are causing those problems. Self-awareness is always the starting point of change.

Good Luck is Critical to Success

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

After I completed my Rich Habits Study, one thing became very clear – the rich, at some point during their success journey, get lucky.

Luck was so critical to the success of many of the self-made millionaires in my study, that I felt it imperative to address it right out of the gate in my book Rich Habits. I’ve updated that preamble for the 2nd Edition of Rich Habits and thought I’d share it with you.

The Rich Have Good Luck and the Poor Have Bad Luck

Many unsuccessful people rationalize that they don’t have “good luck” or just aren’t “lucky.” They argue that in order to be financially successful you need good luck.

So, is good luck important to becoming successful? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” All successful people pursuing some dream, have experienced good luck. In fact, no one will ever become successful if they do not have good luck. But let’s elaborate on this hard truth.

There are four types of luck. The first type of luck is “random good luck.” This is a type of good luck we have no control over, like winning the lottery or receiving an unexpected inheritance.

The second type of luck is “random bad luck.” Like random good luck, we have no control over this, either. Events creating this type of luck are outside of our influence for the most part. Examples include coming down with a genetic-driven disease, getting hit by lightning, random accidents, a tree falling on your house, etc.

The third type of luck is “opportunity luck.” This is good luck that is a byproduct of good daily habits. Think of opportunity luck as an apple orchard. You prepare the land, plant the apple seeds, and diligently nurture the trees as they grow. After some time the apple trees blossom and bear fruit. This fruit is the byproduct of doing the things you needed to do over a long period of time. These apples represent the fruit of good habits – opportunity luck.

Successful people do the things that are necessary over the long term in order for opportunity luck to occur in their lives. They live the Rich Habits every single day. Rich Habits are like a magnet for opportunity luck. Many of the opportunities are completely unexpected. Some people refer to this as “the law of attraction.” Opportunity luck follows the law of attraction for those who live the Rich Habits.

The fourth type of luck is “detrimental luck.” Detrimental luck is the evil twin of opportunity luck. Unsuccessful people have bad habits. Like the Rich Habits, bad habits are also seeds. They will take root and grow until they too bear fruit. Unfortunately, the bad fruit birthed by bad habits brings detrimental luck into the lives of the unsuccessful. This detrimental luck might be a job loss, investment losses, foreclosure, divorce, illness, or something similar.

To bring success into your life you need to attract the right kind of luck. Living the Rich Habits guarantees you will attract the right kind of luck, and opportunities will appear, seemingly out of thin air. As with low-hanging fruit, all you have to do is reach out and pick it.

Not All Goals Are Good Goals – How To Distinguish a Good Goal From a Bad Goal

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

You hardly ever hear anyone talk about goals in a negative context. Goals are almost always perceived to be good. But as I learned from studying wealthy and poor people since 2003, not all goals are Good Goals.

So, how do you know when a goal is a Good Goal or a Bad Goal?

Good Goals have 12 things in common:

  1. Good Goals create long-term benefits, that pay dividends for many years. These benefits very often take many years before they show up in your life.
  2. Good Goals create a unique type of happiness, known as fulfillment. Fulfillment is a type of long-term happiness. It greets you in the morning and lulls you to sleep at night.
  3. Good Goals force you outside your comfort zone. They force you to learn what to do and what not to do. Good Goals make you grow as an individual.
  4. Good Goals force you to create good daily habits; habits that stay with you the rest of your life.
  5. Good Goals keep you moving forward. They get you from point A to point B. Point B being a better place, such as rising from poverty to the middle-class or from the middle-class to millionaire class.
  6. Good Goals make you smarter. They boost your IQ by challenging you to think your way through problems and obstacles. That learning results in the creation of new synapses in the brain. The more synapses you have, the higher your IQ.
  7. Good Goals attract and build relationships with the right kind of individuals. They force you to associate with can-do, optimistic, success-minded people.
  8. Good Goals improve the quality of life for you and your family.
  9. Good Goals allow you to maintain or improve your relationships. They don’t force you to isolate yourself from the ones you love.
  10. Good Goals allow you to maintain good health or improve your health.
  11. Good Goals expose you to more opportunities.
  12. Good Goals boost your confidence. The more goals you pursue and achieve, the more confident you become.

Examples of Good Goals:

  • Become an Expert – Eighty two percent of the professionals in my five year study on the wealthy were niche experts or virtuosos at what they did for a living. They devoted time on the side, every day, to developing an expertise in a specific area within their industry. Virtuosos have more value and, thus, make more money. Even better, because they make more money, they don’t have to work as many hours.
  • Start a Side Business – Forty eight percent of the business owners in my study started their business while working for someone else. It is possible to grow a side business while still maintaining your full-time job. Not only does a side gig create supplemental income, it could eventually give you the freedom to leave you job and devote yourself full-time to your business.
  • Improve the Way You Look – Thirty nine percent of the wealthy in my study lifted weights three days a week. Lifting weights to build a stronger, healthier body will improve the way you look. Healthier people have a better quality of life and fewer sick days, which translates into more productivity, more money and a longer life.
  • Become a Speaker – Twenty three percent of the millionaires in my study were also speakers. Joining Toastmasters or some similar speaker organization in order to develop your speaking skills will benefit you in the long term. Being a good speaker sets you apart from the competition and could eventually lead to paid speaking engagements, creating an additional revenue stream.
  • Become a Writer – Eighteen percent of those wealthy individuals in my study wrote for industry magazines, newsletters, blogs, etc. Becoming a good writer stamps you as an expert on the topics you write about which opens the door of opportunity for promotions at work, new job opportunities or eventually getting paid for articles or books you write.
  • Lose Weight – Setting a weight loss goal often involves a daily regimen of exercise, healthy eating and encourages a healthy lifestyle. It may also motivate you to moderate your consumption of alcohol or to quit smoking. When the weight eventually comes off you enjoy the compliments, feel healthier and are noticeably happier.
  • Saving/Investing – Opportunities knock for many, but go unanswered when you don’t have the money to take advantage of them. When you decide to live below your means, you are able to save money. When you are able to save money, you are able to invest that money or take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

Bad Goals have 3 things in common:

  1. Bad Goals Solve Some Immediate Need.
  2. Bad Goals Create No Long-Term Benefit When Achieved.
  3. Bad Goals Borrow From Your Future.

Examples of Bad Goals:

  • Win the Lottery – Becoming rich by gambling in any way is a bad goal. The odds of winning the lottery are remote and costs you money that could otherwise be saved or invested prudently for future wealth creation. Seventy-seven percent of the poor in my study gambled on the lottery regularly. The mortgaged their future savings for a shot at instant wealth.
  • Buy a Bigger House – Unless this is a need (i.e. expanding family), buying a bigger house is a bad goal. Bigger houses require more upkeep, higher utilities bills and more in interest that you pay to the bank. A bigger house means that house owns more of your future income.
  • Buy a Boat or Luxury Car – This is another example of a bad goal. Boats and luxury cars are costly to won and costly to maintain. Plus, the money you spend to own them could be have been used to fund your retirement plan or build assets that create a revenue stream down the road.
  • Take an Exotic Vacation – While traveling to exotic locations can have some educational benefits, saving your hard earned money just to spend it on an expensive vacation means not having that money to build future wealth.
  • Destroy Your Competition – When you focus on destroying your competition as a means to increase your market share, rather than improving upon the products or service you offer, you ultimately hurt your business model. Engaging in competitive warfare often accomplishes only two things: reduced profits and enemies.

When the achievement of a goal does not improve your life for the long-term, it’s a bad goal. Goals pursued to own more stuff or to create some immediate, momentary pleasure are almost always bad goals.

Be very careful of the goals you pursue. Not all goals are good goals.

Success is a Lonely Business

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

One of the lessons I’ve learned from studying self-made millionaires is that dreamers are almost always on their own in the beginning phases of pursuing a dream.

It’s very hard, initially, to find individuals who buy into your dream and are willing to grit it out.

Pursuing a dream is all risk. There is no guaranteed payoff and the effort requires an enormous investment in time, very often money and most definitely emotions.

Finding individuals who buy into your dream is difficult because, until you experience success, very few are able to stomach the risk and uncertainty pursuing a dream requires.

It is truly a rare breed of individual who will join you and stick with you during the journey to success. You’ve no doubt read about some of these rare breeds in books:

  • Paul Allen (Bill Gates partner)
  • Steve Wozniak (Steve Jobs partner)
  • Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s partner)
  • Jamie Dimon (Sandy Weill’s partner) and
  • Todd Wagner (Mark Cuban’s partner)

These mostly silent partners never quit on their famous billionaire-dreamer partners and they were handsomely rewarded for their loyal devotion.

Don’t lose faith when people quit on you. Keep working hard every day, pursuing your dream, even if you have to go it alone.

Dreamers change the world. And when you experience success, loneliness will forever be in your rear-view mirror.

Spending Smart During the Holidays is a Rich Habit

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

The holidays are right around the corner. While we may enjoy the holidays, that enjoyment comes at a cost.

We spend more money on holiday-related things like gifts, dining, electricity for outdoor decorations, etc. What follows are a few Rich Habits to make sure you make the most efficient use of your money during this holiday season:

Stick to a Gift Budget

Set a maximum amount you will spend on gifts this holiday season. Even better, make a list of everyone who will be getting a gift and then budget how much you will spend for each person. This ensures you do not go over your budget. As a rule of thumb you should limit your holiday gift spending to 1.5% of your income. To find unique gift ideas within your budget visit sites like Gifts.com. These sites give you great gift ideas that are within your budget.

Use Credit Card Reward Dollars

Many credit cards have attached to them Rewards Programs. Typically, these Rewards Programs generate Reward Dollars that you can use at participating vendors. For example, the American Express Reward Program gives you about .88% back on every dollar you spend using an American Express credit card. One of the participating vendors with American Express is Barnes and Nobles. 50,000 American Express Rewards Dollars translates into $500 in Barnes and Noble gift cards. You can buy 20 $25 Barnes and Noble gift cards and give them out as gifts during the holiday season and it will cost you nothing.

Send e-Cards

Want to save on the cost of buying holiday cards and postage? Then send out a holiday e-Card this year. There are numerous websites that offer free cards such as BlueMountain.com. These sites offer templates and also allow you to customize your Ecards.

Unplug Holiday Lights After 10pm

Most everyone is asleep or in bed by 10pm so it makes no sense to keep your holiday lights on after this hour. This cuts down on the electricity costs for the holidays.

Interest-Free Financing

Sears, Home Depot, Best Buy, Lowes and certain Amazon partners offer up to 24 months of interest free financing. You must ensure that you pay off the interest free purchase within the free interest period and you must make your monthly payments on time. If you don’t you risk being back charged for ALL the interest you were saving on the purchase.

Dine at BYOB Restaurants

BYOB is an acronym for “Bring Your Own Booze”. Having your holiday meals at BYOB restaurants can save you and your family hundreds of dollars in liquor dining costs during this holiday season. You not only save up to 50% on the lower cost of the liquor but you also save on sales taxes and the gratuity. It’s a triple savings.

Holiday Parties

Transform this year’s holiday party into a culinary surprise holiday party. Ask each one of your guests to bring a special dish for the evening. You can even give out Awards such as a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card for the best dish. This will save you money on your party and add an element of fun and excitement.

Online Comparison Shopping

Thanks to the Internet you now have the ability to comparison shop without ever having to leave your home or office computer. Sites like PriceGrabber.com and PriceBlink.com will scour the Internet online retail sites for the lowest price for your gift.

Coupon Sites

There are many old and new coupon websites that offer coupons you can use to purchase gifts or for dinning. Some offer as much as 60% off the retail price you would otherwise pay.

Re-Gift

I know it sounds tacky but just because you didn’t much care for a gift you received last year doesn’t mean someone else won’t like it. After all it’s the thought that counts. Re-gifting is an obvious money savings strategy. If you feel embarrassed about re-gifting don’t. According to MSN Money, 68% engage in re-gifting. So, you’re not alone. For all you know the gift you are re-gifting may have been a re-gift of its own!

The Most Powerful Word in the World

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

I’d like you to indulge me for a moment.

Imagine a life in which you have no obligations, no need to work, zero pressing matters to attend to.

As you open your eyes to face another day, what will be the first thought to greet you every morning?

What will I do today?

Do.

Do is the most powerful word in the world. Do is responsible for everything.

Do makes plants grow, flowers bloom and acorns rise into giant oaks.

Do creates families.

Do forges nations.

Do builds homes, skyscrapers, bridges and tunnels.

Do put a man on the moon.

Without do, nothing changes or moves forward in life.

The very essence of a life worth living owes its debt to the word do.

If you had no obligations, no need to work and no pressing matters to attend to, what would you do with your life?

Each individual has a special, unique purpose life. It’s usually wrapped around some innate talent; something that is easier for you to do than others. Something that makes your heart sing when you engage in it. It is a special gift hardwired into your DNA at birth.

But it only reveals itself through experimentation.

Experiment with different, diverse activities. Given enough time, enough experimentation, your special gift will be revealed.

And when you find it, DO it every day.

Finding Your Natural Talents – Here Are Five Clues

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

I didn’t figure out that I had a hidden talent until I was age 47. That’s when I decided to write, what became a huge bestseller, Rich Habits, which also happened to be the first of many books I would go on to write.

For most of my adult life, I’ve been a tax specialist/CPA. My thing was numbers, not words. Or, so I thought.

Back in 2009, I had never written a book before. So, this was way out of the comfort zone for me. But, it didn’t take very long for me to realize that I had stumbled upon something I was innately good at doing.

How did I know I had found a natural talent?

Well, things you are brilliant at doing, reveal themselves in five different ways:

#1 – Brilliance Comes Easy

When you engage in an activity that is easier for you than for others, you’ve found your brilliance.

Writing came very easy to me. The words just flowed effortlessly from my brain and onto the keyboard.

We all have innate talents, or things we are just brilliant at doing. Most never discover them because, finding your brilliance, requires experimentation.

When you experiment with numerous, different activities, eventually you will stumble upon something that naturally comes easy to you; something you can do easier, faster and better than others.

#2 – Brilliance Provides You With Never-Ending Energy

When you find an activity that you can engage in for many hours, without losing energy or getting tired, you’ve found your brilliance.

I could write for five, six or even seven hours straight without tiring or getting bored. I never lost my energy. I never felt fatigued. It was as if I had tapped into some limitless supply of energy.

There is a little-known energy source that lies dormant inside each one of us, waiting to be released. This energy source is very powerful. It is controlled by the limbic system, one of the oldest regions of the brain.

In this region resides your emotions. When you find something you are brilliant at doing, you tap into the emotional centers of the brain, which then fuel all of your energy needs while you are engaged in your brilliance.

#3 Brilliance Makes Time Flies By

When you engage in an activity, and time seems to just fly by, you’ve found your brilliance.

My early morning workweek writing routine was (and still is) to write for two hours. That’s all the time I had during the workweek. Those two hours felt like two minutes. Time just seemed to fly while I was writing. In fact, it got so bad, I had to buy a timer that would go off after two hours. This way, I would not be late for work, which had happened several times.

#4 Brilliance Makes You Want to Practice

When you find your brilliance, you will desire to engage in it over and over again.

I enjoyed writing so much. In fact, I hated when that timer went off. It meant I had to stop writing and get ready for work. I just wanted to keep writing.

Because I never wanted to stop writing, I couldn’t wait to wake up the next morning to begin writing again. I started waking up earlier and earlier, every day. And amazingly, I sprang out of bed, down to my basement office and immediately began writing.

#5 Brilliance is Fun

When you find happiness and joy in doing something, you’ve found your brilliance.

Writing, right out of the gate, felt like fun. It definitely did not feel like work. Because it felt like fun, I noticed I was very happy when I was writing. Knowing that the very next morning I was going to be writing again, kept me feeling happy all day long, even when I wasn’t engaged in my writing activity. My wife was the first to notice that I seemed much happier since I had started writing.

These five clues only show up when you experiment with diverse activities.

“But I’m old. It’s too late for me.”

Stop worrying about your age. Don’t put that limiting belief in your head. I found my brilliance at age 47. Colonel Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken founder) found his brilliance in his early sixties.

The way I see it, ten years is going to go by no matter what you do. Why not devote a few hours a day, mining for your brilliance?

I can promise you this – if you find your brilliance, your life will improve in ways you never imagined. And, more importantly, you’ll be happy.

Success Requires Focus – How to Supercharge Your Ability to Focus

tip-o-the-morning

Tom Corley boats - crop

Focus is way more than a just a habit. Focus involves an orchestra of variables that must all come together.

What makes focus so complex is the fact that it is dependent on the optimal performance of the most complex organ we possess – our brain.

Your brain never sleeps. It is constantly active. This activity can be measured by brain waves. Brain waves are the speed at which brain cells talk to one another. When you focus, your brain waves operate at a much faster frequency than normal, known as the Gamma frequency.

While in this Gamma state, your brain is sucking energy from the body at an accelerated rate, in order to provide itself with the fuel that focus requires.

Any little hiccup can throw a wrench into the brain’s ability to maintain focus. In my book, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, I list all of the Focus Killers. Below are the top eight Focus Killers:

#1 Distractions

Your environment can be a host to many distractions:

  • People – Wife, kids, co-workers, etc. can disrupt you while you are in the flow of focus.
  • Phone Calls – Ringing phones disrupt your focus. Even worse would be taking a phone call during your focus time.
  • Emails – Those annoying ding sounds you get every time you receive an email disrupts your focus. Focus becomes even more distracted if you decide to read or respond to those emails.
  • Text Messages – If you have any sound effects triggered by text messages, every chime or whistle will disrupt your focus. And, once again, reading and responding to text messages while in the flow of focus, disrupts it entirely.
  • Background Noise – If you have TV news on while you are trying to focus, those Breaking News Alerts will disrupt your focus. So too will music. Songs can trigger emotional responses that cause your mind to drift back in time to an old flame, a concert you attended, or any life event linked to a song.

The solution is to unplug from technology and block off two hours a day without any distractions. No phones ringing, hide your cell phone and turn off all background noise.

This is why I advocate waking up early and spending those early morning hours focusing on your  top priorities, which should be your personal and professional dreams and goals.

#2 Chronic Stress

Short-term stress can actually improve focus and concentration. But chronic stress is very different from short-term stress.

Chronic stress causes a cavalcade of chemical reactions within the body that produce cortisol, the chronic stress hormone. Cortisol is a chemical that impairs your ability to focus by redirecting your brain and your body’s resources. Thus, if you are suffering from chronic stress, focus will be very difficult. Death of a loved one, financial problems, marital problems, health problems, all produce chronic stress.

Study after study has concluded that aerobic (running, biking etc.) and anaerobic (weight lifting/high intensity training) exercises stifle the production of cortisol, alleviating chronic stress. Thirty minutes a day of doing both will reverse the effects of chronic stress.

#3 Sleep Deprivation

If you are not getting between 7 – 8.5 hours of sleep a night, you are very likely suffering from sleep deprivation. Since one of the most important functions of sleep is to clean the brain of toxins that build up during the day, lack of adequate sleep means toxins are building up inside and on brain cells, impairing their ability to function properly.

#4 Glucose Depletion

When glucose reserves become depleted, the brain sends a signal to stop engaging in an activity. This is commonly referred to as Decision Fatigue or Willpower Depletion. So, Willpower Depletion is really just the depletion of glucose reserves in the body.

Each individual has their own unique reservoir of willpower. Some naturally have more, some less. On average, willpower, or your ability to focus, lasts between 90 – 120 minutes.

When you run out of willpower, you essentially run out of brain fuel – glucose, and you must take immediate action to regain your willpower and your focus:

  • Rest or Nap – 20 to 30 minutes is all you need to restore your willpower reserves.
  • Eat a Sugar Snack – This quick fix should only be used in emergency situations because after 20 – 30 minutes you will find yourself even more depleted than before and your focus even more impaired than before.
  • Eat a Healthy Snack – This should be combined with rest or a nap, which will provide a maximum boost in willpower reserves, giving you another 90-120 minutes of focused thinking.

#5 Boredom

It is always very difficult to focus on anything you hate doing or that bores you. This is why I spend so much time writing and speaking about the need to find that thing that makes your heart sing and then figuring out how to monetize it.

When you like or love what you are doing, you turn up the volume on certain parts of the brain associated with emotions (amygdala, thalamus, hippocampus, hypothalamus, cingulate gyrus and ventral tegmental area). These emotional brain centers do not succumb to willpower depletion, which means you can focus for many hours without feeling fatigued.

#6 Poor Diet

Since the brain is such a heavy consumer of energy, a poor diet will deprive your brain of the nutrients it desperately needs in order to allow you to focus. Two out of every three meals should be vegetables with the third meal being high in protein (fish, lean meat, chicken).

#7 Inconsistent Exercise

Aerobic exercise is, next to sleep and diet, the third most important thing you can do for your brain. When you exercise aerobically, you feed your brain with oxygen, which is used by those cells to convert glucose to energy (Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP for short).

If you are not exercising enough aerobically, that means you are not feeding your brain cells with enough oxygen, which then leads to an energy crisis inside your brain.

#8 Drugs/Alcohol

The use of drugs or alcohol causes the overproduction of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. This throws the brain off kilter, making it nearly impossible to focus for any significant period of time. The problem is compounded with excessive use of drugs or alcohol. This puts you brain into permanent repair mode, which means it is using precious brain fuel for repair needs, leaving little left for focus needs.