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Posts Tagged ‘Choices’

Where are you going?

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll

Imagine you’re sitting in an airplane. The captain gets on the intercom and says: “Folks, we’re 2nd in line for takeoff. Where would you like to go?”

If your perfect life is the destination, don’t you want to get there as quickly, easily and cheaply as possible? Maybe you can do so without creating a business plan, but I can’t imagine how.  A plan will help you make better and faster decisions, decide how you spend your money or time and track your progress.

Start now.

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“A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” General George S. Patton

Complete your annual plan by November so that you can relax and sit on your plan for a month or so before executing it.  Review (and revise if needed) your progress quarterly.  This is not a New Year’s resolution to be enacted in January and discarded by February.  This is an action plan that will get you to your biggest life goals.

It’s time to focus your energy onto your goals and dreams. Find a place with trees and fresh air where you can concentrate on your future.

There are myriad ways to create your plan and they all start with a vision.

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“I love it when a plan comes together.” Hannibal Smith-The A-Team

What do you want to do, be or have in 2-5 years?

What motivates you to jump out of bed in the morning, or work late into the night?

Your vision must be:

Specific- What will it look like once you’ve reached your goal? Where will you live? What will you do each day? Who will your friends, neighbors or co-workers be?

Vivid- Realism is the key to visualization so use all of your senses when describing your goal.  The goal is to make your mind believe your future outcome is happening now.  With consistent visualization, your mind accepts the image of success and suddenly you’re seeing inspiration and opportunity everywhere.

Compelling-How will your life (or the lives of your family members) improve once you’ve achieved your goal?

Desirable-Is this your dream or only something you think you should want?  The more you want the outcome, the more likely it is you’ll achieve it. If your goal isn’t compelling, you’ll quit at the first sign of trouble.

Realistic-Do you have enough time, energy and support to reach your goal? Have others done it before? If it’s been done, there’s a proven strategy to do it, you just have to find it.

Focused- Instead of creating a to-do list, concentrate your energy on accomplishing up to 3 bigger goals.

Flexible-There are lots of ways to get to your outcome.  If your goal is to provide your son with an Ivy League education instead of concentrating on just one way to get there (saving lots of money), brainstorm all the ways you could make it happen (scholarships, part-time work, etc.)

Easy to communicate- Can you describe your end result concisely in terms anyone can understand?

Close your eyes and imagine your future.

Having trouble visualizing?

Look for someone who’s already achieved your goal.  What does that person’s life look like?  Draw, paint a picture, or write a story as if you’re reporting on your future self.  Then distill that scene, picture or story into your vision statement.

Once you’ve articulated your vision, make it real.

Step 1:  Writing your goal down makes it tangible and on those days when you’re frustrated or unfocused, you can look at what you’ve written and get back on track.

The more accountable you are, the more likely it is you’ll achieve your goal. Find an accountability partner who’s committed to her own goals. Better yet, find someone who already attained your goal.  Tell that person your goals and ask for help in keeping your commitments.

Step 2: Determine what it will take to get there. What skills, knowledge and resources will you need?

If you want to live in France, you’ll need to learn French (skill), find a place to live (knowledge) and save money (resources.)

Step 3: Break each task down into short-term goals you can accomplish in 1,2 or 3 months.

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“Set your goals high and don't stop until you get there” Bo Jackson

Write down your top 5 values in order. If your goal conflicts with your values, you’ll never achieve it.

If you’re not sure what constitutes a value, this list can help. When you commit to your values and have written goals, choosing between competing demands gets easier. As does making decisions.

Sally’s top value is family, followed by financial independence.  A single mother with 2 kids, she’s been offered a job that doubles her salary but requires her to leave town every weekend. She has to either decline the job, or rerank her values.

Acknowledging your values, prioritize your short-term goals.  Your goals should have a deadline as well as a tangible, measurable end-result.  Set goals that are tough but realistic to achieve.

In On Writing, Stephen King compares writing to telepathy. Even though he writes every novel, short story, and magazine article in a certain place and at a certain time, you can be miles and decades away and still receive his communication clearly.

If writing is telepathy, planning and envisioning are clairvoyance. Planning your tomorrow today will bring your vision of the future to fruition.

What to learn more?

Join me on Wednesday, November 3rd at The New Orleans Marriott.

Get details and register here.

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“The future belongs to the common man with uncommon determination.”

Baba Amte

Successful people have at least 3 common traits.  How you embody them will determine your fate in the coming year.

1) Be passionate.

Call it a mission, a goal or your “Big Why.”  It’s the reason you get up in the morning, work late at night or borrow money from your family to finance your start-up costs.  Without passion, you’ll quit at the first sign of trouble or when a better offer comes along. What’s your passion?

2) Solve problems.

If you solve people’s problems, they’ll throw money at you. Easy, right?

Find a job no one else wants and do it. Find the knowledge few know and learn it.

To sell yourself and your product or service, define what value you bring to the table.

Are you faster?

Cheaper?

Better?

Any 2 of the 3 will do.  If you’re faster than your competition, you don’t have to be cheaper, but your quality has to be at least as good as theirs.  Your customer will pay a premium for speed, but won’t accept inferiority at any price.

3) Produce.

Do you have a business plan? Are you working it every day?  Do you account for your results?

Your plan should focus on what problem you’re solving and the unique value that you add to the transaction.

Who are your customers? How will you reach them?

Every sale results from you talking to your customers or would-be customers.  Do this everyday.

Don’t waste time with mediocre people, thoughts or actions. Just take daily steps toward your goal.

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If you’re worried that you’re going to be just another victim of what’s looking more like a double-dip recession every day, act as if you’re starting all over again.

With credit tightening, previously unassailable banks losing solvency, and even government bonds becoming risky, it’s tempting to remain static. But opportunity always exists – only now the way to embrace it is by riding the wave of creative destruction.

The market continuously re-invents itself – that’s capitalism.  Old, complacent companies & technologies outlive their usefulness and give way to new, dynamic ones; ugly, unattractive K-Mart & Sears with their uninspiring product lines yield to the sleek suburban facades of Target & unmatchable high-volume prices of Wal-Mart. IBM’s stodgy mainframes are rendered obsolete by the personalized convenience of Microsoft and an operating system accessible to almost everyone.  Top-heavy, union-whipped, lugubrious GM loses market share and consumer confidence to the famed efficiency and more workable business model of Toyota.

Examine your business model, and determine which old ways you’re still hanging onto.  Even if you’re not Hindu, take a lesson from Shiva and clean house.

1) Cut expenses. Look at everything.  After you’ve made the first series of cuts, repeat – only this time, eliminate all the items you didn’t have the guts to cut the first time.

2) Rethink your message.  Today, customers care (or should care) a lot more about value than image.  Can you deliver more value with fewer resources? What incentives can you offer to loyal customers? Give your customers a compelling reason why they have to do business with you.  You’ll still have to compete on price, but that’s a lot easier of clients are already sold on you.

3) Recreate your business.  What one thing that no one else is doing should be done? Pretend you’re starting anew. Examine every aspect of your business model. Don’t think that just because no one’s ever done something, that something can’t work.

4) Get support.  Seek out similarly minded people to brainstorm with. Contact your role models and mentors, whom I know you have and speak to regularly.  You might even end up doing business with them.

5) Be fearless.  Turmoil and uncertainty hit everyone eventually.  The only way to grow and learn when they hit you is to face your fear and move beyond it.

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“They used to call me valued customer, now they are sending me hate mail.”

Becky Bloomwood Confessions of a Shopaholic

Every year, 1½ million Americans file for bankruptcy.

Imagine a widow with infant triplets who renews her health insurance policy the minute her old policy expires. She can’t get an internet connection, and she doesn’t want to risk being uninsured, so she gets up from the chair, only to trip over the power cord and fall headfirst onto a hardwood floor. She breaks 8 teeth and dislodges her lower vertebrae, requiring tens of thousands of dollars of dental work, surgery and rehab. She works as a model, so now she can’t draw a paycheck for the year. Two years ago, her husband died when he happened to be driving along a faultline as an 8.0 earthquake hit, so his life insurance didn’t pay out because it was an Act of God. The triplets’ grandparents all live in the Czech Republic, and the woman lives on a ranch in southern Oregon, miles from any neighbor who could help her get back on her feet. So she declares bankruptcy.

How many of last year’s bankruptcy claimants have similar stories, and how many bought too much junk on credit and never bothered to budget?

This might not sound kind, but most people in bad financial straits are there because they chose to be. Not in the sense that they said “I can’t wait to be broke,” but in that when they were buying cars with 8.9% financing and spending $100 a week on cigarettes, they didn’t think about where it would inevitably lead.

No one wants to die in a car accident, but if you drive through enough stop signs while talking on the phone, you can’t be surprised if it happens. (Of course you can’t be surprised, the part of your brain that senses surprise[1] is now on the asphalt next to your cerebrum and your hippocampus.)

Personal responsibility is neither quaint nor outmoded. When enough people fail to exercise it, it leads to macroeconomic calamity. Of all the financial disasters of the last few years – the subprime mortgage crisis, the monster budget deficit, the stock market losing half its value, centuries-old investment banks going out of business – every last one happened because people who could have taken responsibility for their money chose to do something else instead.

“People tell you life is short. Life is long. Especially if you make the wrong decisions.”

-Chris Rock

Come check out Control Your Cash for one reason: your relationship with money is almost certainly dysfunctional. You don’t know what you don’t know, probably because nobody ever taught you.

Join, read, comment, share ideas. You can stop letting money act on you – and actually take charge of it.


[1] The amygdala, if you care.

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Relax. This isn’t our last post, just our last post here.

We’re all grown up now. Visit us at our new permanent home, ControlYourCash.com.

———

Q: Why’d you move?
A: Had to. It’s our own URL, you can buy the book directly there…WordPress has been wonderful, but it’s time to leave the nest.

Q: Anything else good on the new site?
A: Oh, yeah. A forum, prizes, and the “Anti-Tip” of the Day. Guest posts from the brightest personal finance bloggers in the business. And excerpts from the new book, Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a personal finance book that won’t put you to sleep, and won’t patronize you, but will actually teach you something useful.

Q: Anti-Tip of the Day? What’s that?
A: “Spend your extra money on cigarettes”, “Day trading is a sure path to riches”, that kind of thing.

Q: I dig the old posts. Will they transfer to ControlYourCash.com?
A: They’re already there.

Q: Why do you write like this, in an imaginary conversation?
A: It’s a crutch. Matt Taibbi has profanity, Bill Simmons has “stringing-words-along-in-quotation-marks-ad nauseam“, David Foster Wallace had footnotes, Control Your Cash has this.

Q: Well, it seems to be working for you.
A: Thanks. See you at ControlYourCash.com.



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The moment you step through the gate of The Grand Canyon Deer Farm you’re inundated by does and their fawns hoping for a treat. When they realize you didn’t pay $5 for a souvenir cup containing 2¢ worth of corn, they turn away and have nothing more to do with you.

However, you can snicker when the deer greet the next suckers (I mean, visitors) who show up holding corn.

At Old McDonald’s Petting Farm just outside of Mount Rushmore, the goats congregate around the machine that dispenses feed and look at you with hungry, soulful eyes. Even the pot-bellied pigs rouse from their midday naps, lumbering over to the food chute on the chance that an altruistic tourist might be packing apples.

To see a stark example of the major difference between captive animals and wild ones, drive a few dozen miles west to Wyoming. Offer some grain to a wild pronghorn. Not only will it reject your gift, it’ll turn tail and show you why it’s the fastest mammal in the Americas.

Captive animals equate people with food. They forget to instinctively forage for food and fear predators, making it impossible for them to survive in the wild for very long.

The same thing goes for humans. Like Sharon Jasper of New Orleans, who complained that the taxpayer-funded Section 8 apartment she moved into after Hurricane Katrina is a “slum.” Instead of thanking those taxpayers for saving her from sleeping in the park, she complains that she still has to pay her utilities and security deposit.

Jasper’s newly renovated apartment features wood floors. And that big TV must cost as much as a year of utility bills.

How about the Harper family from Georgia? They were chosen from thousands of applicants to appear on the ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. They received a new $450,000 home (their old house was razed) – plus a scholarship fund for their kids and a home maintenance fund, totaling $250,000. They also got an all-expenses-paid week in Disneyland while other people built their house.

Now they’re getting a foreclosure notice from the bank that gave them a $450,000 line of credit without asking them what they were going to use the money for or how they planned to repay it. Darn that ABC, why didn’t they tell us we’d have to pay back any money we might borrow?*

Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery in consecutive years and managed to squander $5.4 million. She donated much of the money to slot machines in Atlantic City, and actually said “I wish I had the chance to do it all over again.”

Apparently her financial strategy is to win the lottery a third time.

These are the deer (or goats, or pigs) we create when we give people what we think they need instead of expecting them to work for what they want.

People are not forged by their circumstances so much as they are by their choices. If circumstances dictates destiny, there would never be a Sheldon Adelson, J.K. Rowling, Chris Gardner nor Oprah Winfrey, all of whom rose from modest beginnings. And all of whom chose to change their circumstances and accept the sacrifices that go along with that choice.

Self-sufficient people don’t have the luxury of being victims. They take responsibility for their actions, choices and life – and get freedom in return.

*ABC did arrange for the Harpers to meet with a financial planner.

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When adversity knocks, do you answer or hide under the covers?

The passengers on United Flight 93 took a stand.

Some people trapped atop the World Trade Center flung themselves to the ground rather than wait to be incinerated.

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“… maybe he didn’t jump from the window as a betrayal of love or because he lost hope. Maybe he jumped to fulfill the terms of a miracle. Maybe he jumped to come home to his family. Maybe he didn’t jump at all, because no one can jump into the arms of God.

Oh, no. You have to fall.”

Tom Junod, The Falling Man – 9/03 issue of Esquire Magazine

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]When your turn comes what will you choose?

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