Get More of What You Want

What if there were a way that you could have more of the things you want in life? A better car, more time with family, better and more frequent vacations, or anything else you can think of. Would you be willing to make a few changes in your life in order to get these things?

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Have You Lost Your Dreams?

Most people are good dreamers when they’re young. We imagine what life could be: the things we’ll do, the places we’ll go, the people we’ll influence. But, as we get older and become part of “the real world,” the temptation surfaces to deny or suppress our dreaming. There are a few big reasons this happens. One, that’s what people around us do. As you know from being a reader of this blog, that’s never a good reason to do anything! But a second reason is that often the practical cost of all the things we’d like to do adds up to a great deal more than we earn in income. This is a real limitation, but I have some good news: it can be overcome in two ways.

Owning Your Priorities

The first way to overcome the gap between what your dream life costs and the money you have available is to eliminate things which are not essential. For example, I may dream of owning a top-of-the line road bike, but don’t currently have the $1,500 in the bank to purchase one. However, owning the bike of my dreams is actually within my reach. I can get the $1,500 I need if I will simply commit to cutting $1,500 from other areas in my life. Maybe I collect $200 by abstaining from buying coffee from Starbucks for a year. I can collect another $300 by canceling cable TV for three months, and get $150 more by selling an old stereo that I never use. What I’m doing here is sacrificing the things that aren’t important to me in order to obtain that which is important to me.

We often let statements like, “I wish I could afford that,” or, “someday I hope to be able to…” come out of our mouths. As in our example above, the fact of the matter is that we can afford the things we’re dreaming about, but we refuse to give up the other things in our life that we need to sacrifice in order to get it.

Instead of Shrinking Your Dreams, Expand Your Income

The long-term way to overcome the gap between the life we imagine and the life we can afford is to develop an asset. One of the best definitions of an asset, especially in the context of what we’re discussing here, is Robert Kiosagi. In his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert defines an asset as something you own that produces a stream of income for you. By this definition, a house you own and live in isn’t really an asset, because it moreso takes your money, through taxes, interest, and upkeep expenses, than it produces in capital appreciation for you. An asset by Robert’s definition would be ownership in a growing company, a stock or bond, or creating a franchise. What assets do you have currently? What opportunities do you have to develop an asset?

We’ll Show You How

If you don’t know where or how you could begin to create an asset for yourself, you are in the right place! Part of what we do as part of our ThriveMart business is something called, “personal franchising.” We help people to do what we’ve done—start a business that they own without the risks and financial investment typically required to launch a business. Visit our ThriveMart facebook page and send us a message to learn more, and remember what Zig Ziglar says, “you can have anything you want in life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want!”

What Are You Pouring In?

In my garden out back of our house, I planted tomato, pepper, and squash plants this spring.  I did not plant only a single seed of each, but many seeds of each type.  What would you think of me if I say I am disappointed today that I have no apple trees, cactus plants, or strawberries growing?  Would you think me foolish?  What if I went further to say that I am frustrated that so many tomato, pepper, and squash plants are growing?  Surely then you’d think me strange, right?

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What Are You Growing

While we might think this sort of behavior foolish, we tend quite often to act this way when it comes to what we plant in ourselves.  We desire to have good things happen to us, to have a life full or rich relationships and success, but how can these things grow if they haven’t been planted?  Take this past week for example:  how much time did you spend around positive, excited winners?  Did you learn things directly from leaders or mentors of yours by listening to their wisdom as they poured their experience into you?  If not, how can you expect the plants of success to grow?  There are no seeds to even start with!

Conversely, how much time in the past week have you spent letting negative messages pour into your head?  Have you listened to others around you complain about things they don’t like or blame others for the situations they find themselves in?  Have you spent many hours letting the TV be your teacher?  Are the shows than you watch filled with positive messages of overcoming difficulty through persistence and teamwork, or are they overly-sexualized sitcoms that display selfishness, destruction, or belittling others.  If the latter, what do you think these seeds will grow into within the garden of your mind?

Understand the Connections

Our lives are in much more of our own control than we often realize.  Wise men make the connection between what’s poured into the mind today and the situations we find ourselves in tomorrow. Will you take the step of intentionally pouring in an shielding yourself from the bad?  Put distance between yourself and the habits of the masses, and watch your life of success grow and flourish!

Does Money Drive Your Decisions?

Have you ever heard someone quote from the Bible that, “money is the root of all evil?” Does God really oppose riches and want His children to avoid nice homes, cars, and other physical possessions?  Is it wrong to seek financial freedom and success?

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To start off, let’s check the accuracy of that biblical quote.

1 Timothy 6

7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Money is Paper

Does this passage teach that money is bad?  Is money the root of all evil?  No. Rather, it is the love of money that is a root of all sorts of evil.  Loving anything more than we love God is idolatry, and to do so violates what Christ said was the greatest commandment:  to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  As the passage above teaches, many foolish men have wandered away from God in the pursuit of their greatest love:  money.

So, if loving money is a danger we must be careful to avoid, should we seek to keep our income low and not bother to learn sound financial principles and habits?  Some have misquoted and misunderstood Scripture in asserting such ideas, only to find that this foolishness has the opposite effect than what was intended.

Money on Your Mind

Which man spends more time thinking about money, the one who earns plenty and has a large savings account or the one who earns little and lives paycheck to paycheck?  All else equal, who places more value on a $100 bill, a man who’s in debt up to his ears or a man who has a $1 million net worth?  A rich man may be miserly or generous, and a poor man may love God or love money, but in general the following applies:  those with plenty of money make fewer decisions based on money than do those who have little.

How Then Shall We Live?

So, what does this mean for us—the majority between poverty and affluence?  How should we live in light of these truths?  I see two major lessons:  First, always check your heart that you’re loving God more than money (or anything else for that matter).  Whether you count yourself rich or not, your heart can be led astray after money, so guard yourself and always see money as a means to serving God, not the other way around.  Lesson number two is this: act wisely now in order that your decisions need not revolve around money later.  Dave Ramsey says in this way:  Live now like no one else so that later, you can live like no one else.

Don’t Be the Joneses

It’s a hard thing to do, saying no to fun trips, activities, and purchases just because “we don’t have the money.”  What makes it even harder is that it’s so easy to borrow money on a credit card or finance a big purchase, and this is exactly what our neighbors do.  But, if you will make the hard decisions and say no today, the money you save and invest will grow and compound, and one day you’ll reach the position of financial strength and freedom where money no longer drives your decisions.  We’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Learning Something New

Are you growing?  Not in height, but in your capabilities, your character, your walk with God?  Here’s one way to check:  how often lately have you been frustrated, overwhelmed, and uncomfortable?

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Yes Benefits, No Discomfort

It’s a little funny sometimes how we always want to have the capability, the strength, the skill, but we avoid the exact things it takes to develop those parts into us.  I’ve heard it said that the place where success resides is outside your comfort zone.  I think that describes it pretty well.  Have you been there lately?

I’ve been learning what some may think is an odd skill lately, and even though it might not be the most important capability in the world, the experience has been very enlightening.  You probably can’t tell, but this article is being written with a different keyboard than usual.  It’s called the Dvorak keyboard layout, and I encourage you to Google it and learn more about what makes it worth learning.

But keyboards aren’t what we’re talking about:  we’re talking about learning.  And it’s what I learned about learning that can encourage and propel you to success in what’s important to you.  What I learned is this:

Embrace the Stages

Learning involves progressing through four distinct stages.  Only if you persist through the hard times, the times that make you want to quit, will you get to experience the benefits on the other side.  If there’s only one thing you hear from this entire article, let it be this:  you must persist.  When all seems most hopeless, you must hang on—you are so close to a breakthrough!

The four stages of learning are these:  enthusiastic beginner, frustrated learner, capable but lacking confidence, and master.  When I first learned of the Dvorak keyboard layout, I got really excited!  I jumped into an online lesson and flew through it happily.  This enthusiasm lasted a few days…

By the next week I had a few of the letters down, but by no means enough to type at a decent pace.  I used the backspace key like nobody’s business, and it seemed typing three sentences would take me all day.  It was at this point that the thought of giving up entered my mind.  To make matters worse, I told a few friends about what I was doing and how it could benefit them.  Rather than getting excited like I did, they told me that this was a waste of time and not worth the effort.  This was the low point of my Dvorak experience, and only my commitment to learning and growing helped me hold on.

Don’t Give Up!

I’m happy to report that as I persisted, I began to improve and the new style of typing became more and more fun.  Better than that, I began to see some of the lessons I’m describing for you here, and that made me even happier that I stuck with it!  I still have some room to grow before I become a master Dvorak typist, but I’m at a strong pace and am moving forward—taking the lessons I’ve learned and applying them to growth in the areas that matter most.  Will you get out of your comfort zone this week and start learning something new?  Let us know what it is by registering (which is free of course) and posting a comment below!  Thanks for including us on your path to a thriving life!

To Whom Do You Go?

Can you think of a time when you faced a tough decision and were unsure of the proper course?  When posed with two different options and can only choose one, how do you sort out the best way to go?  I believe that the first step is to recognize the value in seeking council. This is natural, isn’t it?  To tell people around what’s going on in your life in order to hear their perspective?  But all too often, I think we apply this good principle of seeking council in a way that may actually hinder us.

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What to Do?

Let’s take a common and tangible example of a difficult decision.  Imagine that you own and drive a car that is near the end of its life and not worth too much.  One morning when you attempt to start the car, you get some scary noises and a whole lot of white smoke.  Later that day you get the call from your mechanic:  you need a between $800 and $1,500 of work done.  Now, you’re not sure that your car is worth much more than $2,500 once it’s all fixed, and you’re not sure if it’s worth it to pay for the repairs or not.

Seeking Feedback

What would you do in this situation?  If you’re like most people, you’d probably tell your car story to the nearest 10 people who’ll listen.  Invariably, many of these people will offer advice, and certainly it will be well intentioned.  If you’re thinking of the principle mentioned above, that gaining the perspective of others can be valuable in making decisions, you’re probably happy to get all the feedback.  But there’s one key issue we’ve skipped over that makes the difference between the advice you get yielding you a good situation or a problem on top of your problem.

Qualifications test

The key is the determination of adviser qualification.  Or, put more simply, does the person offering advice know what he’s talking about?  Take a basic idea like the following for instance.  Taking financial advice from broke people is unwise.  Think about that for a second.  Now try this one:  taking marriage advice from a person with an unhealthy marriage is unwise.  Seriously, think about it!

Now, while this may seem so simple and obvious, it’s been my experience (personally, I assure you, as well as by watching others do this) that we often fail to apply such a basic filter before giving people’s suggestions credibility.  Our car repair example above is quite a common case of this illogical behavior.  One will ask everyone around him what to do about the car, and he’ll hear many people say, “oh, just trade it in and get a new car!  You’ll save the money on repairs, and paying a little interest is no big deal.  In fact, have you considered a lease?  Then you could have a really cool car right now!”  All too often, we’ll not only accept these ideas, but will actually factor them into our decision making process and let them influence our choice.  But what is the financial position of the advisers here?  Do they own their own cars?  Do they have an effective budgeting system in place and are they on track for retirement?  Often, No!  They do not!

To Become a Winner, Follow Winners

So, here’s the bottom line.  Does the person offering advice have what I want?  If it’s financial advice I’m seeking, do they have a financial life that I’d like to have?  If it’s spiritual advice, so they have the walk with the Lord that I want?  If it’s fitness and nutrition advice, do they have the physique and energy levels I want?  Run your advisers through this simple filter first, and you’ve avoid many behaviors that lead to the terrible place called average.

Driving Blindfolded, Looking in the Rear-view Mirror, or Looking Ahead

What would you think of a person who drove his 2013 Corvette convertible around while wearing a blindfold.  How about someone who kept his eyes glued to the rearview mirror as he blazed down the highway?  Would you think that person is nuts?  Would you consider that person dangerous?  Would you be surprised if I told you this is exactly the way most people operate a major aspect of their life?

nice car!

The illustration above is the way many people operate their finances.  Ask 10 of your friends and neighbors if they keep a budget and you’re likely find few who do so.  Of those who keep a budget, many do not truly have a budget (forward looking) so much as they have a spending tracker (backward looking).  You would never drive a vehicle this way, so why would you operate your finances this way?

Not that fun?

Ok, few people are delighted to sit down with a spreadsheet and map out their spending for the month.  Even fewer people like to say no to themselves and restrict their spending on superfluous items.  But, if you will give advance cashflow planning (budgeting) a chance, I promise that the rewards will be worth the small investment of time, and you may just save yourself from careening off the road!

Having Financial Agility

When you’re sitting down with all the information in front of you, you’re more apt to see roadblocks and curves in the road ahead.  You can look at your home improvement fund or your vacation fund and get a gauge foe whether it’s on track for the upcoming expenses.  This lead time allows you to respond to financial challenges earlier: for example, skipping meals out for a few weeks early in the month so you can afford to buy new tires for your car when they’re needed later in the month.

Taking Control

Rather than creating unpleasant restrictions, a budget like that recommended in our ThriveFit page actually makes your life easier and more hassle-free.  While your friends are busy worrying and hand-wringing about how they’ll pay for the medical bill they didn’t plan for, you’ll be peacefully executing your spending plan for the month.  Although planning ahead doesn’t create more money for you from thin air, when you get your spending under your control, it often feels like you’ve gotten a raise.  Anyway, what do you have to lose?  If you hate the feeling of being in control and looking in front of you instead of behind, you can always go back to the chaos method….  😉

Making a Plan That Lasts

Why make a plan  for your money?  Isn’t it more fun to just grab what you want whenever you want it?

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Growing Up

Living your financial life with the foresight of a 3rd grader may be fun in the moment, but to have what you want next week and next month, a longer term vision is required.  Problem is, even when people become convinced of the value of budgeting to their peace and financial freedom, their first attempt to make a budget sets them up for failure.

Make it Today, and For Today

If you’re like most people, the first time you sit down to work up a budget for the coming month, you try to create a generic, one-size-fits-all budget that will represent all future months.  You’re planning for the perfect month from heaven, problem is, that month never really happens here in the real world!

The key in building a successful cashflow plan is to spend this month’s income on this month’s expenses.  Some expenses will be nice and consistent, such as your house payment or water bill.  But if you make your budget too generic, it won’t work in real life, and you’ll be tempted to just give up money management altogether.

Get Started

Today’s always the perfect time to start planning your budget for the coming month.  If you haven’t tried the latest version of ThriveWealthy, click the tab above to find the page and download the tool.  Read over the instructions briefly, then start entering your expected paycheck amounts and dates.  Allocate how you’ll spend all of next month’s income in the different categories provided, changing category names as needed to make the budget fit your life.

Enlist Our Help!

Don’t be discouraged when things come up and you have to revisit your allocations several times throughout the month.  As you continue to plan your spending before the money is spent, you’ll improve at predicting your actual expenses, and you’ll also notice that your money will start to be spent on those things that are important to you–with less “falling through the cracks” or getting spent on things that don’t really matter to you.  Feel free to post successes, hardships, or questions to the comments section below; we’re all in this together, and we are all here to help each other thrive!

Keys to Leadership and Success

Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a Leadership Team Development (LTD) business conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  My team and I had the chance to learn leadership and success principles from some of the best in our industry.  For your benefit, I’ve summarized some of our major takeaways from the weekend in the following article.  If you’re interested in how you can join this amazing team and have access to great conferences and leaders like these while you create an additional income stream for yourself, feel free to comment on this post or leave a message on our ThriveMart page.  We’d love to be a part of your journey to the top!

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Common Denominators

My single biggest takeaway from the weekend came from a presentation of the five common denominators of every successful business owner.  The general idea was that even though different people build their businesses differently, they all generally do the following five things consistently.

Harmony

In my mind’s eye, I pictured business as an engine.  If you take action on these five things consistently, your engine stays in step with itself–in harmony.  But if not, the time and energy you spend on one cylinder gets for the most part wasted when one of your other cylinders isn’t firing properly.  I believe that a lack of knowledge of this principle has been one thing that has held our business back from realizing its full potential up to this point.  When I first got into business for myself, I thought, “This is great—I get to be my own boss and set my own schedule” and I think I translated that into, “I need only do the things I find fun; I can avoid the uncomfortable things.”  In reality, the proper way to build a business is to set the time commitment you’re willing to make, and work on each of the five things consistently during the time you’ve made available.

Ok, enough commentary, here are the five things:

  • Consistent sales:  Be sure that you’re using your products personally promoting their benefits to existing and potential customers.
  • Read and listen:  Become a collector of great business books and audio recordings of the best and brightest leaders of today and yesterday.  Incidentally, Zig Ziglar is probably my favorite person to read and listen to.  Make sure you get at least a few hours of reading and at least a few hours of listening each week.
  • Lead others:  Share your business with others who have interest in joining your team.  Once you understand how to do something, you can help another person learn it.  Multiply yourself by training others to learn and do those things which made you successful.
  • Spend time around successful people:  Get around the people who have what you want and are doing what you want to be doing as often as possible.  Attend informal gatherings, team meetings, and conferences as often as they are available.  Make the decision to consistently attend beforehand and work the other demands on your schedule around your business. (Note: never lose sight of your priorities:  God, family, then business.  But work your schedule in advance in order to attend these important opportunities for instruction and encouragement)
  • Communicate with your team: Call, email, and text your mentors as well as those whom you are mentoring.  Good communication increases accountability and helps mentees learn from your actions.

Don’t Stop Short

A final picture of this idea goes like this.  Assuming a soda costs $1, what do you get if you put 95 cents into the machine?  Nothing.  You spent all that effort getting the money in, but because you didn’t get all the way to the full dollar, you end up getting nothing.  Neglecting one of the five areas is like leaving off the last five cents.  Don’t leave your effort in the soda machine or run your car on 3 cylinders:  translate these concepts into your life and get going on your journey to the top!

Who’s Programming You?

We are all given a limited amount of time in this life, and we all want to make the most of it.  But how intentional are we about who we spend our time with?  For good or for ill, the people we spend the lion’s share of our time with will impact who we become.  Are your associations building you into the type of person you want to be?

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Anyone Bringing You Down?

It’s been said that your income will be the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  I contend that often your habits, worldview, and maybe even your physique will also tend to mirror that of the people you let into the moments and hours of your life.  If you’re a part of a group of successful people, over time you’ll tend to build yourself into a successful person too.  If you hang around with losers, you’re well on your way to becoming one.

Observe the Words

A good way to distinguish successful people whom you’ll want to model from the kind of people who’ll bring you down is to listen to what they’re predominantly talking about.  Are they more positive and encouraging?  Or do they spend a good deal of time speaking about others negatively?  Is their conversation about future goals they have, and the means they’re planning to accomplish those goals?  Or are there frequent diatribes of blame:  I’d be better off but for what so and so did; If I weren’t so unlucky, I wouldn’t have all these problems.  A person who you want shaping your character will be speaking positively about future events more than he’ll be speaking negatively about past ones.

Avoid Pride

One quick disclaimer before you think I recommend sitting in your own personal ivory tower looking down on all the poor untouchables down there: there is a distinction between choosing to be part of a toxic circle of friends and spending time with people in order to evangelize, mentor, or disciple them.  The former is hazardous to your future, the latter is vital.  Only make sure that you’re spending enough time with strong leaders that you are strong enough yourself to influence a weaker group, rather than being influenced by it.

Can I Do That?

But where can I find a group of strong and godly leaders?  Why would they want to hang out with me?  I have two answers to this point—a short term and a long term answer.  First, you already know a few winners, and I think if you’ll spend a few moments considering it, you can think of few high-quality people in your life who’d answer your phone call.  Start there.  As you intentionally work on those relationships, you’ll be exposed to other winners naturally, and better than that, you’ll actually start to see and recognize the qualities of good leaders in those around you.  And one great thing about strong, godly, successful leaders is that they absolutely love to help people like you who are looking to grow themselves!

Own Your Time

Limit your time around negative people.  Particularly if your core group is of this sort, you’ll have a hard time keeping your distance, but you must gradually ramp down the time and replace it with time with positive role models.  If your negative group is family, you’ve got an even more challenging task.  But you must do it—for your good and ultimately theirs.  Get strong enough over time by being with winners that you’re capable of being around the weaker group and influencing those people positively.  And finally, recognize that you can create boundaries with people—even if those boundaries make people mad.  In fact, if your boundary makes a person mad, they’ve just identified themselves as the kind of person that you definitely need to set boundaries with!  A winner will respect others’ boundaries, and even if he feels slighted, he’ll approach you in a gentle and respectful manner, because that’s how winners behave.

Simple, Not Easy

Today’s lesson can be a tough one to live, particularly if the discussion of “toxic groups” brings the names of a few close friends to mind.  But just as the flight staff tells you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping your child, the best way to help your negative friends is to become a real leader yourself.  We’re here for you along the way, as is our Father in heaven.  Follow Him first and you’ll never be last.

Get Money, Don’t Let Money Get You

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in pursuit of one thing:  money.  Even though money isn’t the only reason we go to work each day, for most people it’s the main reason.  Though money can get a bad rap sometimes (in particular from those who misquote the Bible as saying that money is the root of all evil), spending the day working to acquire it is not a bad thing.  In fact, if you’re like me and you enjoy eating and having a warm bed to sleep in at night, it’s quite a wonderful thing.  But, money makes for a cruel Master, and we must be sure to take certain steps to keep the money we seek from getting us.

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What the Good Book Says

The quote I mentioned earlier that people often get wrong is from 1 Timothy 6:10:  “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”  Similarly, Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24 that, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

A Matter of Priorities

These scriptures, as well as many others throughout the Bible show clearly that money itself isn’t bad, but the way we spend our money tends to reveal where our allegiance lies.  If we are like Christ, our chief desire will be to love and worship God, and money will be a tool or servant under our watch, to be used to glorify God and spread His Gospel.  Conversely, if we seek our own desires first, we will tend to use God as a means toward the end of having more and being more comfortable.  As the wise teacher Hank Haanegraaf says, “instead of loving the Master (Jesus), we only want what is on the Master’s table.”

Fix Your Heart

So, given the understanding that we all tend toward selfishness and are tempted within our own hearts to pursue wealth for the wrong reasons, what can we do to keep money from getting us?  The answer is simple:  give.  All throughout history, God has taught His people to give to Him first.  Though many think that this practice is simply a pragmatic way to fund the church, in fact this has more to do with meeting a need you have than meeting a need the church has.  Here’s why:  God owns everything.  He doesn’t need your money to accomplish His purpose.

Live as You Were Meant To

But what you need is a way to keep your heart from pride, greed, and self-centeredness.  Giving accomplishes this wonderfully, and also comes with the side effects of joy and peace.  When you take the first $100 of your $1,000 paycheck and give it to God, it speaks very clearly to your heart:  “I’m not the most important thing in my life.”  By giving, you recognize that you are simply the manager of God’s money, to use it in accordance with His purposes, and really, what better investment is there?