The Best Year Ever

The wonderful aspect of this time of year is that everything resets starting tomorrow.  As we close out one year, another one open's up.  In the business world, most companies start their new accounting period beginning with the 1st.   This means that everyone is starting at the same place...zero.  No matter how poorly one did in 2012, the turning of the calendar  means that all is forgotten.  It is a new life for everyone.

Conscious Change

One problem that most have is they do not commit to making a conscious change in how they go about things.  For the cast majority of the population, the new year will be a repeat of the last year.  The reason I say this is because 2012 was simply a repeat of 2011.  Most lead lives that string together the repetitiveness of a mediocre life.  I detest taking this pessimistic view but that is what my research reveals.  Few ever take the initiative to radically change their lives.

I mentioned the word commitment.  Before anything can take place, one must fully commit to that end.  And, before that can happen, one needs to consciously decide what change is going to occur.  This is where most people are lost.  They do not look at their lives and commit to changing something.  Instead, they allow circumstances to dictate to them what occurs.  While I will admit that life has a way of throwing us surprises, the bottom line is that some of what occurs in our lives is within our control.  It is crucial that we focus our attention on these areas.

Sadly, of those who do decide to alter some part of their lives, most fall into the "New Year's Resolution Syndrome" where they make a half-hearted commitment to doing something.  The problem with this concept is the simple fact that it is too easy to fall back into the old habitual behavior.  We tend to live our lives according to patterns.  It takes great effort to eliminate a destructive pattern and replace it with another.  Failing to have total commitment almost ensure failure.  Hence why all those people with brand new gym memberships on the 1st of the year waste the next 11 months before it lapses.  The conscious change was not fully committed to resulting in poor performance. 

Rise Above Mediocrity

One commitment that I want you to make for the New Year is to rise above mediocrity.  Now, I know some of you are going to be offended by me calling you mediocre.  If you happen to be one of those people who is truly excelling in most areas of your life, then I commend you.  However, the greatest percentage of the population excels at under performance and exist on a plane that really is not worth living.  In short, they ascend to the heights of mediocrity and remain there.

The problem lies in the fact that society, in general, accepts mediocrity as the norm.  Politicians like to talk about the middle class but, when you think about it, what is the middle class really?  It is the largest number of people who reside at "average".  And this is something that society promotes as an ideal.  "Be comfortable" is the mantra.  Hogwash.  You are here to excel and squeeze everything you can out of life.  From this point forward, keep this idea firmly planted in your mind.

So how do we go about squeezing everything out of life that we can?  It starts with making the commitment to be above average in everything that you do.  No matter what you the activity, strive to be better than most other people.  Notice how it does not says "strive to be the best".  There are couple reasons for this.  Realistically, being the best in any field is unattainable.  Unless you are LeBron James in basketball, there is always someone who is better out there.  So why chase down something that is unattainable?  The other reason is because of the time commitment required to achieve top status.  To become one of the world's best pianists, as an example, is going to necessitate years of study and practice.  Contrast that with being able to play the piano well and be able to wow others at a dinner party.  This might only require a year or so to achieve this level. 

You will be surprised how incredible your life can be if you are above average in many different areas.  Few understand the concept of compounding outside the realm of finance (most do not understand it there except when they see their credit card balances compounding) but it equally applies to talents.  We will use money/finance as an example and see how above average will make a person rich. 

To start, we will take an above average income earner.  This person is not wealthy by his or her salary.  Now we will take the field of investing.  What are some areas that are important?  Chart reading is a technique used by many successful stock investors.  Therefore, our example will strive and accomplish the task of becoming an above average chart reader.  At the same time, for fundamental analysis, knowledge of financial statements is a must so this person will attain the same state.  Of course, to invest, one needs money so our individual will also be an above average saver operating his or her household budget better than the masses. 

With all these qualities, do you think this person will be mediocre in the area of personal finance?  Let us review the list of all the areas that he or she is above average:

-Income...has a bit more money to start
-Savings...more investment money through prudent spending
-Chart Reading....will be able to find trades based upon technical moves that others miss
-Financial Statements....can uncover investment opportunities based upon valuation of a company.

Having these 4 traits, will make this person rich over time.  Notice how he or she was not the best in any one area.  In fact, excelling in any one area is not required.  A person making $50,000 a year who is able to save 15% of that income while earning an average above 12% annually will become very wealthy given enough time.  These numbers are above average but no where near the best.  Yet, this is enough to break out of the mediocrity realm and into success.

The compounding of talents nets great rewards.  Strive to outpace most in as many areas as possible and watch how rapidly your life changes.  Make this your goal for 2013.

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Approaching The New Year

There are only a couple days left in 2012 and then 2013 will be upon us.  I know what you all are thinking: where did the year go?  It seems like just yesterday we were sitting here looking forward to 2012.  Each new year brings upon hopes and dreams.  Sadly, for many, it is usually followed up by the same old routine.


Change is something that few embrace.  Instead, they seek to avoid it as much as possible while maintaining the stats quo.  Most of you already know that nothing great was ever achieved by adhering to the status quo.  This is true whether we are referring to great companies, countries, or lives.  And that is the key message I want to deliver: for you to attain a greatness in your life, you must not only embrace change but seek it out. 

Life is full of changes.  People live and then they die.  In business, companies begin, thrive, deteriorate, and eventually go bankrupt.  Individuals are hired and then fired (or retire) only to be replaced by someone else.  Nature, which is the basic essence of everything, is in perpetual motion.  Everything is moving all the time.  Your life is not differernt.

Therefore, one of your primary objectives for 2013 is to become a change expert.  The time to start is right now.  Remember, it was only a few short 365 days that you were sitting there looking upon 2012 as "your year".  And, I will promise you, it will be no time before we are looking back upon 2013 while planning for 2014.  We all know that time flies.  You literally do not have time to wait.  Begin changing what you can at this very moment.

Focus On What Is Important

One of the best changes you can make is to focus upon that which is important to you.  I found that most people spend the majority of their time chasing after things which ultimately means little to them.  Instead of focusing on what is really important, they allocate their hours to what they think is important.  There is a big difference.  Understanding this and changing your behavior is paramount to lifelong success.

This point is exemplified by those who go through a "mid life" crisis.  Here is a person who spend a couple of decades pursuing those things that he or she thought were going to bring happiness.  The crisis is brought upon by the fact that much was actually achieved yet the person was still unfulfilled.  This is what happens when one spends time focusing upon that which really is not important.  Sure, having the nice house and car might deliver a degree of satisfaction.  However, most find that it really means little to them in the larger picture.  It is at this point that one realizes the need to change.  Too bad so many years were spent chasing after the wrong thing.

So, how does one go about determining exactly what is important?  One of the best ways is to picture yourself on your death bed (I know pretty morbid but bear with me) looking back over your life.  Or, another way is to imagine that you are diagnosed with an incurable disease and given only a year or two to live.  When you put yourself in these states, you then can consider what is important.  There is a saying that says never did a man, when on his deathbed, wish he spent more time at the office.  Work is a big part of our lives.  However, it is not the only part nor even the most important.  It is a means to an end.  For you to be fulfilled, you need to concentrate you attention on the end and not the means.


One other change I want you to make immediately is to focus your attention of both.  I realize that life is about choices and there are often sacrifices that need to be made along the way.  Nevertheless, most people are conditioned to think in terms of either/or.  This is not how successful people operate.  Rather than consider one of the two choices, they look for ways to have both.  For example, how can I make more money and create more time freedom for myself?  Many will tell you that you can have one or the other but that is not exactly accurate.  It is possible to have both if you structure your life properly.

This approach is extremely helpful in that it starts to develop your creativity.  Making decisions is important and a good muscle to develop.  However, one's thinking can get lazy when constantly opting between two choices.  Those who develop their ingenuity begin to see ways of how to have both choices as opposed to just one. 

Another thing that it does is that you attention is focused upon the limitless possibilities that exist in this world.  Too many of us become conditioned to believe that we have to exist within this cocoon that society presents to us.  Our minds quickly become our captors by adhering to the ideas of others.  Of course, the ones who taught us these principles were the sames ones who subscribed to them.  How many of us had parents or teachers who believed in both?  The truth is most people we meet believe they continually have to make trade offs.  This simply is not true.

Consider these:

-working and having fun
-earning money while gaining more free time
-losing weight yet enjoying food
-build wealth while not being miserly
-eating healthy and eating inexpensively

Look at these examples and think of ways to accomplish these ends.  Most will look at them as trade offs.  Part of your new plan for 2013 is to consider everything in terms of both.  This shift in mindset alone will net you much greater results than you can ever imagine.

Let us now begin to make 2013 the best year ever.
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Motivated By Pain

There are times in life when things simply do not go our way.  This is true for every person walking the planet.  Even the most successful people suffer terrible setbacks in their pursuit of excellence.  The difference is that the top people do not succumb to those times in life when things turn awry.  Instead, they get into the battle while continuing to move forward.


Pain is the best motivator in the world.  Some of the greatest success stories occurred only after enough pain was ensured.  Most people need to reach the point where they will not take any more before they embrace change.  And it is often this change that enables one to break through. 

At the same time, pain is also something that can paralyze people.  Many endure a situation where something "bad" happens and stop all forward progress.  This is often accompanied by some form of depression which puts one in a state of paralysis.  People in this state often find it difficult to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.

Bottoming Out

Let us be clear: nobody likes emotional pain.  It sucks and is something we all seek to avoid.  Sadly, it is as much a part of life as oxygen is.  Without pain, we would not be alive.  It is a continual part of the human experience.  Therefore, we must not only accept it but use it to our advantage.

As mentioned, success is often a result of suffering an intolerable amount of pain.  Many call this the "bottoming out" process.  Before one will ensure the pain of changing, he or she must first find the pain of remaining the same too much to bear.  It is when the pain of changing is less than the status quo that advancement can be made.

People who recover from addictions know this story intimately.  Anyone who has overcome something of this nature did so only after reaching their bottom with the substance.  Before this point was reached, all efforts to take corrective action were useless.  Logic and mental stimulation were of no assistance.  It is only through the use of pain that one is able to reverse course and overcome addiction.

Never Again

To truly excel, a person needs to attain a state where he or she is so disgusted that change is the only solution.  Also, this pain should be encoded as a physiological level whereby the idea of going back is completely removed.  Sustained weight loss is a prime example.  "YoYo" dieters often achieve the first state where they are so disgusted they are willing to endure the pain of change.  However, as time passes, the pain diminishes.  This opens the door for poor behavior which ultimately leads one to regaining the weight.  Those who maintain the loss are those who do not forget what it was like.

Embracing pain seems counter intuitive to personal development yet it is a fundamental tool required for all success.  It is time you implemented some "never agains" in your life.  Look at those areas which you desire change.  List 3 or 4 things which you know you need to alter and figure out a way to get so disgusted with them that you have no choice but to take action.  This is the first step.  Then, ingrain in your psyche all you can to make sure you are aware of how you feel at that particular moment and do not forget it.  This will help to carry you through those times when bad habits creep in.  Continual forward progress is necessary.

Some of you might not have too far to look to get the motivation required.  Perhaps there was an external event in your life which really upset you.  Relish the pain that you are in and figure out how to allow it to carry you forward.  Pain is a sensational motivator when applied.  Do not let the pain of the circumstance get you down.  Instead, turn it into passion by allowing it to "light a fire" in your belly (or under your ass).  Focus upon the task in front of you and go after it with all the gusto of a person possessed.  When you achieve this state, there is nothing that can stop you.  This is how the greatest successes in the world are attained.  It is only a matter of turning that pain into something positive. 

Say to yourself, never again am I going to have my life be this way...and set out to change it.

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This is one of the main insights into success that people overlook.  Most have know that for a goal to be effective, one of the criteria is that it not be vague.  One of the ways this is accomplished is by putting a degree of measurement on what is trying to be achieved.  There are numerous instances where this is exemplified.

Visualize The End

The best way to alter your life is to look into the future and visualize the end that you want to achieve.  Many goal setting workshops begin with the idea of "starting with the end in mind".  This is another way of projecting yourself into the future to determine what it is you want.  Of course, this is where the components of useful goals enters.  Some of the highlights"

-goals must be in writing
-they must be in the positive
-they must be specific
-they must be measurable

By having a goal measurable, you can determine where you are as compared to where you would like to be.  Also, as progress is made, it is easy to decipher exactly where you stand.  Clarity is provided every step of the way.

Let us look at the example of weight loss.  How effective do you think the goal of "losing weight" is?  When someone says they want to lose weight, what do they mean?  In other words, what is considered success?  Losing weight can mean knocking off 1 pound in 6 months.  This accomplishment fits the goal of "losing weight".  However, we all know this is not what people mean.

Therefore, it is best to specify what is desired.  Instead of being general, a person can say "I want to weigh 150 pounds by June 1".  Notice how we suddenly have a measurable situation.  We know the time period (presuming we are aware of what today's date is).  In addition, once we determine the present weight, simple math enables us to find the weight amount needed to lose.  Then a plan can be structured to meet that goal.  As you can see, the effectiveness is greater when one takes the second  approach.

One tangent I want to make about weight loss.  Many people sabotage their chances of losing weight because they utilize the wrong thing to measure.  Weight is a mixed bag being comprised of a few different variables.  The most important aspect is that one is made up of both fat and muscle.  Obviously, one who wants to reduce weight means he or she is looking at dropping the amount of fat.  However, when working out, one often puts on muscle which will affect the total weight loss.  This is where the wrong variable is being measured.

Instead of opting for this path, a better metric to use is total inches.  Before starting your exercise program, measure yourself.  Get, in inches, the size of your waist, hips, arms, and legs.  Men can also measure their back and calves.  Then, at the proper intervals, remeasure to chart the progress.  Weight loss might not be occurring because muscle is added yet inches are falling off with the reduction of fat.  This will keep one motivated to continue.

Measure Everything

Weight loss is not the only area where this comes into play.  It is best to get in the habit of measuring everything.  I will state, that while some metrics are better than others, measure something is better than measuring nothing.  Even if we used the basic scale, at least there is some numerical significance to what is taking place.  Imagine if someone ignored it completely and just started working out.  How would he or she know what progress was being made.

People often wonder, how do I quantify improving my life.  To start, this is an abstract goal since it lacks specifics.  However, even using something like this is measurable.   One might start by writing up a list of all the different activities which would improve that said life.  Once the list is completed, let us say there are 100 items, a goal of when to complete them could be determined.  Again, simple math enables us to deduce what needs attention each day.  Perhaps one gives 20 days to complete the list.  That means 5 actions require completed every day.  If one skips a day, it is easy to recalculate how the future behavior must change.

Money is an area that almost everyone has desires for improvement.  Yet few, because of the emotional severity, are willing to look closely at where they are.  Individuals know they are in debt but rarely does one have the courage to figure out exactly how much.  This requires experiencing a great deal of pain.  An honest assessment of where you are at is the first step.  Finances are very simple to quantify since they are numbers.  There is no conversion necessary.  The accounting profession created a number of tools which enable you to map out your present situation (do any search of words such as cash flow, income statement, balance sheet).  Again, the task is nothing more than quantify where you stand and determine where you want to go.  Once this is accomplished, structure your actions to move from the first number to the second.  Quantifying makes life a lot easier.

Remember, anything that you are seeking to do requires that it be measurable.  This is one sure way to increase your chance of success.

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Your Relationship To Money

People are unaware of how they view money and how much it affects their ability to create wealth.  Life is an inside job with the inner abilities reflected in the physical world.  Those who attain a certain level of production, no matter what the endeavor, believe certain things.  Ability is only part of the equation; confidence, desire, and persistence are examples of others.

Everyone Can Be Rich

This is a statement that many view as foolhardy.  Yet, it is an absolute fact.  Rich people are not lucky or different from the average person.  Sure, the media likes to glorify the superstar athlete or movie star and the rich heirs who instantly become "celebrities".  However, most research reveals these people are the minority when it comes to the wealth.  In other words, few people amass their wealthy by winning the lottery.  Instead, there are common paths that people follow to reach this end.

While I am not going to delve into the steps to wealth building in this post, I will tell you that the path is simple to follow.  Please bear in mind, like most worthwhile things in life, simple does not mean easy.  The road to riches involves a great deal of study and time.  Those who are willing to make it a goal and invest the time to become wealthy usually will achieve that end.  Most never get to this point because they simply fail to make it a goal in their lives.  Believe that you can amass wealthy because anyone can.

Money Thoughts

Money is a powerful topic which elicits great emotions.  People feel strongly about their beliefs as it pertains to wealth.  What is incredible is that they do not even acknowledge that they have these beliefs.  The sad fact is most beliefs are not consciously adopted but, rather, a result of the conditioning we receive.  It is time to think about what you believe in relation to money.

When you hear someone became a millionaire, how do you feel?  Are you happy for the person or jealous?  Do you believe they did something illegal or unethical to get to the point?  Were they just lucky?  Answers to questions like these reveal what your beliefs are about money.  Growing up we hear phrases like "money does not grow on trees" or "you cant take it with you".  These ideas help to influence the way we view wealth.  For most, the unfortunate part is that the people doing the influencing are not wealthy themselves.  In addition, these people also have their own prejudices and anger towards the wealthy which most likely passed along.

Your relationship to money will determine whether you accumulate it or not.  Do you believe that money "is not important"?  Obviously, if money is not important than you fail to amass any of it.  Are rich people greedy and corrupt?  If this is the case, who wants to join them?  The point I am making is most people are not rich simply because they have ill feelings towards wealth.  Ironically, the accumulation of money on its own is neither positive or negative.  What is important is the service provided along the way and the person you are (or become) when attaining that end.  Money is an inanimate object.  It is nothing more than a medium of exchange.  Those who understand this are able to breakthrough the limiting beliefs that most have towards money.  This is a crucial step in the process.

Therefore, look at what your relationship towards money is.  Consider how your parents thoughts and what they taught you.  Also, look at societal influences, both near and far, to see where those around you stand on this subject.  Everything that is mentioned pertaining to money has some type of message along with it that imprints upon our psyche.  Over time, this creates our belief system.  It is time for you to uncover and take your thinking back.  If you desire wealth, it is imperative that you do this.

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The Key To Being Rich

We see an argument taking place in Washington right now regarding the "fiscal cliff" that the United States appears to be facing.  At the core is the debate whether to cut spending or raise taxes.  This is the same argument the two parties engaged in for a hundred years.  However, it seems that the country is at the point where something needs to be done.  Without action, horrific financial consequences are bound to affect the country, or so we are told.

Two Sides of The Equation

I am a big believer in looking at both sides of the equation to determine what the proper course of action is.  Sadly, few seem to have this ability because they opt to only focus upon what they are conditioned to believe.   This is as true in personal finances as it is in politics.  Tunnel vision is something that we all need to be mindful of if we are going to uncover our proper path of action.

At this time, I am not even going to offer up a solution to the United States' fiscal cliff.  There are much brighter people (well that might be debatable) who are paid good tax dollars to figure this stuff out.  Personally, I would feel more comfortable with a bunch of 23 year old men and women than what is presently there.  Nevertheless, I am certain we will see more bickering with each party holding to its' core position.

 The one solution I can offer up is regarding the income statement.  One of the fundamentals in wealthy building is the ability to read and understand financial statements.  Without this ability, one is destined to walk aimlessly through financial affairs.  When this happens, people who thought they were doing well suddenly find out they were not.  One of the most basic tools is the income statement.

For those unfamiliar, basically the income statement measures incoming and outgoing money.  The goal is to determine whether a profit or a loss was made during a specific period of time.  All expenses are deducted from the income to arrive at the profit or loss for that time frame.  Once that is done, different periods are compared to see if a company (or individual) is improving or not.  This is valuable information.

Notice how there are two parts which this financial tool focuses upon.  Income and expenditures are both tracked.  Businesses think nothing of this but individuals exist in a different realm.  If you are to create wealth in your life, it is crucial you understand and are willing to concentrate on expenses as well as income.

I Want A Raise

How many times do hear this uttered?  It is commonplace for employees to complain they are not paid enough and want more money.  Certainly, this might be a factual complaint depending upon the situation.  Many people do outstanding work which is deserving of greater pay.  Nevertheless, it is important to realize this solves nothing.

I am going to guess that if you asked 100 people whether they would like to increase their income by 10%, you would get a unanimous answer of yes.  There is not a single person who instantly would not like 10% more money in his or her paycheck.  It only makes sense that if one wants to get ahead, earning more money is how that is done.

Or is it?  Bringing in more money is a component to increasing one's wealth.  When more money is earned, there is the possibility that the income statement will improve.  I write possibility because most people realize that when more money is earned, the tendency to spent more also emerges.  Hence, instead of improving the income statement (expenses deducted from income), the bottom line remains the same at best.  In a fair number of cases, the  person actually spends incrementally more money than was earned in the raise through credit.

Another way to look at the situation is to go back to those same 100 people and ask them if they would like to cut their expenses by 10%.  Obviously, the answer is going to differ greatly.  Few people are willing to cut their spending.  Yes they want more money but the idea of cutting back does not register as a gain in their minds.  This is in accordance with one who does not understand the income statement.

The fundamental truth is that if one wants to amass wealth, spending needs to be curtailed.  If you look at the net effect on the income statement, you understand why this is so.  As one reduces expenses, the net at the end increases even if income remains the same.  We see this in business when layoffs are announced in response to flat or declining sales.  Yet individuals rarely take this approach when looking at their own budgets.  

It is best to remember that both income and expenses are important components to building wealth.  Definitely, we all want to receive more money regardless of the source.  However, that is something that is often out of our control.  The one aspect that is within our power is the amount that is outgoing.  While there are certain facts of life like shelter, food, clothing, and the expense that goes along with that, there is also a great deal of discretionary spending in every household.  It is important that you get this aspect of your life under control.  This is where many people turn a net profit into a net loss (or break even).  Reduce your spending and invest the savings.  This is the key to being rich.  Everything else falls in line behind this idea.

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The Walk Around Method

In my new book "How to Conquer Procrastination", I mention a number of different techniques which will assist anyone, no matter how badly they are affected by this habit, to overcome procrastination and take action.  One method which did not make it into the book is what I term "the walk around" method.  This is a technique which is very simple in design and will net tremendous results.

Pesky List

We all have those pesky lists of items which require attention.  The problem for a procrastinator is that they either are paralyzed by fear or are motivated by laziness.  Hence, the list keeps getting longer.  Using this method is an effective way to remove some of these tasks while creating a visual difference in your surroundings.  Ultimately, this will uplift one who is suffering under the emotional toll of inactivity.

In a nutshell, the walk around method entails nothing more than walking around your house (or office) and tending to anything that you see needs attention.  There is no planning or systematic approach.  It is best to lean towards those activities which require little time.  The key here is to knock the activities out so they no longer consume mental energy.  Anything that is left unresolved tends to garner the attention of our minds.  Eliminating these tasks by simply completing them frees the mind up for more productive things.

One thing I will stress is that whatever activity is undertaken, it must be done to completion.  While redoing the roof on the house is a noble activity, especially if there are leaks, this is not something to focus upon utilizing this method.  Instead, we want to concentrate on the simple.  Simplicity is our friend.

Comes Naturally

I know some of you are reading this and saying "why does he even mention this".  There are many people who are not affected by procrastination to the degree that some of us are (or were).  This method is what a great percentage of the population normally does.  If a person is walking past the stairs and there are a pair of shoes, he or she naturally puts them away.  Not so with the procrastinator.  This is a person who will walk past those same shoes for weeks AND dwell upon that fact obsessively.  That is why procrastination can affect a person to a point of causing a mental illness of sorts.

Here is a prime example.  If a procrastinator enters the kitchen which requires some cleanup, he or she will, perhaps, tend to a task, and then leave.  A normal person will simply address all the needs in one shot.  Thus, the dishes will be put into the sink, the stove cleaned off, and the spices and other cooking supplies put away.  It is a natural act to do all the chores.  When it comes to the procrastinator, we must remember, nothing comes natural as it pertains to action.  Even the slightest act can be a struggle.

The walk around method works to the procrastinator's advantage in that it allows the freedom to move about and shift from one activity to another.  The goal is not to complete an entire set of tasks (like in the kitchen) although that is not a bad direction to take.  We are concerned with taking action and completing something.  If it is an assortment of activities in different rooms, that will make a difference.  The key is to stay busy and finish the activity once started.  For example, if there is a pile of laundry on the bed, all of it must be folded (putting away is a separate task).  Tending to the task partially will not net much of an effect, either emotionally or visually.  Finishing the task is of utmost importance.

Try this a couple times over the next week.  The time periods can be short.  Even if you commit to 30 minutes, two times during the next 5-7 days, you will see how much of a benefit this can be.  It is a fantastic way of eliminating some of those pesky chores.

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Big Thinking

Of late, I wrote a great deal about thinking.  The mind is the most powerful mechanism in your life.  It will create yet it will also destroy.  All your dreams are possible if you will only capture the power of the mind.  Failure to do this almost definitely leads down the road of mediocrity.

A Thought Requires No Effort

A thought is not a physical activity which requires effort.  It is something that occurs often without our awareness.  Everyone of us experienced the situation where a thought "just popped into our heads".  There was no great exertion or strain.  The idea simply appeared.

The same is true for those things that we consciously focus our minds upon.  People often spend time brainstorming problems considering all possibilities as they pertain to the given situation.  Through this process, plans and solutions are created while weighing the probabilities of each.  Again, it is a mental exercise which lacks a physical component.  

Another area we see the power of thinking is when we project.  Each of us have activities or obligations that will occur in the future.  Perhaps it is a meeting for work or a court case.  Whatever the circumstance, there are times when we must do things that we are not excited about.  These are the times when the mind takes over.  Looking forward to an impending event which we dislike leads to a negative projection.  People will naturally look at a situation such as this and go to the "worst case scenario".  The only outcome that is envisioned is one which "bad" things happen.  It never occurs to the person to mental establish the situation as going how he or she desires.

Of course, you can understand how it take no more effort to create a positive mental outcome versus a negative one.  It is exactly the same process.  Nevertheless, individuals tend to lean towards the negative mindset.

Big Thinking

"You do not want to go bankrupt over a duplex." -Robert Kiyosaki

This is the essence of big thinking.  If things are going to go wrong, you want them to go wrong in a big way.  At least then you have a chance at a decent payoff.  Yet too many play things conservative for fear of losing.  This is indicative of small thinking.

Before going further, I will mention that I am not discussing the idea of being careless and just gambling.  Prudence is a characteristic that everyone should develop.  Senseless risk taking rarely has a good outcome.  This is especially true in the business and investing world.  There are many pitfalls if one is not wise to the way things work.  Due diligence is all affairs is always recommended.

However, the foundation of all great success is the mindset.  Everything that occurs first evolves in the mental state.  Every invention or creation was at one time a thought in someone's head.  This is a key that most people miss.  Before anything can take place, it must first be thought about.  And, as we saw with projection, it takes no more effort to think big as compared to thinking small.  The power of the mind is incredible if you can just harness it.

So it is time to answer the question: what do you want from life?  Naturally, I am going to suggest you remove the cap from your mind.  Approach this with the mindset that all is possible.  Some will be tempted to settle by saying "I just want to be happy" or "I want to be able to pay my bills".  The problem with this is there is nothing exciting or compelling about these goals.  You want to be radical.  There was a time when nobody thought man could fly.  People use to read by candlelight.  Computers occupied entire floors of building at one time.  The mobile phone was something in a sci-fi program.  All these ideas are part of our present reality yet were ludicrous a few decades ago.

What is your big idea?  List all the things that you want in life and do not hold back.  Focus upon the experiences you desire such as traveling to exotic places or being in a romantic place with your special someone.  Consider great achievements that you want.  Look at how you can contribute to the world in a big way.  Get excited about the process because there is a lot more out there for you.

A mundane life is the result of mundane thinking.  Begin to change that today.

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Contarian Thinking

It is our thoughts that guide our lives.  This is a fact that the self improvement industry has mentioned for thousands of years.  It is even contained in one of the original self-help guides titled "The Bible".  Everything we see around us first started out as an idea.  Also, all the experiences we had took place in the mind.  It is here where everything is processed.

Cultural Conditioning

Our minds are influenced by those around it.  This is evident when we look at the belief system of different cultures.  What is viewed as important versus what is not is nothing more than cultural biases.  In the United States, for the most part, money and success are touted as being something everyone needs to focus upon.  However, when you look at a country like Italy, they value family and friendship a lot more than here in the United States.  These beliefs are nothing more than the influence of where we were raised.

We can take this same approach with religion.  This is the ultimate in conditioning.  Presently, there are wars waged in the world over differences in religious ideas.  Both sides, naturally, feel they are correct and are willing to kill for those beliefs.  Nevertheless, did you consider where those ideas came from.  How come someone who was raised in mid-western United States is most likely a Christian while a person in the Middle East is a Muslim?  Did each of these people actively study all the different religions before choosing one that best fit what they were looking for?  Not likely.  Studies have determined that the biggest influence upon a religion chosen is what geographic location one grew up in and the religious identification of the parents.  Isn't that interesting?  The people around us influence the beliefs and ideals that we hold.  We see this same scenario play out in regards to sports teams, political affiliation, and business ideals. 

Counter Culture

Now that we understand how those people around us affect the beliefs that we hold, here is a question worthy of consideration: are they correct?  This is something that few take the time to truly ponder.  The common path is that we will simply accept what we are taught.  It is for this reason that few people really implement change in their lives.  Following the status quo never leads to anything but slavery.

I will use the Western model since that is what I am most familiar.  Here in the United States, we are taught to go to school, study hard, get good grades, attend a good college, repeat the process there, and, upon graduation, find a good job.  The mindset of the educational system and those who go through it is to become a "good employee".  While I will admit there is nothing wrong with this path, there is little to get excited about when you consider what someone is in for.  Expanding this out, the idea is to work for 45 years or so, save money up, and retire where you can finally enjoy life.  This is the ultimate in delayed gratification.

Great breakthroughs are made by people who do not mentally accept the status quo.  People such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are examples who went counter to what people thought possible and created two of the most successful companies in the world.  At the same time, those who stray from the traditional mindset can often find more happiness and fulfillment than the person who is plugging along "because the culture says so".  This idea is exemplified by all those people who gave up lucrative careers to move to a rural area and open a bed & breakfast.  These people exchanged the prevailing wisdom for a belief system that they felt worked better for them.

Question The Norm

It is time for you to question the norm.  Please bear in mind I am not recommending you become a counter cultural misfit.  Being on the contrarian side of things just to be that way makes no more sense than blindly following the herd.  Each is grounded in the same mindset of allowing others to make decisions.  Individuality is what you are seeking.

Here are some ideas to get you going.  What are your thoughts of working a 40 hour (or more) week?  Is this the only path to take?  Do you believe that you have to wait until retirement to enjoy yourself and live the life you want?  What is it that you want to do with your life?  How do you want to spend your time?  Did you consciously choose the career that you are involved in or did you just fall into it?  How about where you live?  Would you prefer to live in another part of the nation or another country altogether?  Is there any reason why you can do this?  What would you do if money was no object?  Thinking along these lines will start your questioning what you believe.  Remember, the odds are that your belief system was established by someone else.

This is your life and you should live it as you see fit.  What is most important to you is what really matters.  Following the status quo blindly is one of the reason why so many are thoroughly unfulfilled with their lives.  They live a life of "quiet desperation".  It is time you begin to seek out other ways of doing things.  Get radical with your thinking.  Believe it or not, more is possible than you are led to believe.

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Chasing The Right Dream

Too many people allow the outside world to dictate the terms of their lives.  Human beings naturally are looking for acceptance.  As children, this idea is further reinforced.  We learn the merits of pleasing others.  Usually, when others are pleased with us, we receive a reward.  Also, when they are upset or disappointed, there is a punishment.  This is something we learn throughout our childhood which carries into our adult years.

Profession Not By Choice

Few people actively choose the profession they end up in.  Most graduate high school and decide to go to college.  Upon completing their first year, a decision is to be made of a major.  This is the course of study which will apply towards the eventual profession that is ultimately entered into.  Or at least that is the theory.  The only problem with this idea is how many people of 18 or 19 years old have any idea what they want to do?  According to my analysis, very few.

There is another problem with this methodology.  Even of those teens who do know what field they are going to enter into, how many of them actively choose it on their own.  Again, my research dictates the same answer: very few.  Most individuals in this situation are opting for a course of study to please someone else.  We see this often in the medical field where a person becomes a doctor because others in the family expect it.  Or, another common situation is where one enters into the "family business".  How many times have you see a law firm called Smith & Smith which is a parent/child partnership.  Obviously, the apple did not fall far from the tree on this one.  As you can see, the reason is obvious.

Societal Dreams

Society also has a way of exerting its muscle and telling us what is appropriate behavior.  Over the last 30 years, "blue collar" work in the United States has a tarnished image.  The ones who entered those fields were the kids who were not smart enough to get into college.  Our societal conditioning teaches that one should be in white collar professions to be worthy of esteem.  Plumbers, carpenters, and electricians are not as esteemed as lawyers, doctors, and accountants.  Therefore, people opt for particular professions based upon this mindset.

Another area where society is influential is with the proverbial "keeping up with the Joneses".  People are affected by what they see from advertisers.  We are taught what a "successful" life is.  Images of cars, homes, and fancy vacations are plastered in magazines and on television are being symbols of success.  The implied idea is that if you do not have them then you are a failure.  And who wants that?

So, what happens?  People end up buying these items, often on credit to impress other people.  Living up to the standards of society is a baseline many people have to attain.  To them, just being content is not enough.  They have to have the right car parked in the garage which is attached to a house in the proper zip code.  Hence, great effort (and expense) is required to achieve these ends.

 Crisis Hits

What happens when one achieves these ends yet is still unhappy?  This is where the proverbial mid-life crisis hits.  Usually it takes a few decades for someone to "arrive".  This allows for enough time to succeed in a field thus generating the income to accumulate all the toys.  This is a model which is followed since it is the blueprint we are told will equal happiness.  Of course, the day arrives where the person wakes up and realizes all this stuff does not equate to happiness.

What happens when one finds him or herself in a crisis situation such as this?  At this time, the person looks to change things.  If he or she is proactive, a conscious decision to follow another path might be undertaken.  This is where we see people switching careers.  However, often people will deal with the problem in unhealthy ways such as having an affair or buying an even more expensive toy in a quest to attain what he or she thought is missing.  Ultimately, we know none of these solutions will work.  Hence the process of unhappiness continues.

The Right Dream

The best decision you can make is to start following the right dream for yourself.  Shed the shackles that exist from conditioning of others.  Instead, analyze what you want and go after it.  There is no reason for you to live an unhappy existence.  This world has a lot to offer.  It is up to each of us as individuals to decide what we want out of this life.  Everything is on the table if you are willing to stretch your mind.

In western cultures, we are not taught to strive for a thing called fulfillment.  Instead, the images I mentioned before of success are held as esteem.  Yet, what better way to go through life than to be fulfilled and content.  Does that mean you have to settle for less?  Not at all.  What it means is that you need to decide exactly what you want.  If you do not like working 80 hours a week, then why do you do it?  Is it because your quest is to amass more money to pay for all the things you think are important?  If so, perhaps you need to re-evaluate this idea.  Whatever your situation is, did you end up in it because of conscious choices you made?  If the answer is no, then you need to figure out what you want.

Many people are taught to wait until they are older to enjoy the things in life.  We even have a nice term for it: our golden years.  The sad fact is most people never make it to this age.  Illness derived from stress put people in a state where they end up buried long before they retire.  Therefore, all the things they put off never come to fruition.  Life simply passes by.

You cannot allow life to pass you by.  Decide what you want, what you truly want, and go for it.  Sure, it might take some planning and adjustments.  But the fact of the matter is your life is proceeding day-by-day and you cannot make up for lost time.  There is no other time than the present because we have no idea how much of a future any of us have.  If you are a person putting things off until another year, please keep this concept foremost in your mind.  The end could come at any time.  It is your responsibility to pack as much into the years you have here as you can.  This is your life.  If you find yourself chasing a dream that you no longer hold dear, then it is time you did something about it.  Chasing the right dream is crucial if you ever are going to find fulfillment in life.

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