Monthly Archives: May 2016

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Each new habit will get easier each time that you take action. The more often you repeat a habit, the firmer it will be, and you will be less apt to stray from it.” – Don M. Green

The One Word Responsible for My — and Your — Success

By Craig Ballantyne and Bedros Keuilian
Whatever it is that you want to do, change, or achieve, someone else before you has done it, often starting from circumstances worse than yours.

Success starts with preparation and planning to avoid the wrong people, environments, and habits. Then you need to connect with the right people, environments, and habits.

Success is simple once you accept how difficult it is.

If you don’t believe me, listen to my friend Bedros Keuilian. Bedros came to America at the age of 4 with his family from Armenia (legally, too), but couldn’t speak a ‘lick of English’. His family was broke. He had to dumpster-dive for food. He didn’t go to college.

Yet Bedros has raised himself up into the epitome of the American Dream, becoming a millionaire many times over, helping tens of thousands of people every day, and today he owns the fastest growing fitness franchise in the world.

He attributes his success to one word. I’ll let him explain…

The One Word Responsible for My — and Your — Success

By Bedros Keuilian

Humans are funny. We do things in a ritualistic fashion. Think about your morning routine, your weekend routine, or your evening routine.

It’s likely you do the same stuff in the same order, right?

Those are habits.

And our habits are there to keep us safe and to make life predictable.

But often times our habits form by taking the path of least resistance.

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But today, we fall into habits that are easy BUT bad for us.

So if we don’t pay close attention to the habits and rituals we choose, we end up sick, fat, tired, depressed, and unfulfilled.

How to Set Good Habits…

Several years ago I started getting really bad anxiety attacks and essential tremors. After trying to deal with them myself I went and saw a doctor. The Xanax that was prescribed to me made me numb and drowsy. I lost all creativity and desire to work.

I got off the pills and tried to figure out what was causing me to have these panic attacks and essential tremors (where my nervous system would simply shut down on me forcing me to go into uncontrollable shakes).

I looked at my habits. I realized I had cut my exercise time in half in order to accommodate my business and work more. That was a big mistake.

I had allowed clients and customers to cross personal boundaries by making myself available to EVERYONE morning, noon, nights and weekends via text, email, or phone.

I had taken on businesses and business partners whose values and work ethic did not align with mine.

Turns out I had slowly given into bad habits, one by one that were causing me to fall apart, get fat, and slide into depression and anxiety.

My attempt at giving my clients, customers and business partners better service and more of me had caused me to abandon the healthy habits and rituals that made me the super power that I was.

I found myself less capable, less effective, and unable to cope.

After seeing how one small habit led to another small (and equally bad) habit I made the decision to one by one reverse each bad habit for the sake of my sanity, health, family and business.

Just one habit at a time.

That’s all it takes.

Replace one bad habit with one good habit.

I want to challenge you to better your habits and replace the bad ones with good ones, too.

Maybe it’s cutting out sugars and sweets.

Maybe it’s going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning without hitting snooze.

Maybe it’s adding exercise to your morning routine.

Maybe it’s getting back into the habit of being grateful.

Maybe it’s reading a book every month.

Whatever good habits you’ve drifted away from, get back to them one good habit at a time.

And when you’re ready for another good habit, then introduce it back into your life.

One by one invite the good habits back into your life and discard the bad ones that are causing you stress, fear, doubt, overwhelm, keeping you tired, out of shape or sick.

Just one habit at a time.

***

Craig here again…

Bedros is right.

We must develop new, stronger habits that will allow us to reach our goals. Start by…

1) Setting deadlines for your new positive habits.

2) Making small changes every day.

3) Preparing for those days when we feel like doing the opposite of what we should be doing.

You can do it. You can break free from your comfort zone. If you believe in yourself as much as I believe in you, you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams. It may not be easy, but you can and will do it. I’ll be right here with you every step of the way.

About the Author: Bedros Keuilian is the embodiment of the American Dream. Arriving in the United States from the communist Soviet Union back in 1980, his family went from being broke to eventually adding value to their new community. Today, Bedros helps over 45,000 fitness experts grow their businesses. Bedros knows the American Dream is NOT dead, because he is living it right now.

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Important Steps For Parents to take after an Autism diagnosis

After an Autism Diagnosis: 13 Crucial Next Steps For Parents

BlogHer Original Post

If your child has recently been diagnosed with autism, as my son was in 2003, here’s what I want you to know: Learn from me, don’t be me.

Leo Around the Time of His Autism Diagnosis

Leo, around the time of his diagnosis. Photo: © Jonathan Mandel, used with permissionWhen professionals first started suggesting that my Leo might be autistic, I reeled. I didn’t know anything about autism at the time, except as disability version of a child-stealing bogeyman. When my son’s diagnosis was confirmed, I was terrified. And then I was depressed. And then I got to work on figuring out how to parent an autistic kid. And then I made a lot of mistakes. And then I rued those mistakes and tried to do better. And then I wished it hadn’t taken me so damn long to figure out the best ways to support, help, advocate for, and express my love for my now-teen son—who has always deserved better than a reeling, terrified, depressed, confused, and regretful mom.

The funny thing is, the happy photo of my family and parents you see above was taken around the time Leo was first diagnosed. Look at that cute, sweet little guy, radiating and reciprocating joy! Yet that sweetness and that joy was not my focus at the time, because I was so preoccupied by negative assumptions about autism, and also by the urging I was getting from so many sources to “fix” Leo, to hurry up and get him into various therapies so he wouldn’t miss any supposed windows of opportunity.

I wish I’d known then what I know now: that I should have given myself more time to recognize my wonderful autistic boy for who he is, rather than what people assumed autism made him. I also wish I’d been able to recognize and dismiss all that debilitating ignorance, fear, and confusion.

Ideally, I’d go back in time and advise (and pinch) my former self. But since that’s not currently possible, my next best option is to share some hard-earned wisdom with parents who are just starting out, so they can avoid some of the mistakes I made, and do right by their autistic kids.

So here it is: the advice I wished I’d been given, when my son Leo was first diagnosed with autism.

1. Give yourself time to adjust.

Negative messages and images dominate media coverage of autism, and are the main reasons autism scares the crap out of parents and parents-to-be. What most don’t realize is that they’ll be parenting the same kid they were parenting before the autism diagnosis arrived, and that diagnosis just helps steer you and your parenting approach in the right direction. So give yourself time to be cautious and thoughtful, and adjust your course as needed.

There’s no denying that autism can bring challenges for your kid or your family, no matter your child’s personality or specific needs. But please know that most problems you encounter will be due to lack of understanding and accommodation about autism from other people and society in general, and not because of autism. This is especially true when your child’s needs are less evident: if they don’t appear to have a language delay, or if they need support with filtering overwhelming everyday environments, as in processing delays or sensory sensitivities.

You also need to give yourself time to understand why those nasty and ever-present cultural messages about all autistic kids being lost in their own worlds, isolated, lacking affection or empathy, etc., are so hurtful and mistaken, so you can push back against them. Those messages are based on misunderstanding of autistic people and how they interact with and perceive the world, and are just not true. By pushing back, you can help make the world a better place for your child right now, and also for the adult they will become.

2. Give the people around you time to adjust, and keep them in the loop.

Like me, my friends and family didn’t know a thing about autism when Leo was first diagnosed. They also didn’t know what to say to us, beyond platitudes. I don’t really blame them; we were all in that ignorance boat together. But I do wish I’d been together enough to feed them lines like, “it’s okay to ask us questions, but we might not know the answers yet” and “feel free to keep inviting us over; we’ll say no if it doesn’t work.”

One way you can help your people become your team—and by helping them, help your child and yourself—is by inviting folks along for the ride. You can post status updates on private groups on Facebook, on blogs, or though periodic group emails (being mindful of your child’s privacy in the more public areas). You can let your people know it’s okay to absorb information without commenting. This way, you have less to explain when you see them in person, and the new information you’re figuring out won’t be foreign to them.

Hopefully, these efforts will mean you and your child become surrounded by people who understand and support you. (They may also decrease the number of well-meaning but insulting “I could never do what you do” comments.)

3. Give yourself time to process information critically.

There is so much bad autism information out there, especially the hawking of sciencey-sounding “cures” (there’s no such thing) or “recovery” (ditto). But there’s so much good information, too! And the more informed you become, the more your perspectives on and understanding of autism and parenting will change — ideally for the better.

Wired journalist Steve Silberman’s forthcoming book NeuroTribes*, for example, goes deep into the history of how we define autism, how who qualifies as autistic has changed over time, why there’s no autism epidemic, the dehumanizing history of Applied Behavioral Analysis, and the emerging leadership of autistic people themselves—and will change the way a lot of people think about autism. It’s a must-read.

While I’m not a huge fan of “mommy instinct,” I do think parents need to pay attention to their autism information spidey sense. If someone is pushing autism information that does not stand up to even the most cursory research—for instance, that autism is caused by misaligned energy pathways, or is avaccine injury—run away and find better information resources.

4. Give yourself time learn which organizations and people to trust.

Most people outside the communities consider Autism Speaks a trustworthy autism resource. Yet, in my experience, autistic people and their supporters tend to criticize Autism Speaks, for not including any autistic people in its leadership, and for basing their fundraising campaigns on fear of autism and pity for autistic people and their families.

Autistic-led organizations like The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) tend to focus on the needs of autistic people of all ages and abilities, and provide toolkits and other advocacy materials. When I’m looking for good information, I tend to watch what ASAN and their allied organizations are posting about.

My biggest shift in understanding happened when I encountered autistic people and their writings, and learned to trust them. Julia Bascom’s essay Dear Autism Parents felt scary and confrontational when I first read it several years ago, but now sounds impassioned and reasonable—as well as a wake-up call to parents who misunderstand autistic adults, their passion for helping today’s autistic kids, and their right to assert authority in understanding the autistic experience.

While evaluating whether an org or person is reliable, you may need to work on your own defensiveness. If you get angry at a person’s autism information or an autism org’s position, consider that you may actually be overwhelmed by the possibility that you had been getting your information from unreliable sources. Give yourself the space to walk away and think things over.

You also need to learn to differentiate between those who are legitimately angry over unfair treatment, and those who attack unfairly; you should at least listen respectfully to the former. And, for the sake of all that is holy, avoid toxic parenting groups—meaning parents who at first glance appear reasonable and compassionate, but would “understand” if you hurt your autistic child.

5. Give yourself time to figure out what autism means for your child.

Autistic brains and thinking processes can be very different from non-autistic brains. If you’re not autistic yourself, learning to recognize and understand these differences may take time, as well as trial and error. What a non-autistic person might think is emotional manipulation or callousness may be logic, executive function challenges, or genuine confusion: An autistic child may refuse to clean their room not out of defiance, but because they can’t comprehend taking on large multi-step processes without a checklist; or a child may laugh when other people are in trouble, not to be callous, but out of relief that they or their loved ones aren’t the distressed party.

Autistic perceptions of pain can also be atypical—some autistic people are hyposensitive, others are hypersensitive, some are both, and some just have a hard time interpreting pain signals. Be vigilant when your child appears to be injured, because they may not be able to tell you just how hurt they are, even if they are otherwise articulate.

Sensory experiences are also different for many autistic kids. They may not be able to filter out lights, sounds, or touch—to the point where just walking into a grocery store can cause a meltdown. If your child refuses to enter large, bright, loud, or bustling environments, consider that it may actually be painful for them to do so. If they’re not doing well in their classroom, consider that they might need noise-canceling headphones, or tinted glasses, to help filter out sensory stimuli so they can focus.

A large percentage of autistic people have clinical-level anxiety, and may learn to self-soothe throughstimming or creating elaborate, predictable, and therefore safe, routines. Try to understand why your child may be behaving differently than their peers, instead of getting embarrassed by your child behaving differently than their peers.

Also: Become educated about autistic learning styles. Not all autistic kids are math prodigies. In fact, studies show that most don’t have superior math skills. Most have average or below-average skills. In addition, co-occuring learning disabilities like ADHD, dyslexia, or dyscalculia are quite common too, and can be overlooked or termed “laziness” if your child is perceived to have academic strengths in other areas, or if your child is a person of color.

6. Give yourself time to figure out what communication looks like for your child.

Everyone communicates. Even kids who don’t speak. But autistic kids who can speak fluidly may not be able to communicate all their intentions. Be very careful about this, as those seemingly fluid talkers often have their communication needs underestimated, and suffer as a result.

And for those kids, like my son, who don’t speak or are not fluid speakers: We need to be careful to presume competence, to treat them as though they can understand everything you say. But that’s not enough. As Julia Bascom writes about parents who discover that their child is more capable than they’d realized:

“…they think the problem was that they treated their child like they were intellectually disabled, and they weren’t. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that they thought their child was intellectually disabled, and so they didn’t treat them like a person.”

Your communication goals for your child should be to find their optimal communication strategy and style—whether that’s speaking, using a symbol-to-speech device, or typing—and not to prove to the world that there’s a hidden child locked away inside your actual child right there in front of you.

7. Give yourself time to figure out which supports, schools, therapies, and environments will help your child succeed.

Is an inclusive educational environment a possibility? Do you know how to differentiate between helpful and harmful therapies? Are you unknowingly subjecting your child to therapies that would never be allowed with non-disabled kids? Do you know how to write educational goals that will best serve your child’s needs?

(This is where you rely on those trustworthy resources, as much as you can.)

8. Give yourself the space to be flexible about needs, and pick your battles.

You may need to adjust your rhythms to those of a kid who doesn’t sleep much, whose limited diet means bringing their food along whenever you don’t eat at home, who thrives on medications you’d previously consider terrifying choices, who suddenly can’t tolerate certain environments and needs to leave. Remind yourself that your child isn’t doing any of those things by choice, and renew your commitment to understanding their autistic needs.

9. Give yourself time to find autistic role models for your child.

If your child doesn’t know any other autistic kids or people like themselves, they may feel alone and isolated (or even broken, or defective). Don’t let that happen if you can do anything about it. I have found good role models for my son in the blogs of autistic people, and in books about autistic people. And, of course, through hanging out with autistic people!

As much as you love your child and accept your child (and as much as those feelings may be reciprocated)—if you’re not autistic, then you’re not part of the community your child does belong to. So please help your child find their tribe.

10. Give yourself time to think about shared traits.

By this, I mean traits you might share with your child, and other family members might share with your child. Even if you yourself don’t have enough traits for a diagnosis, many parents and siblings get diagnosed with autism themselves after another family member’s diagnosis makes them more aware of what autism can mean. This is especially important for female siblings and family members, as autism in girls is different than autism in boys and is often overlooked due to gender bias in diagnostic criteria.

Having multiple people with autistic traits in a home can mean greater understanding, but it can also conflict: In our house, we have some people who like to make noise, some people who are rather insensitive to noise, and some people who are overly sensitive to noise. If the noise maker is happy, the noise-avoider is miserable, and the noise-oblivious person (okay, me) is too often wondering what the hell is going on. We are still learning to negotiate our space to suit everyone’s sensory needs.

11. Give your child space to grow and change.

Not just when puberty hits (boy howdy, this is where we are now, and it can be different for autistic kids—it can really scramble communication abilities, emotional stability, and coping capabilities), but in terms of autistic development being different than non-autistic development. I worry a lot about people whose families stop trying to teaching their kids skills because they’re past some imaginary development window, when autistic people actually tend to continue to gain skills throughout their lifetimes, more so than non-autistic people.

12. Give yourself time to figure out what your child really enjoys.

Surrender to that joy whenever possible. Your kid is a kid, after all. Don’t let people frame your kid’s enthusiasms in pathological terms like “special interest” or “splinter skill.” If your kid likes something, and they’re not hurting anyone, let them like liking it.

13. Give yourself time to plan for your child’s future without you.

For kids who do not have life-threatening health conditions, there’s no reason to think your child won’t outlive you. And that’s how you need to plan for their future—as one without you in it. Denial helps no one here, and could actually really imperil your child. So start figuring this out now, and then you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

I realize this is a lot (a lot!) of information to digest. Give yourself time to think it all over. If I just made you feel like you stepped into autism parenting information quicksand, come back later, or try to portion it out and think over various bits of advice as needed. Know that, even though I’ve been writing about parenting and autism since 2003, I honestly learn something new every day. I know I haven’t learned nearly enough yet—but I also know that my son and I both benefit whenever I learn something helpful. So keep on learning and loving, and let me know if I can ever help.

Note that I could put in a link for every assertion I made above, but then this would look even more like a research paper. If you want background on any unlinked topic, just ask. Please also know that this is a brief overview, and that I could write a separate essay on each point above.

*Disclosure: Our family was consulted in the writing of the book.

“>AngieDiazCervo

Your Diet and Your Body

Obviously, your body type is closely related to how you look.  But did you know that which types of foods you eat and your ability to excel at athletic activities are related to your body type?  Don’t worry, there is no “right” body type and each one has its positive aspects.  Also, we want to note that whichever body type you have does not mean how you look now will forever be the way you look.  Sure, drastically changing your body type is a challenge, but provided you’re willing to work hard enough, you are actually in control of your own destiny.

Before we get to that, let’s first go over the three primary terms used to describe body types and what characterizes each of them.

ecto

1. Ectomorphs

Ectomorphs are generally identified as having thinner limbs and thin bone structures. They tend to have fast metabolisms and the immensely frustrating ability to eat plenty of carbohydrates without showing it. If you’re trying to visualize what an example ectomorph looks like, think of most long distance runners – long, thin, and lithe.  Ectomorphs tend to constantly burn calories.  For them, putting on muscle mass is a constant struggle.  They have to force feed themselves and oftentimes eat far more than they have any interest in doing (while this may sound like a blessing to some, for many ectomorphs, it is a point of constant frustration).

meso

2. Mesomorphs

Think of M to stand for in this case Medium as Mesomorphs have a medium bone structure and fall in between Ectomorphs and Endomorphs. Generally, this body type is characterized as an athletic build with a naturally higher percentage of muscle mass than ectomorphs.  This body type is ideal for explosive sports.  In sticking with the Olympian analogies, you can think of Mesomorphs as your thickly muscled sprinters – not built to go long distances but rather built to generate a lot of power in a short amount of time.  Also, people with this body type tend to have higher testosterone and growth hormone levels, which as a result allows them to maintain low levels of fat.

mendo

3. Endomorphs

At the other end of the spectrum, endomorphs have larger bone structures as well as naturally higher levels of body mass and fat mass.  Exemplary endomorphs are the shot-putters on the Olympic field. In stark contrast to ectomorphs, endomorphs tend to have a harder time burning excess calories and therefore, are likely to carry both more fat and muscle.

Once you’ve identified which body type category you belong to, how should you eat? The following chart shows in simple guidelines to follow:

 

% of Calories from Dietary Sources
  Ectomorph Mesomorph Endomorph
Carbohydrates High (~55%) Medium (~40%) Low (~25%)
Proteins Medium (~25%) Medium (~30%) Medium (~35%)
Fats Low (~20%) Medium (~30%) High (~40%)

Important to note is that when you eat is almost as important as what you eat.  If you’re exercising frequently, then your overall ability to eat high carbohydrate foods regardless of your body type will go up – especially if you eat carbohydrates within a short time period before or after exercise.

To be clear, this is not how to eat for one specific goal but rather a general methodology to work toward moderate muscle gain or weight loss – what will change is simply the amount of calories consumed. For someone who is trying to put on muscle (be it an ectomorph or endomorph) these general dietary splits remain true, however, the amount of calories consumed needs to be increased.

Lastly, it can’t be stressed enough that these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Put these guidelines into practice as a starting point and start watching how your body responds. Use your results to iterate to achieve the desired goals.  No two people are alike so no two responses to a diet will be exactly the same.  Test, learn and adjust your way in order to achieve your goals.

While eating for your body type will help with staying healthy, you will probably still have gaps in your nutrient intake. Find out how WellPath can help fill your nutritional gaps and help you reach your health goals.

Steps To Become Wealthy

“While we are postponing, life speeds by.” – Seneca

How to Become Independently Wealthy

By Mark Ford

We recently received an e-mail from Jorge Izquierdo, Jr., a subscriber who complained that “all the material being covered [in The Palm Beach Letter] is for long-term investing. What about short term? I’ve been trying to free my family and myself from the chains of slavery for far too long now. Show me the truth.”

Behind Jorge’s question lies the assumption that it is possible to acquire wealth through some “short-term” investment strategy.

As I’ve explained before, it’s simply not possible to quickly turn, say, $25,000 into $1 million by investing in stocks. But I have good news for Jorge. He can unshackle himself from “financial slavery,” as he calls it, in a relatively short period of time.

Jorge – or just about anyone for that matter – can achieve freedom from financial slavery in just a few years. It does not have to be a lifelong process.

If you are in this situation, here is what you must do:

First, you must ask yourself if you are willing to give up the hope of getting rich quickly by investing. Are you willing to accept the fact that you won’t go from broke to being a millionaire by investing in the next Microsoft? If you can’t honestly and completely answer “yes” to that question, you might as well go read another analyst… one who will tell you what you want to hear.

But if you are ready, the next thing you need to do is think about what you mean by “financial slavery.”


What does that term mean? Most commonly it means two things:

  • You earn less than you spend.
  • You owe more than you own.

If you earn less than you spend, you are in a constant state of stress. You must put off or partially pay your bills. You must appease creditors. And all the while, your debt is mounting.

If you owe more than you own, you can’t buy a house or lease a car or get a loan from anyone other than your parents. (And what if they are dead or tired of helping you… or don’t have the money?)

Because you are in so much trouble, you can’t even think about taking nice vacations or retiring someday. Instead, you have to worry about losing your job. So you keep working and reading investment newsletters. But as each month passes, your financial situation gets worse.

It’s a miserable existence. But it doesn’t have to last. You can break the chains you feel attached to by simply recognizing and reversing the two “facts” mentioned above.

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From the co-founder of EarlytoRise.com…

Mark Ford wants to make his readers a little bit richer every day. More than 100,000 readers joined this mission so far. More than 1,000 even wrote in to rave…

Problem No. 1: You earn less than you spend.

Solution: Spend less and earn more.

You can’t break the chains of slavery without hitting them hard with a big mallet. You won’t be able to gain the independence you want in a few years or less by cutting $10 here and $50 there.

My recommendation is to cut your expenses by 30% to 50%.
I know that sounds crazy. And it may be impossible in your case. But don’t dismiss the idea until you hear me out.

The primary factor in how much you spend every month is the neighborhood you live in. Your neighborhood creates the financial culture that presents the spending choices you make. If you live in a community of million-dollar homes, you will be looking at new BMWs and Audis when it comes to buying or leasing a car. When you go out to dinner, chances are, you’ll be spending more than a hundred dollars per couple.

Unless you live in a working-class neighborhood now, you can radically reduce your spending by moving into one.

I have friends and family members in this situation. They live in $350,000 homes in beautiful neighborhoods and drive luxury cars. But the reality is they are broke and getting poorer every month. They refuse to even consider the idea of downsizing because they are simply too ashamed to do so. What they don’t realize is every month they try to “hold on,” it is making them poorer.

Moving to a less expensive neighborhood would be the quickest, biggest, and surest way to bring their spending down by 30% to 50%.

The other thing you must do to improve your situation is to earn more money. You should take immediate steps to increase your income by 20% to 50%. Again, I know that seems radical, but if you want a “short-term” solution out of financial slavery, this is just as important as radically cutting expenses.

Problem No. 2: You owe more than you own.

Solution: Start owing less and owning more.

If you have accumulated a lot of debt, it means that you don’t see debt as financially dangerous. You must accept the fact that most debt you have is bad for you. There are only a few exceptions: mortgage debt when interest rates are low, and business debt when the business is sound and you are not personally liable.

The first step toward debt management is to get rid of every credit card you have, as well as any credit you have with your bankers. Use cash or debit cards for your shopping. Yes, that means there will be lots of things you can’t buy every month. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

If you have a lot of existing credit card debt, you need to consolidate it. Then work with a professional to pay it off at reasonable interest rates.
If you are lucky enough to have equity in your home, trading it for a cheaper one (see above) will accomplish two important goals: it will reduce your monthly expenses, and it will give you a chunk of cash that you can use to pay off debt or put aside as savings.

You must also increase what you own. And by that, I do NOT mean cars or boats or furniture or toys. I mean tangible assets that are likely to appreciate. Gold coins, income-producing real estate, and safe stocks belong in this category.

Every extra after-tax dollar you make by taking on extra work or starting a side business should be devoted to increasing your ownership of such assets. None of it should be spent.

Being financially independent is not about having a big house or driving new cars or taking fancy vacations. There are tens of thousands of Americans in that situation today who are financial slaves, just like you. They are in chains because they spend more than they make and owe more than they own. Their stress is just as great as yours, even though they may make more money or have more toys.

Being financially independent means having more income than you need and owing far less than you own.

It means knowing that you won’t be harassed by bill collectors or embarrassed at the supermarket. It means you have money put aside to take care of any emergencies that come up, and it means a savings account that gets substantially bigger every year.

Becoming a multimillionaire takes years. But breaking the chains of financial slavery can be done relatively quickly.

The hardest part is recognizing the chains that are binding you – earning less than you spend and owing more than you own – and deciding to do something serious about them.

Jorge, you have the plan in front of you now. It’s up to you whether you follow it.

Let us know what are you going to do today to get on the right path to become independently wealthy in the comments section below.

Ed Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.

Make A Pledge

“Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and
charge after them in an unstoppable manner.” – Les Brown

The Pledge

By Craig Ballantyne

When I was young and broke (and cheap and stubborn), I relied heavily on what I called, “Virtual Mentors”. This meant reading every issue of the Early to Rise newsletter, and books, like Dan Kennedy’s autobiography, Unfinished Business. I also consulted a mental round-table of advisors, as Napolean Hill recommended in Think and Grow Rich. My virtual mastermind included Kennedy, Yanik Silver, Bill Phillips, Ted Nicholas, and Michael Masterson.

Today’s book report is a fine example of having a virtual mentor give you the step-by-step success tools you need to stop spinning your wheels so you can get ahead on the fast track to success.

The book is called The Pledge. It was written by Michael Masterson (aka Mark Ford) in 2011, just before he retired from EarlytoRise.com. True to its subtitle, the book delivers a Master Plan for an Abundant Life. Ford was (and is) a multi-millionaire, having already retired twice in his career, before returning to teaching and writing.

There are few men or women that could claim to be a greater expert in success than Ford. He has done it all, not only building great businesses, but raising three successful young men with his wife of over 30 years, having great health and hobbies, becoming a published poet and amateur painter, and all while still getting home on time for dinner (and a cocktail and cigar).

Trust me, he’s been a tough act to follow.

But there’s no use in comparing ourselves to Mark Ford. What really matters is where we are today compared to three months ago, and where we’ll be in three months from now. We must focus on progression, not perfection. We must be dedicated to continual improvement, or kaizen, as the principle is known. Every day we must commit to getting better, every moment we must make the right decisions to take us there.

If you’ve held dreams of success and happiness that you’ve failed to fulfill, if you have an underlying sense that you are underachieving, then The Pledge will help you return to the path of success in your life.

“Your past failures have no bearing on your future,” Ford writes, “And if you can change the way you approach your work, you can change the way you live.”

I’m living proof, having followed Ford’s advice for years (even though sometimes it took me years to implement it).

For example, one of the rules I follow today, getting up and going to bed at the same time each day, was a Mark Ford suggestion that I ignored for years.

When I finally implemented this tip, it had the greatest impact on my all day energy of any habit in my life. It was like having a cup of coffee at 2 p.m. without any side effects. I no longer tossed-and-turned on Sunday evenings, and I wasn’t tired from the weekends on Monday and Tuesday mornings. I was a new man, and I have Ford to thank for this.

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What I love about The Pledge is that it’s not a superficial book about setting vague goals, but instead it delivers a personal master plan for your life. It expects a great deal of commitment on your part, but if you’re willing to hold up your end of the bargain, Ford is willing to show you the exact steps you must take to succeed.

With his advice, you’ll begin to experience results immediately and live a truly fulfilling life. This is not a book about chasing the elusive Four Hour Work Week, although Ford shows us the practical Four Hour Work Day. A four hour work day is something I’ve enjoyed in cities such as Istanbul, Prague, Hong Kong, Sydney, Tokyo, and even Moscow.

One of Ford’s keys to success is the Principle of Accelerated Failure. It’s something I’ve experienced naturally, and benefitted from as a young man.

“The principle of accelerated failure rests on the recognition that we learn the most – in any enterprise – by making mistakes along the way,” Ford says, “The faster we learn critical mistakes, the sooner we acquire the knowledge we need to succeed. In other words, don’t fear failure… seek it out!”

Too often we allow fear to hold us back, from buying our first rental property to starting an online business (where there’s practically no risk). It even holds us back in our personal lives, stopping us from starting an exercise program or talking to that pretty woman or handsome man across the room… and thus potentially missing out on meeting the love of your life.

It’s time to step-up and do what is right for you. The Pledge shows you how. Ford asks you to sign a contract pledging your commitment to your Master Plan. This accountability — to your Virtual Mentor — sets you on the path to success.

Accountability was one of the success pillars that allowed me to achieve my dream of acquiring Early to Rise, and accountability will allow you to achieve your goals, too.

Signing the pledge is like committing to your Rules in the Perfect Day Formula. Don’t skip this step. It is far more important than you could ever imagine. Fear of obligation is natural, but Ford shares a powerful quote explaining why this responsibility actually frees you up to live the life you desire.

“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love,” writes Anne Morris, “The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around like rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.”

My second favorite tool that Ford shares is his goal setting technique. After helping us build our Master Plan, he puts forth a breakthrough exercise that helps us build the foundation we need to support our journey.

It starts with sharing your 7-Year Goal that you created as part of your Master Plan. In the book, Ford uses the example of a client that wants to achieve a net worth of $4 million. In order to achieve this goal, the client must take action and can break down the success steps into four process goal timelines. It works like this:

7-Year Goal = $4 million

First Year Goal = Eliminate $36,000 worth of debt

Monthly Objective = Land a part-time job netting $36,000 by year-end.

First Week’s Objective = Get my first job interview.

First Day’s Task = Write letters to CEOs of my top 10 “dream job” companies.

If this exercise reminds you of the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant?” (Answer: One bite at a time.), I’m not surprised.

Brian Tracy, another virtual mentor of mine, wrote a book about this idea called, Eat That Frog. His message was that no matter how big our goals, success starts with taking action. We must break down big (and sometimes seemingly impossible) tasks into smaller and smaller action items that we can accomplish this month, this week, and today. And then we must get started. It’s that simple.

“One of the most important actions you can take when you are master planning your life,” Ford writes, “is to monitor where you have been and where you are. The simple step can help you achieve practically any goal you have set for yourself.”

Mark adds, “A recent study from DayTimer.com concluded that American workers with the highest incomes and most success in the workplace are those who have written goals. These superstars also have the habit of writing daily task lists prioritized in a way to help them achieve those goals.”

But Mark also issues a warning. “On the flip side, of the more than 70 percent of workers who don’t write down career or financial goals, only 9 percent accomplish what they set out to each day.”

That’s the power of making the pledge, signing the contract, writing out your goals, and carrying around your Rules. Don’t miss out on the importance of this simple, quick, cheap, and easy success tool. There’s no need to struggle. There’s no reason you can’t accomplish your big goals and live a life that leaves a legacy.

Read (or re-read) your copy of The Pledge today. Sign a contract of commitment to your future. If anything gets in the way of that objective, do not participate in these distractions. You have to stand up for what is right for you at this time, and that is how you will succeed.

People With High IQ

From Your Quora Digest

What do intelligent people do with their phones?

Nela Canovic

Nela Canovic, Productivity hacker, writer, entrepreneur in Silicon Valley

81.4k ViewsMost Viewed Writer in Smart People
  • They switch their phone setting to Airplane mode when they want uninterrupted time to (a) sleep, (b) do deep work, (c) spend time with their family and partner.
  • They use it to set not only a morning but also a bedtime alarm, to get themselves used to a daily ritual that easily becomes a positive habit, which can significantly impact their day (to be more productive) and night (to sleep more effectively).
  • They keep track of their daily physical activities with either a built in app (such as the iPhone Health app) or a downloadable free app (such as Runtastic) that monitors their steps, total time spent being physically active, calories burned, distance covered.
  • They use an app to train themselves to meditate on their own for 10 minutes, to calm their mind, clean their brain from cluttered thoughts, improve focus and concentration (for example, the Headspace app).
  • They don’t take selfies (because let’s face it, no one really cares except you).

Rules To Follow

“Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent because otherwise, you’d sink into chaos.” — Paulo Coelho

7 Rules Everyone Should Follow

By Craig Ballantyne

Andy and I sat in the restaurant of the Four Seasons in Denver on a sunny Thursday afternoon. He had driven down from Boulder after we had been introduced through a mutual friend.

I was impressed. He was a sharp, energetic young man of thirty years old. He had already built an incredible business, and it wasn’t hard to see why. He was curious, thoughtful, and methodical. He wasn’t afraid to put his ego aside to learn, and he flattered me by asking questions about life as if I had any of the right answers.

Having had more failures than success in life, I found myself telling him more about what not to do in life than what he should do. That was until he asked about creating rules for his life.

“Craig, when I read about your idea for creating rules, I was a little confused,” he said. “What is this going to do for me?”

“Well, Andy,” I replied, “Did you stop at any red lights or stop signs on your way here?”

“Of course,” he said.

“Well, imagine if you didn’t. In fact, imagine if there were no red lights, no stop signs, or no traffic laws of any kind. Think about the chaos that would cause.”

“Red lights put order and clarity into our travel, just like our personal rules put structure into our lives,” I said. “Humans thrive on structure. We need to earn our freedom.”

“But when you give someone complete and utter freedom, it often dooms them into demise. Take, for example, Prince, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, or Raphael de Rothschild (an heir to the wealthy Rothschild family that passed away due to a drug overdose). These men all had too much money, power, and freedom, and without structure, they eventually squandered their gifts and wealth.”

And so I insist you put into place Rules for Your Life. Should you bristle at that term, consider these alternative terms:

Your Operating System
Your Personal Commandments
Your Code of Conduct
Your Personal Life Philosophies

They all describe the same thing, a way to establish boundaries in your life and to set behaviors to which you aspire. If you have not read my 12 rules for life, I encourage you to do so here.

“But Craig,” you’re thinking, “How do I set Rules for my Life?”

First of all, I believe that you already have many rules for your life. You live a certain way, you have good habits that you follow, and you project a certain persona upon the world.

You’ve simply never sat down and put these rules — your operating system — to paper.
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Let me guide you on how to do this. There are seven must-have rules for everyone. You can choose to add a few more on top of these seven, or simply start with these.

Rule #1 – Be consistent to bed and consistent to rise

Establishing a consistent bedtime and wake-up time seven days a week is the greatest thing you can do to have consistent all-day energy levels. Of course, there will be a couple of nights per week when you stay up late. That’s fine. But you must never stray too far from your wake-up time. Don’t sleep in. That sets off a vicious cycle of not being able to fall asleep the next night and feeling tired for the following two or three days. Instead, wake up on time and compensate with a mid-day nap or go to bed earlier the next night.

Rule #2 – Be healthy

Everyone should have a health rule. It might describe your eating philosophy (Paleo, vegan, etc.) or perhaps the type and frequency of exercise or stress reduction you do (“I take a one-hour hike in the fresh air three times per week” or “I lift weights three times per week for twenty minutes” or “I never miss a morning meditation session of 10 minutes”).

Rule #3 – Be productive in the morning

To get ahead in life you need to consistently work on what matters. The best time to do that is in the morning when you are without interruptions or distractions. Set a rule that you work on your number one priority in life for at least fifteen minutes after you wake-up. That could be Bible study, working on your finances and figuring out a plan to make more sales, or spending that time in exercise to regain your health. Fifteen minutes might sound insignificant, but done six (or seven days) a week for months on end brings incredible results.

Rule #4 – Be focused on building your wealth.

ETR’s founder, Mark Ford, taught us to become wealthier every day, even if it is just by a few dollars. And so we should all have a rule that helps us do so. For example, a sales professional might have a rule that “I make 5 sales calls before lunch every work day.” A writer might choose to “write 1,500 words before 2 p.m. each day” (Stephen King follows a similar rule, for example). Whatever your profession, there is a way to structure a wealth building rule that gets you closer to your financial freedom.

Rule #5 – Be aware of what NOT to do.

It’s important to know and act on your number one priority in life. It’s almost equally as important to know — and avoid — the things you should not do. If you don’t believe me, just ask one of the world’s wealthiest men.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people,” Warren Buffett once said, “is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

Your rule might be “No drinking alcohol during the work week” or “I avoid checking personal email until after 7 p.m.” or you might have a rule similar to my 6th rule that says, “I do not engage in confrontations with anyone, in-person or online. This is a waste of time and energy. If I have caused harm, I apologize and fix the situation. And then I take a deep breath, relax, breathe out, and re-focus my efforts back on my work and goals.”

Rule #6 – Be social.

Warning: Many people won’t need this rule. However, for some us, we sometimes need to be reminded to ‘come up for air’ from our work and spend quality time with our friends and family. Don’t tell me you haven’t been accused of working too much and ignoring important relationships. Even the most social amongst us could probably benefit from a reminder to rekindle old friendships that have gone dormant.

Rule #7 – Be good.

Finally, set in your code of conduct a rule about how you give back to the world. For example, you might say, “I volunteer two hours per week at the local humane society” or “I serve on the board of directors at my church every year.”

This might be a great place for you to institute an aspirational rule, where you aren’t yet living it consistently, but you know it would do you — and many others — a world of good.

When you tell the world the way you want to act (i.e. by sharing your rules with others), you’ll force yourself to live in accordance with your rules because no one wants to be thought of as a hypocrite.

That’s why I’ve made my 4th rule that states, “I act polite and courteous, and I do not swear.”

Honestly, I don’t act polite and courteous all the time, but I want to and so I made it a rule and I told the world. That is how you get accountability and improve. And you have every right to call me on this the next time you see me breaking my rule (I’ll appreciate it!).

As I shared these seven rule guidelines with Andy at our meeting, I could see his eyes light up with understanding. This template made it easier for him to design the right structure for his life.

My rules are not your rules. Please understand that.

But my template will help you build your rules and give you structure so you can earn your freedom, and have the amazing life you both desire and deserve.

Do You Surround Yourself with The Right People

 


Surround Yourself With People Who Challenge Your Thinking

By Kevin Daum @KevinJDaum

It’s nice to have people around who support you and are of like mind. Agreeable people boost your confidence and allow a certain level of relaxation. Most of us develop a stable of people with whom we like to work. We know their styles, and they know ours. It’s comfortable and expedient. It is easy to find a rhythm, and it works. Unfortunately, that level of comfort can stall the very learning and innovation that can expand your company and your career.

It’s nice to have people agree, but you need healthy conflict and differing perspectives to dig out the truth from a group-think and ideation. If everyone in the group has a similar point of view, your work will suffer from confirmation bias, rarely breaking boundaries and creating often unnecessary failure.

Take a look at your own network. Are your contacts the same ones you’ve had for years? Are they all in the same industry? Do they share your point of view on most subjects? It’s time to shake things up and get uncomfortable. As a leader, it can be challenging to create an environment in which people will freely dissent and argue, but as my good friend and colleague Amilya Antonetti says: “From confrontation comes brilliance.”

Here are five tips for engaging people who will expand your perspective and increase your success.

  1. Identify where you are stale. Actively seeking conflict is not an easy thing for most people. Many spend their lives trying to avoid arguments and heightened discourse. There’s no need to go out and find people you hate, but you need to do some self-assessment to determine where you have become stale in your thinking and approach. You may need to start by encouraging your current network to help you identify your blind spots. Additionally, make a list of the five people who have made you most uncomfortable in your life and list the reasons why. Then use the list to create a picture of the ideal opponent for your way of thinking.
  1. Go where the battles are. As people get more confident in their abilities, they often create habits that limit the way they source ideas and information. Fox News and MSNBC bank on this philosophy. Seek out social networks and groups that are outside your normal way of thinking.Use LinkedIn groups to find diverse perspectives. Pursue the writers of posts that make you react strongly. Find the people who make you uncomfortable and invite them into your conversation.
  1. Engage in friendly debate. Passionate, energetic debate does not require anger and hard feelings to be effective. But it does require strength and assertion. Once you have worthy opponents, set some ground rules so everyone understands responsibilities and boundaries. Establish structure to your discourse so people can feel safe. If people are worried about negative repercussions, they will hold back or, worse, disengage completely, and then you’ll be back to the same stale environment. Remember, the objective of this game of debate is not to win but to get to the truth that will allow you to move faster, farther, and better. When that happens, everyone wins.
  1. Check in regularly. Fierce debating can get emotionally brutal, particularly when strong personalities are involved. It doesn’t take insults and name calling to make people feel small and upset. Make sure you check in with your adversarial colleagues to make sure they are not carrying the emotion of the battles beyond the battlefield. Break the tension with smiles and humor to reinforce that this is friendly discourse and that all are working toward communal success. A good way to reinforce the objectivity is to actually switch sides in the debate. It’s hard to take it personally when you can argue on behalf of your opponent.
  1. Share rewards and gratitude. The purpose of all this hot and stressful discourse is to achieve success for everyone. Make sure that all that are involved in the debate are amply rewarded when the goals are reached. Let your sparring partners know how much you appreciate them for being fierce and vulnerable. The more appreciated you make them feel, the more they’ll be willing to get into the ring next time.