Category Archives: life

15 Ways to Retire Earlier

AN EARLY START TO YOUR GOLDEN YEARS

The word “retirement” and number “65” are as linked in the North American psyche as “bacon” and “eggs.” Then again, that all depends on how fast you want your eggs, right?

Retiring early — or leaving the work force for the golf course, if you like — might sound like an unattainable goal. But there are many ways to make it, so long as you take numerous approaches into account.

Yes, 65 is the standard — but what’s 21st century life all about if not exceeding standards? Here are 15 major financial and lifestyle moves you can make to achieve this goal.

Are you fantasizing about early retirement. Here’s how to make that dream a reality.

1. LIVE TWO TO THREE TIMES BELOW YOUR MEANS

Sorry, folks: Simply skipping that $4 latte in the morning ain’t gonna cut it. It takes a much more committed approach where “sacrifices” are viewed in a new light. “It’s amazing when I work through the numbers that some people think manicures, landscapers and maids are a need,” said Michael Chadwick, a certified financial planner and CEO of Chadwick Financial Advisors in Unionville, Conn.

2. REDEFINE ‘COMFORTABLE RETIREMENT’

Less spending later constitutes the flip side of less spending now. If you imagine comfy retirement as a vacation home and monthly cruise ship trips, revisit that vision so you don’t have to bleed cash — but can still retire in style. Instead of two homes, for example, why not live in your vacation destination and pocket the principal from selling your primary residence?

3. PAY OFF ALL YOUR DEBT

That’s right, all of it. First: Is it time to pay off your home? You might not have the resources now to plunk down one huge check, but consider savvy alternatives such as switching from a 30-year to 15-year mortgage. Monthly payments aren’t much higher, but the principal payoff is much greater. Second: Do the same with loans and credit cards, as high interest eats up income faster than termites chewing a log. A credit card balance of just $15,000 with an APR of 19.99 percent will take you five years to eradicate at $400 a month — and you’ll dish out a total of $23,764.48, the calculator on timevalue.com shows.

4. CONSIDER OVERLOOKED FINANCIAL RESOURCES

While it’s risky to count on unknowns such as an inheritance, you might have cash streams available outside the traditional retirement realm, said Jennifer E. Acuff, wealth advisor with TrueWealth Management in Atlanta. For example, “Understand your options with respect to any pensions you might be entitled to from current or previous employers.”

5. INVEST EARLY AND AGGRESSIVELY

If you’re in your 20s and start investing now, you’re in luck, said Joseph Jennings Jr., investment director for PNC Wealth Management in Baltimore. “Due to the power of compounding, the first dollar saved is the most important, as it has the most growth potential over time.” As an example, Jennings compares $10,000 saved at age 25 versus 60. “The 25-year-old has 40 years of growth potential at the average retirement age of 65, whereas $10,000 saved at age 60 only has five years of growth potential.”

6. MARRIED COUPLES: PLAY RETIREMENT ACCOUNT MATCHMAKER

The wisdom of taking advantage of a company match on the 401(k) is well established — but think about how that power is accelerated if a working couple does it with two such company matches. “If your employer has a matching contribution inside of your company’s plan, make sure you always contribute at least enough to receive it,” said Kevin J. Meehan, regional president-Chicago with Wealth Enhancement Group. “You are essentially leaving money on the table if you don’t.”

7. PRACTICE SOUND CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT

The methodology is simple, yet the results can be profound: Put money at least monthly into systematic investments during your working years. “There’s no other element of investment planning or portfolio management that’s more essential over the long term,” said Jesse Mackey, chief investment officer of 4Thought Financial Group in Syosset, N.Y.

8. JUMP ON EMPLOYER STOCK PURCHASE PLANS

How about some free money? The ESPP typically works by payroll deduction, with the company converting the money into shares every six months at a 15 percent discount. If you immediately liquidate those shares every time they’re delivered, it’s like get a guaranteed 15 percent rate of return,” said Dave Yeske, managing director at the wealth management firm Yeske Buie and director of the financial planning program at Golden Gate University. “Add the after-tax proceeds to your supplemental retirement savings.”

9. START THAT RETIREMENT ACCOUNT TODAY

That is, the earlier the better. Millennials who kick off retirement accounts early will reap big rewards later. A 25-year-old who socks away $4,000 a year for just 10 years (with a 10 percent annual return rate) will accrue more than $883,000 by the time she turns 60. Now then: Can’t you just taste those pina coladas on the beach?

10. PLAN SMART VACATIONS AND TRAVEL — AND INVEST THE DIFFERENCE

There’s no sense in depriving yourself of every single thing, especially well-deserved time off. But Yeske points out that you can save a ton in 150 countries through a service called HomeExchange.com. “My wife and I have stayed for free in London, Amsterdam, New York and Costa Rica,” he said. “And when you’re staying in someone’s home or apartment, you don’t have to eat out at a restaurant for every meal, so your food costs nothing more than if you were at home.”

11. DON’T LET YOUR MONEY SIT IDLE

To get to an early retirement, you have to periodically revisit your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account to make sure your money doesn’t grow cobwebs. For example, the way your retirement account is diversified shouldn’t put too much emphasis on low-yield investments — such as money market funds and low-yielding bonds. “Dividends can pile up in the money market account, typically earning one one-hundredth of a percent,” Yeske said. “Make sure your cash is invested properly.

12. HOP OFF THE HEDONIC TREADMILL

In this curse of consumerism, you buy something expensive, feel excited and then scout for something else to purchase when the “new car smell” wears off. And it’s a huge trap if you want early retirement, said Pete, a finance blogger who retired in his 30s. Another advantage: “Here in the rich world,” he wrote at MrMoneyMoustache.com, “the only widespread form of slavery is the economic type.”

 

13. LOOK FOR PASSIVE SOURCES OF INCOME

Early retirement doesn’t necessarily mean retiring all of your income, especially if you find ways to bring in money without hard work. Investing in rental properties is one way you can create a cash flow stream — and you can minimize the labor by hiring a property manager. Or: Set up an internet sales business and hire a part-timer to fulfill orders and track stock based on volume

14. ENLIST IN THE ARMED FORCES

Here’s an alternative way to get to “At ease, men.” By serving in the military, you can also serve yourself. Members commonly retire after 20 years, living off generous pensions and health insurance. Even though President Obama in March proposed sweeping changes to military retirement and health benefits, earlier-than-normal retirement should still remain an option for many men and women in uniform.

15. HIT THE ROAD OR GO JUMP IN A LAKE, INDEFINITELY

Some middle agers are selling the bulk of their possessions — including the home — and moving into tricked-out mobile homes and houseboats. These options also open the door to a life of leisure travel and can eliminate major expenses, such as property taxes and mortgage payments.

If you think of retiring early as simply walking away from everyday life — and thus a pipe dream — it’s time to take a step back and look at how others have done it. You might enjoy your job immensely and have friends in the trenches with you. But if work is taking too much away from your family time, community bonds, overall health and peace of mind, you might do well to consider one of the smartest alternative investments of all: yourself.

Greater Is He In You


by Lawrence Powell

Nestled in the ancient text of 1 John 4 is a powerful principle for contemporary kingdom living. By this principle, we should live our lives, conduct our affairs and minister in the name of Jesus. It is found in verse 4: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

This powerful verse begins with, “You are of God, little children…” That is emphatic: You are a child of God! It is very important that as a believer you know who you are. If you don’t, then you will live far beneath your potential. You’ll live like you’re somebody else! When you do not know who you are in God, in Christ, Satan will try to keep you from accepting this kingdom principle. He’ll work to convince you that you’re weak, that you’re a loser. He’ll have you convinced there’s no way out, that your situation is not redeemable. He’ll tell you that the sickness attacking your body will be the end of you. But you’re not powerless, friend — you’re more than a conqueror. You’re a winner! You’re undefeatable!

The scripture goes on to say, “You have overcome them.” Who is “them?” This term actually refers to the Antichrist and the spirit of Antichrist, which is in the world. We know from words like “antiperspirant” that the prefix “anti” means that which is against, or that which is opposed to. So, “antichrist” means that which opposes Christ, that which is against Christ. So this “spirit of Antichrist” is Satan himself, the demonic realm, the demonic agenda, not just the Antichrist personified in End Times teachings.

The spirit of Antichrist will try to deceive you and lead you astray. It will invite you to accept human reason over godly reason, temporal evidence as “the facts,” but-Good News!-the real “fact” is you are an overcomer! You may have a treasure in an earthen vessel. Your outward man may be perishing, according to the Scriptures, but your inward man is being renewed day by day. Your body is not perfect: It ages (don’t we know it!). But what’s most important is who we are in the spirit. While you may stand bent over in pain before a mirror and shake your head at your frailty, God may look upon you as a powerhouse of prayer and faith in the midst of your storm!

John, in his epistle, makes it very clear why we are overcomers: Because “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” Without Jesus in us, there is no overcoming. There’s nothing we can do to save ourselves. We cannot redeem the time or make things new. There’s simply no reason for us to be self-focused or think of ourselves as self-sufficient! No, wisdom declares that we need to be God-focused. God is mighty. He is the One who can save. And He is greater than anything we will ever come against.

It is important to know who you are. It’s also extremely important that you know who God is. How big is your God? How great is He? If you see Him as distant or distracted, how will His greatness reach you? If you see Him as too big for your problems, how will you cry out to Him for help? Likewise, if you see Him as a spiritual shadow, how will you have confidence that He can do anything for you? If He’s just a religious figure like Buddha or Muhammad, how can He do for you what you need to be done?

The Scriptures tell us many things about God: He is a Self-revealing God. From the opening statement in the book of Genesis, He reveals His nature to man: “In the beginning, God…” The Hebrew word is Elohim, the Creator God, the self-existent, eternal and righteous God. If we saw God for who He is, we wouldn’t get so discouraged by the evil and godlessness of our culture. If we could keep the greatness of God before our eyes, we’d be gripped by His awesome reality. Like the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18, if we saw the greatness of God, we would be changed from one degree of glory to the next.

God is omnipotent (all-powerful, almighty); He is omnipresent (everywhere present); He is omniscient (all-knowing). He is eternal, self-existent. God is self-sufficient. He doesn’t need anybody else. He can actually do it all on His own!

God is transcendent, beyond our ability to describe or fully comprehend. But although He is transcendent, He is also imminent. He is “God with us.” God is sovereign. God is salvation. God is love. He is holy and just. He is righteous. Everything He does is pure and right. Everything He says is truth.

God is good, and His mercy endures forever. God is faithful even when we are unfaithful. God is our Helper, “a very real and present help in times of trouble.” He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals us. He is a deliverer, a miracle-worker. And He is immutable (He never changes).

God is still on the throne, my friend! The only way Satan can ever defeat you is if you become ignorant of who you are in Christ. When you know really know—that the Greater One resides inside you, then defeat is not an option. You will laugh without fear of the future.

We are seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and everything that is under His feet is under our feet as well. When we stand in this truth, we will see victory in our battles. When we stand unified with our other brothers and sisters in the faith, we’ll see the kingdom of darkness pushed back and the glory of God released into our communities, our businesses, our schools, our nation, and our world!

I hope you will evict the lies of the enemy from your life today: discouragement, unbelief, poverty, sickness—you’ve got to go in Jesus’ name! Be of good courage, believer. Lift up your head and get back to doing what God has called you to do. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!

Do You Have a Job, a Career, or a Calling?

BY

Your answer to this question is crucial.

It can determine whether or not your life’s work is contributing to you living to your full potential. In his book Springboard, Wharton School Professor G. Richard Shell argues that this question is essential to finding personal meaning and satisfaction. And that’s not as simple as most people think.

To illustrate, imagine three people who have been working hard for several years — Alex, Ben, and Catherine.

  • Alex has a job he does for the paycheck. He clocks in for the hours he’s supposed to, and he puts in the minimum effort to get the job done. Sure, he might perform relatively well in his role, or he might go through the motions of socializing with the people he works with, but he can’t help feeling like a cog in a machine. He puts up with it though, as he’s motivated by the security that comes with having a stable job and a steady paycheck. He doesn’t view his job as much more than a chore. ‘Life’ is what happens when he gets home after work and picks up his guitar, or on weekends when he can spend time with his partner. He is always wishing that it’s Friday already, and he dreads Monday mornings.
  • Ben feels dedication and loyalty towards his career, and to an extent, his employer too. He sees himself progressing in his defined role, towards more status and responsibility. His pride in his job is apparent in how he introduces himself to others at parties: he says his name and what he does. He has spent countless hours building up his skills and knowledge within his field. He envisions himself in his manager’s position on a daily basis, and then progressing to his manager’s manager’s position, and so on. He works hard because he wants to be better, and sometimes he does things he doesn’t want to do, like work long hours, so that he can reach the ‘ideal’ future he envisions for himself.
  • Catherine wouldn’t call what she does ‘work.’ She feels lucky to have found her calling, and to get paid for it too. She’s keen to get out of bed every morning, excited about what the day will bring. She genuinely feels that she is making a difference. There’s hardly such a thing as a holiday, because she just works whatever hours she feels like to get the job done, motivated by the knowledge that what she’s doing is worthwhile. She is able to express herself though her work — using that creative spark she’s had since she was a child. She spends every day in alignment with her values, which include serving the community, even in her own little way. Instead of a cog in a machine, she feels like she is the machine.

Who do you identify most with?

Notice that there isn’t any mention of each person’s pay or profession. Research conducted by Yale University Professor Amy Wrzesniewski showed that most randomly selected groups divide themselves up almost exactly into thirds, no matter what they do, or how much they are paid. Indeed, some people from exactly the same workplace felt differently about the same job. It’s not always so clear-cut.

For example, Ben could be a trainee lawyer who feels like he has his whole career ahead of him. He’s only worked for two years, and has shown promise. Maybe he’ll make partner one day, if he just works hard enough. He’s proud of his profession, even though the hours exhaust him. He would say that his career is his priority right now. His best friend in the next cubicle feels differently. He finds the work tedious and pointless.

Catherine could be a doctor working in a ward that is always full of sick children. She works long hours, sometimes with only a few hours of sleep, but it’s worth it if she gets to save lives. She can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s her calling. Yes, she earns a fair amount, but it’s not the money that’s most important to her. Last night, she was bonding with her best friend Karen about how much they love their jobs. Karen is an administrator for the local government.

You might imagine that most people on lower incomes would consider themselves as just having a ‘job,’ but down the hallway from Catherine the doctor, the janitor finishes up cleaning the floor. Nobody really pays attention to him, but if they did, they would hear him humming away happily. Even though his job can be tiring at times, he loves it because the ward needs to stay clean so that the doctors can properly do their jobs, and the janitor gets to do his part in saving lives. It’s his calling too.

In fact, people can feel differently about their work at different times in their lives, and their perceptions can shift over time as their personal lives change and they seek different goals than when they first started in a job. Ben could focus on his law career for 10 years, and then realize that he has sacrificed a lot for the sake of it. He loses sight of why he wanted to be a lawyer in the first place, and over the years his career has become just a job to him. Now he’s just doing it because he doesn’t know anything else, and the money is good, but perhaps there are more important things in life than living hard and fast. He’ll be looking for his calling soon.

It’s not easy to work out whether you have a job, a career, or a calling. Things that matter to you now might not matter as much later, and vice-versa. In the long run, only you will know what is right for you. If you’re lucky enough to find your calling — work that you enjoy and that can support you financially — then you are better than two-thirds of the people in the workforce. And you’re well on your way to finding success and happiness.

The Lost Art of Discipline

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fthepurpleninjette%2Fvideos%2F231427823979497%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>Gaby Diaz-Cervo

A message from an ETR sponsor

Hey, it’s Chad Howse here.

I’m a former 9-5er turned entrepreneur… also a former scrawny amateur boxer turned muscular published fitness author.

But a decade ago I had no money. Actually, less than no money, was in debt, and got out of shape for the first time in my life.

Rather than searching for a ‘get rich quick’ product or workout to get me in shape, I focused on developing discipline.

Nothing else, just creating the habits that the ‘rich, ripped, and successful’ version of me would have to develop.

Discipline, however, rarely endures when it’s dependent on willpower.

Just like your ideal body, discipline can’t be built with motivation alone. It requires a process, plan, and strategy if it’s going to live forever.

That’s what I focused on. I devoured every book I could possibly find on the subject, from theory and philosophy, to solid scientific evidence on what works. I read about great historical figures, guys I wanted to emulate, and realized it wasn’t talent or willpower that made them great; it was discipline.

I got on a routine. I became the same man every day rather than the guy with no money who depended on inspiration to write content and create products.

To be honest, it didn’t take long to turn things around.

After a few months of my discipline program I began to make more money and my body changed in front of my eyes.

Here’s a secret that marketers don’t want to tell you: the program doesn’t matter as much as your discipline in following it.

Discipline makes transformations.

I’m still a work-in-progress and I always will be, but the freedom I have today from stress, from a boss breathing down my neck, and the freedom to travel the world, buy a house, and live life on my own terms isn’t due to intelligence.

I owe it all to discipline. And the more discipline I develop, the more freedom I have in my life.

That’s the greatest misconception about discipline— that it’s confining. In reality, it’s liberating.

But I’m not a naturally disciplined guy. I need a program to follow, some kind of daily guidance that gives me clarity on where my attention needs to be focused.

I’m guessing you’re the same.

In fact, I’ve never met a ‘naturally disciplined person’ in my life.

Everyone I know who’s killing it, struggles. They all struggle. Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, even Napoleon Bonaparte struggled mightily to be the disciplined men that would develop greatness.

And without a plan, you’re out of luck.

That’s why I created The Lost Art of Discipline – a mission to not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.

Take the challenge that is the Lost Art of Discipline and be the person that even your most ambitious dreams didn’t imagine you’d become.

Tired Of Being Overworked, Sacrificing Your Health, And Missing Out On Time With Your Family?

I Can Do This


by Lawrence Powell

I can do this! Those are four little words, but they carry a lot of weight when you choose to do what is right in God’s sight. For instance, Matthew 5:44 tells us to “love your enemies. Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Those commands may seem hard, but 1 John 5:3 tells us, “His commandments are not burdensome.” Let that sink in a moment: His commandments are not burdensome! In other words they are not irksome, oppressive, or grievous!

God does not ask us to do hard things; He asks us to do impossible things—things that cannot be done outside of Jesus Christ. But whenever God asks us to do something that is impossible, He also anoints us to do it. He provides the will, the means, and the grace to do everything He commands us to do. His anointing will break through every obstacle we may encounter.

Wayne Stiles said this: “We won’t experience the joy of God’s power if we keep running from impossible situations.” If God asks impossible things of us, He plans to do the impossible for us. God will lead you and guide you in such a way that transformation is the end result. God may allow you to go into a fiery furnace, but you will come out with a testimony, fireproof and triumphant!

What happens when we avoid hard things? The answer is, hard things come to us. Have you ever tried to escape something that was difficult only to run right into it? There’s a class that you’ve got to take in the school of the Holy Spirit, and that is Hard Knocks. But look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I can do this!”

Difficulties arise because we need to learn to confront life from a different perspective that comes with a new set of values. When we walk contrary to the way of the world, there will be difficulties. Our friends won’t understand us. It’s as if we’re speaking a foreign language. We’re talking holiness; they’re talking ungodliness. We’re talking righteousness; they’re talking unrighteousness.

Difficulties also exist for our growth potential. God will stretch us: This can be painful at times, because it requires leaving our comfort zones.

Scripture is full of examples of people who didn’t want to do what God told them to do. Moses struggled with God’s command to confront Pharaoh about freeing the children of Israel. And Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, so he purchased a ticket to somewhere else. He ended up in the belly of a big fish until he repented. Then God delivered him, and he went on to Nineveh.

Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls; for My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Note: “My yoke is easy”…but it’s still a yoke. “My burden is light”…but it’s still a burden. The good news is we don’t have to carry it alone.

Here are five things you can do through Christ, when faced with difficulties:

1. Be determined to do God’s will: When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30-46), He struggled in regards to the bitter cup, wrestling with the purpose that the Father had set out before Him–so much so that blood, like drops of sweat, poured from Him. Yet He said, “Not My will, but Your will be done!”

2. Obey the Lord, no matter how silly or difficult it may appear: In 2 Kings 5:1-14 we read about Naaman, a valiant man, a champion among his people. The Bible says Naaman was a leper. He was also a proud man. He had heard about a prophet in Israel and decided to go to him for a healing. So he left with his entourage to see Elisha and when he arrived at the place where the prophet resided, Elisha didn’t even come out to greet him. Instead, he sent his servant who told him, “Go down and dunk yourself seven times in the Jordan River.” When Naaman heard those words, he was insulted! Dunk in the dirty Jordan? Are there not better, cleaner waters? He was doubly insulted that the Man of God had not come to him personally. But thank God, He always has someone with good sense in the midst! As Naaman turned to depart in his anger, some of his servants said to him, “This is a small thing that the Prophet asks of you, to go, dunk in the water. What have you got to lose?” So Naaman humbled himself and did as he had been instructed by Elisha…and he was healed!

3. Keep your eyes on Jesus: Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” Everything within you might be fighting to do the right thing, while everything that is wrong is pulling at you: Tell that person off! Lie to your brother! Cheat on your taxes! But just declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” When you keep your eyes on Jesus, you will never go astray!

4. Expect God’s grace to do what God requires: In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul speaks of his thorn in the flesh, a problem that troubled him night and day. He went before the Lord three times and asked, “Take this away from me!” But, instead, the Lord gave Paul a revelation. And that revelation is just as valid for you and me today. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” God’s got grace for everything you and I might encounter in life. And that grace, my friend, is all sufficient!

5. Enjoy the blessings of faith and obedience: James 1:22-25 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” The blessing comes not just by hearing the Word, but by doing it. And when you do the Word, you will enjoy the blessings that come from the Lord!

These principles will help you live victoriously in whatever situation you face. When difficulties come–and they will–stand on the promises of God. Declare “I can do this!”

Want to Be Taken More Seriously? Start Doing These 5 Things

 

There are a number of contributing factors that make it challenging to be taken seriously in the professional world. It can be something irrational like your age, sex, height, or even voice that cause others to incorrectly assess your worth. Sometimes it can even be certain behaviors you exhibited that were misperceived by others and now you’ve been pigeon-holed and deemed less-professional or adept than you really are. However you’ve been misunderstood, change the attitudes of your work colleagues by committing to a certain way of carrying yourself and living by a clear value system that earns respect.

Inc. recently listed powerful moves you can commit to to influence how you’re seen in the eyes of others and ultimately be taken more seriously. We’ve highlighted our top choices here so you can begin implementing them in your interactions today.

Always be informed. It is better to be silent than to speak when you don’t know what you’re saying. Communicate effectively and knowledgeably on every subject. If you need some brushing up, put in the time to make sure you have all the facts before saying words you can’t take back. Being intelligent is not enough.

Keep your word. If you say you’re going to do something, you better get it done. Never promise something you can’t deliver on 100%. It is always better to be honest than fall short of what you’ve committed to and disappoint your colleagues.

Dress well. You’ve heard about dressing for the job you want, not the job you have. The way you show up to work is an indicator of the respect you have for yourself and the company and the kind of success you’re after.

Be mindful of your tone. In addition to the way you carry yourself, how you speak can communicate beyond the words you’re actually saying. Speak with confidence but also respect, always keeping your ear out for the tone you’re using.

Always be on time. Showing up late is a sign of disrespect and disorganization, two traits that have no place at the office. Practice punctuality and you’re communicating you can be counted on.

Setting Goals

“Life can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives.” – Viktor E. Frankl

A Surprising Thing I Learned About Setting Goals

By Mark Ford

Why is it, I kept asking myself, that nobody follows my advice on personal productivity?

Every January, I write an essay bragging about all the things I got done the previous year, urging readers to use my personal productivity program.

But it seems like I convince no one. We get no emails from readers saying they are going to get on board. Nor do we get notes at the end of the year about all they’ve accomplished.

I’ve pitched it at business meetings, dinners, and family reunions, but I have yet to convince a colleague, friend, or family member to do it. What the heck am I doing wrong?

I got tired of asking those questions last month and decided to find out. I invited a small group of people to participate in a year-long project, during which I would teach them my system and coach them to follow it.

We just had our first meeting. And I have already discovered something important.

An idea I had about goal setting was wrong.

I began the meeting by talking about how my life changed when I decided to get rich. I always use that phrase — decided to get rich — to emphasize what was for me the most important part of that experience. I spent 30 years wanting to get rich and never did.

And then, one day, I decided that getting rich was going to be my top priority, and that’s when the money started piling up.

So, that’s one thing: the difference between wanting and deciding.

Deciding implies intention and purpose, not just volition. (That was not my discovery. I’ll come to that now. But keep that thought in mind.)

Next, I told them that when I retired for the second time and began writing Early to Rise, I had the opportunity to think about that experience and assess what was good and bad about it.

I came to the conclusion that making one goal your only goal is very powerful. It changes the way you think dramatically. Your mind becomes shark-like in its ability to make both big and small decisions. Such clarity means the likelihood you will achieve that goal becomes a near certainty.

That is good. But there is another effect of having only one goal that is bad. It means you will inevitably sacrifice other wants you have listed on your mental desiderata. In my case, for example, I sacrificed my health, my hopes of writing fiction, and my desire to be happy.

So, in developing a goal-setting strategy for Early to Rise readers, I offered a choice: If you want the best possible chance of achieving one goal, make it your only goal. But if you want a well-balanced life, create four goals: one financial, one health, one personal, and one social.

That’s what we did at last week’s meeting. I asked everyone to think about whether they wanted to choose one goal or four. And then I asked if anyone wanted to share a major goal. Bob Irish (a friend and colleague) said that after he retired, he decided he would get into the best shape of his life. And then Joe shared his goal: having passive income of $150,000 in five years.

Now, if you have read anything about goal setting, you are already thinking that Joe’s goal was better than Bob’s because Joe’s goal was very specific. It was specific in two ways: a particular objective in terms of how rich ($150,000 in passive income) and a particular time frame (five years). Bob’s goal, in contrast, was vague on both counts.

In writing about goal setting in the past, I had, like most others, advocated specificity. And yet, I knew in my gut that Bob’s vague goal was actually a good and achievable goal, whereas Joe’s was not.

Because of commitment bias, I felt like I should commend Joe for making his goal so specific. But I knew, because I knew his personal situation, that it was a badly designed goal and that it would lead to frustration and self-doubt rather than success.

And then it hit me: The goal I set for myself 30-odd years ago, the goal of “being rich,” was a vague goal, just as vague as Bob’s.

So, I’m writing to you now to tell you that I think this whole idea of being very specific when setting big goals is wrong. I do believe in specificity when it comes to identifying shorter-term objectives. But when it comes to the big goals, I’m now saying make them vague.

There are two big benefits in doing this.

First, when you make your big goals doubly specific (quantifying the objective and setting a time frame), you may be setting yourself up for failure. In Joe’s case, as I mentioned, there was no way I could imagine him achieving that goal unless he quit his job immediately and took the risk of becoming an entrepreneur. But to do that, he would have to put the financial security of his family at risk. And knowing him and his core values, I was certain that was a bad idea.

Now, if Joe’s goals were considerably more modest — say, doubling his salary in five years — then his chances of success would have been very good. But that would be a small goal, not a big goal. To set and accomplish big goals, you should make them vague.

Second, the true reward you get by setting and accomplishing goals is not in the final accomplishment, but in the process of moving forward. In Bob’s case, he would begin to feel better about himself the very first day he began to get into better shape.

And that good feeling would motivate him to continue working toward the goal. And all the while he’d be feeling that goodness.

That’s what happened to me with my vague “get rich” goal. I began to feel “richer” the very next day when I was making decisions at work that I knew would eventually make me richer. I then felt good about every step I took along the way: when my salary doubled from $35,000 to $70,000, when I paid off my debts, when I made my first million, and so on. But the pleasure of achieving that goal came mostly from the process of moving forward, not from the accomplishment of it, which would only have come once at the very end.

Do you see what I’m saying?

Your big, long-term goals should be vague or at least somewhat vague (if you want to make the objective specific, leave the date out, or put the date in and make the objective unspecific), because that vagueness will allow you to enjoy every day along the path, not just the final day when you reach the destination.

And enjoying the process is about living well and happily in the here and now. And that’s really the most important thing, isn’t it?

I feel very strongly about this core idea of setting and attaining goals — and the goal-setting project I’ve begun to that end. In fact, I’ve tentatively named the group “The Goaltenders.” I’ll continue mentoring the participants, and we’ll meet monthly to track everyone’s progress. Look for updates about how the Goaltenders are doing in future issues of The Palm Beach Letter.

 

About the Editor: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes thePalm 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.
HEALTHY

Breaking the Addiction to Your Phone

From The Atlantic

Tristan Harris, a former product philosopher at Google, is the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience. As the co‑founder of Time Well Spent, an advocacy group, he is trying to bring moral integrity to software design: essentially, to persuade the tech world to help us disengage more easily from its devices.

While some blame our collective tech addiction on personal failings, like weak willpower, Harris points a finger at the software itself. That itch to glance at our phone is a natural reaction to apps and websites engineered to get us scrolling as frequently as possible. The attention economy, which showers profits on companies that seize our focus, has kicked off what Harris calls a “race to the bottom of the brain stem.”

“You could say that it’s my responsibility” to exert self-control when it comes to digital usage, he explains, “but that’s not acknowledging that there’s a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job is to break down whatever responsibility I can maintain.” In short, we’ve lost control of our relationship with technology because technology has become better at controlling us.

Read about Harris’ movement to rally product designers to adopt a “Hippocratic oath” for software that would check the practice of “exposing people’s psychological vulnerabilities.”

 

Music is Good For Your Brain

A message from an ETR sponsor

Dear friend,

Your brain cells are quietly dropping like flies.

Any one—or all—of a number of every day toxins are to blame.

If you do nothing to stop it, your memory and brain function could fade away… never to return.

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Have you ever been depressed, felt anxiety, or gotten stressed out because of something you couldn’t control?

These (and more—like forgetfulness) are all results of the toxins I’m talking about.

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In fact, I’ve written a very special FREE report complete with doctor testimonials, case studies, and words of praise from folks who are using this music to restore lost brain power and functionality every day.

Wipes out negative thoughts and feelings, relieves you of depression, and gently removes the anxiety that keeps you tense and stressed.

And there’s nothing more to do than listen to pleasant, mind comforting music for just 20 minutes each day.

This music has even helped people enjoy deeper more restorative sleep… because when you sleep well, your brain and body are able to repair damaged tissues.

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President & CEO
The New You Enterprises

Avocados

 

10 Health Benefits of Avocados

By Marry Spencer

Avocado is most popular for being a good source of good fat. But it’s also brimming with other nutrients, and has a relatively low calorie count.

If you’re not familiar with all of the health benefits of the avocado, here are just a few:

1. Nutritional Value

Aside from being the only fruit that contains monounsaturated (good) fats, avocados also contain 7 grams of dietary fiber and 2 grams of protein per serving, as well as 485 grams of potassium and 16% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C.

2. Better Cardiovascular Health

Because of this superfood’s ability to lower bad cholesterol, it can easily improive your heart health. According to one study, avocado has properties that can lower low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), also know as bad cholesterol.

3. Healthy Eyesight

Avocado is brimming with nutrients that improve eyesight, including cartenoids such as beta carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein, which can prevent age-related macular degeneration.

4. Cancer Prevention

Avocados are packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants that have been proven to fight off cancer cells.

Read about 6 more health benefits of avocados.

After Meeting Anyone

The One Thing You Should Do After Meeting Anyone New

By Michael Simmons

At 24-years-old, Francis Pedraza is the co-founder and CEO of a venture-backed company, Everest. In addition, he is an advisor to 10 tech companies, each of whom he does hundreds of introductions for in return for equity.

It is hard to predict how my Forbes interviews will go. Most top relationships builders are not able to articulate how they do what they do.

Francis does not fall into this camp.

Within a few minutes of talking with him, he had transformed my perspective on relationship building.

The elaborate system he has created allows him to dramatically scale the value he adds to the people in his network.

How could a 24-year-old founder who is busy building a company offer more introductions than venture capitalists whose full-time job is to find and support portfolio companies into which they’ve invested millions of dollars?

Why You Should Share Your Network With Other Entrepreneurs You’ve Vetted

Imagine building a road to an amazing place and then only using it once.

That would not only be a waste; it would be selfish.

You’ve already incurred the cost, and it doesn’t hurt you if other people use it. In fact, it helps to share because you build relationships with other drivers who appreciate your generosity.

Despite the obvious benefits, most entrepreneurs fail to proactively share their networks of vendors, investors, employees, and partners.

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They build it and then let it sit.

If you’re raising money, you talk to dozens of investors until you’re finished. Then, you focus on other networks. The same goes for interviewing dozens of employees and vendors to fill open positions. Once you fill a position, you stop looking until the next time you have a position.

Here’s the problem with the on/off approach: If you don’t always nurture these networks, then they are harder to activate when you need them.

Francis’ insight was to make introductions for other high potential tech companies to investors, designers, and engineers he already knew even when he didn’t immediately need these networks.

Speaking on why he made this decision, he shared two reasons:

  1. Building Relationships With Investors

    “When we raise our next round of financing, potential investors will be less likely to ignore me or act in bad faith, because they know that I’ve built a big network and proven its value.”

  2. Learning From Top Entrepreneurs In Other Sectors

    “By being a trusted advisor to other companies, I broaden my perspective in two ways. First, I become privy to the deepest challenges of other top tech companies. Secondly, I learn what they’re learning as they learn it.”

At this point, most people using Francis’ logic would take an ad hoc process to making introductions when people came top of mind.

Instead, Francis created an extremely powerful system that simplified and scaled his impact.

Focus On Quality Before Quantity

The difference between introducing an investor to a world-class entrepreneur and a talented entrepreneur is tremendous.

Investors earn almost their entire return from one in ten companies they invest in that hit it big.

With this in mind, Francis decided to actively search for and select high potential startups that he believed in that he could advise.

By primarily making only high-quality introductions to startups he had vetted, he could provide more value to investors and learn more from the entrepreneurs.

Why Making Hundreds of Introductions For A Single Company Makes Sense

Finally, instead of doing just a few introductions for each company, Francis does hundreds. To receive funding or to fill open positions requires talking to dozens of people. By only making a few introductions, you’re certainly helping, but you’re not pushing the ball forward as much as you could be given the need and your ability. Here’s Francis’ logic:

The reason I make hundreds of introductions rather than just a few is that fundraising is hugely impacted by momentum. It’s best to fundraise within a short window so that there is a lot interest at once and investors have time pressure. Furthermore, most investment meetings don’t turn into investments so startups need a lot of introductions in order to create momentum and find the needle in the haystack.

In order to scale the introductions you make, you have to organize your network in the right way. This brings us back to the title of the article…

Upfront Segmentation Is Better Than Top of Mind Later

The one thing you should you do after you meet someone is add them to the right cluster (i.e. – segment).

Most people treat their networks as one large connected cluster. The reality is that it is a set of many clusters.

This is critical because of relevancy. When you have a new article you want to share, a person you want to make an introduction for, or a dinner you want to invite people to, there two very likely possibilities:

  1. The opportunities are only relevant for a small segment (i.e., common passion, specific industry, location, etc.) of your network.

  2. Many of the opportunities you come across are relevant to the same few segments again and again.

The beauty of these two points is that if you find the segments that are relevant for your network, you can organize people into lists that you can reference whenever you need to.

Most people completely depend on who is top of mind. The problem is that the brain is designed to forget the large majority of what it’s exposed to. Just because someone doesn’t come to mind, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t many people who should have.

In my experience, by depending on what is top of mind, there is a good chance you’re missing relevant people by a factor of 10.

Because Francis divides his network into very clear segments upfront, knows how he is providing value, and has a tool that allows him to easily view segments, he is able to systematize all of his processes so they take dramatically less time.

Below is how Francis segments the investors in his network:

1. Segmentation

  • Corporate Development

  • Fund of Funds

  • Hedge Funds

  • Venture funds

  • Angel

  • Seed

2. Filtering.

  • Location

  • Fund Size

  • When The Fund Was Started

  • Check Size

To do segmentation, Francis uses social relationship intelligence platform, RelateIQ (see screenshot below). Started in 2013 with $40M+ in funding, the startup aims to use big data to help people build deeper relationships.

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Collect Data On People To Segment, Not Just To Jog Your Memory

With this new approach, you collect basic data for one purpose; putting people in a segment. This stands into contrast with most systems that are purely designed to jog your memory for the future. Most segmenting / tagging systems get mired in complexity; tags that are too similar or no longer relevant. As a result, many give up because the process is too time-intensive. Patrick Ewers, one of silicon valley’s top relationship management coaches and an advisor to Contactually (a platform similar to RelateIQ), helps guide his clients on how to segment their networks. In his words, “Before you go out and tag every single person with every single interest, narrow it down. Otherwise, it becomes a real brute force effort. You constantly have to add and remove people and tags. It’s one of those things that gets stale really fast. It’s like your address book that you never use. The key idea is simplicity.  I recommend starting with only 5 segments.” For too many people, networking is a bad word. It has come to signify individuals who use communication as an opportunity to broadcast what they want from others who aren’t even relevant to that product or service. Relationship building has become the antithesis of this idea. It represents personalized and relevant giving in order to build a relationship. Segmentation, when used properly, is one of the most powerful tools to deepen and scale the most important relationships in your life.

About the Author: Michael Simmons is the co-founder of Empact, a global entrepreneurship education organization that has held 500+ entrepreneurship events including Summits at the White House, US Chamber of Commerce, and United Nations. Connect with him on Twitter (@michaeldsimmons)Google+ and his Blog.