Category Archives: Techniques

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.

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.

How To Get What You Want In Just Ten Steps

by

Being fearless enough to chase what you want is the ultimate goal for all of us. But in reality, leaving your comfort zone to get everything you want just isn’t that easy. Tired of letting your doubts stop you from reaching your full potential? Fed up of thinking about what could have been? Or, do you just need to face a new chapter? Here’s a 10-step routine for getting what you want, which will help you achieve your goals and dreams faster than ever before!

1. Create a plan

Before you can go after what you want, you have to be sure it’s definitely the right thing for you. Map out what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there. It will make the end goal much clearer.

2. Start with small changes

Once you know what you want, the initial changes don’t have to be too drastic. Ease yourself in by making little changes every day. Wake up earlier, write to-do lists and take time for yourself.  These small changes can make a huge difference.

3. Ask for what you need

Whilst you are taking things into your own hands, you may find that you need the help of others too. To get what you want you can’t be afraid to ask for what you need. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

4. Develop willpower

Knowing what you want and achieving it are two very different things. You have to be prepared to work hard and never give up. Your willpower will be tested like never before. Believe in yourself and persevere.

5. Celebrate progress

No matter how big or small, to reach to your end goal you have to celebrate every bit of success along the way. This way, you will keep up a positive mindset and be all the more likely to get what you want.

6. Accept setbacks

The road to getting what you want is bound to be a bumpy one. Come to terms with the fact that you win some and lose some, instead see it as a new challenge to prove yourself. With this mindset, you will be far more likely to get what you want in the long run.

7. Re-assess your goals

Just because something is what you once wanted, doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. It’s okay to change your mind. Make sure you regularly ask yourself, ‘will this make me happy?’ and ‘is it worth it?’ This way, you will know exactly how to get what you want.

8. Check your circles

To get where you want, you have to make sure you are surrounding yourself with people that help get you there. Remove anybody that refuses to help you move forward, celebrate your success or help to pick you up when you are down. You will be surprised how others can stop you from getting what you want.

9. Create balance

Being determined to get what you want is great, but you have to make sure you aren’t working too hard to get there and neglecting your social needs. Find that perfect work-life balance and you will find your goals much easier to achieve.

10. Be satisfied with what you have

Often, we can become so focused on getting what we want that we forget to appreciate what we have. Take a step back, appreciate what you have achieved and you may find that what you want may already be something you have.

How to Become Memorable in a Noisy World The secret to connecting with anyone.

By Daniel Gefen 

The Internet has introduced  powerful tools to connect millions of people with the simple click of a button.

An email, a tweet, a post. Within seconds, you can reach more people than your ancestors did in a lifetime.

The world has become a ‘numbers game,’ but nobody cares about being a number.

The same tools that you have at your disposal are easily accessible to the other seven billion people on this planet, which means that everyone is being bombarded with emails, tweets, messages and ads on a daily basis.

The way people act online reminds me of how people act when driving their cars.

Normal, well mannered people step into their cars and evolve into insensitive masters of metal.

All of a sudden, everyone else becomes ‘objects’ to avoid, ignore, honk at, shout out, cut off, curse at, etc.

The world has become faceless, but humans crave human interaction.

I started to realize the power of human interaction and developing deep relationships when I started my podcast. It’s amazing what 45-minutes talking to someone can actually do for a relationship. I have interviewed over 65 successful entrepreneurs and make an effort to keep in touch with each of them.

They are all busy people and are probably bombarded with messages from fans trying to connect. But here’s the secret:

They are human beings. And human beings crave deep, meaningful relationships. 

How many times has someone tried to get your attention with the same lazy piece of spam?

If it doesn’t work to get your attention, then why try using it to get the attention of others?

The Internet has made people lazy. It’s so easy to mass message or post quick meaningless things in the hope that a percentage of the masses will react.

Lazy people hope for the best. Successful people work hard to make things happen.

Here are some ways you can become memorable:

  • Instead of posting ‘Happy Birthday’ on someones timeline and getting lost in the masses, take 60 seconds and send them a happy birthday video message. They will remember you for it!
  • Instead of posting useless, mindless one liners,  post something deep and interactive
  • Reach out to people one on one and start a personal conversation
  • Dare I say it—pick up the phone and call people
  • Instead of commenting on other people’s posts with the same old one word replies like “cool” or “#Truth,” put some time into sharing how their post impacted you
  • Surprise people by sending them a gift in the mail

Most importantly, keep in touch with people on a regular basis—at least once every 90 days.

Ask yourself, what makes others memorable to you?

Now go and become memorable!

Status Anxiety

Do You Suffer From “Status Anxiety?”

By Alex Green

In 1759, Adam Smith inquired in his Theory of Moral Sentiments about why we seek wealth. Is it to meet our basic wants and needs?

No, he concluded. “The wages of the meanest laborer can supply them.” The point of all our striving, he argued, is “to be observed, to be attended to, to be taken notice of with sympathy, complacency, and approbation.

William James, the father of American psychology, echoed this sentiment a century later when he declared that the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

We don’t like to admit it, but most men and women are in a near-constant pursuit of higher status.

Psychologists have even identified a new malady, one that afflicts millions. They call it “status anxiety.”

Throughout history and around the world, men and women have always sought status and recognition. But in the modern era, the yardstick is almost always the same: economic success.

More bluntly, money.

The benefits of money and status are obvious: freedom, resources, comfort, time, attention, and deference. A lack of status, on the other hand — even if it is only perceived — can lead to sadness, anxiety, and even depression.

Our capitalist system thrives on the pursuit of status. Entrepreneurs take elaborate risks in the pursuit of great rewards. Consumers buy superfluous products — especially luxury brands — they believe confer prestige. The pursuit of status motivates us to develop our talents, work hard, demonstrate excellence, and achieve worthy goals.

In today’s increasingly affluent society, however, our ideas about what are “essential” constantly change.

For example, consider the percentage of Americans who believed the following items were necessities in 1970:

  • More than one phone – 2%
  • Second television set – 3%
  • Dishwasher – 8%
  • Car air conditioning – 11%
  • Second car – 20%
  • Home air conditioning – 22%

If these were nonessential to Americans 45 years ago, why do hundreds of millions consider them necessities today?

It’s not just that these things make our lives easier and more comfortable. Many folks would feel embarrassed or ashamed to be without them.

Our sense of happiness is based on comparing ourselves to others. Unfortunately, that is a guaranteed recipe for unhappiness.

The problem with making economic success the foundation of personal happiness is that a) you cannot control the economy and b) most companies eventually fail. Needless to say, this undermines job security and financial well-being.

While life will always be uncertain, there is a simple and effective cure for status anxiety: changing the way you think.

Every time we feel satisfied with what we have, however little that may be, we can count ourselves rich.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau insisted there are two ways to make a man wealthier: Give him more money or curb his desires. Or, as Socrates declared as he passed the expensive goods on sale in the Athens agora, “How many things I can do without!”

As for other people’s opinions, whether you get the recognition you believe you deserve is out of your control. But if you haven’t done anything that deserves contempt or disrespect, what difference does it make what someone else thinks?

An obsessive pursuit of status may not just be a waste of time. It could be a waste of a life.

About the Author: Alex Green is the author of excellent books like, The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters, and Beyond Wealth, that show you how to lead a “rich” life during trying economic times.

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?

Self-Leadership Secrets of an Extreme Athlete

By Michael Hyatt

What could the sport of running teach us about the secrets of self-leadership and reaching our business finish lines?

I’ve been a fan of Dean Karnazes ever since I read his book Ultramarathon Man several years ago, so I eagerly devoured his newest, The Road to Sparta, which tells the story of history’s first-ever marathon.

Some of us know the popular version of the story, where after the Athenians defeated Persian invaders at the battle of Marathon 490 B.C., a messenger ran 26 miles to share the exciting news.

But Karnazes shares the real story, where the runner, whose name was Pheidippides, actually ran more than 150 miles all the way from Athens to Sparta, then back again, before the battle.

That’s 300 miles.

Why would a person willingly go through something like that?

“Western culture has things a little backwards right now,” Karnazes said. “We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives.”

That observation doesn’t just apply to running. That applies to all of life, including leading our organizations. When it comes to work, comfort equals boredom.

Engagement and even happiness come when we’re gunning toward major goals. I’m talking about the kind of achievements that push us outside our comfort zone.

Maybe it’s launching a new product line, starting a new career, or growing a sales channel by double digits. If staring down the goal makes you feel uneasy, you’re on the right track.

This ‘Discomfort Advantage’ is only one of the lessons running can teach us. Here are three leadership takeaways I discovered when I read The Road to Sparta:

1. Leverage your unique abilities.

When Karnazes was a child, he went to a basketball camp coached by the legendary John Wooden. A small kid, Karnazes struggled to get rebounds like the bigger children. But Wooden could see his spirit and gave him some advice: “Do what you can.” Instead of going for rebounds, he started playing the backcourt. And he dominated.

When we compete head-to-head as if our abilities are the same as others, we sometimes miss playing to our strengths. It’s like we tilt the playing field against ourselves. Instead, we need to focus on what makes us unique. Steve Jobs is one of the best examples of this in recent years. Apple played its own game and rose to dominance.

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2. Let passion outrun balance.

We have to be careful that our jobs don’t dominate our lives, but there’s a natural tension in play if we really love what we do. “People speak of finding balance,” says Karnazes. “To me, that’s a misplaced ambition. If you have balance, you do everything okay. … Balance doesn’t lead to happiness—impassioned dedication to one’s life purpose does.”

What else could lead a person to run 153 miles through Greece? What else could lead an entrepreneur to do what the market believes is impossible? Balance is desirable, but it’s not the endgame. Finding and achieving your life’s purpose is.

3. Celebrate your wins.

When we reach our goals, we need to take the appropriate time to celebrate. That’s a critical way to honor our work. But it’s also a key component of living a full life.

Hosting another run in Greece called the Navarino Challenge, Karnazes was surprised at how the townspeople came out to celebrate the winners. “These people were all willing to put aside what they were doing and join together,” he remembered, “rejoicing in the moment.”

“If we always made decisions with our heads instead of our hearts, we’d probably live much more orderly lives,” he says, “but they would much less joyous. … How many people spend their entire lives striving for something with their nose to the grindstone, only to wake up one day and realize they haven’t really lived at all?”

Trade on your unique abilities, stay fueled by passion for your work, and take time to celebrate your accomplishments.

Those three takeaways might serve an athlete. But I’m confident they’ll serve leaders even more.

Originally published by Michael Hyatt on December 16, 2016

About the Author: Michael Hyatt is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, which is also a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon bestseller. He is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and now writes, speaks, and coaches full-time.

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!”

When Get Becomes a 4-Letter Word

By Jonathan Fields

I’ve been asked the question in a wide array of contexts…

How do I get people to buy my stuff?
How do I get people to open my emails?
How do I get people to join my community?
How do I get people to sign up for my list?
How do I get people to promote my stuff?
How do I get people to take this action?
How do I get people to blah blah blah?

Here’s the thing…

You don’t “get” people to do anything!

The use of the word “get,” and the framing of the question signals a deeper psychology that is rooted in a mindset that elevates taking and control over generosity, delight and value.

When you lead with the word get, you always lose.

Even if you seem to “get” what you want in the short term, the motivation and manipulation behind it will circle back to bite you. Immediately following your “get” will be a wave of buyer’s remorse, followed by feelings of anger and betrayal. This is not how you want to build a living. It is not how you want to build a brand or a career. It is not how you want to build a life. Walking around constantly trying to figure out how to “get” people to do things.

A far better, more sustainable, conscious and elevating approach, one that is steeped in longer-term relationships, generosity and value, is about not “getting” people to do something, but rather creating an experience of such generosity, value and delight that they “yearn” to participate in it. To contribute, to connect, to consume, to share, to stand in the story you’re telling and help bring others into it.

Not because you “got” them to do something, but because you created something so appealing they couldn’t not do it.

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So, when you’re writing copy for launches, subject lines for emails, brand stories for products, services and companies and descriptions for offerings…

When you’re crafting positioning, marketing, advertising and sales. When you’re developing values, missions, visions, structures and process…

Take the word “get” off the table and lead, instead, with “give, delight, invite.”

By the way, part of the reason it’s fresh in my mind is because I realized that a small, but alarming bit of “get mentality” had found its way into my own creation and marketing efforts. When you’re creating vast amounts of language, launching new things and making decisions under unforgivable time-constraints, that tends to be when the siren taunt of “get” most easily lures you in.

It’s easier to yield to the pull of smallness when you’re in the distorting heat of the cauldron.

When everything’s on the line.

But, that’s also the moment it’s most critical to hold fast to your values. Because, the pressure of any given situation may not be optional. But, whether it deepens or dissolves your commitment to integrity, that’s where the work lies.

I just keep reminding myself, in business and life, in the way I contribute to the world, I want to live from a place of generosity and grace, not grasping and greed.

That’s my work. Our work. The work.

I hope you’ll join me.

About the Author: Jonathan Fields is a dad, husband, author, speaker, A-list blogger and serial wellness-industry entrepreneur. Fields writes about entrepreneurship and creativity at www.JonathanFields.com and interviews emerging world-shakers at www.GoodLifeProject.com. His latest book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance, was named the #1 personal development book of 2011 by 800-CEO-Read.

Your Day

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

 MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING

Planning Your Day

 Fiercelybeautifulblog.com

By Craig Ballantyne

Let’s face it. As someone who wants extraordinary results in every area of your life, there are always going to be obstacles in your way. Two of the most common are overcoming procrastination and keeping control of your daily schedule.

The good news is that we conquer both with one solution. And that’s simply by planning your day.

So let’s allay your fears and stresses about the seemingly complex task at hand. Planning makes success simple.

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t make success easy, but it makes it simple. There is a big difference between the two.

Easy means little effort. And we both know that success takes hard work. Simple means that the path to success has already been tread, and we just need to follow that path. But, of course, there’s a path that has been tread to the top of Mount Everest, too, and we know that isn’t easy.

All paths to success take planning. In our recent discussions about “Operation 2X,” our plan to help you achieve twice the results over the rest of the year, ETR Publisher Matt Smith said, “You cannot have a 2X day when you don’t plan. That includes planning kids/family activities. 2X happens only when you lead. It only happens when you’re proactive and are actually pushing things forward. 2X only happens when there is intention.”

So what does that mean?

You need to:

  •     Plan your day/schedule
  •     Block out your time for specific tasks
  •     Get ONE big thing done first thing in the morning for momentum
  •     Prioritize your to-do list
  •     Make a commitment to contacting the right people
  •     Eliminate unnecessary communication
  •     Avoid getting sucked into emails
  •     Set daily deadlines
  •     Stick to your schedule (this is where things often go wrong)
  •     Set up your environment for maximum productivity.
  •     Institute a strict sleeping schedule
  •     Surround yourself with competent people who can do some work for you.

Or you can say, “Oh, I don’t want to be that rigid. I want a flexible, spontaneous lifestyle.”

And that’s fine, but the fact is you’ll fail at almost everything you want to do in life. PERIOD.

Your choice.

You must have total control over your working conditions and those that can interrupt it. It must be made known that your work time is do-not-disturb time.

This will disappoint others but it will protect your time and is essential to your success. Make this decision. Separate work from play. Commit. Stay focused.

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“It’s not about the hour you wake up, it’s about what you do with the hours that you are up. Whenever you start your day, start it with a powerful morning routine to get your mind right, then focus on your #1 priority for at least 15 minutes and win a victory that the world can’t take away from you no matter how crazy the rest of the day gets. You got this.” -Craig Ballantyne

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Remember… you get freedom from structure.

You don’t get freedom from a 4-hour work week. That’s false freedom, or as your parents described it, “Laziness.”

So listen…

If you’re struggling with your schedule, go back and do a “time journal.” Then ruthlessly plan your work day.

The more work you can get done during work hours, the less time you’ll have to steal from your family, friends, fitness, and fun hobbies by working when it’s not “work time.”

That’s what is meant by getting more freedom from structure.

You can work hard a good many hours and still have a life. Most people don’t have a balance problem, they have a time-wasting problem.

You must find your Magic Time to get more done in less time.

You must also set an end to your day. Do a brain dump and then shut your working mind down. Go spend time with your family. Don’t answer email at all hours of the day. Set limits. Know what you should be doing at all times, and do it.

The more structure you have in your work day, the more you plan, the more you will accomplish — and the closer you will get to achieving a 2X day — and life.

Remember these words of wisdom from Dave Kekich:

“Cherish time, your most valuable resource. You can never make up the time you lose. It’s the most important value for any productive happy individual and is the only limitation to all accomplishment. To waste time is to waste your life. The most important choices you’ll ever make are how you use your time.”

So always be prepared. Plan ahead. If you do, and if you get focused, you can dominate your days and own your life in 2017.

If you need help, I’m your man.

Click here to discover how to work in-person with me on creating your Perfect Days

About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is the founder of EarlyToRise University and the author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes “politically-incorrect” advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig’s secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision. Click here to learn more from Craig so that you can get more done, make more money, and live the life of your dreams.