5 Ways to Keep Your Business Financially Sustainable

By Mark Thomasson

The rule of thumb for every business is that they should never run out of cash. Therefore, all the business transactions you make need to have a clear purpose and a tangible financial backup.

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Due to the dynamic nature of contemporary business, keeping your finances in order is more of a rocky road than a bed of roses. To help business owners run their ventures as successfully as possible, we’ve prepared a set of crucial prerequisites to not only stay afloat but thrive in the marketplace.

1. Bring an Austerity Policy

From one point of view, it’s better for an inexperienced entrepreneur not to succeed to fast. If you have to struggle to make ends meet for some time, you’ll learn to appreciate both your work and your earnings. However, if you’re (un)lucky – depending on the perspective –to achieve your goals quickly, bring these clear austerity measures to keep your budget under control:

  • Allow for only essential purchases. Nothing but essential business items should be bought.
  • Limit recruitment and payroll. Avoid long-term employment contracts. Go for outsourcing and freelancers instead.
  • Benefit from business plan software. Use software tools to make detailed business plans.
  • Reduce overheads. Encourage employees to work from home and rent a smaller office space.

When your budget is reserved only for necessary business transactions, you’ll always have enough assets for your operations.

2. Open Separate Accounts

Using the business budget for personal expenditure is the biggest temptation new business owners face.

Some entrepreneurs make this mistake due to a lack of experience. However, others simply relax and start spending their business assets for private purposes. If you adopt such a lifestyle, you’ll have a wide range of problems. Your business will be in the red and it will take a lot of time to put it back in the black again.

To avoid such a misfortunate outcome, you need to have two separate accounts. One of them should be registered on your company and used solely for business transactions. On the other hand, your personal account will serve your private purposes. As for the amount of money you will take from your company monthly as a salary, study several different options to find the best one for your business’ long-term financial health.

3. Track Your Payments

… Continue reading

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Failure Is Not the End. It’s an Opportunity to Learn.

 


By Ronald Burr @ronburr

 

It was 1998. I walked into my first meeting with my now friend Bill Gross, the founder and CEO of Idealab. I was shown to a conference room that had quotes on the wall, and one of them, from Thomas Edison, immediately jumped out at me: “I have not failed 1,000 times, I have successfully found 1,000 ways that will not make a light bulb.” This quote, or at least some version of it, is the mantra of every successful entrepreneur.

We learn about failure early in life. Kids race each other on the playground and are tested in school and given grades each year, quickly learning what it means to win or lose, pass or fail. Not winning tends to have a stigma around it, and can ultimately lead to labels like “failure” or “loser.” Too many people allow external views to define their self-worth and thus are afraid of ridicule stemming from these unfair labels, which we even give to our own friends and family. Through societal behavior, we teach people to not be risk takers.

I’m not here to say there is no such thing as failure. Failure is very real, but it is not an end destination — it’s another event in the course of life. Experiencing one failure or 100 does not make you a failure. Failure is an external event that happens. It is not a personality characteristic. One who fails a lot, we could say, takes a lot of risks. It’s important to separate the events of failure from the personal characteristic of being a failure.

Failure is an opportunity to learn. When we confuse our personal sense of self-value with success, we are restricting our ability to learn because our ego becomes another factor in this equation. Our ego tells us we succeeded because we’re so smart and so great, or that we failed because we are a loser and can’t win at anything.

This clouds the analytical process of simply looking at the results of a situation and asking ourselves, “What happened?” There are key questions to ask in order to learn and grow from past mistakes.

  • How did I approach this?”
  • How prepared was I?”
  • What was within my control to change and what was not?”
  • Of the things within my control, what other actions could I have taken that might have produced a different outcome?”

Likewise, success can equally blind us from learning. Just like failure, success is an external event and does not necessarily define you as a winner. Many entrepreneurs who have experienced success make the mistake of believing they did it all on their own, forgetting the team and support that helped them achieve their goals. Of course, they made good decisions at the right time, worked hard and achieved success, but in almost all cases, there were other team members who assisted in the win.

Because failure is so bitingly painful, it tends to get more personal introspection than success. However, it’s the entrepreneurs’ optimistic “never say die” attitude that can also get in the way of self-evaluation and looking at the contributing causes of failure. Learn to separate the event of failure from your personal identity and invest in objectively reviewing the situation and trying a different approach next time. This relates to a core message I share with every entrepreneur — be ruthlessly honest with yourself and others. Denial is your worst enemy.

Strive to find flaws in your ideas or processes and eliminate them. You are only doomed to repeatedly fail if you choose not to learn from your past mistake

Catcher

1) Make yourself vulnerable
2) Demonstrate grace
3) Stand apart
4) Identify with the broken people
5) Speak life

Learn from my mistakes
Use what you have
Do everything for the Lord

Wanting Someone Else to Fulfill Our Lives

BY LEO BABAUTA

I have a friend who is lonely, who has such a good heart and desperately wants to find a partner who appreciates that goodness, to share a life with.

We have all felt this, I’m guessing: this desire for a deep connection, this hope that another person will just get us and want an intimate relationship with us, the idea that if we could just find this person and merge with them, we’d be fulfilled.

What if we tossed that idea out on its head?

What if everything we need for happiness and fulfillment is within us?

What if all the requirements for fulfillment were in this very moment, not in some imagined ideal future?

What if the idea of a romantic partner who is perfect (because of their imperfections!) and who fills our every need is just a fantasy that isn’t helping us?

The truth is that even those of us who have partners know that it’s not all honeymoon, and in fact a long-term relationship contains a lot of struggle. The fulfillment that we get in life ends up (mostly) not coming from the other person, but from ourselves.

What would it be like if we let go of this fantasy of a fulfilling partner, this fantasy of a better future … and instead focused on finding fulfillment in the here and now, within ourselves?

Where We Get Fulfillment

Another person isn’t going to fulfill us — at best, they’ll make us feel better about ourselves, and listen to us. The listening part is great, but we can get that from friends or family as well. The feeling better about ourselves is a function we can fulfill on our own as well. I’m not saying a partner is useless, but I am saying that a partner isn’t needed for fulfillment.

So how can we fulfill ourselves, by ourselves?

Well, what brings fulfillment? In my experience, focusing on pleasures like food, entertainment, online distractions, sex, drugs, alcohol, and thrills … these only bring temporary pleasure, but in the end you’re left wanting more.

Fulfillment comes from something deeper — finding meaning in life, finding appreciation for the fleeting beauty of every moment, being in service of others, loving.

But we don’t need a partner for those things. We can find meaning by searching within ourselves and in the world around us. We can start to appreciate the impermanence and joyful moments around us all the time. We can be in service of others in our community. We can love anyone, from those already in our lives (even if they don’t know we’re doing it) to strangers on the street, to all living beings.

Fulfillment From Within

What if we could do all these things just sitting here, doing nothing?

What if this very moment contained all we need for fulfillment?

Try looking within:

  • Stop and be still. Sit and do nothing, finding stillness and just noticing the moment.
  • Notice your body, your breath, emotions that happen in your body (like a tightness in your chest, or a warmth in your heart area), your thoughts.
  • See that there is constant change within you, and a loving goodness as well.
  • Fall in love with all that you see, from the emotions and thoughts to the body and breath, from the impermanence to the underlying goodness.
  • Reflect on a desire to be in service of yourself, and others.
  • Cultivate a love for yourself and all others by radiating a wish for everyone, including yourself, to be free of suffering, to be happy, to find joy.
  • Reflect on your innate connection to others — reflect on how others support your life, how the food that nourishes you is brought to you by thousands of others, how you’ve been created into the person you are because of the influences of every person you’ve met and connected with. This web of connections is how you are always a part of everything and everyone around you, a deep connection that is ever-changing and everlasting.
  • Reflect on your surroundings and in the constant change and beauty that is in every single thing, in the ocean of matter and energy that you are a part of.

These and more are always available, right now and in every moment, in you and all around you.

This practice can bring fulfillment, and nothing is required but attention, appreciation, gratitude and love. You have that in you.

4 Signs You’re with the Right Person

BY: REALSIMPLE.COM/GRACE ELKUS

Does your relationship pass this test?

Whether you’re entering a new relationship or hitting a significant milestone, it’s natural to question whether you’ve chosen the right partner. We talked to Elizabeth Schoenfeld, Ph.D., director of research and evaluation at LifeWorks and frequent contributor to ScienceofRelationships.com, and Marina Williams, a therapist in Boston and the author of Couples Counseling: A Step by Step Guide for Therapists, about the telltale signs you should look for.

1. THEY’RE ATTENTIVE

Small, daily gestures of romance are an important part of a supportive relationship, especially when they align with your personal needs. If you’re feeling under the weather, for example, you’ll appreciate your partner more if he or she makes you soup rather than brings home concert tickets, Schoenfeld says. “Having a partner who notices what you need or want in a given moment and responds accordingly bodes well for the long-term potential of your relationship.”

2. THEY’RE AFFECTIONATE

Whether its hugging, kissing, or cuddling before bed, regularly engaging in some form of physical affection is key to feeling connected to your partner, according to Schoenfeld. “Generally speaking, couples who are more physically affectionate with one another tend to be more satisfied with their partners and their relationships—which makes sense, as individuals tend to feel more cared for and understood when their partners show physical affection,” she says. And being affectionate is good for our personal and mental health, too.

3. THEY RESPOND WELL TO CONFLICT

How you communicate in the heat of an argument can be a telltale sign of the status of your relationship. In fact, the amount of conflict you engage in with your partner doesn’t matter nearly as much as how the argument is handled, Schoenfeld says. In healthy relationships, each partner responds to conflict in a caring and supportive manner. “If they listen to what you’re saying, respect where you’re coming from, and respond to your disclosures by sharing their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences (without making the conversation all about them), then intimacy is more likely to flourish.”

If you are communicating poorly, however, don’t give up hope. “As a couples counselor, I always love it when the problem is communication because it’s something that’s very easily fixed, granted that the couple is willing to change,” Williams says.

4. THEY SHARE YOUR VALUES AND GOALS

While it’s okay (and perfectly normal) to have different interests from your partner, it’s important to be on the same page when it comes to long-term goals. “Differences can be great for balancing out a couple and making things more interesting socially,” Williams says. “Where I think it’s important to be similar is in your values and goals for the future.” And Schoenfeld agrees: “Prioritize similarities that have long-term implications, such as a shared desire (or lack of desire) for marriage or children.”

Ask Yourself These Two Questions

I like the article because it reinforces my goals, I know that it is important to take risks in life.

Successful Steps

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“Life is not just about the good things or not just about the bad things. It is both. It all depends where you focus your attention.” ― Ann Marie Aguilar

Before we even embark a new goal or journey, we imagine a potential outcome. Dreams quickly get extinguished by excuses, or we get our hopes up so high that we feel ashamed when we don’t get our ideas off the ground.

In order to really evaluate your goals and focus on decision-making, there are a couple important questions we should ask ourselves:

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16 Tips for Living a Happy Life Starting Right Now

 


By John Rampton @johnrampton

It doesn’t matter your age, how much money you have in your back account, your marital status or what you do for a living, we all want to be more successful in our lives. Of course, defining success is different for each us, but here are 16 proven ways that can make you more productive, happy and successful in life.

1. Be committed.

No matter what goals you have set for yourself in life, you have to be committed. It’s through commitment that you’ll continue to make the improvements needed to better yourself. Whether it’s taking a chance on launching a startup, getting a gym membership to improve your physical well-being, or taking a cooking class because you want to become a chef, commitment is what drives us all to become more successful.

2. People care about you, not your success.

Let’s be honest. People don’t care about the expensive clothes you wear, how big is the house you own or the car your drive. That’s not to say that they don’t respect your achievements or possessions. Instead, they care you as an individual and they’ll support you no matter what — because they love you. Believe it!

3. Be grateful every day.

According to researchers Martin Seligman, Robert Emmons, and Michael McCullough, being grateful can result in feeling better about your life, more enthusiastism and more willingness to help others. Being grateful may even reduce coronary artery disease. Take the time to write down what you’re grateful each and every day.

4. Take action.

In an article in The Atlantic, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman share studies on the confidence gap between men and women.  The researchers discovered that confidence is just as important as competence. It was concluded in the article that “[T]aking action bolsters one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed.”

5. Money can’t buy happiness.

As The Beatles famously proclaimed, (money), “can’t buy me love.” You know what else money can’t buy? Happiness. Just because you’re earning six figures doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily content. Sure, money is obviously needed, and it makes some things easier. But, you should be focusing on your passion and not how much your paycheck is.

6. Don’t take rejection personally.

At some point we all face rejection. Instead of taking it personally, use it as a learning experience. Why did a VC reject your proposal? Maybe there wasn’t a market for your product. Perhaps you didn’t have a convincing pitch. Maybe the VC’s partner just called and said he’d spent their extra cash. Accepting and learning from rejection is one way to guide you to success.

With my online invoicing startup I get rejected daily, literally. I talked to 100+ VC’s before I got one that believed in my product. Learn from rejection and use it as motivation to make things better!

7. Have a backup plan.

You never know when the unexpected is going to happen, but when it does happen, you’re surrounded by chaos. Being prepared for the worst case scenario can at least make things a whole lot less chaotic. When my last business crashed, had I not had some cash set aside (that my wife kept away from me), we would have been in financial ruin. Having a three-to-six month nest egg will make the difference. I’ve found that having 12-24 months of cash to pay all bills just sitting there has significantly helped my marriage be more positive as well!

8. Improve your social skill.

After analyzing data from between 1972 and 1992, University of California, Santa Barbara, economist Catherine Weinberger found that “The people who are both smart and socially adept earn more in today’s workforce than similarly endowed workers in 1980.”

9. Travel.

As Yii-Huei Phang states on The Huffington Post, traveling is a great way to “develop a person’s character” and become more open-minded. Additionally, while traveling is a great way to get away from the daily grind, it also helps you appreciate what you have back at home.

10. Don’t multitask.

If you’re feeling constantly burnt out it’s probably because you’re doing too much at one time. Research has found that “when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 percent.” You’re also burning your reservoir of energy. Both of these issues decrease your productivity and prevent you from accomplishing tasks and goal.

11. Embrace a growth mindset.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck argues that we have two-mindsets; “fixed” and “growth.” A fixed mindset “assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static.” A “growth mindset,” however, “thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

12. Balance work and life.

When work interferes with life, it can result in employees getting burned out and decreases base morale in the office. While this may not be an option for employees, it proves that everyone needs time away from the office. If you’re able to spend less time in the office by working remotely or having flexible hours, you should be able to be productive in both your personal and professional life.

13. Don’t hold grudges.

There is really no need to hold onto a grudge. It can mentally wear you out and makes you miserable. And, doesn’t life seem to go a whole lot smoother when you’re not angry?

14. Stick it out.

After years of studying both children and adults, psychologist Angela Duckworth found that one of the characteristics of successful individuals is having grit. During her TED talk Duckworth stated, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

15. Live in the moment

You can’t change the past and you have no control of the future. Live in the moment and enjoy what’s in front of you right here, right now. When you’re busy making too many plans, you’re causing stress that prevents you from enjoying the present.

16. Take care of yourself, then help others.

According to Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota, “People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness.”

Additionally, helping others is beneficial for our health. But, how can you help others if you haven’t taken care of yourself first? Take care of your needs first and then begin to help others.

7 Most Important Mindsets That Will Set You Up For Long-Term Success

By Thomas Oppong

Book Of Dreams

Your life is your creation. You have most things you need to shape it and make it incredible. It’s not something that happens to you — unless you abandon your position as its chief architect. If you think your life is out of your control, it’s because you’ve chosen to relinquish the controls.

Your life will improve the moment you realize life isn’t something to be endured or tolerated. It’s an experience of your own creation. If your life sucks, it’s because you’ve been a sucky creator. But you can get better.

Getting unstuck is about making simple decisions and taking actions, always moving away from what you don’t want and towards what you want. If you don’t know what you want, then just move away from what you don’t want until you figure it out.

You are immensely resilient. Even when you’re in seemingly hopeless situations, we can still dig yourself out and make something better of it. These mindsets can radically improve your success and make you a stronger person.

1. Self discovery is a process

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle

Life and living it is all about the journey. When you follow your own true north you create new opportunities, have different experiences and create a the life you want.

Simply sitting back and letting things happen doesn’t yield the quality of life you aspire. Most people’s lives are still not perfectly clear.

It’s a struggle almost every adult goes through. “What do I want to do with my life?” “What do I not suck at?” Millions of people have no clue what they want to do with themselves. And that’s okay.

No assessment is going to provide you with immediate clarity and sense of purpose. Seeking clarity in uncertain times can be a daunting experience, and it can be very stressful if the solutions you seek don’t appear when you need them.

Make no mistake, self-discovery is a journey!

There’s no better feeling than suddenly becoming clear on something that had previously been a road block in your life. Those “aha!” moments are a real blessing when they come. “The only journey is the one within.” says Rainer Maria Rilke.

Curiosity, being open to explore the unknown, ready to embrace the surprises that come along the way, are essential attitudes for self-discovery and for gaining clarity about your own life purpose.

2. You alone are responsible for your life

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” — Book Of Dreams

The first and the greatest courage in life is the courage to take responsiblity for own life. Like it not, you alone are responsible for the person you are today.

Bob Moawad says this about taken ownership of your life:

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours — it is an amazing journey — and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”

This shift in mindset isn’t easy, but it can help you take control of your own success. It can help you do better at work, develop stronger and more positive relationships, improve your personal productivity and satisfaction.

You already have this ability and the responsibility for your life. Everyone does. But most us aren’t willing to accept that we alone have the power to live our lives how we want it.

The most important thing you need is the mindset of commitment and ownership to a result before you set out to do something, whether it’s to get through your day or start a project!

Stop blaming your problems and failures — big or small — on the people around you. Stop using “circumstances beyond my control” as the scapegoat for your own choices, decisions, behaviours, and actions. Be accountable for your actions.

Adopt a mindset of taking more responsibility in your life. Take control of your own success right now!

3. Life isn’t perfect: not everything goes as planned

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. — George Bernard Shaw

There is no such thing as perfect. The perfect outcome can sometimes elude you. You won’t achieve every goal. But it’s important to make plans and move on. Spend just as much time learning what to do when things inevitably stray off your path as you do to create the plan in the first place.

Landon Donovan says “Life isn’t perfect, of course, but we all know it’s how you react to things that counts.”

Your best strategy when making a plan is to make contingency plans for the inevitable result that life will not unfold according to plan.

Your plans for tomorrow, next month or next year may not unfold as you expect. Don’t be crippled by your failures. Don’t stop trying. If you know that changes to your plan are inevitable, it is best to seek them out and adapt when necessary.

Life is unpredictable. And that’s okay. Embrace it. Always be ready for change. It’s what makes life so interesting.

When nothing is certain, everything is possible!

4. Every obstacle is the way forward

“I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.” — Og Mandino

You will come across obstacles in life — fair and unfair.

And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.

You will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming — or possibly thriving because of — them.

On Dec. 10, 1914, a massive explosion erupted in West Orange, New Jersey. Ten buildings in legendary inventor Thomas Edison’s plant, which made up more than half of the site, were engulfed in flames. Machinery worth millions and all the papers pertaining to his lifelong research were burnt to ashes.

Later, at the scene of the blaze, Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.”

Thomas Edison’s persistence was exemplified in his famous quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

A.H. Wilson, his vice president and general manager, told The Times after the flames died down: “There’s only one thing to do, and that is to jump right in and rebuild.”

In his book, “The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Ryan Holiday writes:

“We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given.”

People who persist no matter the obstacles, sooner or later are bound to succeed. Despite the setbacks, it’s in your best interest to turn obstacles into stepping stones. Don’t choose to complain, or worse, to just give up. These choices do nothing to get you across the finish line.

Elbert Hubbard once made a profound statement about the importance of not given up. She said “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

The obstacle in your path is the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.

5. Everything in life is a journey

Life is a journey and it’s about growing and changing and coming to terms with who and what you are and loving who and what you are. — Kelly McGillis

If you are not putting your 100% energy, effort and time into any process, progress will be slow or not happen at all.

Our minds are a bit funny, full of cognitive biases that have been shaped overtime by experiences, events, and memories. Over time, your beliefs can cause your brains to draw false conclusions about life that affects the way you think, and the decisions you make.

Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” said:

“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”

You don’t always need the perfect plan. Sometimes you just need to give it a try, let go, and see what happens. That’s courage. Action begets outcome. Outcome begets action. Rinse, lather and repeat and you have momentum. You’ll become unstoppable.

You have more than one shot to create the life you want!

I have screwed up many, many times in the past, but I have moved on. You’re going to make your own, and that’s okay so long as you learn from them and figure out a different path towards the same goal.

The biggest screw up you can make is to just give up and accept that you can’t succeed because of you who you are or where you come from. If you are going through hell, don’t stop. And if you catch hell, don’t hold it.

6. It’s okay to suck at most things in the beginning!

“A genius! For 37 years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!” — Pablo Sarasate

You don’t have to be great to start anything you care about. But you have to start right now if you want to be great at some point in your career. The decision to start is the most important step you can ever take to be the best in the world at what you want to do. Your first book, post, podcast, app, real business meeting, interview, pitch will not be great. But don’t let that get the best of you.

Mary Tyler Moore once said “Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”

Most people quit the moment they experience that first dissapointment. It’s a test. You have to fight your way through. That’s what matters. A few people stick around until they get it right. In fact, you rarely get it right in the beginning.

I still suck at writing. I didn’t even like writing. But I like the process. It feeds my curiosity. But guess what, I have never stopped reading and practicing. I love to share my imperfections. I can only become better with practice. I value the process.

The greatest impediment to creativity is our impatience, the almost inevitable desire to hurry up the process, express something, and make a quick splash. If you want to be the best at anything, you need to be the best at practicing more than anyone else. The value of practice can have profound effects on your career.

When we start to believe that we can do no wrong, we lose the edge that keeps us alert and open to new opportunities for growth.

When you practice something — anything — you improve, you grow, you advance, you gain a skill and heaps of confidence in the process, because you get better with time.

7. Done is better than perfect

“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.” — Kim Collins

The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. Being perfect is not important, but getting the job done matters.

Professor Tracey Wade of the School of Psychology at Flinders University in South Australia defines “unhealthy perfectionism” as “high standards combined with brutal self-criticism.” It’s the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.

Give yourself time in your life to wonder what’s possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction. Following through and finishing things is one of the most important things you can learn.

You will screw up in the process but it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for making a mistake or making a wrong choice. It will only lead to self destructive behaviour.

It’s okay to screw up as long as you are willing to try again. Non- conformists and originals screw up a lot. But they move on, knowing that at some point, the breakthrough will happen.

No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.

Always remember that good enough and done are better than perfect.

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.

If You Want Greatness, Take Responsibility

 


If You Want Greatness, Take Responsibility

By Matt Mayberry @Matt_Mayberry

“If you had to pick one quality that someone needs to possess, what would that be?” someone recently asked me. 

After I was forced to give just one answer, I said, “If I had to pick just one quality, it would be taking complete and full responsibility for your life.”

Yes, there are a plethora of different qualities and habits that must be developed to truly become great, but there is no better starting point than taking complete responsibility for your life.

We live in a world where maximum results are expected with minimal effort given. If something goes wrong, it’s someone else’s fault. If you’re not happy financially, it’s the economy’s fault. If you’re not happy in your marriage, it’s your partner’s fault. If you’re not being compensated as much as you would like, the company doesn’t pay enough.

Any of those sound familiar? Chances are some hit home. It’s human nature to blame circumstances or the next person instead of taking ownership. However, in order to live a truly exceptional life, you must put an end to this way of thinking immediately.

So how can we once and for all start taking complete responsibility of our lives? Here are three ways to help get you started.

1. Decide.

It all starts with a firm decision to do so. It sounds simple, but there is a very small percentage of people who actually make the decision to take responsibility for their lives. They keep going back to their old ways and lose sight of the fact that they are the ones in the driver seat.

Force yourself to stop looking outside of yourself for things you are in control of. It’s a simple concept, but not easy by any stretch of the means. From here on out, make the firm decision that no single event or person is going to dictate your level of achievement.

2. Stop playing the blame game.

A large number of men and women from all walks of life struggle with this one, including myself from time to time. As I mentioned above, what’s easy to do is to blame your partner when a relationship gets shaky. What’s easy to do is to blame the government for a lack of financial success.

It’s absolutely imperative that you throw away every single excuse and start taking ownership in every area of your life. There is no way we can ever grab a hold of our lives completely when we are too caught up in the awful habit of playing the blame game.

3. Make a promise to yourself.

Something that has worked wonderfully for me is to write a simple creed on a notecard promising myself that taking complete responsibility for my life is something I will abide by every waking moment. It can be something as simple as, “I, Matt Mayberry, promise that I will never lose sight of taking full responsibility for my life.”

Legacies have been built and history has been made by men and women who decided to take complete ownership of their lives. Are you ready to do the same?