Giving Is Important As Saving

Welcome back! Here a some questions that we will ask ourselves today.

What small but steady activities can you do today that will lead to big, long-term results over a long period of time?

Conversely, are you neglecting any of the easy, very doable basic activities that will make a major difference in your future?

These are two great questions to ask every day.

Also, we encourage you to celebrate the fact that you are part of a small group of people, percentage-wise, who have actually made a plan, a process, a blueprint and a commitment to inspect and improve their lives. Great health, wealth, relationships and overall success and abundance are upstream. But where else would we want to be or go? Pat yourself on the back for making that decision.

Also, continue to be thankful that you are in the place to make such a decision. Look into the future at the person you desire to become. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, making Smart decisions that will create compounding results on a daily basis.

You are doing great!

-N.J.W Blog

Finances, Part Four—Giving

The four pivotal topics we cover this month are:

Getting Out of Debt {click to read}
Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt! You can make $2 million a year, but if you spend $2.5 million, it doesn’t matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. We addressed this three weeks ago.

Saving {click to read}
One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. Two weeks ago, we went through the basics and showed how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is that the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left, while the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left. What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result.

Investing {click to read}
Investing is very different from saving. Investing involves risk—calculated risk—and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. Last week we covered both the importance and basics of investing.

Giving
Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counterintuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire. Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money, but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit.

The act of giving is very powerful, because sharing makes you bigger than you are. What you give becomes an investment that will return to you multiplied at some point in the future. Becoming a giving person will bring you so much more in your life. You will become the kind of person others look to, respect and appreciate.

Giving is about being fully human. It is about making something of ourselves that goes beyond what we merely do for ourselves. It is very important to work for ourselves, to determine our own futures, but a person could do that and still not reach the peak of their human potential. They could be entirely selfish, and while they build an empire or financial independence, they would also be missing something. They would miss the altruistic part of themselves, the generous, human element that wants to help others, to make a difference. When we choose to give, everybody wins.

Giving of ourselves, especially financially, can make a big difference for us and in us. Plus, it is relatively easy to do, if we discipline ourselves to do it. My recommendation would be to start this discipline when the amounts are small. It’s easy to give 10 cents out of every dollar, but it’s much harder to give $100,000 out of a million if you haven’t developed the discipline of giving. So let me give you four ways that giving financially changes you and five steps to becoming a generous giver.

Four Ways Giving Financially Changes You

Giving keeps money in its proper perspective. Money is a great tool. Money enables you to experience so many different aspects of life that you would be denied if you were without it. But, in the end, money isn’t the end! Money for money’s sake is a hopeless goal. Money is a tool that helps us do better things, enjoy life and help others. When we give money away, we tell ourselves that money isn’t the end all, and it reminds us that money is simply a tool. We gain proper perspective when we give to organizations and people who need it.

Giving makes you more aware of others and their needs. If you are going to give away money on a regular basis, then you will most certainly be looking for where to give. Your vision opens up to many new worlds. When the option is open for giving money away, you will soon begin to see the wide spectrum of people and organizations that can really use your help. Your heart will experience a unique transformation as you see all of the good accomplished through these organizations, because there really are many good groups out there doing fantastic things for people who need it.

Giving enables you to be a difference maker. At the end of our lives, we want to be able to look back and say that the world is a better place because we were here. We made a difference. People are better off because they met us. Organizations made a bigger impact because we gave generously to help support their purposes. Our businesses had an impact on the lives of our customers. When we generously give of our finances, we become difference makers, either through a donation or through the efforts of the organizations we support. And at the end of our lives, we will have stored up for ourselves many intangible treasures.

Giving ignites the principle of sowing and reaping. Ancient scripture says you “reap what you sow.” When we give financially to others, we are sowing—sowing goodness, sowing financially, sowing generosity, sowing a higher purpose. That means we will reap those things, too. We become people with a bigger vision than those who simply work only for themselves. I call this enlightened self-interest. We accomplish many more goals and objectives, and in a way, that makes our world a better place. What an incredible gift we have to offer others, yet, amazingly, it is the giving process that starts the receiving process in our lives. The more we give, the more we open ourselves up to receive—to receive the benefits of generosity, the gifts galore of both tangible and intangible things. So start the process today—if you haven’t already—and watch your life take on an exciting new aspect and for the miracles to occur!

Five Steps to Becoming a Generous Giver

If you have “becoming a generous giver” as a goal, I would encourage you to work to accomplish it in the same way you would do anything: Think it through, plan it out and execute the plan. Here is a process you can implement immediately to move you toward your goal of becoming a generous giver who makes a difference!

Think it through. Who do you want to give to? What causes move you? What groups are doing the work you want to support? Who needs your help? There are many, many groups who need assistance—in fact, too many for any one person. This is why it is important to be very clear in your own mind as to what you want your giving dollars to do when you give them. What organizations would be “good ground” to sow into? There are religious causes, political causes, humanitarian causes and more. Think through and prioritize who and what you want to give to.

Budget your giving. If you aren’t currently giving, take a look at how to come up with the money and then adjust accordingly. Will it come from your discretionary income or from cutting back on a current expenditure? Budgeting will help you decide. Will it be a fixed amount or a percentage? Historically, millions of people use the concept of tithing. Tithe means tenth. So many people give a tenth of their income to charities of their choice. The important idea is that you budget so that it gets done on a regular basis.

Give on a schedule. The easiest thing to do is to give when you get a paycheck. Just as you pay the taxman or the electric bill, give to those organizations you want to support. If you have it in your budget and in your schedule, then it will get done. So when some money comes in, make sure a little goes back out in your giving budget.

Be generous. In the end, most people will wish they had given more. They will get to the end of their lives and realize that they were cutting corners on their giving when they could have given more. Be generous. If you can, make the check a little bit bigger. Review from year to year what you are giving, and if your income has gone up, then increase your giving. Will a little extra hurt you? Most likely not, but it will help the groups you give to and give you a mental boost knowing you’re doing good things with your resources. Ultimately, the amount you give isn’t important; what really matters is what that amount represents in your life.

Be spontaneous—sometimes. We can’t give to everyone who holds out their hand, but it isn’t wise to be so rigid that we aren’t open to helping people who may cross our paths. Use your intuition and err on the side of being generous. If you have an opportunity to give to someone who crosses your path, weigh it carefully and be open to helping. In the end, you may have made a few mistakes, but you will have helped many more people, too.

Giving is a very important skill. It’s so important, in fact, I made it one of four main areas of discussion for this Pillar of Success. We should be people who live by John Wesley’s statement: “Earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can.” And in doing so, we bring our lives into a perfect tension that keeps us with a proper perspective on financial matters.

This week—and in the weeks to come—give!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

-Nick James

The Basics Of Investing

Special Audio Bonus! Chris Hogan, personal finance expert and author of Retire Inspired: It’s Not an Age, It’s a Financial Number, talks numbers and provides answers to your toughest financial questions.

Welcome back! Today we are going over Part Three in our topic called Finances.

Part Three—Investing

The four pivotal topics we cover this month are:

Getting Out of Debt
Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt! You can make $2 million a year, but if you spend $2.5 million, it doesn’t matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. We addressed this two weeks ago.

Saving
One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. Last week, we went through the basics and showed how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is that the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left, while the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left. What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result.

Investing
Investing is very different from saving. Investing involves risk—calculated risk—and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. Today we will cover both the importance and basics of investing.

Giving
Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counterintuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire. Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money, but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit.

This week our focus is on investing.

When you look at the wealthiest people in the world, you are almost always looking at people who are investors. They know the way to long-term accumulation is through investments in a variety of means to develop financial abundance.

I do not believe people with wealth are any better than anyone else; they have simply applied themselves methodically to the disciplines of wealth building, some of which we will look at in today’s edition.

The key is to begin seeing yourself as an investor—an investor in yourself, in others, in businesses, in assets, and in financial vehicles that will maximize your return and begin to help you accrue the kind of wealth you desire.

Let’s take a look at some of the specific things you need to invest in if you want to build a lifetime of wealth and abundance that will provide you and your loved ones with the lifestyle you desire. We all know a variety of ways to make a living—now let’s figure out how to make a fortune!

Here are a few things you should invest in:

Invest in Yourself. You are already making a major investment in yourself by participating in this blog “program”. Those who develop real wealth always invest in themselves. They are readers. They study. They have an interest in people and wealth. They are constantly working on bettering themselves and stretching to become people of knowledge and influence. If you want to be a person who achieves financial independence, then you would do well to continue this journey of investing in yourself. Continue to better yourself by learning all you can about business and wealth. Learn about people and what drives them. Learn about yourself so that you can maximize your strengths and improve your weaknesses. Always strive to challenge yourself and grow more each year than you did the previous year.

Invest in Others.  Zig Ziglar says “a person can get anything they want in life if they will help enough other people get everything they want out of life”. People who develop long-term wealth are those who bring value to others; they help and invest in them—and reap multiple rewards from their investment!

Invest in Your Company. When you look at the richest people, minus athletes and entertainers, you will see a huge percentage work for themselves. They own their own businesses. They work for wealth, not for wages. You’ve heard me say it before: Profits are better than wages, because wages make you a living while profits will make you a fortune. If you have a company, work on building it and increasing revenue. If you do not have your own business but you feel you are ready, consider starting one. Besides the obvious advantage for building wealth, there is also the added benefit of knowing you are charting your own course and determining your own destiny.

Invest in Hard Assets. One of the best ways to develop long-term wealth is to convert your money into assets that increase in value and generate income for you. Examples of this would be real estate, especially income-producing real estate, such as rental homes, apartments or office complexes. Certain collectibles may also fall into this category. When we convert our money into hard assets, we cultivate long-term wealth for ourselves by diversifying into different areas that work on our behalf.

Invest in Ideas. One of the amazing things we continually see is how ideas can become wealth. In fact, every company, every product and every service that has ever existed, first existed in a person’s mind in the form of an idea. You’ve all heard me say you must search for good ideas because rarely do they interrupt you. So read, search, go to the classes and invest the time to seek out good ideas, because if you do, then you will find them. Ancient scripture assures us that if we seek, we will find. Now, when good ideas are combined with intelligent action, those ideas take form and can produce wealth. Invest in your ideas. Cultivate them, dream about them, sharpen them and apply them. Then those ideas can become wealth for you to enjoy for a very long time.

Invest in Public Companies. Typically this would be the stock market. Even with the big dips we see from time to time, the stock market averages about a 12 percent per year return for those who stay in for the long haul. The best strategies are typically those that involve methodical investment in both good times and bad. Think about the power of investing in a public company. Let’s say you invest $1,000 in Microsoft stock. What is amazing is now you have Bill Gates and his people going to work every day on your behalf! This is the power of investing in a public company: You become an owner, and the employees work on your behalf and you share in the returns. Again, when you look at those who achieve great wealth, there is almost always a component of investment in public companies.

Now that we have looked at what to invest in, let’s look at the basics of investing:

1. Let your money work for you, not the other way around. People who achieve long-term wealth and financial independence are those who have found the secrets of having money work for them, increasing on its own. Don’t work for wages—work for wealth.

2. Get a team of help. Even a beginning investor can have a team of people working for them, advising and teaching them. Obviously they start with a team of advisors through the books and financial resources they read. Even a minimal investment at the bookstore will provide you with a broad range of information that will give you a great head-start on investing. Next, a stockbroker, a financial advisor and an accountant are good to have. Most of them will work on your behalf, even if you only have a small amount to invest. It isn’t wise to go it alone. Get the help you need to make good decisions.

3. Do it regularly. The key to accumulating wealth is the same as almost all disciplines—do it regularly. If you want to lose weight, you exercise on a regular basis. If you want to build wealth, you invest on a regular basis. Every week, the first of the month, four times a year—it doesn’t matter, except that you must make it consistent. Whether the amount is big or small, just keep doing it, and you will find that your investments compounded over time will yield a great harvest.

4. Harness the power of compound interest. I wrote last week a little about compound interest and the power it provides. Rumor has it that Albert Einstein called compound interest the most powerful force in the world. Whether he said it or not, it is close to being true. There is tremendous power in building wealth through compound interest. Last week I also wrote about the “Rule of 72,” meaning whatever investment return you receive on average divided into 72 will be how many years it takes to double your money. So, for example, let’s say you receive a 12 percent annual average return on your stock portfolio long term. This means that if you put $10,000 into your stocks and never add another dollar, you will still have $20,000 after six years. That is your money working for you. And after six more years, you would have $40,000. After six more years, (18 now) you would have $80,000. And that is if you had just invested the original $10,000. Where this becomes incredibly powerful is when you are continually adding more investment money to the pot! Grab a calculator and work the numbers for yourself—you will be amazed!

5. Think long term. Yes, we still hear about overnight millionaires, but the fact is that they are truly the exception, not the rule. To develop long-term wealth, you must have a long-term mentality. Your stocks won’t go up every year. Not every investment will work out. Sometimes your property values will go down, but most of the time, long term, you will see the trend moves up. Just know there will always be some dips along the way. Remember, it is the tortoise mentality, not the hare mentality, that achieves long-term wealth.

6. Generally speaking, move from aggressive to conservative. Younger people can afford to be more aggressive with their investments than older people because they have more time to recover if their investments sink in the short term. As you get older and have more and more resources available, you will want to move more into capital preservation rather than capital appreciation. You may still have a portion in which you invest in speculative ways, but you will move most of what you have into investments that preserve what you have spent a lifetime accumulating. Of course, your financial advisor can help you set up a plan that fits for you.

7. Invest in what makes you comfortable. Ultimately, you want to be able to sleep at night. Some people can invest in wildly speculative investments with no worry, and others are more comfortable with something safer. Whatever you decide is OK. It is your life, and you have to feel comfortable with how you live it. Research, gain all the knowledge you can, and then invest in what you know and what allows you to feel comfortable.

Keep in mind, our goal is to have the ability to live from the income of our own personal resources, thus achieving our own financial independence. What a powerful feeling of knowing that you depend on no one for your financial welfare.

Nick James

Supplemental Notes

Financial freedom is a buzz phrase for our generation. It is the pursuit of literally millions of people. What is it? Is it that elusive? Can anyone achieve it?

This is not about how to earn money or even accumulate more money. Rather, it is about how to find financial freedom, which, surprisingly, may or may not involve making more money.

The first step in finding financial freedom is to realize that financial freedom has absolutely nothing to do with how much money you have or make. What? Exactly. Financial freedom is something that goes on inside you. This is why someone who makes very little can be happy and someone who makes a ton can be extremely stressed-out over their financial situation. The first step is to realize that financial freedom is more about our attitudes toward money than about the amount of money.

Here are a few philosophies that can keep you in the financial freedom mindset.

We do not have to worry about money. Why? Because we can control our income. We can control our outgo. We can make choices to alleviate our worries. Realize that things always work out in one way or another, so why waste time worrying? Work hard, invest, plan for the future, and then rest in the knowledge that you’ve done what you can do. Choose to take action instead of choosing to worry.

We can be happy regardless of our financial state. We know people who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and we know people who don’t have two nickels to rub together. Some are happy; some aren’t. But none of the people who have a lot of money say, “I’ve become so happy since I got money.” They were happy before they had money, and they are happy now that they have money. Their happiness has nothing to do with the money. Billionaire David Geffen once said, “Anyone who says that money will buy them happiness has never had any money.”

Money is a means to an end, not the end itself. Another way to look at it is that money is the tool to build the house, not the house itself. Definitely set financial goals, but be sure you know what greater purpose the money serves when you reach those goals. In other words, what will the house you build be used for?

Some people think it is bad to earn more money. It isn’t. Some people believe it is bad to save. It isn’t. Some people feel they will be better off hoarding their money. They won’t. Some people believe that they can’t spend anything on themselves. They can. That is financial freedom.

Embrace delayed gratification. We have the option to adopt one of two financial philosophies. Philosophy 1: Buy now and pay (struggle) later. Philosophy 2: Delay buying right now; invest the money you would have spent, and have all you want later on! And you won’t even have to touch the principal! We tend to think having it all now will bring enjoyment, but unless you can do it and not cause yourself financial stress, you will actually get more from waiting!

Have more by managing better. The fact is that most of us earn enough. What would be beneficial is to set our priorities and live by a budget. As we get control, our budget will loosen up a bit and we will find ourselves enjoying it more. Money that is already there can be your answer if you strategically put it to work for you.

You can experience financial freedom no matter how much money you have. Granted, it is great to build wealth, and that should be our goal, but no matter what level you are currently at or what level of wealth you ultimately attain, if you keep money in the proper perspective, you can be happy and free.

Do You Do This With Your Money?

Part Two—Saving

As we talked about last week, money is a tool and resource we can use. So as we go through this month, I want to focus on some simple financial principles you can apply, as well as teach you the underlying philosophies that govern what good people can do and what tremendous accomplishments can be made when we see money for what it is: a tool to improve our lives and the lives of others.

The four pivotal topics we cover this month are:

Getting Out of Debt
Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt! You can make $2 million a year, but if you spend $2.5 million, it doesn’t matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. We addressed this last week.

Saving
One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. This week we go through the basics and show how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is that the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left, while the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left. What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result. We talk about saving in today’s edition.

Investing
Investing is very different from saving. Investing involves risk—calculated risk—and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. We will cover the importance of investing, along with some basics of investing, next week.

Giving
Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counterintuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire. Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money, but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit.

This week we will cover saving money. Statistics consistently show the vast majority of people live hand-to-mouth or month-to-month, meaning they have no savings to speak of. The average person would be hard-pressed to live for more than just a couple of months if they were unable to draw an income. This means they are not independent, but dependent upon insurance, government programs, friends, family and the like. The primary goal of savings is to provide a much higher level of personal independence and security.

The discipline of saving directly determines how we will take care of ourselves and plan not only for the future, but also for the unforeseeable events that touch our lives at times. It is an act of self-determination to decide that we will provide for and protect ourselves. Saving is not, as you will see further down, the pursuit of aggressive growth of our resources. Simply put, it is added security, our safety net, if you will, that remains in place to provide a solid base on which to build the rest of our financial independence.

So, with these things in mind, let’s take a deeper look at saving our money.

Saving is an act of discipline. No matter how you slice it, saving money on a regular basis is a discipline. It is not “dependent” on income. If you were to ask five people, all at varying income levels, if it’s hard to save, chances are they would all say yes. This is because our natural tendency is to spend whatever we earn. When we start out making $25,000 a year, we think it is hard to save. If only we could make $40,000 a year! But when we make $40,000 a year, we end up saying the same thing. Typically, when our income goes up, so do our expenses—we buy a bigger house, fancier car, etc. There are people making a million dollars a year who save nothing, and at the end of the year, have spent it all and are no better off than the person making $40,000 a year. Professional athletes and entertainers are notorious for this. Pick up any number of magazines, and you can find a story about an athlete who made $20 million over seven years and is now bankrupt. It isn’t a matter of money; it is a matter discipline. On a regular basis, put a little away until it builds up. That is the savings game.

Saving is much like the familiar story of the tortoise and the hare. Little by little, we put a small amount away, and slowly but surely, we develop the kind of saving amounts we are looking for. Those who put away a lot and then spend it all on a big-screen TV may end up with a TV, but that is about it. In the end, the slow and steady saver ends up with real wealth and financial independence.

Saving builds self-reliance. Our ultimate financial goal should be to become independent and have no need to rely on anyone else. Ideally, we should be able to pay our bills and live off of the interest of the savings and investments we have for the long term. So through our diligent saving, we rely on what we have accrued. Then we become more capable of helping those in need. We are now the lender and not the borrower. Saving allows us to rely on what we have stored up for ourselves if bad times come along. A good savings goal is to have at least six months of living expenses set aside. For example, if your expenses are $3,000 a month, then you should set the amount of $18,000 as an initial savings goal. This gives you the ability to be self-reliant when you need it and the peace of mind of knowing you would be able to handle challenging circumstances if necessary.

Saving money not only helps bring security and peace of mind, but it also begins to harness the power of compound interest. As we will see next week, investing is the maximizing of capital gain and the harnessing of compound interest. Saving money in a standard savings account or money market account will pay a nominal sum depending upon interest rates. As we will discuss next week, there is something called the “Rule of 72,” which says that whatever interest rate you average, divided into 72, will determine how many years it takes to double your money. So, at 3 percent, your money would double in 24 years. That isn’t extraordinary by any means, but it does happen. Your money is working for you. You get more money simply by letting it sit there and letting compound interest do its work. With saving, while this is a seemingly small beginning, it is the strong foundation of security that allows you to build the future of your dreams and goals, and provides the anchor to help you weather financial storms that can come your way. Stay tuned, because the real excitement comes next week when we talk about the power of investing.

Basically, our understanding of the discipline of saving our money on a regular basis is for the safety and stability it creates. Investing is for advanced compounding of your resources.

So here is what we should focus on:

– Adopt the regular discipline of saving.
– Think like the tortoise and not the hare.
– Achieve self-reliance through saving.
– Harness the power of compound interest.

In the next section, we’ll give you some additional thoughts, ask questions for reflection and give you some action points. View

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Supplemental Notes

Saving money is simply a discipline, much like any other discipline. If you want to lose weight, you exercise a little each day. If you want to build wealth and independence, you save a little each month. There is no magic formula, there is no Land of Oz, there are no silver bullets and there is no genie in a bottle.

Saving will come the same way all good things do: through a plan, hard work and discipline.

With that understanding, here are five steps for savings success:

Do it regularly. Every week, every two weeks, every month—it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it is a consistent practice.

Pay yourself first. One key principle many people promote is paying yourself first. This is sound advice. The taxman doesn’t get it, the credit card company doesn’t get it—you do. That is the way to do it. When you get your paycheck, write yourself a check or transfer it into your savings and put it away. Many people suggest—and I think it is a good idea—to put at least 10 percent away in savings. This should be our goal.

Set a goal of saving enough to cover six months’ worth of expenses. Or, better yet, six months’ salary. As I mentioned above, this is a good standard, no matter your salary. Unforeseen things can happen to even the best of us, and we are smart to be prepared.

Don’t touch it. Do not touch your savings. Set it aside and let it be. Consider it gone except in the case of extreme emergency or opportunity.

Invest after. Once you have your savings established, then, and only then, move on to investing. Investing is the second act of financial independence. Saving comes first for security and safety, and then you move on to investing and placing your capital at risk.

There is obviously a lot to be said about basic financial soundness, but what we’ve discussed is a simple way to begin saving and developing financial independence.

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Getting Out Of Debt

This month’s topic is Money and Finance. I have said always put a strong emphasis on the subject of not just earning money, but also keeping it. Money, like success, is based so much on the “why,” not just the “how.” Why earn a lot of money and why keep it? Is it just so you can buy the finer things in life? Or can money also be a tool used in many powerful ways? For example, to help those in need, to create good self-perpetuating philanthropic ventures, to create more space and time to invest in loved ones, and to leave a legacy of abundance in your home and community.

Money has such incredible potential to be a powerful force and tool in our lives. Let’s make the most of it, and let it be a source of great opportunity and promise for us and for those we love.

Have a great week!

This month, we tackle one of the more important topics—money and finances! Although finances shouldn’t be the highest priority in our lives, I will say money plays a major role in our lives, and we need to see it for what it is: a tool. As Zig Ziglar says, “Money isn’t everything, but it ranks right up there with oxygen!”

Money is a tool that, depending on how we use it, can bring much joy to our lives or it can bring destruction. We need to be aware of all the possibilities it offers as well as the pitfalls. Some of the most amazing things have been done because people had the financial resources to fund them—businesses have been built, schools started and philanthropic charities founded that have accomplished much good. On the other hand, friendships have been ruined, illicit gains profited and lives destroyed—all over the issues of money.

So, as we go through this month, I want to focus on applying some simple financial principles, but I also want to teach the underlying philosophies that govern what good people can do and what tremendous accomplishments can be made when we see money for what it is: a tool to improve our lives and the lives of others.

Specifically, as we do each month, we will focus on four main areas. These four pivotal topics are:

Getting Out of Debt
Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt! You can make $2 million a year, but if you spend $2.5 million, it doesn’t matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. Today we address this issue.

Saving
One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. Next week we will go through the basics and show how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is that the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left, while the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left. What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result. We will talk about saving in next week’s edition.

Investing
Investing is very different from saving. Investing involves risk—calculated risk—and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. We will cover the importance of investing, along with some basics of investing in two weeks.

Giving
Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counterintuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire. Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money, but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit.

John Wesley said, “Earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can.” What a great quote for us to keep in mind as we go through this month together. A person who sees the powerful force for good that money can be will more likely keep their own life in balance by pursuing the disciplines of earning, saving and giving, which, together, create the perfect tension and balance.

We must also remember that money has a seductive side and tells you it will solve all of your problems, but it won’t. It is great to have money—lots of it—as long as your life is in balance and you have the proper perspective. It is important that we own our money and not the other way around.

The first way to make sure money doesn’t own us is to deal with the issue of debt.

Americans, as well as most of the world, have more debt than ever. We would do well to remember the old proverb, “The borrower is the servant to the lender.”

When we are in debt, we owe someone, and because of this, they have a certain amount of control over us. We are, in essence, their servant. This is not the way of financial freedom.

Interestingly enough, when it comes to debt, I have found that many otherwise intelligent people just don’t get it. So, for a little help, here are “Five Things You Need to ‘Get’ to Stay Out of Debt”:

Develop the Right Mindset. When it comes to debt, the only mindset is one of ruthless opposition. We need to see debt as the very enemy of our financial lives. If we begin to say, “Well, a little debt here and maybe a little debt there,” we will soon see a lot of debt everywhere. In the same way money can compound positively when we save and invest, debt can also multiply and push you deeper and deeper into debt as each month passes. The right mindset is that we need to get out of debt and stay out of debt. Is this your mindset? Many times, we are a product of the environment we were raised in or we associate with currently. Have you thought lately about the mindset you have toward debt?

One interjection here, because I hear it regularly when I say that we should have no debt: It is the question of a home mortgage. Most people believe that their home is not a debt, but an investment. The fact is that in this day and age, homes cost four or five times the annual income of the people who live in the average neighborhood. And while there is potential you could lose money on your home, depending on what the current economic conditions are, historical analysis shows that a person who lives in a home for quite some time generally ends up on the plus side of the financial equation. So, for our basic understanding, a home mortgage can be considered an investment rather than a debt, though there is debt involved. But, it can be argued either way—an investment or a liability—and you would be right. Now, if you want to pay your mortgage off, there is no harm in that, and it would certainly be the conservative way to go! Besides the home mortgage exception, however, we should remain diligent about staying out of debt.

Gain Understanding. Some people have no idea how much debt they actually have. Some people do not know whether or not they have a positive or negative net worth. With many couples, one spouse knows the real financial situation while the other is relatively “in the dark.” I don’t recommend this. You can’t plan your future if you do not know where you currently are. Think of it this way. Let’s say you wanted to visit a friend and needed directions to get to his home. When you call for directions, he would ask you where you are coming from. Typically, we would tell him our town or address, and he would then give us directions how to get there from where we are. Imagine, however, if we told him we didn’t know where we were! He couldn’t give us directions because he wouldn’t know whether to tell us to go north or south, east or west.

The same is true with knowing where we are financially. If you have a goal to save $1 million, your plan is going to be different if you already have $750,000 saved than if you have $100,000 in consumer debt. Figure out where you are financially—get an understanding. In this instance, the old “Knowledge is power” adage is true. There is power in knowing where you stand financially, because only then can you map your financial future!

Seek Help. When you are sick, you go to the doctor. When you want to improve in a sport, you get a coach. When you are in debt, you need to seek some help. Depending upon the amount of debt you have, you will have to look for varying degrees of help. If you have $2,000 to $5,000 in credit card debt, you may just need a friend to help keep you accountable on monthly spending. If, on the other hand, you are over your head in debt, for instance $50,000 in credit card debt, you may need to bring in the help of a financial advisor who can help you with your creditors. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Everyone needs help at times, and wise people get help when they need it. If you have debt and need help managing it, get help. Your future depends on it.

Get Control. Think about the concept of debt for a minute, especially the specific action of going into debt in order to purchase something you want but don’t have the funds on hand to pay. Now, you may not ever articulate it this way, but what you are really saying is, “I don’t have the money for this, but I want it so much that I cannot go any longer without it. And, not only that, but I am willing to pay 10 to 20 percent more for it than it costs.” (Ten to 20 percent is a typical yearly percentage rate on a credit card.)

What this boils down to is an issue of control. Can you control your urges? Or, more appropriately, will you control your urges? Will you take control of your life? Will you take responsibility for your actions and decide for yourself that you will no longer buy on credit and dig yourself deeper into debt, jeopardizing your financial future?

Create a Plan. To get out of debt, you need a plan. It needs to be simple, effective, workable and tailored to your individual life. There are some basic fundamentals you can follow, but everyone has different incomes, levels of debt and are at different stages in life. A 50-year-old couple who has an income of $125,000 with $50,000 in debt is going to have a different plan than a single male, age 25, who has an income of $30,000 a year and a total of $10,000 in debt.

The key is to have a plan. Once you have a plan that will work for you, then work the plan with all of the discipline you can muster. Your plan should include detailed strategies for spending, income, saving, investing, etc.—we will cover these topics more in depth later this month. I remember the day so clearly that I “If I had more money, I would have a better plan.” “No, I would suggest that if you had a better plan, you would have more money. Remember, it’s not the amount that counts, it’s the plan.” As the old adage goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So true.

Here are a few additional basics for your get-out-of-debt plan:

– Write down everything you spend. Keep a ledger or a journal or a notepad or whatever works for you, but write down every expenditure you make. This is so important. It creates awareness, forcing you to take a second look at each decision, and helps bring accountability to your spending.
– On all future credit card charges, pay off the full charges for the previous month’s expenditures—no exceptions. This will keep you from paying “new” interest. If you are not able to do this right away, set it as a goal to be able to do as soon as possible.
– Determine how much additional money you can apply to your debt each month and apply it all to your highest-interest debts.

Your financial future can be amazing; it can be anything you want it to be. Part of the heritage you can leave behind is being financially independent, but it will involve some deep soul-searching and some tough decisions to figure out exactly what you want out of life. One of the first issues you must deal with, though, is debt. If you don’t have debt, that is fantastic. If you do, life isn’t over for you; you can still achieve whatever you desire, but only if you make the commitment to shift your priorities. I know that you will!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises.View

Physical Health—Exercise

Welcome to the last week of Month Three with our focus on health! This has been a great month, as we’ve focused on the different areas of health and how being healthy in a holistic way will propel us even further down the road to a successful life.

When we look at health we look in the context of humans consisting of three distinct parts or layers: the Body—the physical nature; the Soul—the mind, will and emotions; and the Spirit—the part of us that transcends this world and communes with God.

We cover these three layers in four different parts this month:

1. Spiritual Health: Three weeks ago we looked at the benefits and importance of developing a vibrant spiritual life and gave you some easy methods to help take your spiritual life to a deeper level.

2. Emotional Health: The mind, will and emotions. Two weeks ago, we covered the importance of a healthy soul, specifically the mind, will and emotional aspects of life. We looked at how our inner person is such a vital part in making sure we live the kind of life we desire, and we learned how our emotional life can become healthy, strong and lively.

3. Physical Health—Nutrition: Last week, we started a two-part look at the body and physical health, concentrating on the area of nutrition. We talked about why it is important we fuel our body properly because energy comes from the foods we eat. Just like a vehicle runs off of the fuel we fill it with, if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our body, it will not run properly. Put the right kinds of foods in, and it will run like the high-performance engine in an expensive sports car!

4. Physical Health—Exercise: This week we look at the important area of exercise. “I need to exercise” is the first thought that occurs to most people when they think of health. We do need exercise, and today we will take a more in-depth look at this important topic.

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This week, as we look at physical health again, our focus is on exercise. I’ll give you the benefits of exercise, and we’ll add a few tips for getting a simple exercise program up and running.

This week I want to give you a good understanding of just how important physical exercise is. The underlying foundation for exercise—to really get us to take it seriously—are the “why’s” of exercise. Why should we exercise? Why is it important? We have been told many times how important it is and yet so many people do not exercise. Why?

I believe it is imperative to understand the benefits of exercise and why we would do well to adopt a lifelong program of physical exercise that keeps us in tip-top physical health. We should treat our body like a temple, not a woodshed. Because the mind and body work together, your body needs to be a good support system for the mind and spirit. If we take care of our bodies, they can take us where we want to go with the power and vitality to get there.

So let’s take a few minutes here and I’ll give you my 7 Major Benefits of Physical Exercise:

1. Physical exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system and helps support your skeletomuscular system. The two major systems that keep you in shape physically are put into action and driven to health when you exercise. A good workout gets the blood pumping, moving throughout your body, taking those nutrients where they need to go. A good workout gets your lungs working hard and expanding their ability to take in and effectively use oxygen. Working out gets your heart pumping and strengthening itself so it can continue to beat strong and hard for many years to come. Let’s do the math: Have you ever considered that a heart that beats an average of 70 beats per minute will beat 2,575,440,000 times in a 70-year life!? That is more than two and a half billion times! You need to keep it in working order to go that long! A good workout develops and maintains strong muscles so they can carry your body around and remain a good support for the rest of your life! Can you see how important it is, if you want to succeed and achieve a well-balanced life of health, to give a priority to physical exercise? It is imperative we take good care of our body because that is the only place we have to live.

2. Physical exercise raises your metabolism and helps keep your body more finely tuned. Combined with the nutritional aspect we covered last week, these two keep your body, as a system, humming along like the engine of an expensive sports car. Among other things, having a higher rate of metabolism makes your body work more efficiently, burning fat in the proper way, and helps you maintain proper weight. One of the most important areas of physical health is to have a properly functioning metabolism, and a good workout routine can be a major contributing factor in getting your metabolism in the right spot. If you don’t feel well, you probably won’t do well, so invest the time in a good workout plan.

3. Physical exercise relieves stress. You know as well as I do that going about our lives in this day and age is stressful. There are so many factors that can cause stress for us, and the pressures can build the more successful we become. As you achieve more, there is more responsibility. More responsibility can produce more stress. Participating in a regular workout program helps release stress. Your body actually produces stress-relieving chemicals designed to bring your body into a state of physical-emotional balance. This is done when we get our bodies into a vigorous state of physical exercise. So, if you want to have a little less stress in your life, exercise more—it helps!

4. Physical exercise helps you sleep better. , while designed for action, are also designed to sleep regularly. Often, because of other factors in our lives, many people today do not sleep as well as they should. Foods we eat can interrupt our sleep. Stress can keep us from getting the sleep we need, but exercise can act as a counterbalance. Good, hearty workouts can and will help your body reach a healthy state of exhaustion, which in turn helps you sleep better.

5. Physical exercise helps you feel better. People who are in a regular exercise program feel better about themselves. Their bodies are healthier, and as they go about their day they have more energy and are more alert. It makes sense, doesn’t it? When we treat our body right, we feel better. And we feel better in all different kinds of ways: emotionally, spiritually, etc. Remember, all of the three areas of our bodies are tied together and have an effect on one another.

6. Physical exercise helps us look better. Hey, who doesn’t want to look better? We all do! A good exercise program can do that. Good vigorous exercise on a regular basis will help you lose fat, tighten skin and firm and tone your muscles. Done right, combined with good eating habits, you will look great in no time! And let’s face it, looking good will help you feel better—there is an emotional connection. Studies also show that better-looking people as a general rule do better in business. As much as people say it isn’t right to judge a book by its cover, many people do, so we should give ourselves a better chance at business by making our cover healthy and fit—and better looking. So make sure your outside is a good reflection of your inside.

7. Physical exercise enables us to live longer. This, of course, is the best benefit. Obviously, there are no guarantees in this life, but the fact remains that those who maintain a healthy state of physical fitness live longer than those who do not take care of their bodies. We should all have the goal to live long and healthy lives so we can achieve all we were meant to achieve here, and give ourselves fully to our families and those who love us and depend on us. A good long life, filled with love and success, is what we should all shoot for, and maintaining our physical bodies is an integral part of that!

There you have them. Seven great benefits you receive from keeping your body in great shape through exercise!

We have covered a lot in this month of health. Take it to heart. Gain some ground on your health this month and in the coming year. You will be glad you did!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

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Supplemental Notes
Here are a few tips for establishing a simple yet effective workout program.

1. Go to your physician and tell him or her what you would like to achieve physically. We cannot emphasize this enough! Let your doctor know and help you along with your plan. Each individual is unique and will need to have a health professional help them decide which is the best plan for them. Believe us, they will be ecstatic to see someone taking their health seriously and will be glad to help!

2. Have a plan. Just as with all of life, we do best when we have a plan. That is why you are here. We do better and are more accountable—as well as more successful—when we plan and then work that plan. So, get a plan. There are so many good health/exercise plans available to us; it is up to you to choose what will fit your needs and lifestyle best. The first and most simple step of your plan should be to become active on a daily basis, even five minutes a day will make a huge difference physiologically, and as a result, will move you in the direction of strengthening your body’s cardiovascular system. A simple start could be walking in your neighborhood, at a nearby park or local school track. The next step would be to add in strength/weight training and alternate strength training and cardiovascular conditioning. Try doing cardiovascular (walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics, etc.) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and strength training on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The key here is to do what works best for you and your schedule.

3. Start small. One reason so many people fail to maintain a lifelong workout plan is because they start too big, fail and then quit. You don’t have to go to the gym every day. You don’t have to start off trying to bench press like a middle linebacker. Start smaller, if that is what it takes for you to be successful. The key isn’t the size of your start but that you start! It might mean taking a vigorous walk three times a week with your spouse or friends. Whatever it is—start!

4. Make it regular, whether Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, whether every morning or three evenings a week. It doesn’t matter what your plan is as long as it is your plan and you keep it regular. If you can keep from being sporadic, your body will be in much better condition.

5. Incorporate exercise into your day. You don’t even have to join a gym. There are people who ride their bikes to work. If you work on the 10th floor, take the stairs three times a week. Park at the outer edge of the parking lot. Bring a sandwich for lunch and walk while you eat it on your lunch break. There are lots of different ways to get exercise on a regular basis if you just put a little thought and effort into it.

6. Remember that something is better than nothing. Sometimes you just don’t want to go work out and do 45 minutes on the treadmill then 45 minutes in the weight room. You could decide to not go and sit on the couch and eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby Ice Cream. But instead, even if you do 15 minutes on the treadmill and then quit, going is better than having done nothing! It is a continual move in the right direction. (You can apply this principle to any area of life—saving even $50 a month is better than nothing!)

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Physical Health

When we look at health, we look in the context of humans, which consists of three distinct parts or layers: the body (the physical nature), the soul (the mind, will and emotions), and the spirit (the part of us that transcends this world and communes with God).

Our spiritual life is what gives us the foundation for living and provides the strength we need for everything else. Our soul, the second layer, is the “intangible” part of us. You can’t touch it, but it is there, and not only is it there, but it is what drives most of who and what we are! Then, finally, our body, the outermost layer, is the physical shell that houses our soul and spirit. All of these are intricately connected and affect each another.

We cover these three layers in four different parts this month:

1. Spiritual Health: Two weeks ago we looked at the benefits and importance of developing a vibrant spiritual life and gave you some easy methods to help take your spiritual life to a deeper level.

2. Emotional Health: The mind, will and emotions. Last week, we covered the importance of a healthy soul, specifically the mind, will and emotional aspects of life. We looked at how our inner person is such a vital part in making sure we live the kind of life we desire, and we learned how our emotional life can become healthy, strong and lively.

3. Physical Health—Nutrition: Today, we will begin a two-part look at the body and physical health, concentrating on the area of nutrition. It is important that we fuel our body properly because energy comes from the foods we eat. Just like a vehicle runs off of the fuel we fill it with, if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our body, it will not run properly. Put the right kinds of foods in, and it will run like the high-performance engine in an expensive sports car!

4. Physical Health—Exercise: Week 13 will look at the important area of exercise. “I need to exercise” is the first thought that occurs to most people when they think of health. We do need exercise, and three weeks from now, we will take a more in-depth look at this important topic.

Let’s dive into this week’s focus, Physical Health: Nutrition.

We have covered the two “inner parts” of human health this month, and now it is time to look outward at the body. The body is a fantastic gift, a physical masterpiece that is ours for life. It grows, develops and is the vehicle with which we go through our entire lives. You only get one body, and it’s important to make the most of it. This is why it is so important for us to take the issue of physical health seriously. The body is in a natural state of decay, and it is our job as stewards of our body to treat it well and keep it in tip-top physical shape, which can help delay the process of aging significantly. With proper care, our bodies can stay finely tuned. Especially with the medical advancements available to us in this generation, we can experience the longest life spans in the history of mankind. Today, one of the fastest-growing segments of society is the 80 years and older group! The average lifespan for both men and women living in the United States is now in the mid-to-late 70s. Incredible!

One of the key aspects of keeping our bodies fit is the nutritional aspect. Now, before we go further, let me say that the following advice should not be taken as specific medical or nutritional advice—you should see your physician for that and create a plan specific to your needs and lifestyle—instead, these are general guidelines for leading a physically fit lifestyle as it relates to nutrition. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some specific guidelines for physical health as it relates to nutrition.

Get Back to the Basics
There are two parts to physical health. We all know them, and together we could all say in unison: “Eat right and exercise!” Physical health, in its simplest form, comes down to these two basics: Eat right and exercise. Next week we’ll talk about exercise, but this week let’s cover the “eat right” message. Simply put, we must eat right. At its essence, this is a key that is pretty simple to monitor. We all have a basic understanding of what it means to eat right. Pick one of the following as a good versus not-so-good choice for a snack: A handful of nuts or a candy bar? For dessert: A small portion of fruit or a pint of ice cream? We all know what it means to “eat right.” It is a simple concept, and it’s one we would benefit greatly to focus on.

A good analogy to help put this issue of nutrition into perspective would be to think of your body as a vehicle. Now, imagine for a moment that you had worked hard and had been able to save enough money to buy the car of your dreams. Maybe it is a fine luxury car that costs $75,000. You love every aspect of it. It gets you where you want to go, and it gets you there in style! Now, after driving for a few hours, you know you will run out of fuel, so you turn to the owner’s manual and find it tells you that you need to use unleaded fuel. Would you then go fill up the car with diesel? It wouldn’t run right if you did. It wasn’t designed for diesel. In reading the owner’s manual, you would also see a recommended grade of fuel in order for the car to run at its most efficient level. There will be an octane suggestion; it might be 89. Now, the car could probably run on 87 octane, but not as well as on 89. So you would put in 89 octane. You must fuel the vehicle properly. The same is true with our bodies! We are designed to run on good fuel. There are other fuels we can put into our bodies, but they won’t run as efficiently if we do.

Most of the time, people tend to eat what they eat because they want something that tastes good in the moment—instant gratification. What would happen if we began to eat not what we crave, but what our body needs for fuel? It would revolutionize our physical health. If we begin to view our bodies with the “body as a vehicle” analogy and the need to fuel it properly, we will find our bodies respond by running better, more efficiently and for longer periods of time. That sounds good to me! Start to think of your body as a vehicle that needs to be fueled properly.

Consult with a Physician or Dietitian
I would strongly encourage you to have a visit with someone who is an expert in the area of nutrition. Sit down with your physician or dietitian and go over your nutritional plan. You might say, “But Jim, I am not overweight. I am in good shape.” I would encourage you to visit with your health care professional anyway. Just because you aren’t overweight doesn’t mean you can’t improve your nutrition, which will in turn improve your health.

Take in a Healthy Supply of Good, Nutritional Fuel
Unlike the vehicle we drive, our bodies can run well on a wide variety of foods. Could you imagine if you had to eat the same kind of food every time you ate? That would get boring very fast! Fortunately, we have plethora of foods that can fuel our bodies properly—all of the healthy choices of fruits, vegetables, breads, grains, meats and dairy products that can help our bodies operate at maximum efficiency. Be sure to eat a wide variety of foods and enjoy them!

Stay Away from Foods That Are Not Good for You
What would you do if you went outside one evening and found the neighborhood kids playing a prank on you and getting ready to fill your car’s fuel tank with sugar? You would put an end to that quickly! Why? Because you don’t want the neighbor kids to have fun? No, because sugar isn’t good for the car! The point? There are certain things you wouldn’t put in your car’s fuel tank and there are certain things you shouldn’t fuel your body with, either. The more diligent we are in staying away from foods that are not good for us, the better our bodies will run.

All Things in Moderation
That is an old saying. Most health problems, nutritionally and otherwise, come from a lack of moderation. Can we eat sugar? Sure, just not too much. Can we eat some pie sometimes? Certainly, but not too much. Anorexia is a nutritional challenge we face in our society today that many young people have fallen prey to. They eat too little, and as a result, suffer many serious health problems. Moderation means we don’t eat too much or too little. We eat just enough—in moderation. We fuel our bodies properly. We don’t weigh too little or too much. We weigh just enough for our body frame.

Develop Good Eating Habits
Part of the problem we experience in our nutrition has to do with our habits. What do we do habitually? Do we get in the habit of stopping at a fast-food place for lunch every day and eating high-fat foods? Or do we exercise the habit of taking 10 minutes every evening before we go to bed to prepare a lunch to take with us filled with healthy foods? That simple habit will pay for itself in nutritional soundness. Developing good eating and nutritional habits will pay dividends for a lifetime.

Develop a Lifelong Plan of Nutrition
One of the best things we can do is to sit down and take time to develop a sustainable, long-term nutrition plan. I believe one of the reasons so many diets fail long term is because short-term people will change the way they eat to enable themselves to lose weight, but these changes are not realistic long term. Once they lose the weight and get to their ideal weight, they stop eating the way that helped them lose the weight and they go back to their old ways of eating. And what happens? You guessed it—they gain the weight back. To ensure long-term nutritional health, we need to have a sustainable, long-term plan of nutrition. The plan should be nutritionally sound and one we personally enjoy and are able to commit to.

Again, remember, just as you invest money and time in the pursuit of health in other areas of your life, invest in this area of nutrition as well. Your body will thank you for it!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

How 2 Build A Business Online

While 99% of the population is going to work every day, trading their time for money … there’s a special group of in-the-know people who are waking up to a world of financial potential that most people don’t know is possible. Imagine what it would be like to get emails like this every single day:

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1. Choose a great business idea, then start to build a website that attracts visitors.

Here’s a quick tip to come up with a great business idea: Combine one of your ideas/hobbies/skills to find something that you care about and figure out how that can be used to solve another person’s problem. Here is a written article of how to come up with a good idea and then validate it. so I’m not going to belabor the point here.

Here’s what to do: Create a simple website for pennies using WordPress or Squarespace that advertises what you do, and/or the product you’re offering. You don’t need any web or tech skills to make this happen. Both resources have ready-to-install templates. You just need to know how to use the internet!

Use regular tools (like Facebook, Instagram, a blog, etc) to start driving people to your website. Nothing secret or tricky here. Just talk to your friends, family, and accessible networks and try to start solving their problems. Identify their pain points and then go about actively solving them. This will help you finetune your idea.

Direct them to your site to pick up their free piece of value content that you’ve prepared for them. Which is the subject of Step 2 …

2. Turn those website visitors into loyal subscribers by offering them something free in exchange for their email address.

Create free, helpful content and ask visitors for an email address in exchange.

For example, you could offer a free 15-minute consultation, a tutorial video, a downloadable checklist, an infographic, a guide or other types of free content depending on your business and industry. The list is literally endless.

Add these people to an email list and keep building that list over time. Slow but steady wins the race. You can create HUGE results with a very small email list. I know this because many people were able to quit their job and commit full-time to building a profitable online business.

If you’re curious to know how I got started, and how you can begin your own journey to self-employment, you should enroll in my free mini course on making more money. It’ll take you step-by-step through the process of creating a new business using skills you already have.

I know what you’re thinking, so let me stress it again — you don’t have to be a “techie” or know any programming! The website itself can get up and running for less that $50 in a day. And you can use an email marketing solution like MailChimp to manage subscribers, send emails, and track results for free.

3. Turn those subscribers into customers by asking them to buy from you via email.

You can sell whatever you want — a physical or digital product, a course, a service, or even coaching. It’s all based on what’s interesting to you, and what you think you can help your subscribers with the most.

After delivering a ton of free awesome content for a while (emailing your blog posts, YouTube videos, or whatever else you create), now you have the “right” to sell. Really, this means you have a core audience — no matter how small — who anticipates hearing from you, who reads or consumes your work, and who relates to your message.

This is huge.

These people, your Tribe, actually WANT to buy from you. They’re eager for you to produce a real product because they trust you.

This satisfies our innate human instinct for reciprocity — but really it’s because they think that what you offer is valuable, and an actual product puts a price to that value.

Here’s an example how a simple idea can be turned into a $1,000/month online business:

Let’s say you’re a tutor who’s really good at preparing students for the SAT/ACT college entrance exams.

That’s a pretty in-demand skill set with a high hourly rate. But after a while, you might get burned out driving from house to house or teaching big classes.

There’s an easier way.

Instead of going door-to-door teaching the SAT, you could make a website that gives great SAT tips and strategies for free. Create a PDF guide of your top 5 proven strategies for raising test scores and, in exchange for their email addresses, give it away to people who visit your website.

Continue to build that list of email addresses over time. YOUR LIST IS YOUR MONEY MAKER. Treat it with utmost care and respect. Always remember these are real people.

Behind the scenes, you build a simple 6-week video course teaching lessons as if you were in front of a classroom.

(I don’t want to hear you say you don’t have the proper equipment! All you need is an iPhone. Don’t believe me? Casey Neistat is an acclaimed film directorproducer, and YouTube star with nearly 2 million subscribers. He films everything he produces on an iPhone. Yup.)

Once every month or two, send an email to your dedicated email list selling the course.

Every time you send, there’s a good chance people will buy. As the list grows, more and more people will buy

(Remember, you’re still peppering them with juicy content in between each sales push. That’s how they grow to love and respect you.)

If you priced the video series at just $97 (which is quite fair, considering how much private tutoring costs) and sold just 10 of those video courses every month, you’d make a quick $1,000 automatically … every single month.

From a TINY email list.

THAT IS LIFE-CHANGING.

  • That’s enough money for you to take a vacation.
  • That’s enough money to pay off student loans.
  • That’s enough money to pay down your debt and finally start saving.

And that’s what I mean. It doesn’t take a lot.

From here, the sky’s the limit. You can easily tweak the “dials” of your internet business and 2x, 5x, 10x that money easily with a few changes.

Keep growing your list and try to imagine what’s possible …

When you first start marketing online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the options.

You might know that “IKEA” feeling — when you’re staring at a big box full of pieces, and you’re not confident you have the energy or the patience to put them all together.

Which makes it easy to fall prey to what look like simple solutions.

Some will tell you, you don’t need a website for your business … you just need a Medium account, or some other “ready in 5 minutes” solution. “It’s free! It’s quick!” they say.

But it’s also dangerous. And here’s why.

Don’t build your business on rented land

You can read here about the sad story of a bookstore that was doing everything right, but still had to close … because the rent on their beautiful four-story space tripled overnight.

Bookstores, restaurants, and other brick-and-mortar businesses face this every day. Leases expire, rents go up, and businesses can’t survive the additional financial pressure. The only way around it is to own the land your store is on … but the cost of that can be prohibitive.

This is where it’s nice to be an online-based business. Because the equivalent of owning your building is to center your business around an asset you own and can control — your own self-hosted website.

Work for yourself … not Facebook

If the only place you can connect with customers is on your Facebook page, you essentially work for Facebook.

And they can (and do) change their terms of service whenever they want, without asking you, in a way that can create massive tumult for you. They can also delete your page just because they feel like it. They owe you nothing. And they’re too big to care about your problems.

If the only place you get traffic is Google (either through organic search or pay-per-click), you work for Google.

If 80% of your new customers find you on Pinterest or LinkedIn, you work for Pinterest or LinkedIn.

You have a much better option. You can rely on yourself, and use Facebook and Google and Pinterest as outposts to support your business.

Escaping digital serfdom

Building your business on someone else’s platform is called digital sharecropping (we didn’t come up with that term, Nicholas Carr did), but it could just as easily be called digital serfdom.

You’re the unrecognized peasant who does all the work and takes all the risk. The landlord reaps nearly all of the wealth and benefit.

You can do better.

The other problem with digital serfdom is that the landlord may or may not be here next year.

In the past, content creators put millions of hours into sites like Digg or MySpace. And to say those sites are no longer relevant is a huge understatement.

Sharecropped land, in other words, has a tendency to become less and less fertile over time. It can also be taken away from you at any time, whether or not you do anything wrong.

Here’s what to do instead

There are three assets you should be building today, and should continue to focus on for the lifetime of your business:

  1. A well-designed website with your own hosting account.
  2. An opt-in email list, ideally with high-quality automation features.
  3. A reputation for providing impeccable value.

These things are the equivalent of buying your building instead of renting it. It’s an asset, not a potential liability

More importantly, you can proactively protect your asset by taking website security seriously, avoiding spammy practices with your email, and cultivating a loyal audience who will vouch for you as being a good egg.

What are the best choices?

Our recommendation for your website is WordPress, which not coincidentally is the most popular content management system on the internet. The software itself is free, and it’s become incredibly simple to set up and make your own with spectacular designs (themes), specialty software (plugins), and high-performance speed (hosting). It’s also easy to find someone who will set it up for you — quickly and cheaply.

You’ve put a lot of time and effort into your business — don’t risk it by building your business on someone else’s land. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before to create a powerful website that you truly own and control.

If you still have trouble starting a business online. I created a online course just for you. A step by step process that will walk you through it at your own pace. This course consists of videos and articles that can help you learn how to get started and will guide you to increasing your income and eventually having the option to leave your job and do whatever you like to do. I believe that passion is more important than money, but money is also very important. Money is like oxygen. We need it to survive. What if you can take your passion online and use it to help others while increasing your income. Would you do it?

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Emotional Health

Hello and welcome to Month Three of The Nick James One-Year Success Blog. We hope you are having an excellent week!

What a great time to embrace change, opportunity and hopefulness. If you’re like us, your ambition to get caught up on the past, handle the present and launch into the future may be getting the best of you if—and we say if—you tend to be a little impatient. It’s hard to get it all done in a short period of time. Think of this process like we’re running a marathon and the ultimate goal here is overall success and improvement in the major areas of our lives. Just like compound interest, the slow but continual steps toward your predetermined goals will keep coming more clearly into focus each day.

On the other hand, if you’re not engaged in the above process of cleaning up the past, doing the daily activities and engaging in your future, then by all means start the process.

Cleaning up past messes, projects, etc., releases additional time and energy, and it’s amazing how quickly that time and energy can be redirected and invested into accomplishing more productive and rewarding pursuits and goals.

Doing the daily activities prevents additional cleanups of items that could potentially create new messes, and keeps you from having to pay the penalties of neglect.

Engaging in your future is where the biggest prize awaits. Only 3-5% of people are able to make the future investments of time and planning in the midst of doing their very necessary daily activities.

Let us stress that a little bit DOES make a difference. The first step creates momentum to take the next step, and so on. The act alone of engaging in the three steps above is the critical starting point in spite of how long or far the journey might seem. It’s the consistent, steady movement in the right direction that makes the small, incremental investments seem painless and creates the confidence and excitement to be truly self-motivated and driven toward your ultimate goals and purpose.

Take the first—or next—step, and make it a great week!

Health, Part Two—Emotional Health

Health is our all-important topic this month. When we look at health, we look in the context of humans consisting of three distinct parts or layers: the Body—the physical nature; the Soul—the mind, will and emotions; and the Spirit—the part of us that transcends this world and communes with God.

Our spiritual life is what gives us the foundation for living and provides the strength we need for everything else. Our Soul, the second layer, is the “intangible” part of us. You can’t touch it but it is there, and not only is it there but it is what drives most of whom and what we are! Then finally, our Body, the outermost layer, is the physical shell that houses our soul and spirit. All of these are intricately connected and affect each another.

We cover these three layers in four different parts this month:

1. Spiritual Health: Last week we looked at the benefits and importance of developing a vibrant spiritual life and gave you some easy methods to help take your spiritual life to a deeper level.

2. Emotional Health: The mind, will and emotions. This week we cover the importance of a healthy soul, specifically the mind, will and emotional aspects of life. We will look at how our inner person is such a vital part in making sure we live the kind of life we desire. We will learn how our emotional life can become healthy, strong and lively.

3. Physical Health—Nutrition: In Week 12, we will begin a two-part look at the body and physical health, concentrating on the area of nutrition. It is important that we fuel our body properly because energy comes from the foods we eat. Just like a vehicle runs off of the fuel we fill it with, if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our body, it will not run properly. Put the right kinds of foods in, and it will run like the high-performance engine in an expensive sports car!

4. Physical Health—Exercise: Week 13 will look at the important area of exercise. “I need to exercise” is the first thought that occurs to most people when they think of health. We do need exercise, and three weeks from now, we will take a more in-depth look at this important topic.

This week our focus is on the second aspect, Emotional Health.

As I think through this idea of Emotional Health, there are three main areas: the mind or intellect, the will, and the emotions. These three facets make up the inner life of humans and are a major driving force in who we are, what we do and what we accomplish. Let’s take a deeper look.

The Mind 
The mind may very well be the most amazing thing ever created. The vast depth and breadth of what the human mind can do and comprehend is simply incredible. Think of it, every invention or human creation started as a single thought in someone’s brain. The thoughts, the ideas, the calculations—all fantastic! There might be some who would argue that a computer is a more amazing feat, but it was a collection of human minds that conceived, developed and implemented the computer. Computers run based on how the human mind determines they will run; they are programmed by people!

When a baby is born, their mind is basically undeveloped and is only developed as input and training are given. As children, although our eyes and ears automatically pick up and process information, we are primarily trained and taught to think and process by our parents. They determine much of our input and give us our start. Slowly but surely we learn how the world works, how to think and how to process information. And as we continue to grow, we begin to think in deeper ways, develop critical thinking skills and are eventually able to go beyond the concrete and into the abstract. All of this is part of the natural process of mental development. Initially it is our parents’ responsibility to get us going in the right direction and encourage us to learn and to love learning. Just another reason parenting is the most important job in the world!

Eventually though, this shifts and we assume responsibility for ourselves and our learning. We don’t know everything when we turn 18, as our parents send us out into the world, and much of our success is determined by what we put into our minds once we get out into the world and start making our way. What and how we think determines much of what we are and what we become. This is why it is so important to continually, until the day we draw our last breath, develop our intellect. Sadly, for most people, the learning stops when they get their first job. But imagine what could happen if you kept up an accelerated learning curve for the rest of your life. What could you do, what skills would you develop, what unique philosophies would you adopt if you were one of the few who developed an appetite for constantly looking for good ideas, for new ways of looking at things, etc.? Commit today to that exciting process and see where it will take you.

The Will
The will is certainly one of the most mysterious and fascinating creations ever! We talk about will “power” and yet many can’t even explain or define it. The will can’t be taken out and poured in a beaker, and yet we know it exists and is integral to success and achievement. For our definition, we will say it is the part of us that is the strength of our self-determination. The will is what determines whether we act or not. It is our center of resolve and choice.

I believe the will is something that must be exercised in order to become strong. You can have a weak or a strong will and the determining factor is how often you use it. The ways in which it is exercised, combined with the frequency with which you use it, will determine how strong it becomes. Those who float with the winds of life and make few or no decisions have weak wills. When they need to use willpower they will have none. Those who regularly exercise it to make good, strong decisions will be able to hold fast and be strong and decisive when a major act of the will is needed. Whether it is the power to refrain from something that may not be good for you or the power to choose to do something you know will be in your best interest but are fearful of doing, a strong, highly exercised will can carry you through.

Let’s look at an analogy. If a person works out physically on a regular basis and slowly builds up the amount of weight they can lift, they will be strong enough to handle a crisis that would call for heavy lifting. If a log falls on the legs of a person for example, you want someone who is physically strong to be there. A person who is physically weak will be of no help in that moment. You cannot develop physical strength in a moment’s time. The same is true with strength of will. It is trained, it is strengthened and it is developed. When you do so, it becomes a powerful force of support in your life for success.

The Emotions
Emotions… what an incredible weight they carry in our lives. Sadness, fear, joy, anger, love, gratitude, peace, happiness… all of these are part of the almost immeasurable landscape we call human emotions. From the joy and wonderment of magical moments, like the birth of a child, to the intense sense of sorrow, regret and loss that can accompany the death of a loved one, emotions are at the very core of our existence. They are what provide the “spice of life,” as they say. They are a major piece of what we are and what we become.

“Don’t be emotional.” Have you ever heard that? Have you ever said that? The problem with that statement is that it is entirely impossible. We are, by our very nature, emotional beings. We are intended to be emotional. What most people mean when they use that phrase is, “Get your emotions under control.” Now that would be good advice. We are supposed to have emotion. We are supposed to feel things. You’ve heard me teach that our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect because it is important to know how to feel, how to respond and how to let life in so that it can touch us. Our emotions will either serve or master, depending on who is in charge. And when we have our emotions under control, they will be a powerful tool in driving us to accomplish amazing things!

The key is balanced emotions. You see, some people are virtually emotionless and that will not serve them well. Emotions can be a powerful fuel for us. The idea is to stay in balance with our emotions, to feel strongly and passionately but not get out of control. We would be wise to measure our emotions and intelligently manage them. You see, the trick is to let our emotions be a key factor in what drives us, but not the primary factor—to let our emotions be tempered and balanced with our mind.

Think of the unique and powerful blend of emotions, will and intellect that drove some of the major accomplishments of history:

– The compassion of Mother Teresa drove her to dedicate her life to caring for the poor of Calcutta.

– The passion of Martin Luther King Jr. drove him to be a beacon of hope and awareness and to help usher in the civil rights movement in America in the 1960s.

– The courage of the allied forces in World War II drove them to stand up to Adolf Hitler and his evil desires of world conquest.

There are so many other examples, but the point is clear: Emotions can and should be a vital yet balanced part of what drives us to accomplish great things.

Now a word of caution: Unbridled emotion can lead us nowhere and oftentimes much worse, to places we don’t want to go. But controlled emotions, governed by the will and focused by the mind, are at the heart of achievement and success.

The emotional life is something to be diligent in your development and care. If you make it healthy, it will take you farther than you could ever imagine.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Spiritual Health

Month Three Of Success: Health, Part One—Spiritual Health

As we look at the topic of health this month, the first order of business is to make sure our view of health is broad enough. If I were to ask you, “Are you healthy?” you might think simply of your physical health. You’d do a brief overview of how your body is and answer me based on that. If you feel well, then you probably view yourself as healthy. But this is only one aspect of health and being a healthy person. I would like to challenge you to think deeper. Let me explain.

As human beings, we possess one of the most complex designs the world has ever seen. We are not merely a body; there is so much more to our make-up. In fact, I believe there are three major aspects to each person, all intricately connected to one another. They are our body, the physical nature; our soul, the mind, will, emotions and intellectual nature; and our spirit, the part of us that transcends this world and communes with God.

Let’s view this is as a sphere with three layers. The first or innermost layer, the core, is our spiritual life. This is our most important aspect and gives us the foundation for living and provides the strength we need for everything else. The middle, or second layer, is the soul. This is the intangible part of us. You can’t touch it, but it is there, and it’s what drives most of what we are! The last, the outermost layer, is our body. This is simply the physical shell that houses our soul and spirit.

So, how are these connected? How do they affect one another? Obviously, a person’s beliefs affect their emotions. If a person is in a negative situation, they may experience anxiety or fear. That, in turn, could potentially cause physical ailments such as stomach problems, headaches or fatigue, for example. This is just one simple example of how the three areas of our make-up affect one another.

So, rather than simply viewing ourselves as physical bodies that need to be maintained and kept healthy, it would serve us well to develop a more holistic, well-rounded view of what it means to be healthy. As we develop each area, we will be able to achieve the health we desire in every area of our lives.

I believe there are four main areas of emphasis to do our topic of health justice and help you attain total health as a reality in your life:

1. Spiritual Health: Today, we will look at the benefits and importance of developing a vibrant spiritual life and give you some easy methods to help take your spiritual life to a deeper level.

2. Emotional Health: The mind, will and emotions. Week 11 will cover the importance of a healthy soul, specifically the mind, will and emotional aspects of life. We will look at how our inner person is such a vital part in making sure we live the kind of life we desire. We will learn how our emotional life can become healthy, strong and lively.

3. Physical Health—Nutrition: In Week 12, we will begin a two-part look at the body and physical health, concentrating on the area of nutrition. It is important that we fuel our body properly because energy comes from the foods we eat. Just like a vehicle runs off of the fuel we fill it with, if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our body, it will not run properly. Put the right kinds of foods in, and it will run like the high-performance engine in an expensive sports car!

4. Physical Health—Exercise: Week 13 will look at the important area of exercise. “I need to exercise” is the first thought that occurs to most people when they think of health. We do need exercise, and three weeks from now, we will take a more in-depth look at this important topic.

Right now, let’s focus on the first aspect: spiritual health.

There are four major keys to spiritual health:

A healthy spiritual life is one of the most rewarding things we can pursue. There are important things in this life, and it’s okay to spend time and resources to experience their richness in every way. Ultimately, everything in this life passes away, though, leaving only our spiritual life. Our physical lives here are temporal; our bodies wear out, but our spiritual lives are eternal—they last forever. This tells me that our spiritual health is our most important pursuit. The God questions are the most vital questions we can ask, because they influence our life in so many significant ways and the answers make an impact on us for eternity.

A healthy spiritual life benefits us in many ways. When we develop a healthy spiritual life and give it the importance it deserves, when we allow our spiritual life to impact the rest of our life, we receive tremendous benefits: peace, joy, perspective, wholeness, better relationships, purpose, significance, excitement and passion for life, hope for a better future, emotional stability, intellectual curiosity, and a better understanding of the importance of all that is around us. A healthy spiritual life reaches into every other area of our lives and creates a strong foundation upon which we build the life we desire. When we build upon the rock of a strong spiritual life, we exponentially increase our opportunity to live the benefits and blessings of a centered life.

A healthy spiritual life is developed through discipline, just as all things important to us. The great theologian G.K. Chesterton said of Christianity, “It isn’t that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, but found difficult and left untried.” This is true in so many areas of our lives, but especially true in our spiritual life. Just as we need to get into the gym to exercise on a regular basis, we need to get into a spiritual discipline on a regular basis.

A healthy spiritual life will bring a unique strength to the rest of your life. It is the foundation, the part of us from which everything else emanates and finds its strength and purpose. It centers us and gives us the kind of perspective we all need to live and lead successful lives.

With these things in mind, here are some simple ways you can begin to develop a deeper, richer and healthier spiritual life:

1. Make it a pursuit, as you would make any other area you are hoping to experience growth. Set your sights on a strong spiritual life and pursue it with vigor!

2. Set aside time to be alone and to work on your spirituality. Anything worth pursuing must have time devoted to it. In your pursuit of spiritual health, be sure to give yourself the necessary time to cultivate that inner life. Put it in your datebook; make sure you give it the time it deserves.

3. Read good materials about the spiritual life. As you know, I am a reader and encourage everyone to do the same. I am passionate about it! There are so many great books that will enable you to grow spiritually. My personal recommendation on where to begin is the Bible. If you listen to me for even a short time, you will see that I regularly quote the wisdom I have learned from the Bible. There are numerous books specifically written to help you grow spiritually. Take advantage of them, and read them during your time alone pursuing spiritual health.

4. Some people enjoy listening to music designed to deepen their spiritual life. Music has the power to move our spirit in ways most things cannot. I strongly encourage you to spend time on a regular basis listening to music that will encourage your spirit. Many of the classics fit this criterion, and there are so many great artists who help us focus on the inner spiritual life through excellent music.

5. Involve yourself in a community of faith. I believe our spiritual lives are best lived with other people (and not just our spiritual lives). We need others to challenge and encourage us. We need others to teach and learn from us—we are in this together. Yes, I know that when you get groups of people together, things can go awry at times, but I am convinced that more good than ill comes when we pursue our spiritual life with others.

Do these things on a regular basis and be consistent in your pursuit of spiritual health. Take time in a disciplined manner, because over time, as you invest in your spiritual life, you will see your inner core and foundations strengthening in ways you could never imagine, and that, in turn, will give you the basis for the kind of whole-life situation you are looking for!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Accountability

Before we dive into Part Four—Accountability, here is a review of what we’ve covered this month.

Evaluation and Reflection
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we will get there is to first know where we are right now and what our level of satisfaction is for where we are in life. With our focus on goal-setting, our first order of business and topic from earlier was to set aside some serious time for evaluation and reflection.

Dreams and Goals
What are your dreams and goals? Not related to the past or what you think you can get, but what you want. Have you ever sat down and really thought through your life values and decided what you truly want? This isn’t something someone else says you should have or what culture tells us successful people do or have. These are dreams and goals born out of your own heart and mind, unique to you, and come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. A couple of weeks ago, we showed you exactly how to figure out what you want from life.

SMART Goals
SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

Specific: Don’t be vague. Exactly what do you want?
Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you’ve achieved it or not?
Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life, while taking into consideration your current responsibilities.
Realistic: It’s got to be doable, real and practical.
Time: Associate a time frame with each goal. When should you complete the goal?

We’ve already looked at how to apply the SMART test to your goals and ensure they are powerful!

Accountability
Think of the word accountable. It means to give an account. When someone knows what your goals are, they help hold you accountable. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you (have you thought about inviting a friend to join you on this one-year journey?) or just someone you can give the basic idea to, having a person who can hold you accountable will give you another added boost to accomplishing your goals!

Accountability—a contract with yourself or someone else—is a vital key in the goal-setting process. In those early days, My friend held me accountable for my progress on the goals I had set. He asked those hard questions that helped motivate me to continuously work on achieving my dreams. Accountability puts some teeth into the process. If a goal is set and only one person knows it, does it really have any power? Many times it doesn’t. At the very least, it isn’t as powerful as if you had one or more people who will hold you accountable to your goal.

Think of the word accountable. Webster defines it as, “liable to being called to account; answerable.” In other words, it means to give an account of your actions to yourself or another person. Accountability is a very broad word, yet accountability is essentially follow-up. When someone knows what your goals are, they follow up and hold you accountable by asking you to “give an account” of where you are in the process. Human nature is such that when we know someone else is going to ask us about it, we are much more motivated to get it done. If for no other reason than we don’t want to look lazy and uncommitted to those we are accountable to! This is why having an accountability partner is so important. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you or just someone who you can give the basic idea to, having a place of accountability will give you another added boost to achieving your goals!

In the basic sense, there are two kinds of accountability: internal and external. Internal accountability is essentially the level of integrity you maintain not only throughout the evaluation process but also in life. It means that when you look at yourself, you judge yourself with honesty. This is where you hold yourself accountable to doing what you said you would do. If you’ve messed up, say, “I’ve messed up,” but if you’ve done well, then you can celebrate your progress. Let the internal accountability prod you and spur you on to greater action in pursuit of your achievements.

So first and foremost, it is our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable. We answer to ourselves. We take charge of ourselves. How do we do that? Here are a few ideas:

– Write down your goals so they become “objective.” You can’t go back and say, “That wasn’t really my goal.”
– Be ruthlessly honest with yourself when you assess whether or not you have met the goal (of course, if you were specific in your S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting, you won’t have much wiggle room here anyway).
– If you fall short of your goal, or if you are falling short while on the way, knuckle down and hold yourself accountable to do what it takes to make up the ground so that you can hit that goal!
– Set a time frame in which you will evaluate your progress and hold yourself accountable.

The second aspect of accountability is that it is external. Find someone else or a group of others to hold you accountable. When we commit to giving an account to someone else for our actions and goals, we take it to the next level. Now let me say that the external part of accountability will not work without the internal aspect. If you are not honest with yourself, then you will probably not be honest with others. Asking someone to hold you accountable and then knowing you won’t be completely honest with them will never work. In fact, Howard Hendricks used to have a series of accountability questions that went something like this: Have you done “A”? Have you done “B”? Have you done “C”? Now, have you told the truth on the first three questions? That is a good series of questions to ask!

Having an accountability partner or an outside source of accountability is a powerful force if done right. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set up an accountability partner:

– Choose someone who cares about you, but can be tough and honest with you. They need to care about you—and you have to know and feel that care—because you become vulnerable by making yourself accountable to them. They need to be tough and honest though, because you don’t want to have them shy away from telling you to get on the ball when you are slacking, getting behind or not doing the job. I think the expression, “tough love” would fit appropriately here. In essence, they love us enough to be honest with us about our progress.
– Tell them specifically what your goals are.
– Commit to being honest with them.
– Give them permission to speak words of encouragement, as well as words of challenge when the situation calls for it.
– Agree on a reasonable time frame in which you will allow them to evaluate your progress and hold you accountable.
– Follow up on their words when they challenge you or call you to action.

Accountability can be a tremendous thing. There is an old proverb that says one can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight. When we have someone holding us accountable, we bring others onto our team who will make us stronger, who will make us soar higher, and who will cause our lives to be much richer because of their involvement.

Take a moment and really consider who you will make yourself accountable to in the pursuit of your goals. Now, go back through the words above and begin to work this process out in your own life. You will be extraordinarily glad you did!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View