Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff About Money: Spiritual and Practical Ways to Create Abundance and More Fun in your life by Richard Carlson Ph. D.
When the subject of money comes up, there’s often stress in the air. Money is necessary, of course, but it’s confusing to most of us. Most people feel they have too little of it; a few people have too much. Money causes rifts between friends as well as family members. Money breaks up marriages as well as lifelong friendships. I’ve heard that there are more arguments, fights, and disagreements about money than any other subject in the world!
Many people attach their self-esteem to their net worth and, in doing so, ruin their chance to have happy and peaceful lives.
You’d think that when a person acquired a certain degree of wealth, they’d stop sweating about money, but usually the opposite occurs. Rather than feeling relief, most people with money become even more obsessed. Now, rather than worrying about getting money, they are worried about keeping it, protecting it, caring for it, and so forth.
Because money is perhaps our greatest source of stress, it fits right in with the philosophy of learning to be less worried, stressed, annoyed, and irritated.
Learning to not sweat the small stuff about money won’t take away all the monetary issues you have to deal with, but it sure will bring you more peace of mind. With added perspective, and perhaps a bit of humor, you’ll be able to tend to your money wisely – make great choices and see things clearly without having money issues take over your life.
As we worry less about money, we are more willing to do things for others. We are more generous and charitable. Rather than postponing the giving of our time, energy, ideas, or money because of fear, we learn to give freely, from the heart.
Without the emotional burden of getting too uptight about money, you can use your energy in more constructive ways, doing the things that bring you the most joy.
- Remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
The trick to success sounds very simplistic, because it is very simple: Just begin. Take a single step, followed by another, and then another. Don’t look too far out into the future, and don’t look too far back either. Stay centered in the present moment as best you can. If you follow this simple plan, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish over time.
“Becoming educated doesn’t happen overnight! Education is s lifelong process that happens in short intervals. If you were to read only eight pages a day, for the next seven years, you would be one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts on the work of Carl Jung, and you would get through every page!”
In almost all cases, the conditions you are waiting for will not be significantly different next week or next year. Don’t worry that the conditions have to be perfect. The truth is, you are still going to have to take that first step! If you take it now, instead of later, you’ll be many steps closer to your dreams by this time next year.
- Give, Give, Give
“Giving is its own reward.”
Giving is an energy that not only helps others but creates even more for the person who is doing the giving. This is a natural law that is true regardless of whether the person who is giving wants or even realizes what is occurring.
Money is “circulation.” It needs to flow.
Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. If you want more love, or fun, or respect, or success, or anything else, the way to get it is simple: give it away. Don’t worry about a thing. The universe knows what it’s doing. Everything you give away will return, with interest!
- Learn the magic of Nonattachment
Nonattachment, means: “I’ll do everything possible, I’ll put the odds in my favor, I’ll work hard and concentrate. I’ll do my best to succeed. But, if I don’t, that’s okay, too.”
Being nonattached, creates emotional freedom. It means holding on tightly but letting to lightly. It suggests trying hard, really caring, but at the same time being completely willing to let go of the outcome.
Nonattachment, works like magic. It allows you to have fun in your efforts, to enjoy the process. It helps you succeed at whatever you are doing by giving you the confidence you need. It takes the pressure off. You win regardless of the outcome. The act of not worrying helps you focus and stay on purpose. It helps you stay out of your own way.
Rather than being lost or immobilized in disappointment or regret, you simply move on – with confidence and joy.
- Experience relaxed passion
Relaxed passion is a contained, “time-release” type of feeling that permeates everything you do. It brings joy and great success to virtually anything. Rather than being frenetic, this feeling is more like exhilaration and enthusiasm. It’s a much calmer version of excitement. It can be described as excitement without the worry: “I love this simply because I’m absorbed in what I’m doing.”
Try to do only one thing at any given moment and give that “one thing” your full and complete attention.
- Become a stress-stopper
There’s little doubt in the minds of most business people I’ve met that, overall, stress interferes with the quality of business. People who are too stressed are reactive and frightened, and tend to make more mistakes than those who are calm. Stressed-out people blow problems out of proportion and fail to see solutions.
When you make the conscious decision to become a stress-stopper, you’ll find yourself nipping tons of stress – especially stress that is “small stuff” – in the bud. Your refusal to “spread the virus” not only prevents stress from escalating around the office or workplace, but actually reinforces to you that many of the things we get all worked up about are, in the scheme of things, pretty irrelevant. Plus, what you start to see is that much of what we stress or worry about never manifests itself anyway.
- Pay yourself first
Most financial professionals realize that it’s virtually impossible to accumulate great wealth without this type of discipline and wisdom. The idea is that, if you wait until everyone else is paid before you pay yourself, you’ll never get around to it. There won’t be anything left. Despite its importance, however, a very small percentage of people actually implement this strategy. The major reason: worry.
From this moment on, make a commitment to yourself that you will ignore all thoughts of worry and pay yourself first – before anyone else. Every day, or week, or month – whatever is appropriate for you – write yourself a check. Invest in yourself. Trust in yourself. You will have enough for everything else.
- Do good while doing well
- Don’t deal with problems. Transcend them
Focusing on problems is one of the key ways of keeping them alive – as well as preventing you from moving past them. Focusing on problems is also a key ingredient keeping people stuck in worry.
The thoughts we have around our various issues – business and otherwise – create and trigger emotional reactions. What usually happens is that we spend our time and energy dealing with these reactions instead of the actual issue.
Deep down, we all know that for every problem there is a solution.
Many times, the solution is obvious to a dispassionate observer, which is the primary reason corporations as well as entrepreneurs hire outside consultants.
The less you worry about your problems, the easier they will be to solve!
- Learn about moods and money
Generally speaking, when our mood is high, our spirits are up. When our mood is low, our spirits are down. Moods are like the weather, constantly changing.
Resist the temptation to worry about your moods. Moods are always changing, and yours could change at any moment. Simply realizing that you are stuck in a mood usually raises your spirits. Again, don’t worry! As your mood rises, your capacity to create will unfold.
- Consider the possibility that if it sounds too good to be true, it might not be
The old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” isn’t always correct. In fact, the suspicion, cynicism, and doubt that are inherent in this belief can and do keep people from taking advantage of excellent opportunities. Cynicism contradicts abundance. Cynics, critics, and doubters are clouded by their own destructive, self-defeating filters that say things like “That can’t work,” “That’s impossible,” or “It’s too good to be true.” These people are big-time worriers. They’re concerned with what other people think, and they are stuck in doing things “the right way,” the same way everyone else does them. These people have closed minds that are fixated on the status quo.
By becoming a less cynical, more open-minded nonworrier, you’ll bring far more joy into your work and open the door to far more abundance in your business and career.
- Hire up
If you want to talk about a strategy that is 100 percent related to less worry, this is it. The concept of hiring up is critical to your success. Essentially, hiring up means you hire and work with people that are more qualified than you. That’s right, better than you.
Businesses based on fear are doomed to failure.
It’s ridiculous to spend your time doing things that others can do better, because your time is better spent doing the things that you’re really good at.
As you let go of worry and “hire up,” some magical things begin to happen. You begin to get out of your own way and allow success to unfold.
A good definition of an entrepreneur is someone who can achieve predetermined goals through the efforts of himself and others. Why not raise the standards of those results by hiring up? The quality of your work will improve, and your profits will explode.
- Don’t worry about the market – invest in it
Invest, long term, in the stock market, preferably through your company 401K
What is there to worry about? By implementing the “pay yourself first” strategy, by investing a predetermined percentage, such as 10 percent of your income to yourself (into high-quality, no-load mutual funds), you virtually guarantee that, over time, you’ll amass a small fortune. You simply put the money in, month after month, and leave it there.
- Become less reactive and more responsive
In the responsive mode, we are at our best. We bring out the best in others and solve problems gracefully. When an opportunity comes our way, our mind is open. We are receptive to abundance.
A responsive state of mind is fertile ground for success. When your mind is clear and relaxed, you pave an open channel for abundance and joy.
- Work on “knowing” instead of “believing”
Knowing, is intrinsic in nature. When you know something, you feel it. You are certain. You may not always be able to explain or articulate why you feel the way you do, but something within you – wisdom, common sense, guidance, whatever – is providing you with needed answers and guiding you in a direction, as long as you listen.
Success comes from within, not from without. It begins by listening to your inner calling and wisdom.
- Remind yourself that your life begins now
One of the most severely limiting beliefs that many of us have is that the person we were yesterday is the person we have to be today. This belief keeps us tied to our past mistakes, habits, and limitations. We somehow buy into the notion that history truly does repeat itself, that if we weren’t successful yesterday, we certainly can’t be successful today or tomorrow.
If you can see how ridiculous and self-defeating this belief is, you can make an instant shift toward success and fulfillment. All of us have unlimited potential and a clean slate in this moment – now. What prevents us from tapping into this potential is our old mental ties to the past. Letting go of your past is like taking a set of heavy chains from around your neck. It frees you to pursue your dreams and rise to your greatest potential.
Our past has no power other than the power we give it. One of the most dynamic and significant changes you can make in your life is to make the commitment to drop all negative references to your past, to begin living now.
Your life, now, is a series of present moments to be experienced, one after another. Focus on what you can do today, right now in this moment, and you will have already begun to create the abundance that is your birthright.
- Surround yourself with experts
You’ll be amazed at the number of people who are more than willing to help.
Most highly successful people (in any field) are available to help others.
If you want great advice and you want to avoid big mistakes, seek help. Surround yourself with winners. Don’t get advice form Uncle Charley unless he, himself, is a successful person. Go straight to the top.
- Be aware of what you don’t know and what you’re not good at
Hire someone to fill in where I’m weak
It’s almost always less expensive and more profitable.
- Become aware of the passion factor
When we are passionate about what we do, success will follow!
Passion for life and for our work is a critical element of success and abundance. Passion is a virtually unstoppable, attitudinal force that generates energy, creativity, and productivity. When you love what you do, it’s difficult not to succeed. Your enthusiasm is obvious to everyone around you and contagious.
- Don’t let success go to your head
In a way, it’s ironic. Someone finally gets what he or she has always wanted – success – yet now he is rarely satisfied. In fact, he often becomes difficult and paranoid.
- Be prepared to walk away from a negotiation – you can usually go back
- Be willing to change
“If you go on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll go on getting what you’ve always got.”
Sometimes, in order to create positive things in your life, you need to make some changes in the way you do things. The world isn’t going to suddenly reward you by changing its conditions. Instead, you must alter the way you approach certain challenges.
- Spend the bulk of your time on the “Critical Inch” of your business or project
Often, the greatest mistake people make in their quest for success is that they focus on the wrong parts of their business. Too much time and energy are spent doing things that, while perhaps necessary, aren’t the critical, absolutely important aspects of the business or project.
- Express your gratitude toward others
As long as our expression of gratitude is genuine, other people love it and remember it. This not only makes them feel good, but it also encourages them to help us again and to encourage others to do the same.
- Leave a great impression (not just a good one)
The way to do this is very simple: Make living your life with absolute integrity and kindness your first priority. Put others first, whenever possible. Be genuinely interested in the lives of other people. Be very present moment oriented with others. Look them in the eye and really focus on what they’re saying. Care about them as individuals. Ask about their families. Listen, listen, listen. Finally, make your actions match your good intentions. Stand out from the crowd. Be the one to thank your customers and the people with whom you work. Send a card or thoughtful note, even flowers if it’s appropriate. Make people remember you in a positive light.
- Maintain wealth consciousness
Developing wealth consciousness is what this book is all about. Wealth consciousness suggests a complete absence of money worries; an awareness that there is always plenty of money to go around. People who live with true abundance never worry about having enough – they know that creating wealth and affluence is a function of their own mind-set. Worry keeps us from feeling free and joyful. We are never truly free until we break the chains of fear. But once we do, our lives will never be the same. A life without worry is a life of abundance, a life well lived.
That which we focus our attention on expands. If we spend our mental energy worrying, it’s difficult if not impossible to create great abundance. Our fear gets in the way of our creativity and traps us in the status quo. In other words, our fear “interferes” with our means of creation.
- Wait for inspiration
By simply being willing to wait for inspiration, you virtually guarantee that it will come – in most cases, rather quickly. Not always, but sometimes, your mind needs a few minutes, occasionally longer, to cultivate the most appropriate answer. The answers you receive, however, will surprise and delight you. Your thinking and instincts will rise to a new level.
- Use the power of reflection
Reflection is more a matter of allowing an answer to unfold right before your eyes, often with little or no effort on your part.
Reflection is simply a matter of getting out of your own way. It’s about quieting down your mind so that answers can arise within the quietness.
Success is often a function of doing something exceptionally well or more creatively than it has been done before. Reflection is a powerful vehicle to bring this about.
- Laugh at your mistakes (and you won’t repeat them)
Have you ever noticed that the more seriously you take your mistakes, the more you make them? And the more seriously you take your problems, the more you create them? This is because your behavior follows your attention just as surely as baby puppies follow their mother.
In terms of expending energy, if is far more powerful to be in favor of something positive than to be against something negative – for peace instead of against violence, for excellence instead of against mediocrity.
In every mistake there is the potential for growth. Inherent in every problem there is a solution. When you take the process too seriously, however, you interfere with your ability to see answers. The next time you make a mistake, instead of dealing with it in your usual way, chuckle at yourself instead. You will be surprised at how quickly and easily you are able to resolve the issue.
- Take your lunch
30. Ask for what you want
It’s astonishing what you can accomplish by simply asking for what you want – help, a raise, forgiveness, an idea, another chance, a break, or whatever. And not only can you get what you want by asking for it, but often the person you are asking will thank you for taking the initiative.
- Short circuit your reaction spirals
In a negative state of mind, we expend unnecessary energy, make very poor decisions, and lose our creativity and sense of joy.
- Eliminate your most self-defeating belief
What’s your most self-defeating belief? Is it that you believe you aren’t good enough, or lucky enough? Maybe you believe you don’t deserve success, or that other people control your destiny. Perhaps you believe that people are out to get you, or that you are a victim of circumstance. Whatever it is, it’s not worth keeping and it’s certainly not worth defending! But each time you remind yourself – by telling yourself – of your limiting belief, you are reinforcing an idea that directly interferes with your own success. It puts a wall between where you are and where you want to be.
- Keep in mind that circumstances don’t make a person, they reveal him
The real question is: What came first – the attitude or the success? The answer, in virtually all cases, is that the winning, positive attitude came first, followed by a lifetime of abundance.
You’ll find that life will be a lot easier and much more fun when you make the decision to drop your complaining.
All it takes is a simple decision: the decision to stop yourself from falling into the complaining habit.
- Form a winning partnership
As you probably already know, the wrong partnership – professional or personal – can be far worse than no partnership. And a winning partnership can be worth its weight in gold.
Ideally, each partner brings to the table different skills and attributes. One might be excellent at details and planning, the other in promotion and public speaking. Or one might be excellent in sales, the other in marketing. A good partnership is like a good marriage – it has to be formed carefully. If you can create the right combination of skills, work ethic, and vision you can create a winning team.
You may be the most talented person on earth, but until you hook up with a good partner, you may never truly unleash that talent. Rather than spending your energy trying to do everything, you and your new partner can each focus on what she or he does best.
- Let go of fearful thoughts
If you gathered up all the fearful thoughts that exist in the mind of the average person, looked at them objectively, and tried to decide just how much good they provided that person, you would see that not some but all fearful thoughts are useless. They do no good. Zero. They interfere with dreams, hopes, desires, and progress.
As fears come to your mind, gently but firmly let them go. As they return (which they will), let them go again. It’s easier than you think. It just takes courage and a little practice. Do this again and again until they disappear completely. You’ll discover that life is so much easier and more fun without the interference of fearful thoughts.
- Think Big!
Thinking big is a magic door opener that broadens your perspective and allows you to see new opportunities. Thinking big makes life easier and a lot more fun. It also makes large profits more probable.
Thinking big is one of the keys to success.
As usual, the primary reason many people think too small is fear.
- Make decisions with the advantage of long-term information instead of the disadvantage of short-term information.
Acting on impulse – or on short-term information alone can be a big mistake.
Instead, make the bulk of your decisions with the advantage of long-term information instead of the disadvantage of short-term information.
This wiser way of approaching your decisions gives you a far more realistic outlook. It also takes most of the worry out of investing and business decisions.
- Know when to bet, when to hold, and when to fold
Wisdom is knowing when to do what. It’s about being flexible and being willing to change, to flow. And while this may sound obvious, many people make the wrong choices simply because their mind is too busy.
- Change what you can, accept the things you can’t
This strategy is adopted form the serenity prayer that says, in its entirety: “Lord, grant met the strength to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
- Develop relationships with people before you need something from them
So many of us wait until we desperately need something from someone before we take the time to get to know them. In truth, this is probably the absolute worst time to do so. If you need something from someone and they know it, they may be on guard, even defensive, trying to determine if you are sincere. The truth is, people are so much more pleasant when you don’t need anything from them.
- Be aware of your unique “stacking order”
- Don’t panic!
When something if falling, it rarely keeps falling. There are cycles in life.
Panic is neutral at best and greatly interferes at worst. Panic tends to bring out the worst in everyone. It makes others (and you) feel tense and fearful. It increases the likelihood of mistakes, missed opportunities, and miscommunication.
It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Some terrible things happened in my lifetime – a few of which actually happened.”
Life is far too short to worry it away. To bring forth your greatest potential, eliminate panic altogether from your thinking. This will put you on a path toward abundance.
- Create from the inside out
The single most important factor of success, abundance, and the creation of prosperity comes from within yourself – your thoughts. As James Allen reminds us in As a Man Thinketh, “A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.”
The quickest, surest way to riches is from the inside out. Thoughts have tremendous power. Use your imagination to create your dreams, and great changes will quickly follow suit. Once again, James Allen: “Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life.”
Success originates in the mind and translates into the material world. It doesn’t work the other way around, as so many seem to believe. Successful people know that the one aspect of life that they do have control over is their own thinking. All of us have this same advantage, so let’s all start there!
- Banish your doubt
A surefire strategy for success is to banish doubt from your life – all of it.
The only true obstacle lies within the doubt itself – and all doubt lies within your own thoughts.
- Know the secret of silence
There is a tendency in business (and in life) to want to actively engage ourselves in the process of creation. We want to know the answers. We want to figure out what to do next. We want to think our way to success. However, in many instances – I believe in most instances – the best answers come not from programmed, memory-based thinking but from the silence within.
Have you ever noticed that when you are quiet and still, calm and silent, you know exactly what to do? Being silent doesn’t shut down your mind, it only activates a deeper type of intelligence.
- Put away two years of living expenses
On the surface, it might seem that the suggestion to scrimp and save, to put money aside for an entire year or two, could be contrary to the message of this book – to not worry. After all, isn’t saving for a rainy day based on worry and fear? It all depends on how you look at it.
Several years ago I heard a super-successful financial guru explain that the single most important thing he ever did for himself, prior to becoming rich, was to set aside two years of living expenses. Although it required enormous sacrifice, discipline, hard work, and patience – and although it took a full five years to save this much money – it paid enormous dividends, especially psychologically.
So, starting today, begin your “rainy day” fund. A few years from now you’ll be able to spend it – or give it away. In fact, you’ll be able to do just about anything you want to do.
- Give up your fear of disapproval
How many people choose careers and career directions based on what other people – parents, relatives, professors, friends-think they should do. “You should be a doctor, lawyer, pilot, musician” can be a very powerful message, especially when it’s repeated often and associated with status, prestige, social approval, and other psychological accolades.
Our best chance of success if obtained through the elimination of fear. This includes the fear of disapproval from others.
- Never underestimate the value of goodwill
So what is goodwill – having others think highly of you – really worth? I don’t think there’s any way to quantify it, but it’s certainly valuable. The problem is, it doesn’t always work so smoothly. Our goodwill efforts are not always appreciated. Some people really do take advantage of others, and you never know if or when your goodwill efforts will pay off. Yet, if you have faith that being fair and ethical and going the extra mile is the right thing to do, then, over time, you will be rewarded. Knowing this is very comforting and helps immensely in your efforts to stop sweating the small stuff about money!
- Don’t rely on too much data
It’s often the case that when people get worried or frightened, they focus too much on data in an effort to alleviate their anxiety-to make themselves feel better. The assumption is, “If I can figure everything out, everything will be okay.”
There’s a point where excessive information can interfere with going out and actually making money. Too much data can convince us that we’re too busy to do what it takes to really succeed; it can convince us that our actions are too risky, too premature. And, of course, sometimes we’ll be right. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. More often than not, too much data can fill our heads with worrisome, fearful thoughts that keep us between where we are and where we want to be.
“If we had to overcome every possible objection before we got started, then nothing – absolutely nothing-would ever get accomplished.”
- Find a mentor
I’ve never seen or even heard of someone moving backward as a result of finding a mentor. Yet when I ask around, very few people, as an overall percentage, admit to having one.
Both the mentor and the student get a great deal out of the relationship, it’s an ideal tradeoff. The advantages to the student are obvious: confidence, camaraderie, ideas-a road map to follow. For the mentor, there’s the joy of helping, feeling appreciated and needed, the fun of teaching, the privilege of reviewing what he or she did right over the years, the idea of passing the torch. It’s a blessing to know that your ideas are being used by someone else.
- Delight in the success of others
Sometimes it’s hard to wish others well, particularly those you know well – friends, colleagues, neighbors, family members.
While it can be seductive, or at least habitual, to secretly desire to keep others at your level, it’s absolutely, positively not in your best interest. The way to rise to the top is to wish everyone well, to hope with all your heart that everyone can expand to their greatest potential, to wish that the people you know, and those whom you don’t know, can all realize their dreams and achieve greatness.
- Ask yourself, where is this decision likely to lead?
Many of us follow certain paths simply because they present themselves. Often, however, these paths lead you in directions or take you to places you really don’t want to be. You can save yourself enormous amounts of time and energy by asking the simple, straightforward question, Where is this decision likely to lead? And then, pay close attention to your answer.
It’s always a good idea to ask yourself, Where is this decision likely to lead? When you do, you can avoid many hassles and mistakes that were otherwise inevitable. By asking this simple question, you can keep your energy directed in areas that will serve you and others well.
- Remember the golden rule
Do you remember the golden rule that most of us were taught as youngsters? It goes like this: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What are some other ways of saying this magical formula? Let’s see. What goes around, comes around. As you treat others, so shall you be treated. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. There are many variations of this, and it’s one of the first lessons we try to teach our children.
Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. They are different manifestations of the same universal energy. Ultimately, what you offer to the world is exactly what you get back. So, if your goal is to create a joyful life filled with abundance, the most important thing you can do is help others do the same. This is one area of life you can control. You can control how generous you are. You do have the capacity to offer praise and help, to be of service, and to be kind to others.
- Don’t be frightened to ask for referrals
In virtually any type of business that you’re trying to expand, referrals are the key. Whether you’re trying to build a private practice, grow a business, even build up your nonprofit fund-raising efforts, it’s essential to ask for help. It’s critical to get others involved, to get people talking about you in a positive way, spreading the word.
Many business experts agree that the single greatest source of failure can be traced to the fear of asking for referrals – asking for business, asking for help, or asking for the sale.
- Know that the idea “opportunity only knocks once” is a big myth
When someone says “Opportunity only knocks once,” what in the world are they thinking? Opportunity exists virtually everywhere you look. There are thousands of new business opportunities being created as we speak. There are millions more that need to be improved upon, thus an unlimited supply of additional opportunities.
When you let go of the fear that there isn’t enough to go around, opportunities will fall into your lap. The absence of fear will clarify your goals and help you see beyond the risks. Knowing that opportunity isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime event gives you the confidence to explore your options and to keep your mind open to new opportunities. Your eyes will see new ways of doing things; they will see opportunities, even in past failures. You’ll realize that your chances have been there all along; you simply haven’t seen them.
Let go of your fear. The universe has an infinite supply of opportunity. There is plenty to go around. You may be surprised to see that something is coming your way right now.
- Stay away from the blame game
Blaming others is a very easy thing to do. It creeps into our lives in subtle, as well as not so subtle, ways. It shows up in our thoughts and in our conversations.
The habit of blaming can and does happen in almost any situation – we blame our competitors, employer, the government, our personal history, our age, sex, even our parents or current family responsibilities.
- Never write an e-mail when you’re mad
The Internet – specifically, e-mail – has done wonders to increase our capacity to communicate. With lightning speed, we can now write letters, share ideas, even close deals. The benefits are astonishing.
There’s a downside to e-mail, however, that’s important to be aware of. The problem is, it’s tempting, when you’re mad or upset, to fire off an e-mail that you might very well live to regret. In a reactive or upset state of mind, or when you’re lacking judgment or perspective, it’s easy to act impulsively rather than with composure and wisdom. In the blink of an eye, you can confuse someone, hurt their feelings, enrage them, or even destroy a relationship.
- Take some money off the table
Years ago, just after my twenty-first birthday, a few buddies of mine and I were in Las Vegas, Nevada, having our first gambling experience. While none of us knew what we were doing, one of the guys played a game and, somehow, on one of his first tries, ended up with almost $2,000! I had never seen so much cash – and neither had he.
My first reaction was, “That’s so great. Now take most of it to the safe-deposit box so that, no matter what, you’ll go home with a bundle.” His response to me was, “Are you kidding? This is easy.” You know the rest of the story. He lost everything and then some.
Taking money off the table can mean anything from opening a simple savings, “rainy day,” or money market account, to diversifying your mutual funds or other investments. It can also mean, as we discussed in an earlier chapter, “paying yourself first” – the idea that you want to take money out of your gross receipts and earnings and invest that money in you, before – not after – you pay our other bills. The idea of taking money off the table by paying yourself first is that you don’t want to unnecessarily risk all of your investment profits, but neither do you want to “risk” all of your hard-earned money by paying only bills – and not yourself.
- Buy large deductible insurance
Very few people would question the value of certain types of insurance. The level of your chosen deductible, however, is essential in a clear-headed financial plan. Generally speaking, you should always select the highest possible deductible that your insurer allows – and invest the difference in yourself. The less you worry, the more you save!
- Whistle while you work
It’s amazing what happens when you act as if you love what you do. The positive energy helps not only you but everyone around you. It’s contagious. A positive attitude brings forth creativity and aliveness in your work. It creates a rhythm of harmony and joy. It keeps your curious, interested, and focused on your work.
- Encourage creativity in others and have faith in them
There’s an old motto in business: Give someone a reputation to live up to and watch them shine. It’s really true. Most people, given the right environment, are hard-working, talented, creative, and productive. They want to please others just as you and I want to. Unfortunately, however, most people are hardly ever exposed to an ideal working environment.
- Don’t give away your power
A major mistake made by many is to give away one’s power to perceived experts. We do it all the time – to our doctors, financial planners, insurance salesmen. The assumption is: This person is an expert; I’d better listen to her. And, of course, sometimes this assumption is true and you should listen. But be careful to reserve the ultimate decision making for yourself. Always remember, if you’re going to make money, you must take charge. Abundance and joy come from within you, not from other people.
Don’t give away your power. You’ll be amazed at the power of your own wisdom.
- Charge what you are worth
There’s an old saying that applies not only to the sales of products but to the underpricing of services as well: If you’re losing a penny per transaction, you can’t make it up in volume.
Undercharging for professional services creates some serious, often unrealized problems. Perhaps the most serious of these is that undercharging keeps your schedule falsely overbooked, thus prohibiting you from having the time and energy to engage in other activities that may work to your greatest advantage – activities that could help create the abundance you desire.
My suggestion is to charge what you are truly worth. This realistic yet confident pricing strategy keeps you free from resentment and pointed toward your dreams.
- Cultivate humor and learn to smile
Are you as amazed as I am at all the sourpusses out there in the “real world”? A lot of people have lost their perspective and take life so dreadfully seriously. Everything is a really big deal. On the other hand, once in a while you run into someone who is simply a delight. A person who has cultivated a sense of humor and hasn’t forgotten how to smile.
- Don’t sweat the setbacks
The question isn’t whether or not we will have setbacks, disappointments, and failures in business (and in life) – we will. Rather, the question is, how will we deal with them? Will we, as so many do, sweat it? Will we become upset, immobilized, frustrated, hopeless, or pessimistic? Or will we take a more positive approach?
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s usually easy to see that most setbacks are nothing more than “small stuff” disguised as big stuff.
Few people are successful immediately, never rejected, perfectly placed the first time around. It’s usually just the opposite – trial and error, rejection, setbacks, failures, and so forth.
- Build up a large “Trust Fund”
I don’t know about you, but I grew up believing that only very wealthy (usually spoiled) people had the privilege and security of a “trust fund.” Not true! Each individual – every one of us – has the kind of trust fund that really matters: the trust of other people. The only question is, How large is it? Many people, not knowing how important a trust fund is to their own success, are practically bankrupt in this critical account.
The way to build a large trust fund is simple and straightforward. It involves being accountable for your actions, however large or small, doing what you say you are going to do, delivering on your promises, being on time, and so forth.
Anything and everything you do that reinforces your own trustworthiness is like money in the bank.
- Sell the sizzle, not the steak
In any business, it’s critical to know what you’re actually selling. Very often it’s not what it appears to be. If you’re selling a house, for example, you’re obviously not selling wood, brick, or concrete. Instead, you’re tapping into a person’s dream – his or her perception of how they are going to feel and live once they get into the home.
Tap into the dreams of the consumer.
It’s important to know that people love to dream. So if you want to sell something, be sure you know what the dreams are. Factor this knowledge into whatever it is you are selling – product or service – and you’ll be amazed at how much more effective you will become.
- Go ahead and do it
The secret can be summed up in a single sentence that is also the title of Susan Jeffers’ wonderful book.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway! I’ve found that, remarkably, virtually every time I’m really frightened to do something I need to do, and I go ahead and do it anyway, that it almost always turns out okay. It passes. In other words, somehow, despite my worry, I do get through it. I always come out the other end. I always survive. What’s more, it’s almost never as difficult as I make it out to be. In fact, it’s usually far easier.
We’re stronger than our fears and more competent than our worries. The next time you find yourself worrying, step back for a moment and reflect on past worries. Doesn’t it seem all too familiar? Is it possible that you’re merely repeating a mental exercise? Do you think the worry is going to help? Aren’t you going to do whatever you’re worried about anyway? What’s the point of the worry? I think these are really important questions. And I believe that if you take the time to reflect on them, you’ll agree that if you “feel the fear and do it anyway,” all will be well. And once you get the hang of it, the worries begin to go away.
- Be willing to take advice
Generally speaking, people don’t take advice, even good advice. This is true even when the advice is free and when it’s offered with love. Think about yourself. How often do you really, honestly take someone else’s advice? How often do you say to yourself, or out loud, “That’s a great idea.
Take the advice. Life is so much simpler when you involve the strengths and expertise of others. After all, if you absolutely knew what to do to make your life better or more successful, you’d be doing it already. But if you’re struggling in any aspect of your life (and we all do), you need advice.
- Ask yourself, what have I contributed to this problem?
Many people rarely, if ever, ask this critical question. Instead, they automatically assume that any problem they are having must be someone else’s fault. If there is a disagreement or argument, it’s the other person’s fault. If something went wrong, someone else made a mistake. If there’s a glitch in the schedule, “someone else must have dropped the ball.” It simply never occurs to many people that something is their fault. Or, at the very least, that they may be partly responsible.
- Consider that wisdom may be even more important than IQ
All things being equal, intelligence is a wonderful quality to possess. However, if you had to choose between the two, I’d say that wisdom is even more important than intelligence in your quest for joy and abundance. There are many highly intelligent people who fail to use their intelligence to their best advantage. There are also many extremely intelligent people who live very unhappy lives.
While you could rank order people in terms of their IQ, the number you assigned to a person would say nothing about their degree of success or happiness. Despite this fact, however, as a society, we continue to revere intelligence, yet barely even stop to consider wisdom at all.
Unlike intelligence, wisdom is a quality that you cannot accurately measure. It’s invisible. It includes aspects of life such as perspective, spontaneity, creativity, and social skills. Wisdom is your sense of knowing, an intuitive feeling.
Wisdom is seeing the obvious. And unlike the thinking mind, wisdom contains no worry.
- Eliminate the words “I’m not a salesperson” from your vocabulary
Yes, you are! If you have something – anything – to offer someone else, then you are, at least partially, a salesperson. If you ever even attempt to get another person to purchase, try, or even look at what you’re offering, then you are a salesperson. And that’s okay. The point here is that selling is an important part of the web of life. It’s okay to sell. It doesn’t make you a bad person.
- Consider that busyness gets in your way
“More isn’t always better.”
Many of us are so busy that we lose sight of which end is up. We rush around, looking and feeling very busy, but, in actuality, we are getting very little of substance done. Our creativity and wisdom are lost in our busyness. We lose sight of what’s truly relevant and most important. New ideas are hard to come by.
- Think about purple snowflakes
The notion of purple snowflakes is a metaphor for standing out in the crowd. In our world of incredible competition and sheer volume, it’s more important than ever to stand apart. You certainly don’t want to fade into the background. As long as the product or service you are marketing is at least as good as everyone else’s, standing out – offering purple snowflakes-will often make the difference.
- Stay out of reverse
Reverse, in a psychological sense, works the same as the reverse gear in your car – it takes you backward. And, like your car, if you want to change direction and begin moving forward, you must shift gears completely. It’s impossible to move forward in reverse gear.
The way you can tell if you are in reverse gear is simple. It will feel heavy and serious. You won’t be moving forward; you might even be moving backward. You’ll be stagnant, stuck in emotional quicksand. You’ll be making references to the past, to yesterday, last week, last year, or to your childhood. You’ll be complaining about things, people, circumstances, events, rules, problems, and concerns that are, for the most part, over and done with. Being in reverse saps the joy out of whatever you are doing. It’s boring, unforgiving, and counterproductive.
- Let go of the fear that if you’re relaxed or happy, you’re going to fail
Sadly, many people believe that if you aren’t uptight and serious, you are doomed to failure.
When you focus on things that irritate you, it interferes with the process of creation. It keeps you down, stuck, focused not on the wonder and mystery of life and its many possibilities but on what’s lacking, what’s wrong, and all that makes you mad and frustrated.
- Be aware of positive burnout
Burnout is a major topic of conversation in the business world. We discuss it, dread it, and have theories about why it exists. Estimates are that seven out of ten of us feel burned out at any given time, and virtually everyone will experience burnout at some point in their career. The most common reaction to burnout, however, is our fear surrounding it. We worry and wonder, When will it happen to me?
But have you ever stepped back far enough to see the positive side of burnout? Often, burnout is a signal that something new, exciting, and profitable is just around the corner! After all, why would you make major changes in your life in the absence of these types of feelings? You probably wouldn’t. If you always felt great about your career and current direction, you may spend the rest of your life doing the very same thing.
Most burnout is nothing more than a bad mood taken too seriously.
Worry gets in the way of your wisdom and common sense. As you let go of fear, as you investigate your feelings of burnout, you may discover that your feelings are trying to tell you something, point you in a new direction, redirect your energy – or something else that is positive in nature.
As you learn to trust your inner resources by letting go of fear, you’ll discover that your wisdom will tell you exactly what you need to be doing at any given point in your life. Try putting a positive slant on your feelings of burnout and watch them fade away.
- Dive in
If you’re going to do something important, the best time to start is right now. Not later, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.
Right now. The best strategy is to “dive in.”
The pure and simple fact is that the individuals who start now, who dive in, have a far better track record and enjoy much greater degrees of success than those who wait. They also tend to be more engaged in their lives and have a lot more fun.
You don’t have to do everything in one day to succeed, but you do have to get started. Just getting off the ground, getting started, is, for most people, the most difficult part. Once you do, the rest will usually fall into place. If you are interested in, or considering, a new venture, as long as it’s something that you are truly committed to, my advice is simple: dive in.
- Just once. Try something different
It took years for me to understand the obvious: If I keep doing the same things, making the same mistakes, and having the same expectations, I’m probably going to keep getting the same results as well as the same frustrations. I finally realized that if I wanted something different, something more, I was going to have to try something different. I did, and it worked. And I’ve seen it work over and over again for virtually everyone who is willing to try.
Most people are stuck right where they are. The reason they’re stuck, however, isn’t usually due to circumstances, incompetence, or lack of opportunity, but a simple unwillingness to change, to try new things.
- Help someone else succeed
It’s been said that the absolute best way to learn something is to try to reach it.
Teaching others helps us pinpoint our knowledge and the way we express it. It also helps us to raise our standards of excellence by encouraging us to think in creative, articulate ways. Most of us want to practice in our own lives what we teach. So, if we teach someone how to be more successful, we will invariably help ourselves in the process.
Part of being successful was just hanging in there and sticking with it.
I’ve found that there is a delicate balance between being willing to stick something out and a willingness to make changes. You need the wisdom to know when to quit and when to stay right where you are. So, if you feel like quitting, don’t do so impulsively. Instead, check in with your wisdom. If you’re quitting too early, remind yourself to persevere.
- Consider the wisdom of optimism
There are essentially two types of people: optimists and pessimists. The question is, Which is wiser?
It should come as no surprise to you that pessimists experience far more disappointments than optimists. The reason is simple: They are looking for failure. They want verification that they are correct in their negative assumptions.
They use negative experiences as ammunition and proof against the wisdom of optimism. They believe that optimists are burying their heads in the sand and that they simply don’t understand the realities of life.
Optimists believe that, because no one really knows what’s going to happen, it’s far wiser and makes for a more pleasant and joyful experience of life if one is optimistic, if one assumes the best.
One of the most basic laws of success is that your energy follows your attention. This is true for every person on earth, optimists and pessimists alike.
- Hold on tightly, let go lightly
Is a motto that encourages you to obtain the optimal balance between productivity and inner peace. “Hold on” suggests that you want to work hard, stick with things, give it your best shot, persevere, pursue your goals and never give up. The “let go lightly” side, however, suggests that you shouldn’t hold on too long, and that when it is time to give in, give up, or let go, that you do so gracefully. Hold on tightly, let go lightly covers two very important aspects of success: the achievement of goals and the joy of happiness.
- Be willing to apologize
Many people never apologize. They are either too self-conscious, self-righteous, stubborn, or arrogant to do so. The unwillingness to apologize is not just sad, it is a serious mistake as well. Almost everyone expects others to make mistakes. And with a humble and sincere apology, almost everyone is willing to forgive. However, if you are a person who is either unable or unwilling to apologize, you will be branded a difficult person to work with. And over time, people will avoid you, speak behind your back, and do nothing to help you.
- If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging
The great football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Just because you’re doing something wrong, doing it more intensely won’t help.” What a powerful statement.
- Remember that everything is used the day after you buy it
- Keep in mind that cheaper is not always better
The other side of the coin, however (from strategy #87), is that cheaper is not always better. Sometimes purchasing a used item (despite the potential advantages) is not worth the added time that’s involved and the additional aggravation.
- Don’t be afraid to take baby steps
Often, people worry about taking baby steps. They worry that the steps they are taking aren’t big enough or significant enough. Or they worry that others will laugh at them, or see them as weak. Many people are so frightened to take baby steps that they end up doing nothing at all.
If success were easy, we’d all be successful. But while the strategies (like the ones in this book) that can take you toward success are simple, they aren’t always easy. These strategies are only a road map; you must walk the path yourself.
- Remind yourself that your life isn’t your enemy, but your thinking can be
At times, it can seem like life is our enemy, as if things never quite pan out the way we would like them to, as if there’s a secret conspiracy against us. However, it’s critical to remember that, in reality, life isn’t our enemy. There is no conspiracy. Life is just life. It is what it is. The factor that can make life seem like our enemy, however, is our thinking. Nothing more, nothing less. Life wants you to succeed just as much as it does the next person.
Your world is shaped by those thoughts you choose to focus on the most. You have the power to change your reactions, expectations, and outlook. You have the power to become anything you want to become. But to do so, you must realize that life is not your enemy; it’s your friend.
- Embrace all aspects of your job
So whatever it is that you do for a living, see if you can become less attached and zeroed in on the end result or outcome, and, instead, become more engaged in each moment along the way. My guess is that you’ll not only enjoy your work more than ever – and experience far less stress – but, in addition, you’ll actually become more effective and successful as well.
- Resist the temptation to continually raise your standard of living
Philosophically, there are two very different ways to become rich: (1) make more money, and (2) have fewer wants. In reality, there is a middle ground. I have found that the easiest way to assure an abundant life is to go ahead and make more money – and have a blast doing so-but avoid believing that, along with every pay increase, you must also raise your standard of living. To do so can be a foolish mistake.
Making money is often easier than keeping it. The more you make, the more things you see that you want. The problem with material desire is that, unless you are extremely cautious, it is insatiable. Remember, more isn’t necessarily better.
- Stop sweating the small risks
Often, without even knowing we are doing so, we make a big deal out of relatively small risks. We treat small risks like big risks. And by doing that, we pay a huge price.
Many people worry their heads off about looking foolish – so much so that they avoid activities that could very well enhance their success: speaking in public, taking a stance that isn’t popular, aggressively marketing their product or service, and so forth. It’s not that there isn’t any risk in doing these things, it’s just that the cost of treating them like big risks is exceptionally high.
- Have a plan
It’s quite difficult to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re headed. Yet a huge percentage of us have no plan. We don’t really know where we’re going or how we’re going to get there. It’s easy to look and feel extremely busy when we don’t have a plan, but in reality we’re just spinning our wheels, putting out fires, or chasing our tails.
A plan is like a road map. It tells you where you are and points you in a direction. It helps you strategize about how you are going to get from point A to point B.
With a plan in mind, the sky’s the limit. As long as you can visualize a way to implement your plan, your dreams-however big-can become a reality.
- Don’t get lost in your plan
On the other end of the spectrum from not having a plan is someone who gets lost in their plan. This, too, is easy to do. It’s easy to become focused, even obsessed with your plan or your goals. You can become so engrossed in your plan that you forget to enjoy the process. One of my favorite quotes says, “Life is what’s happening while we’re busy making other plans.” What a powerful message!
Becoming successful is not difficult. In fact, creating success is virtually inevitable when you get out of your own way.
- Stop commiserating
Commiserating is a socially accepted form of complaining. Yet in reality it’s exactly the same thing. We all do it, only to different degrees.
Unfortunately, commiseration is a bad habit and it detracts from your success and from the success of others. Our actions follow our energy, which includes our thinking and our conversation. Negative conversations, complaining and commiserating are expressions of negativity.
- Work at it
- Create your own luck
Some people seem to get all the luck. Upon closer examination, however, you’d be shocked at the amount of “luck” that is self-created. The truth is, while luck is a factor of success from time to time, “lucky people” share some very consistent characteristics.
Lucky people are constantly putting themselves in the position to be lucky. In other words, they step up to the plate, they participate, they tell others that they are willing to accept help.
- Don’t forget to have fun
I want you to have fun. And the more fun you have – when mixed with wisdom, creativity, and a little hard work – the more you are going to succeed.
- Don’t worry, make money
I’ve learned that there is often a fine line between success and failure, or winning and losing. And so often, the difference between the two lies in overcoming worry. We worry about all sorts of things; some obvious, others more subtle.
If you know super-successful people in any field, you’ll find a thread of consistency that runs through virtually everyone – they don’t worry about money. Interestingly enough, however, the lack of worry preceded their success and was not a by-product of it. Successful people share an inner unshakable confidence that is free from excessive worry.