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What Makes You Come Alive?

What Makes You Come Alive?

My favorite movies are the stories of epic adventures. You know the kind…where against all odds the unlikely hero rises up and destroys the enemy.  Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Chronicles of Narnia…that genre of films speaks to my heart more than any other.

When we were buried by six figures of debt my greatest pain wasn’t that I couldn’t afford things or take a nice vacation. It was that I felt God’s purpose on my life had to be put on hold until I was out of debt and able to fully focus on the adventure he has for us. Like a football player on injured reserve, I had to watch from the sidelines, waiting for my injuries to heal before I could get back in the game. […]

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The Answer To Your Deepest Longing

Life is a huge part of what we’re about. Being debt free, being wealthy even, is pointless if you don’t have Life. People look for Life in many things…wealth, relationships, possessions, status, reputation, image, etc. When people don’t have life some try to escape it, leaving a trail of addiction and brokenness.

If we’re honest, we have to admit there’s an ache in our souls for something more. As C.S. Lewis stated, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

When Beth & I started this blog, the goal was to promote financial wisdom, and to simply be honest about how God intervened in our lives and changed our story. But the more I write, the more this becomes about God. He is the story, and he wants you to be free…not just financially. […]

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Is the American Dream Causing Divorce?

There’s a hundred different reasons why people divorce, but in a recent business leader’s breakfast the speaker boiled it down to just one: The Pursuit of Happiness.

 

Our Declaration of Independence declares that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The right to pursue happiness is in the DNA of every American.

But we live in a different world than the men did who first wrote this declaration. To them, happiness was defined as freedom from tyranny, and freedom to be self-governed. Happiness was NOT defined as an emotion.

How does this relate to divorce?

When the purpose of your life is to pursue happiness, you base all of your decisions on “will this make me happy?” And if we’re honest, we all walked down the aisle thinking that marriage would make us happy, at least to some degree. But marriage also brings its share of pain.

Divorce is inevitable when your core purpose is to pursue happiness and your marriage is causing you pain.

I’m at that age (mid-thirties) where I’m seeing my peers divorce. People I never would have thought would divorce are splitting up, and it breaks my heart. It’s been said that divorce is more painful than death, because with death, you at least get closure. 

It’s interesting to note that the divorce rate increases with each marriage. First marriages have a 50% chance of divorce, second marriages 67%, and third marriages 74%. In other words, the marriage you are in right now has the highest chance of success than any marriage you could ever have.

We have to learn that the purpose of marriage goes way beyond happiness. And for that matter, the purpose of your life goes way beyond happiness. Happiness is a byproduct of living life right.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

P.S. How have you bought into the belief that life is about pursuing happiness?

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Want To Be Wealthy? Think Like An Immigrant

Today is July 4th, 2012.

In just a few hours those of us in the states will be watching fireworks, celebrating our freedom and the things that make our country wonderful. To be honest though, most of us take our country for granted.

I’ve been blessed to have been a part of numerous church and humanitarian trips to places such as India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bolivia, Panama, Spain, Dominican Republic, and Peru. While I’m nervous about the level of immorality in our country, I can say from firsthand experience that the land we live in is incredible.

Simply being American means you automatically have more opportunity than most of the world. Yet it’s so easy to take it for granted. So on a day where we celebrate America, I want to do something a little different and focus on a small segmant of our society that recognize the opportunities this country offers: Immigrants.

The Immigrant Advantage

Did you know that immigrants are 3-4 times more likely to become millionaires than native-born citizens? Were you aware that immigrants comprise 41% of the student population of Ivy League schools, yet only comprise 11% of the population in the U.S?

I read an excellent article by Neil Patel on the mindsets and behaviors of immigrants entitled “Why Immigrants are More Successful Than You.” Neil said it better than I can so I recommend you jump over to his site and give it a read.

What I want to highlight in this post is the issue of Purpose.

Why Are You Here?

If the average immigrant has less connections, less education, less understanding of the culture, and may not even speak the language, but can take the opportunity provided in this country and go from nothing to millions at four times the rate of a native citizen, what is their advantage?

PURPOSE.

If you ask the average native-born American “why are you here (in America)” you’ll get a blank stare. My assumption is that the common response would be “because I was born here” or “where else would I go?”

But if you ask the average first or even second generation immigrant why they are here they will always have a crystal clear reason. Vince Lombardi (who’s grandparents were immigrants) said that “Success demands singleness of purpose.” Many immigrants are here for a specific purpose and that is what fuels their success.

I believe as Americans we’re numb to the opportunity around us. We’ve taken for granted the freedom we have simply to be able to choose where we work or go to school. We need to learn a lesson from the immigrants among us who have come here to make better lives for themselves.

Somewhere between the apple pie and the fireworks, take a moment today to open your eyes anew to the opportunities we have in America. If needed, recommit yourself to discovering and fulfilling your purpose. You have everything you need right in front of you. Let freedom ring.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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The Right Recipe for Success

(Before reading this post make sure to read our last post about the wrong recipe for success)

The first step to success is to know what it is. It sounds simple, but ask 10 people what it means and you’ll get a variety of answers. Most replies will focus on money.

So how do you define success? Endless wealth? Satisfying relationships? A career doing what you love? Personally, I don’t think there is a better definition than the one given by John Maxwell: “Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.”

Now that it’s defined, how do you get there? I believe this is the right recipe for success:

Clear Purpose + Smart Goals + Daily Action = Success.

 Clear Purpose

I read about a very wealthy businessman who broke down crying at the end of his life, confessing how he would trade all his wealth just to know his purpose. Let me be incredibly clear: You can be wealthy without knowing your purpose, but you will never feel successful unless you have a grip on your purpose.

Smart Goals

Do you have goals? I don’t mean wishes…dreams…desires…I mean goals. Most people can’t even define the difference between a goal and a desire, but the difference is vast. We discuss goals in depth in other posts, but suffice it to say that until you develop a daily (or at least weekly) habit of goal-setting, you will fall short of your true potential. Don’t underestimate the power of goals.

Daily Action

Here’s where the true difference is between the successful and non-successful people. The average American can tell you what happened on Glee the last three weeks but can’t tell you what action they’ve taken towards their goals in the last three months (or years???).

I’m writing this post in a coffee shop in Orlando. We get a lot of retirees in this area, and for about the last hour I’ve been listening to these two gentlemen talk about their retirement. One of them made a statement about how his brother’s pension was 3 times higher than his because his brother had worked longer for the union. He made the following statement, “If I had only invested five more years into the union my pension would be better.”

IS THIS NOT A TRAGIC STATEMENT?

What if he had invested five years into taking action every day towards his goals instead of working towards someone else’s dreams? He wouldn’t have even needed to quit working…just small focused action every day will yield tremendous results over the course of years.

I’m convinced that most people are stuck in jobs they don’t love, working with people they don’t like, going to bed every night feeling generally like a failure. They don’t pursue their dreams because they either feel like it’s unattainable or don’t believe they have what it takes. Neither are true.

Purpose is like a jigsaw puzzle. Some people get to see the front of the box and they know exactly how the different pieces of their lives fit into the big picture. For me, I get a couple of pieces at a time, just enough to keep moving in the right direction. But the overall picture (the “finished product” of my life) is still hazy. I can move forward with confidence though because I trust that God knows the big picture and is helping me fit the pieces together.

So whether your have the full picture or just a piece of the puzzle, strive to define what your clear purpose is in this season of your life. Set clear goals which act as steps toward your purpose. And take daily action towards those goals. That, my friends, is a recipe for a life well-lived.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

P.S. We’d love to hear from you! Where are you at in the journey – still figuring out this “purpose” thing, working on goals, or trying to develop the habit of daily action? We respond to 100% of our comments!

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The Wrong Recipe for Success

I heard a speaker several years ago at a men’s retreat describing the mindset of different age groups. He stated that your twenties are full of dreams and idealism, believing that your dream is just around the corner.

As you get into your thirties, you realize you’re no closer to your dream than you were in your twenties and the idealism begins to fade, and the dreamer dies a little. What he said clicked with me.

I used to think that the recipe for success was “Work Hard + Wait for Permission = Success.”

You know the routine….just show up before everyone, work harder and longer than everyone, and eventually someone with authority will notice and they’ll give you permission to succeed, meaning an opportunity or promotion. This isn’t wrong, if your goal is to work up the corporate ladder.

However, it guarantees you will always be working for someone else’s dream and not your own. You also run the risk of climbing the ladder only to find that it was the wrong one.

I held fast to this mindset through my 20’s, thinking it was just a matter of time before someone recognized the gifting inside me and offered me an opportunity. But as I worked my way into my 30’s I discovered that the “waiting game” held no guarantees, and all of the “offers” were into things disconnected from my purpose and passions. In short, I realized that the only person responsible for fulfilling my purpose was me.

Stop Waiting For Permission

I’ve used this picture of the caged lion before…it resonates with me.  I usually use it to show the feeling of being trapped by debt, but that’s not why it resonates with me. I’m sure you’ve been to a zoo and had the experience of seeing these massively powerful creatures, but you can tell that something is missing. Their captivity has killed something inside; there’s no fight in them, no heart.

Do you ever feel like that? Like you know your life was meant to roar but all you can muster is a feeble cry? So you keep waiting. Waiting for someone to unlock the cage. People come and admire you, speak about your power and your beauty, but it’s with a sadness in their voice. Even though they can’t see the bars, they sense the cage. So they make some nice comments and walk on to the next exhibit.

Here’s what you have to understand about success…about fulfilling your potential. No one can do it for you. Not your parents, not your spouse, not even God. Oh, God is so ready to help you, but he won’t do it for you. But what he has done is given you permission. Now it’s up to you. Do you give yourself permission to succeed? I’m not talking yachts and Ferraris…I’m talking purpose and destiny. As Zig Ziglar said, you were “designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the  seeds of greatness.”

Believe me when I say this – the only limits to your success are the ones you place in front of you. Give yourself permission. Remove the limitations. The world needs what you have.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

We respond to 100% of our comments! How have you limited your success in the past?

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The Power of Purpose Driven Finances

 

“Why?”

Why do you want to be debt-free?

Why do you want to build wealth?

If you are unable to connect your financial pursuits to your purpose you will always feel empty. It’s just that simple. Pursuing money for the sake of money kills the soul. It is time wasted.

Do you want true success and true wealth? Attach a reason to your dollars. Give your work a purpose deeper than the work.

If I were to drive to your bank, pull out one of your hard-earned dollars, and ask it “why were you earned?” would it have an answer?

It will definitely have an answer, but will it be a worthy answer, one that excites you, one that is connected to your purpose? Can you look at your money and say “this is why I earned you” and be satisfied with the answer? In short, are your finances “purpose driven?”

“To pay my Visa minimum” is not a worthy answer.

Not every dollar earned has to be for some world-changing purpose, most at this stage in your journey will be merely for survival (“to pay the bills”), but if you’re only working for “more dollars,” all you will end up with is less.

Maybe not less money. Just less of the things you really desire.

Not sure how to make your money “purpose driven?” Make a list of 50 reasons why you are earning or desire to earn money. Most people will balk at that…but trust me, the first 20 will be all of the “non-purpose” reasons (pay the bills, save for retirement, buy new car, etc). By the time you get to #50 you’ll be pulling out the deep things in your heart. Connect your dollars or your desire for dollars to those things and you’ll begin to understand the power of purpose driven finances.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

We respond to 100% of our comments. How are you doing with making your finances “purpose driven?”

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What Is The Opposite of Debt? (Hint: It’s not Wealth)

Now that you know our story (see our first two posts, Part 1 & Part 2), we want to share with you why Debt To Life exists, and specifically, who we had in mind when we created it.

Beth & I came to the realization that as long as we have debt, we are a slave to that debt (see Proverbs 22:7). While your lender can’t totally rule your life (at least not in our society), they do have some power over you as long as you owe them money.

The financial gurus like to talk about good debt versus bad debt, but when your a slave, it’s all bad. People often play this financial game with debt…”My money’s earning more in interest in a money market than I’m losing in interest on my loan, so I’m just going to keep the loan.”

While that may make some sense financially, when you realize you’re a slave, you no longer care about winning the game; all you want is out of the game. The bottom line for a slave isn’t winning, it’s freedom.

If your heart burns for freedom, you’re in the right place.

There’s a reason we named it “Debt To Life.” We could have easily named it “Debt To Wealth”, or “Debt to Not So Much Debt So You Can Have More Stuff.” But we didn’t, we named it Debt To Life. There’s a million websites and resources out there to help you build wealth if that’s your desire. We’re not against building wealth, however, if your primary goal in life is the accumulation of wealth or stuff, this is not the place for you.

Too many people trade happiness for wealth, thinking that their wealth will bring them happiness. At Debt To Life, we believe that fulfillment is found in living out one’s purpose, regardless of the income level associated with that purpose.

For Beth & I, a significant part of our purpose is found in helping people, both in our own backyard and around the world. When we were buried in debt, we literally felt trapped in our jobs, like we were years away from really living out our purpose on a more “full time” basis. Like the lion in the photo above, we felt caged, spending our energy fulfilling someone else’s dreams but not our own. In some twisted way, the cage represents security and familiarity, but it comes with a price…your purpose.

If your heart burns for purpose, you’re in the right place.

One of our goals in writing this post is to help define and connect with you, our target audience. We did a lot of research, and had some snazzy information to impress you with how much we know about the statistical metrics that define who we think you are. But at the end of the day, what defines the community we are aiming for isn’t so much a specific set of demographics, but rather an attitude of the heart.

Only you really know if you are hungry or not to take the steps necessary to get free of your debt. Only you really know if you’re tired of serving someone else’s purpose and are ready to discover your own.

Maybe you’re reading this and you’re not so sure about all this talk of freedom and purpose, you just know you’re tired of getting screwed by your credit card company. Wherever you find yourself, if this resonates with you, we encourage you to stay connected, and let us walk with you on your journey towards financial freedom.

If you haven’t already done so, sign up for our newsletter, and get our free special report about the “1st Step to Financial Freedom that No One Talks About.”

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

P.S. For us, the opposite of Debt is Freedom. What are your thoughts? We respond to 100% of our comments!

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