Archive | Success RSS feed for this section

5 Quick & Easy Ways to Change Your Life

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Change Your Life

© Xaviermarchant | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

In less than five minutes I’m going to give you 5 quick and easy ways to change your life. Do any one of these 5 things and I guarantee you’ll see your life improve fast. Let’s get started. But first, let’s enjoy these 5 dolphins. Nice. 

1. On a 3×5 card, write down one goal for each of these three areas: Relational, Physical, and Financial. That’s it, only three goals, no more (if you want to go deeper on goals, read this post on smart goals). Here’s some examples to get you started:

  • Relational: Have a date night with my spouse every Thursday night.
  • Physical: Jog 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Financial: Set a budget for this month.

Keep that card with you at all times.

(Estimated time: 5 minutes, 4 of which are spent trying to find a 3×5 card)

2. Every morning, rewrite your goals on a new 3×5 card. Most people fail to reach their goals, but it’s not because they don’t set them, it’s because they forget them.

(Estimated time: 1 minute)

3. Read a chapter in the book of Proverbs every day. It’s called the Book of Wisdom for a reason. If we all lived by principles in this one simple book we’d quickly eradicate debt, adultery, corruption, gossip, and a host of other crap. And with 31 chapters it’s like God designed it to be read daily. Hmm…

(Estimated time: 5 minutes)

4. Plan what TV shows you will watch each week. Oh the hours we’ve wasted in front of that stupid box. I was going to say don’t watch it at all but that would be hypocritical as Beth & I look forward to episodes of The Office and Shark Tank. But instead of mindlessly wasting time, all I’m saying is be intentional about it, so at least you know how much time you’re actually wasting.

(Estimated time: 2 minutes to decide your top 2-3 shows you’re going to watch. Estimated time saved: 8-10 hours a week)

5. Be Your Best Friend. Every time you catch yourself going negative (about anything, but especially about yourself), find something to be thankful for. So often we’re our worst critics. God calls us magnificent and we call ourselves worthless…that must break his heart. If you could only see how incredible you are. Yes YOU! Overweight, broke, insecure little you…you are a masterpiece….it’s time to start treating yourself as one.

(Estimated time: 30 seconds to make the decision to be your best friend…a lifetime of implementing)

There you go folks. A little shot of personal development espresso to get your week started off right.

-Wesley

In the comments, I’d love to hear ONE quick and easy thing you’ve done in your own life that has had a huge payoff for you!

Continue reading...

3 Ways to Crush It At Work without Losing Your Family

Should you Crush It? Pursue balance? Or…neither?

Every morning I take a forty minute walk with Beth & Macey. Often we’ll follow it up with coffee on the porch until Macey’s nap time around 9:15. All in all it’s about 90 minutes smack dab in the middle of my morning routine.

I’m blessed to be able to work at home. But I’m very aware that there is a tremendous amount of work to do, both on Debt To Life and in my “real” job. Usually I’ll get up a couple of hours before the rest of the family, so that when it’s “walk time” I don’t feel the pressure to skip it since I’ve already got a head start on work.

But this morning I overslept. Ooops. […]

Continue reading...

What is the Real Key to Success?

What's the Real Key To Success?

How Many Keys To Success Can There Be?

I get so tired sometimes of hearing about success.

Almost every blog I read can be boiled down to how to be successful in one area or another. The problem isn’t the issue of success. Success is awesome. The problem is that I’m always being sold to. Everyone is trying to sell their version of success (influence, money, etc), or their method of obtaining success.

What is the real key to success?

Are you picking up what I’m putting down?

So instead of (here comes a deep thought), actually doing what we know we should to reach our goals, we get distracted by a dozen other programs and systems that promise what we want.

The result? We jump all over the place in search of the right formula for success. After several years of this we realize we’ve zigzagged ourselves nowhere.

Lately, I keep hearing the same message from people I would call successful. It’s odd frankly. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a book I’m reading, on a podcast, or meeting with fellow entrepreneurs. The message has been the same across the board. If you want to be successful, pick a path and stick with it. This is water to my soul…here’s why. […]

Continue reading...

Make Excuses Or Make A Fortune: Your Choice (Pt.2)

Welcome back to DTL. If you missed part one, click here.

In part one, we shared why you can’t despise the rich and be rich, and we explained how making excuses is essentially handing over control of your life to someone else.

We’ll wrap this conversation up today by sharing how to respond to negative mindsets about wealth and how to kill your excuses.

How Do You Respond To Wealth?

How you view wealthy people will determine in part your level of wealth. I used to believe having wealth was wrong, at least for me. There was something pious about being poor. I was part of a culture that placed high honor on people who gave up wealth in order to serve the poor, and because of that I had a tendency to resist wealth, and I would feel guilty or unworthy when money did come my way. If you can relate, I highly recommend reading the T. Harv Eker book mentioned in part one. He get’s a little new agey for my taste, but overall it’s a great book all about our mindsets towards wealth.

One exercise in the book really exposed my inner beliefs. He was writing about how the way we view rich people will determine our ability to become rich. He ends the chapter by asking the reader to make the following declarations “I admire rich people! I bless rich people! I love rich people!” To be honest I couldn’t do it the first time. It just felt wrong to “bless rich people.”

But why? Why is it easy to bless poor people but not rich people? Does God love them less? It revealed an inner belief I had that equated wealth with something wrong. Not only is this thought not found in scripture, it is also not good for my personal economy. If wealth is bad I will resist having any.

How Do You Respond To Excuses?

The second issue in this post is that of excuses. Here’s my challenge to you: keep a small moleskin or notebook (that can easily fit in your pocket). Every time you catch yourself even thinking a negative thought write it down and replace it with truth.

For example, I did this a couple of years ago and at that time I read about a young girl (in her teens) who had created a website for teenage girls which someone had offered to buy for several million dollars. Her parents had helped her immensely through financial support and encouragement.

My first thought was “I would be successful too if my parents had loaned me that much and helped me start it.” Once I caught myself making the excuse, I wrote it in my journal. I then wrote “TRUTH: I have everything I need to be successful right now.”

It’s amazing how empowering it is to recognize your excuses and replace them with truth. The truth really will set you free. I challenge you to try this for just 7 days and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Please let us know what you think! We love to dialogue with our readers!

Continue reading...

Make Excuses Or Make A Fortune: Your Choice (Pt.1)

Never start your day by watching the news.

I learned that lesson this morning. Thanks to the upcoming election, everything was negative about the candidates. However, what got me fired up was when they started talking about taxes (my point is financial, not politics, so I’m leaving names & political parties out).

They showed clips of one of the candidates who is proposing higher taxes on the rich in order to help the middle and lower classes. I was fine until he used the word “selfish” referring to wealthy people. Of course, if you want an applause, go in front of a crowd of low income voters and talk about how the rich are “selfish” (nevermind the fact that the guy calling rich people selfish is a millionaire). To their own demise the crowd gave their applause. Let me explain.

Don’t Be Your Own Victim

This bothers me immensely because it promotes a victim mentality. It says, “I’m poor because you’re rich.” It’s a mentality that is common among people who do not have money. It’s just easier to blame others for our problems than it is to take responsibility for them ourselves.

In his best-selling book “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” T. Harv Eker makes this statement: “You have to realize that if you view rich people as bad in any way, shape or form, and you want to be a good person, then you can never be rich. It’s impossible. How can you be something you despise?” He goes on to say that “resenting the rich is one of the surest ways to stay broke.”

If you ever want to become wealthy, you have to develop a healthy relationship with money and with those who have it. The bottom line is that when you blame others for your problems, you are giving control of your life away to someone else. Do you really want to do that?

Success is a Personal Issue

If you really want to be successful, you have to stop making excuses, even if they are legitimate.  The minute you let something external determine your level of success is the minute you won’t have any. I’m serious. You’d be amazed at how much we limit ourselves by making excuses. Let me give you a personal example that just happened to me.

On Sunday night Beth & I were watching ABC’s Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition. In one year this wonderful lady lost over 160 pounds, and overcame incredible odds to reach her goal, including a very dysfunctional family. I’ve been carrying around an extra 30 pounds for several years now, so I knew immediately that if she could do it, then I no longer had any excuse. So here I am on Sunday night all motivated to lose weight, and BAM! On Monday while playing with Macey I broke my toe! (I wish I was making this up).

Is a broken toe a legitimate reason to not exercise? Of course it is!

But, if I allow myself to be the victim, then I’m giving control of my life over to a negative circumstance that happened to me. In reality, a broken toe will limit me but it cannot stop me. It may make it difficult, but it does not make it impossible! With a little creativity (such as swimming instead of running, only doing upper body workouts for a while, etc) it doesn’t even need to slow down my progress.

So how do YOU view the wealthy? What is your response to excuses? Stay tuned for our next post where I share two powerful exercises which will set you free from excuses.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

P.S. Please leave us a comment! What are some excuses you’ve been tempted to make recently?

Continue reading...

Smart Goals 101: You’re Dead Without A Deadline

 Welcome back! This is the final post of our six part series on Smart Goals. If you just joined us, be sure to check out the prior posts (one, two, three, four, & five).

Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? It states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” As a practical example, everyday I shut everything off at 6:00 pm and spend an hour with my daughter before “night-night.”

Right now it’s 5:30 pm…so I have a goal of finishing this post in 30 minutes. I normally take 2-3 hours to write a post. And I guarantee that Parkinson was right – if I had two hours to write this post it would take me two hours.

 

When you apply this law to goal-setting the application is obvious. If you don’t set a deadline for the completion of your goal you will never complete it.

Urgency is Everything

Having a goal that is Time Bound means that it has a very specific deadline, and if needed, sub-deadlines. A deadline creates urgency. It forces you to stop procrastinating. It creates action – either the action of getting started or the action of changing the deadline because you missed it. Either way you’re working on your goal and that’s better than doing nothing.

Some people refuse to set a deadline on their goals because they don’t know how long it will take them to reach it. Here’s two suggestions I would offer:

1. A wrong deadline is better than no deadline. You have to start somewhere. If you’re stuck in indecision, just pick a deadline and go with it. You can always adjust it as needed.

2. Change your goal so that it has a definite deadline. For example, when our debt hit its peak in August 2009 at $119,000, I had no clue how long it would take us to pay it off. It would have been difficult to set a goal with a specific deadline for being debt free. I could either guess at a deadline (see #1 above), or I could change the goal.

So instead of saying “We will be debt free by _____” our goal was “We will create a budget every month and after tithe and expenses are paid, we will pay 100% of everything left on our debt, starting with the highest interest rate first.” At the beginning of every month I felt the urgency of our goal because we had to take immediate action (sit down and work on our budget together) or we were going to miss our deadline.

Comments & Questions

Setting a deadline is pretty simple stuff, so it doesn’t need a lot of explanation. However, if you’re having any challenges figuring out how to make one of your personal goals a SMART goal, please leave us a comment below. We’d love to help! We respond to 100% of our comments!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

P.S. Parkinson was right! I finished by 6 with a few minutes to spare. It’s Macey Time!

Continue reading...

Smart Goals 101: The Right Goal at the Right Time

Welcome back! This is part five of our six part series on Smart Goals. If you’re just tuning in, be sure to check out the prior posts (one, two, three, & four).

We live about ten minutes away from Disney World. Minus the constant influx of tourists it’s a pretty cool place to live. I can usually tell what time it is based on when I hear the fireworks at night.

Anyways, at the beginning of the year I set a goal to run the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. It’s an almost half-marathon through Hollywood Studios…at night. Way cool. For years I have wanted to be able to say that I’ve run a marathon, and I saw this as a step towards that.

Who’s Goal Is It?

I don’t hate running, I just don’t like it…at all…ever. One morning in February, while I was diligently forcing myself to run I had a revelation: This isn’t my goal.

I wasn’t training for a marathon because I wanted to run a marathon. I was doing it because I felt like I should do it. Several of the guys at my church that I highly respect have run marathons. Two of my best friends have run marathons. This wasn’t peer pressure…it was just a goal that I gave myself simply because the people I respect have done it, and I wanted to be able to say I had done it as well. In high school you go to parties to fit in…I guess when you get older you have to run marathons.

Once I realized this wasn’t my goal, I stopped pursuing it. I let it go. I still exercise, in fact, Beth and I did a 5k in May, but that was my goal (and much more attainable I might add).

Relevant = the Right Goal at the Right Time

The Right Goal: For a goal to be right, it has to be your goal. It can’t be someone else’s goal for you, not even your spouse’s. For a goal to be relevant means that it connects to YOUR heart. Setting personal goals based on the expectations of others is a recipe for failure.

The Right Time: Never set a goal that isn’t directly related to your purpose for this season of your life (don’t miss that – it’s powerful). Having a goal that’s relevant doesn’t just mean that it’s your goal, but that it’s the right goal for this season of your life. The question here is, “is this the most important goal for me right now?”

A Personal Note About Purpose & Seasons

If I had to say what the one question of my heart has been for the past 20 years, it would be “what is my purpose?” It’s funny…I’ve never been given the answer. At least not in full. But I do get pieces of it, hints here and there. Purpose is like a puzzle. Some people get to see the picture on the front of the box. Others, like me, just get the next piece of the puzzle, along with the promise that God will direct my steps.

Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn about purpose. You can’t let your lack of understanding the big picture keep you from acting on the pieces of the puzzle that you do have. Like driving a car at night…even though you can’t see the final destination, you turn on the headlights and simply drive as far as you can see. Jesus calls this being faithful in the small things.

If your goal is not relevant to your purpose, whether that is your life purpose, or just the purpose for this season, it is a distraction. That last sentence is worth re-reading, or putting on your wall somewhere. If your goal is not relevant to your purpose it is a distraction.

Comments & Questions

We’re here to help! As you’re working through this series, let us know if you get stuck on figuring out how to make one of your goals a Smart goal. Leave a comment or question below – we respond to 100% of our comments. And remember…if it’s not a Smart goal it’s not a goal.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Continue reading...

Smart Goals 101: If You Don’t Believe It, You Won’t Achieve It

If you’re just starting with us, this is part 4 of a 6 part series on Smart Goals. Click here for parts one, two, and three.

The rule of Attainability says that if you don’t really believe you can reach you goal, you never will. It doesn’t say that goals have to be easy, just that they can’t feel impossible for you.

In college I had a goal of having six-pack abs (is there a guy out there who hasn’t had this goal at some point in his life?). I fully believe it is physically possible for me to have a 6-pack, even now. That said, I had to come to grips with the fact that I don’t have enough time or personal discipline to achieve that goal.

I’m too busy with things that are far more important than my own vanity, and I just don’t have the committment needed to reach that goal. Unfortunately for my alter-ego, I had to move “6-Pack” from the goals list back to the “wishes and desires” list.

The Four Criteria of Attainability

1. Is this goal realistic? In 2008, while we had somewhere around $90,000 in debt at that time, I set a goal to be debt-free by September 2009. It was really a prayer more than a goal. At night, Beth & I would pray and ask God to help us be debt free by that date. This wasn’t wrong as a prayer. But as a goal, with our income at the time it was very unattainable.

2. Is this goal believable? I had a friend in high school who decided that he wanted to be an olympic diver. The only problem was that he was already older than most of the people competing in the olympics, he had zero training or experience, and we lived in small-town Missouri with no resources (maybe the “olympic” size pool at the local YMCA?). I feel kind-of bad now because I basically laughed at him when he told me. But…to be fair, was this dream believable?

I want to play pro-football with Tim Tebow, but if I set that as a goal do you think I would really believe that it was going to happen? If you don’t buy-in to your own goal, if you don’t firmly believe that it is possible (not easy, but possible), then your goal does not qualify as being attainable.

3. Is this goal within your control? “Fall In Love” was listed as #9 on the Top Ten New Years Resolutions list for 2012. Can you make someone fall in love with you? I guess it is within your control to fall in love with someone, but can you force the other person to reciprocate it? No way. So does “fall in love” qualify as a Smart Goal? Yeah…not so much.

4. Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? Resources can mean time, money, energy, and discipline. As stated above, my goal of paying off $90,000 in debt in less than a year was not a Smart Goal, because outside of a miracle I did not have the resources to achieve it.

Your Personal Goals Coach

If you have a goal that your working through and want some feedback on how to turn it into a Smart Goal, leave us a comment below (we respond to every comment)! We love helping YOU make the most out of your life, so don’t be shy! And remember, if it’s not a Smart goal it’s not a goal!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Continue reading...

Smart Goals 101: You Can’t Master What You Can’t Measure

Welcome back! This is part 3 in our series on SMART Goals. If you haven’t, be sure to read parts one & two.

We’re going to get personal in today’s post! The best way to learn something is to see it modeled, so I’m going to give two recent examples of goals that my wife and I have to show you how to make your goals measurable.

If you can’t measure it, you will never master it.

In the last post we shared the top ten New Year’s Resolutions for 2012, and that only 8% of people who make resolutions keep them. What an incredibly high failure rate!! With 92% of the people failing to reach their goal, do you think they’re doing something wrong? Of course they are.

Let’s take a look at the list again. How many of these goals are measurable? That’s right…zero. With just a little more thought into it, every one of these can be turned into goals that can be measured and tracked, so you can see your progress and how close you are to reaching your goal.

Personal Example: Wesley & Weight Loss

I’ve never really had a weight problem per se, but since finishing college, it’s something that I’ve always been insecure about. After graduating in 2000, the pounds started accumulating; I went from being 185 to hitting a peak of 230 about a year ago. Right now, I’m at a 223.

Weight loss is one of the most common goals that people have, and luckily, it is the easiest to measure (same with financial goals). Here are the steps:

Decide your target weight. Decide the end date. Figure out how much weight you have to lose each day or week to meet your goal (I prefer daily). Then simply track it daily.

I created a spreadsheet on Excel to track this. Every morning the first thing I do is weigh myself, then write down my weight for the day. I can see immediately if I’m on track or not, and doing this every day keeps me very focused on the goal. And I know if I blow it today that I’m going to see the results tomorrow morning, so it is incredibly motivating.

(If you want a custom spreadsheet like this for you, send me an email: wesley@debttolife.com)

Personal Example: Beth & Relationships

If you ask people what they want in life, almost everyone says “to be happy.” Well how do you measure that?

Here’s a similar example of a goal that my wife had, and how we drilled down into the goal and figured out how to make it a SMART goal. At the end of last year, Beth & I were discussing our goals, and one of her’s was to “grow closer in her relationship with God.”

If you have goals that are relational or emotional (be happy, love my spouse more, stop losing my temper, grow closer to my kids, etc.), the key is to ask this question:

What are doing when you ______ (feel happy, love my spouse, feel close to my kids, etc) the most?

Can you measure a feeling with a numerical value? No. But can you measure an activity? YES! So with Beth, I asked, “When you feel the most connected with God, what are the things/activities you are doing?” Her answer was spending time alone with God in the mornings reading her bible, listening to worship music, and reflecting through journaling.

Her answer made the goal crystal clear: “Spend an hour each morning from 7-8 am alone with God.” So instead of focusing on a “feeling” we focused on tangible daily activity, and better yet, I can even help her reach this goal by protecting this time for her.

Some people will avoid this because it feels like it’s making a relationship mechanical, or worse, something that is done out of duty. You just have to push past those thoughts and accept the simple truth that any worthy goal you have in life needs to be  numerically measurable if you really want to achieve it.

Comments/Questions?

We respond to 100% of our comments, questions, and emails. If you have a goal that you’re struggling with how to make it a SMART goal, leave us a comment and we can dialogue with you. I firmly believe most people don’t have goals, they just have wishes and desires, because they fail to make their goals SMART goals. This stuff really is life changing if you practice it consistently.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Continue reading...

Smart Goals 101: Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

(This is part 2 of a six part series. Click here to see part one)

Think back through this past New Year’s Eve. If you’re like me, you probably gave some thought to the past year, and made some mental decisions on how the year ahead was going to be better. It usually looks something like this:

 Start this. Stop that. Be different.

Spend less. Learn more.

Be…better. 

The language of New Year’s Resolutions…such poetry right?

You Can’t Hit A Blurry Target

The first rule of SMART goal setting is that your goal has to be specific. If your goal isn’t crystal clear then it’s not a goal, it’s a desire. A study by the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology stated that only 8% of Americans are successful in achieving their resolutions.

Here’s a list of the top ten goals for 2012 (University of Scranton). If goals have to be specific, can you see why only 8% of New Year’s Resolutions are achieved?

In my opinion, “Quit Smoking” is probably the most specific on the list. I would call the other nine hopes and wishes, not goals. We’ll come back to this list again throughout this series, as it’s such a great example of how the average person sets “goals” and why it doesn’t work.

How To Make Your Goal Specific

The simplest way to make a goal specific is to ask the questions who, what, when, where, and how.

Let’s use finances as an example. If you’re reading this, your goal is likely to be “get debt free.” This goal is somewhat specific and measurable by the fact that it is defined by a specific number ($0 debt). But if you run it through all five questions, you can start to see the power of making a goal specific.

  • What is the goal? To have zero debt
  • Who is responsible for this goal? I am
  • When will this goal be accomplished? December 31st
  • Where (location*) will this goal be accomplished? Not applicable
  • How will this goal be accomplished? Strict budget, extra income

The result is that you take a vague goal of “get debt free” and transformed it into a specific, crystal clear goal: “I  will have zero debt by December 31st by keeping a strict monthly budget and working at least three extra shifts each month.”

*Location may or may not apply. An example of a goal with location would be “I will weigh 145 by my birthday by working out at Gold’s Gym at 7:00 am M-W-F and cutting out all soda and fast-food.”

Why Not “Why?”

You’ll notice that “why?” is not one of the questions to ask when setting your goal. The key to powerful goals is to keep them simple. You can see even in the examples above that it’s easy to get “wordy” on goals, so if you write down the “why” for each goal, then it’s going to be too long and you won’t take the time to review it.

On the flip side, if you don’t have a strong “why” behind each goal then you’re likely to run short on motivation and quit before you accomplish it. My suggestion is to write out all of your reasons for why you’re setting a goal at the beginning of the process (in a journal), and again anytime you feel your motivation waning. Strive for at least 20 reasons why. It’s a powerful exercise when you feel the need to refocus.

If you have a goal where you’re not sure how to make it specific, leave us a comment below and we’ll be glad to help you think through it and make it powerful and motivating for you! We respond to 100% of our comments!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Continue reading...