If I knew then what I know now part (3)

In this third post on the topic of “If I knew then what I know now” series, I discuss the art and science of Goal Setting.  This series and the data come from a group of people in my circles that I posed a very simple question to.  “What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you graduated high school?”  I received a lot of responses, but as I stated in series 2 (click here for that post) http://www.thebrianwillett.com/self-development-addict-blog/2015/5/22/if-i-knew-then-what-i-know-now-part-2  many of the respondents, about 50% said they wish they understood finances better.  The second largest response from this group was specific or tied to goal setting. This is a subject that I am very passionate about as well.

To me goal setting is something that everyone says they do, but rarely when I ask them to tell me what their goals are can they state them with clarity.  In my position I interview a lot of people.  I ask a very simple question followed up by another very simple question.  “Give me an example of a goal that you set for yourself in the last six months personal or professional, that you were successful in accomplishing”.  The follow-up question is the same question, except, I change the word successful to unsuccessful in accomplishing.  Most candidates, have to think about it for a few minutes then they typically go to something related to work, professional.  That is a good answer because it lets me know they can think on their feet and it lets me know a little bit about who they are.  But this makes my point.  Most people don’t have clearly defined goals for their life.  The professional goals are usually goals that are handed down to the individuals or it is part of their job to begin with.

As of typing this blog this morning.  It is May 27, 2015.  In four days it will be June 1, 2015, which means we are half way through 2015.  On my computer I have my 2015 goals opened up at the bottom of my screen all of the time. It is there as a constant reminder to me.  I know where I stand on all of my goals that I set for 2015.  But just to give you some insight on a few of these goals.

I had a personal development goal to read a new book a week this year.  As of this morning I have read 28.  So obviously I am doing a little a better on this goal. Another goal was financial:  Without being too open here, lets just say I had a goal to save a large amount of money. Another goal I have related is to relationships/dating.  In each of these three areas, I have met or exceeded my goal.  Our lives are made up of really a few major areas.  They typically are financial, relationships (family, friends, spouses, etc.), career, spiritual, health.  You can add in other areas as well, such as traveling and as I did, personal development.  I am not saying these are the only areas we should have goals in, but these make up the biggest parts of our lives.

So why do I share the above examples with you?  As I pointed out from the respondents in my poll, goal setting was clearly an area we all wish we had known more about when we graduated high school.  As I illustrated in my example of interviewing people and asking them the question on goal setting it is something that we all understand, but most aren’t as intentional with their goals as they think they are.

When you become a better and more intentional goal setter in all areas of your life, your life will become the life that you design and develop and not the one that you end up pursuing because you didn’t plan it out.

I write this blog today and share my examples with you with the hopes of inspiring some of you to take action.  If you are interested in learning how to become a better goal setter, I challenge you to reach out to me, I have some tools that can guide you to accomplishing your goals.  Remember this.  A goal that is not clearly defined and written out (typed out) is merely a wish.

To your success and your future.

If I knew then what I know now (part 2)

Last week, I posted a blog on a recent survey I conducted with about 100 people who are in my circles.  I asked them a very simple question. “What is one thing you know now, that you wished you knew when you graduated high school?”  I received a lot of different answers and part 1 of this series I wrote about one of the responses I received.  Click on this link to read part 1 of the series.    http://wp.me/p4eY1f-gI

In part 2 I want dive deeper into one of the responses I received.

#1 response was financial:

About 50% of the respondents said that they wish they knew or understood finances better then.  I would agree with this response.  Because I didn’t know either.  However, my follow-up to that response would be do you really understand them now?  Or do you think you understand them.

There are many factors to your finances and I must say that I am not an expert on finances whatsoever, but I listen and study people who are.  I don’t take advice from broke people, or people who appear to have money because they have lots of things.  Nope! I listen to the experts and I listen to a lot of them that have varying beliefs on money and finances and then I do what I think is best. My mentor said if you want to have money, study people who have money.  So that is what I do.

For the recent grads that may be reading this or anyone else.  When it comes to money, there are really only two pieces.  Debt and Income.  After three years of listening to Dave Ramsey’s radio show, I have listened to 100’s of callers call in and discuss their money. (Everyday for three years I have listened)  In every situation, it comes down to one of these two things.  The callers either have a debt problem or an income problem.  Which by the way, both are controlled by you.  In my study in my own personal experiences this is true as well.

Debt: The bottom line is if you look to your right and you look to your left, most likely the people who you are looking at (if you around some people, if you aren’t, go get around some people) but two out of the three of you are in debt to your eye balls.  Two of you are paying payments on cars that you can’t afford to drive, you have student loans that have been around so long that your mindset is that you will just always have them, and lastly you are not planning well for the future.  That is two out of three of you.  Hey, I can say that, because I used to be one of the two.

Income: Not to sound like a hypocrite to what I said in the above paragraph regarding student loan debt.  But to increase your income you must increase your knowledge, skills, and education.  This may require you to go to school.  My mentor Dave Ramsey would say you should never go into debt for your education, if you have to go into debt for your education, you can’t afford it.  I get this and I understand it.  However, I am suggesting you be wise in your investment into your education.  Don’t drop $100,000 thousand dollars on a fine arts degree where you can become a barista at Starbucks.  The proverbial starving artist with a lot of student loan debt.

As I said the purpose of eduction is to get increase your skills so you can make more money, just be careful on what and how much you invest into your education and make sure there is return on the investment quickly. And do anything you possibly can to not have to go into debt.  Work as many jobs as you have to, save as much as you have to, and look for free money as much as you can.

A motto that I have always lived by is very simple.  Keep my revenue high (income) and my expenses low (debt).  A very simple strategy.

The bottom line is money and finances isn’t everything, however, it certainly does help.  The more money you have the more you can do for yourself and others.  This is just the reality of life.

As I stated 50% of the respondents said they wished they understood finances better.  Well, since you know that now, start today and get your finances where you want them to be.  Keep your debts low and invest in yourself so you can increase your income.

To your success and your future.


Fundamentally we are all smart

You already have all of the knowledge, well most of the knowledge necessary to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.  We all learned the basics before we left high school.  Are there some things we still must learn, absolutely.  But, what I am talking about are the basic things, the fundamentals.

If you want to lose weight.  Find an accountability partner.  Eat less. Eat healthier foods. Exercise more.

If you want to have more money. Spend less than you make. Invest into things that go up in value. Save.  Don’t go into debt. Increase your income.

If you want to be promoted. Work harder than everyone else. Have a great attitude. Never complain to your peers.  Increase your skills and volunteer for anything and everything.

If you want to be influential. Show others that you care about them.  Become an interesting person by striving to be more than you are today.  Listen more than you talk.

If you want to be successful. Define what success looks like for you. Pursue it by taking action every minute of the day.


My mentor told me that if someone comes a long and says, “Hey check this out, we have some new fundamentals that can help you.” You better run.  There are no new fundamentals.  They are called fundamentals, they aren’t new.  They are old.  We all know them, but we just fail to apply them.

What are some of the fundamentals that you already know but you are failing to apply?

To your success and your future.

Marshmallows and delayed gratification

When psychologists study and isolate the personal qualities that predict positive outcomes in life, they constantly find two traits: intelligence and self-control.  Intelligence is a hard one to define and to study.  However, self-control is a concept that has been studied extensively and we as humans have the ability to improve our self-control.  Many studies and experiments have been conducted around self-control.  The most recognized research on delayed gratification and self-control was the famous “Marshmallow Test”.  This experiment was conducted on four-year olds and went like this:

A four-year old would be brought into a room one at a time.  The researchers would show the child a marshmallow, and offer them a deal before leaving them alone in the room.  The children could eat the marshmallow whenever they wanted to, but if they held off until the experimenter returned, they would get a second marshmallow to eat along with it.  Some children gobbled the marshmallow right away; others tried resisting but couldn’t hold out; some managed to wait out the fifteen minutes for the bigger reward.  The ones who succeeded tended to do so by distracting themselves.

Years later they tracked down hundreds of the participants of this study and learned some interesting data.  The researchers found that the participants of the study that failed to wait to eat the marshmallow seemed to get in more trouble both in and out of school.  They found that the ones who showed the willpower and self-control to delay gratification  at four years of age went on to get better grades and test scores later in life. The also had higher salaries in their jobs, got a long better with peers and managers and they had a lower body mass index.

These results from the experiment was the first of its kind to show how childhood tendencies could predict how a person could turn out as an adult.

Most problems in life center around self-control.  Compulsive spending and borrowing, impulsive violence, under achievement in school, procrastination at work, alcohol and drug abuse, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, chronic anxiety, explosive anger, all of these destructive activities are centered around a person having the ability to control themselves. As willpower is depleted we lose our self-control.  Willpower is like a muscle and can become fatigued and strengthened through exercise.  To build up the muscle of willpower we must learn to have self-control over everything in our life.

How do we manage our self-control?  

The first step in self-control is to be sure you have a clear goal in mind.  To manage self-control researchers use a term called self-regulation.  Which is to regulate to certain standards that you set for yourself.  You must know what your standards and goals are to accomplish change and have the willpower to make changes in your life you wish to make.

Exercising self-control and delayed gratification in one area of life leads to improvement in other areas of your life.  Do you want the really nice fancy dinner tonight?  Or do you want to save the money so you can pay off your student loans or your car.  Do you want the purse or shoes today?  Or do you want to save the money so you can invest in your retirement?  Do you like the taste of the dessert so much that your willing to allow it to keep you from hitting your desired weight and size?

What is an area of your life where you are lacking self-control?  What are some goals and standards you can set for yourself to regulate and achieve these goals that you have been putting off?

To your success and your future.

Notes from the book:  Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength; WILLPOWER; authors: Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney.


If I knew then what I know now (part 1)

I recently polled about 100 people and asked them a simple and basic question.  The question was “What is one thing you know now, that you wished you knew when you graduated high school?”   The answers I received were across the board, but many of the answers revolved around a common subject.  I will be writing on this subject and others more in the coming days and weeks.  However, one of the answers I received is one that is on my mind a lot lately as well.  Due to some recent tragedies in my own life this particular response really hit home with me as well.

Many of us go through life doing what we think we should do.  That is going to school, working hard, saving some money, raising a family, invest what we can, contribute to a 401k, and retire one day.  If the previous sentence didn’t bore you to death and make you want to cry, then maybe you should stop reading now, because you wont like the remaining part of this post.

So the response to the question I asked was this: I wish I would have known that hard-working aggressive people can do anything they want.  Including pursuing careers, which includes making money, because if you are not making money, it is really just a hobby.  But that is the point.  How do I do what I am extremely passionate about and monetize it now?  The answer or response to that statement is this.  It isn’t too late to do and become anything you want to be.

It is harder to pursue certain things the more complicated our lives get, that is a fact.  If you have a mortgage, debt, children, etc. you can’t just quit what you are doing now, and go and work at the local YMCA and make minimum wage.  However, you can start to work on things outside the normal day-to-day job activities to start pursuing opportunities and creating opportunities in the areas you want to work in. Is this hard to do?  Absolutely it is.  But anything different should and will be.

If it wasn’t difficult we would have already been doing it and accomplished whatever it is we want to accomplish.  The goal should be to start now.  Why do you want to put off your future to the future when there is no guarantee of a future?  Sounds morbid I guess, but it is true.  We don’t have any guarantees.  Sure, should we be wise and prepare for our future? Yes, especially our health and our finances.  But we shouldn’t delay our pursuit of our passions to the future when we have all the time we know we have right now.

What are you going to do today to get you closer to that dream job or dream life?

To your success and your future.


Don’t be at a disadvantage

For this we must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can, and carefully guard against growing into ways that are likely to be disadvantageous. 

In the acquisition of a new habit, or the leaving off of an old one, we must take care to launch ourselves with as strong and decided initiative as possible. “Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life.” 

Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain” –Professor William James; Power of Will by Frank Channing Haddock.  

I believe Mr. James at the beginning is stating that we must put in safeguards in our life to limit us from putting ourselves at a disadvantage.

What is a disadvantage?  It could be a number of things.  I typically discuss career aspirations, success, health, wellness, money, relationships, to name a few.  So what kind of safeguards can you put into your life to prevent yourself from being at a disadvantage in one of these areas?

“Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life.”  I think the author hit the nail on the head with this one.  Many of us start down a new path with a new routine and we think that after doing it a few times we can give our self some grace.  Don’t do this.  You must work hard daily and again put in processes and routines in our lives that force us to make our new initiatives habits.

Lastly, the author says seize every opportunity to pursue the new habit.  The key here is to take action and not wait.  Some people say at the beginning of the year, or next week, or after this holiday I will.  Why not start now?  Take every opportunity to form the new habit.

So to ensure you are not at a disadvantage you must do these three things: 1) Safeguard yourself from things that could put you at a disadvantage. 2) Never make exceptions until the new habit is securely rooted in your life. 3) Seize every opportunity and take action.

To your success and your future.