3 Things You Need to Hear but Don’t Want to

12436236_10153860979392650_1672561612_oThey say the truth hurts.  It’s a hard pill to swallow – like the time my two-year-old recently pointed out that she’s excited to see I’m going to have another baby.  “No, honey.  No baby in this belly,” and thanks for pointing out that I’m obviously fat!

But don’t you think that cutting out the crap and getting to the meat and potatoes of this life is really all that’s important?  Think about it.  Maybe I do need some exercise.  Maybe I do need to hear something that makes me cringe.  After all, the friend who will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear, is the best friend of all.

So here’s the meat and potatoes – after 13+ years as a financial advisor, I’m still blown away by the people who just don’t get it.  The story is almost always the same…it’s a couple who has decent income, they don’t live extravagantly, one’s a spender and one’s decent with money, they have some debt, are underfunded for retirement and college savings, and they don’t understand that it won’t just all come together perfectly.  The hard truth:

  1. Debt kills you.
  2. Savings won’t just happen one day.
  3. It doesn’t ever get cheaper to live.

None of these people are dumb.  They’re just living the way society tells us we all should live.  It’s peer pressure at its’ core and it’s contagious!

Have you ever seriously thought about what it would be like to have zero debt?  How much would it cost you to live?  What if all you had to pay for were utilities, clothes, and food?  Would you have to save as much for retirement?  Would you have to work as many hours as you do now?

Did you know it’s entirely possible to pay off your mortgage in 5 years? What about your car payment?  Wouldn’t it be easier to not have one and pay for every car in the future with cash?  With proper planning in place, these are all realistic examples of goals that can be accomplished without being rich.

Food (meat and potatoes) for thought…

If you liked this or know someone who would, subscribe and share away!  ~Val

5 Tips for Winning at New Year’s Resolutions

winning at new years resolutionsJust yesterday when chatting about turning the page to 2016 a friend said to me, “I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I didn’t become a better person!”

Ok, here’s the thing.  We all have something we really want.  We think about it often, it’s in the back of our minds every single day in some way or another and it’s very personal to us.  Getting fit and healthy perhaps?  A new business endeavor?  Organizing your life?  Spending less and saving more?  Enjoying more time with friends and family?  Simply put, one of two things have happened – we’ve either made a conscience choice not to pursue our goal or we’ve likely failed before at trying to achieve it.

If you’re contemplating a New Year’s Resolution for 2016, you should know that scientific research tells us you have a 92% chance of failure*.  So what are the winning 8% doing successfully?  They’re throwing glitter at the new year and kicking adversity in the face!  Here’s how:

  1. They Want It! Sometimes we just think we want something, a stark difference than truly wanting it. Other times we think we should do something because of outside influences but we don’t actually want to do it. Start by asking yourself, am I making this resolution just because…or do I want it so badly I will sacrifice whatever it takes to make it happen?
  2. They have their priorities straight. When looking at your life, you need a list of your top five priorities. Write them down right now. Seriously. Write them down. If your resolution doesn’t fit into the top five, you’re going to have a tough time achieving it. Consider focusing on another goal that is perfectly aligned with one of your priorities.
  3. They are confident their goal WILL be achieved. Research indicates that the winning 8% have a higher degree of confidence than those who eventually fail. You should consider your confidence level. If you are not at least 70% convinced you’ll make it happen, it’s not worth your commitment or energy.
  4. They don’t tell anyone about it. Numerous scientific studies dating back to the 1920s support the idea that you should keep your resolutions to yourself.   Seems backwards from what we’re taught, huh? And it’s not just about self-accountability. Think about the feeling and emotions that would come from telling your friends your goal has been achieved. It’s a euphoric idea, isn’t it? Science tells us that when we share a big goal with our friends, your mind is tricked into thinking it’s already been reached.   When your goals are acknowledged by others, it feels real to your brain – like social substitution for that euphoric state. Moral of the story, don’t Facebook your resolutions this year!
  5. They embrace the power of positive thinking. We all have a choice to tell ourselves we will succeed or tell ourselves we won’t. As one of the most victorious Biblical characters, David said, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is,” Proverbs 23:7. When establishing a new habit your first step should be to create an ongoing practice of constructive thoughts. A pattern of negativity will simply squash your big plans.

I’d love to share more ideas with you on living a life on the north side of average!  Subscribe and share today!  Happy New Year to you!

*John Norcross, University of Scranton, 1985

Deciding Where to Focus in Your Business

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I’ll never forget the one, gut-wrenching moment when a business mentor called me out on everything great we were doing at our firm. “Valerie, you keep telling me all the things you guys are but what I’m not hearing is who are you not?” It hit me like a bullet between the eyes! He was right! In fact, he was so right that there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by since where his words haven’t echoed like a freight train in my mind. We had grown an amazing business but were wondering why we couldn’t get to the next level and it had to do with one simple thing…we were focused but not focused enough!

Until that day, I thought I fully understood the power of focus, – in marketing, in strategy, in client service, in virtually every area of our business. For me, focus always came instinctively and, as a business owner, my nature has always been to question whether every action we take will lead to a nice return on investment (ROI).

Return-on-investment usually boils down to money; what will give us the best return for a given investment of resources. I believe you can only pay yourself in two ways: 1) by making more money, or 2) by finding more time to do the things you love. I think we often forget to focus on what parts of our business we find satisfying and fun because we’re too busy focusing on what the market looks like or on what types of customers we can reach.

So, for us, the question, “who are we not?” led us to the answer we’d been searching for all along. It redirected our focus to the opportunities we saw in the marketplace and away from the parts of the business we didn’t enjoy. Today, the payback has been exceptional, and I owe it to a perceptive, bold coach who was willing to risk telling me something I may not want to hear.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you could use some advice on keeping your business goals in focus.

I Smell Results

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Have you ever been on the cusp of doing something you never thought you could do?  Perhaps as you read these words you feel like you are destined for something greater?  Maybe you’ve dreamed a dream and are longing to feel it, see it, and taste it?  Does the very thought of it seem so exciting you can actually smell it?  If so, all that’s standing between you and your dream is FOCUS…

In today’s society, focusing isn’t easy.  I’m willing to bet that right this very moment you are battling one or more distractions.  Look around you.  Think about your day. Can you name more than one thing that bothers you?  So how on earth do we reach our goals when we’re overwhelmed with everything and everyone that pulls us in different directions?  I’ll tell you how.

This part is important and it hit me square in the face when I first heard it: “devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing,” says author Andy Stanley.  Think about that.  Re-read it: “devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing.”

Could this be why you aren’t living your dream?  Something’s gotta give…so what is it?