April 5, 2007

Financial Freedom Series 4 -- The Value of Time

Time Is An "Equal Opportunity" Commodity

Time is so commonplace that its value is often overlooked. The extraordinary thing about time is that each day is equally given to everybody (with the exception of death, of course). No matter who you are, or what happened yesterday, we get as much time as everybody else to make today better.

Time Is Valuable Because It Can't Be Earned Back

Time is valuable in a way that nothing else is. Most things are valuable because they are rare. But time is valuable because of its most important aspect -- we can't get it back! Not only can we not get it back, but we HAVE to use it whether we wish to or not! Everything that we do is paid for in seconds and in minutes. Even doing nothing is paid in seconds and minutes! For this reason alone, we must cherish time. It is as important to our lives as the air we breathe.

The Secret Is to Control How We Spend Our Time

We may have no control over WHETHER we use our time or not, but we can control HOW we use our time. When there are many things that must be done, how can we gauge what is a good use of our time and what is not? The answer is as simple as looking at our goals and values. Anything that moves us closer to accomplishing goals that help us to live out our values is a good use of our time. Technically, anything else is not.

The Complete Financial Freedom Series

April 4, 2007

Financial Freedom Series 3 -- Goals

Goals: The Next Step

Hopefully you have experienced for yourself what incredible influence you have over your destiny through the simple tools of purposeful action and value-driven living. Next, by developing meaningful goals, you will harness that power and direct it toward accomplishments you may not have previously believed yourself to be capable of!

Goals Are Like Building A House

To understand goals, look at the process of building a new home. Before any building takes place, a blueprint is created. Why? Because a team of builders can't properly build anything if they don't know what the outcome is supposed to be. Sadly, we are much more cavalier with the construction of our own lives -- few of us have a blueprint for our own future.

There is a definite order to the way homes are built. Doors can't be installed until walls are built. Walls can't be built until the foundation is poured. And the foundation can't be poured until the ground is leveled. Goal building is similar. In most cases, you cannot get from where you are to where you want to be in one simple step.

Build Your Goals, Beginning With The Future

If your goal is to donate one million dollars to charity, and you've never owned more than one thousand dollars' worth of anything, then you will need to work through some intermediate steps along the way. To discover those steps, you need to backtrack from the ultimate attainment of your ideal life, using the principle of cause and effect. What would you have to do to raise that much money? Would you earn it through business or fundraising? If through fundraising, how would you meet eligible donors? Keep backtracking until you reach where you are now. You then have a series of small steps to take to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Accomplishing Big Things With Small Steps

While it may be daunting to think about going straight from where you are now to where you want to be, it looks much more believable when many small steps are put together. For instance, the first step might be to simply save $1 every week. The next step might be to save $2 every week. Then, to earn $2 more every week (saving $4 per week). While saving a million dollars can seem downright impossible, saving two dollars can seem ridiculously easy. By completing all of the small steps toward your goal, you eventually will have followed all of the steps toward your goal! Marathon runners don't leap from the start line to the finish line, they take one step at a time.

The Complete Financial Freedom Series

  1. Cause and Effect
  2. The Value of Values
  3. Goals
  4. The Value of Time
  5. Money

Financial Freedom Series 2 -- The Value of Values

The Happiness Paradox

Why is it that some rich people are happy, while others are miserable? Why is it that some poor people are happy, while others are miserable? Obviously, the answer is not in their billfolds. The answer is in how well they are living their "values".

The list of things that you can do to make a positive difference in your life and in the world is virtually endless. So, how do you decide which things you should do? This is where values come in handy.

Values Are Your Guide

Values are those things that matter deeply to you in a way that matters only to you. Your deepest, truest values are the ones that have been with you all of your life -- they are "hard-wired" into your being. That makes them your ideal, personalized guide through life. Your values help you survey the many opportunities that are available to you and to choose the ones that will bring the most fulfillment into your life.

Discovering Your Values

If you want to know what your values are, imagine you've won so much money that you'll never be able to spend it all. What would you do with that kind of money? Your answers will point you toward your values. Some answers require more interpretation than others, though. Wanting to buy a fancy new sports car, for instance, doesn't lead to any obvious values. But asking yourself WHY you want the fancy new sports car does. In discovering your values, it helps to play that favorite game among toddlers -- keep asking "why" until you get to the root of your values.

Values As An Objective Standard

Knowing your values gives you an objective standard for judging your actions. When you act in a way that goes against your values, you feel terrible. When you act in a way that is consistent with your values, you feel great. With an objective measure in place, you free yourself from any need to "keep up with the Joneses" because you recognize that you don't necessarily want what the Joneses have anyway. An understanding of values, therefore, frees you once and for all to truly be you.

If you are not completely satisfied with your life, look to your values. You will find that your actions in the past have not been aligned with your values. Thankfully, the cure is simple -- begin now to act out your values.

The Complete Financial Freedom Series

April 3, 2007

Cause and Effect: The Power Of Habits, For Good Or Ill

Cause And Effect In Daily Experience

Imagine that a mother suddenly hears a loud crash down the hall. She dashes into the room and finds a shattered lamp and a surprised child. Now, what do you think her conclusion is? Does she shrug her shoulders, resigned to the fact that lamps randomly leap off of tables? No! She instantly searches for what CAUSED the lamp to fall off the table.

The Chain Of Effects

The routine of cause and effect is so common that its full value is often overlooked. You see, the remarkable thing about causes and effects is that they are inextricably connected. Nothing happens that wasn't caused. And everything that happens causes something else to happen (which then causes another thing to happen, and so on). In essence, every action sets off a chain of effects long into the future! There is also a high level of predictability to cause and effect -- certain actions (causes) are known to lead to specific effects. If you heat water to 100 degrees Celsius, it HAS TO boil. If it doesn't, then it's not actually water.

Powerful, And Dangerous!

And so, this is the most important lesson of the Financial Freedom series: through the laws of cause and effect, you possess a tool that is at once extraordinarily powerful and unimaginably dangerous.

Powerful? Yes! By taking deliberate actions that lead to expected effects, you shift from merely reacting to random events to actively influencing your future. In short, you gain remarkable control over your future.

Dangerous? Yes! If everything you do causes endless chains of effects that project into the future, then how important is it for you to be mindful of your actions today? Ignoring the influence that your actions have over cause and effect is like walking into the street with a loaded gun and firing it randomly in all directions!

Harnessing The Chain of Effects

Harnessing cause and effect means to finally, unequivocally accept responsibility for your life. Implicitly, everything you have done so far has brought you where you are today. If you are dissatisfied, the cure is simple. First, examine what actions have led you to where you are and quit them immediately. Then, determine what actions will lead you to where you want to be, and commit to them. You are one action away from building either a better future for yourself or a worse one. Which will you choose?

The Complete Financial Freedom Series