How to Create Career Success


   Do you have a career plan in place? If so, what is on it? What should be on it?

   As we approach our professional lives, we need to understand the various elements that lead us to greater career success. To do this, we need to understand a few things, some unique to each of us, and some are shared.

Our Unique Talents and Abilities

   Our strengths and weaknesses will help define our areas of focus when it comes to our careers. Building off our strengths, we can leverage existing and inherent traits about ourselves. Leveraging our own unique strengths will enable us to out-perform others in similar roles and situations. We do this simply through accomplishing more, in a shorter period of time. The less effort required for us to produce the same results as someone else means we have more time and energy to devote to more projects or continued development. This is the beauty of leveraging our strengths, and also a reflection on how to treat weaknesses.

   Knowing our weaknesses usually highlights areas we should not be doing. If we can outperform by leveraging our strengths, then taking on tasks that are negatively influenced by our weaknesses means the same results will take us more time, and more energy. Since both time and energy are limited resources, we will fall behind as we try to compete against others that are leveraging their strengths. 

   What does this actually look like? I am a strong writer. When I sit down with a keyboard, I am able to produce written material quickly. In contrast, I do not have a strong sense for music. While I could learn, I will forever be slower than someone who is musically gifted. My strength lies in writing, and when I focus on that, I am leveraging that strength. If I have a need for music, rather than do it myself (which would take forever) I am better off outsourcing those tasks so I can continue to leverage my strengths.

   To highlight this point, we can look at a quote from actor Will Smith:

“The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft."

Will Smith

   Focusing on your strengths, your talents, will help you out-perform and out-produce all those around you. Do you know what your greatest strengths are?

Action Item: Ask 3 friends to tell you what they think your greatest strengths are.

Necessary Skills for Our Path

   The second element to creating career success is in the pursuit of the skills that you do need. The development of these skills should be pursued with a focused, planned growth strategy. Many times we simply try to learn a skill after we are presented with a new problem. This slows us down, as we then begin learning from scratch right when we need the skills the most. A clear growth plan will help alleviate this bottleneck of skill vs. need. With a growth plan, you can start developing your understanding, and practicing the skills before you are put in a position to use them. In this way you can respond faster to problems, and be more comfortable taking on stretch projects that really advance your skills, both in your eyes and in others. 

   How do you know what skills you’ll need? Almost nobody is walking a path that hasn’t been walked before. Even on the cutting edge fringes of science, there are parallels between different career paths. It is these other examples that you need to seek out. Once you have sought a good example out (one that is doing what you want to do), analyze the skills that they utilize most to be successful. Do you have those skills? Are they something you should be working on?

   Knowing the skills that are used on your next step will help you frame a growth strategy that aids you in your career growth. Armed with this knowledge, you can start developing those skills now. As Will Smith said, “Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft."  Starting early, you will surpass everyone else simply as a result of your extra hours devoted to learning and growing. 

Action Item: Find either job postings or example persons to determine the skills you’ll need most at your next career level. 

How do you create career success? 

   Leverage your strengths, and don’t try too hard to improve your weaknesses. This will ensure everything you do, you’re the best at. And for the rest? Leave it to people who are better suited for those tasks. Your success will skyrocket as you out-perform everyone else! And as you leverage your strengths, be sure to keep an eye on the skills you’ll need in the future. Developing these through your own professional growth plan will help you get a leg up on the competition, as the hours you’ve spent preparing for future obstacles will give you an incredible head start over anyone else!

Asking for Wealth


   Have you ever asked for a lower price? 

   A gentlemen I spoke with recently told me a story where he tried this for the first time. He was in a store with his daughters when a sweater caught their eyes. But after looking at the price tag, no matter how his daughters begged and pleaded, no matter the pouts and puppy dog eyes, there was no way he was spending that much on those sweaters. As he headed for the checkout, without the sweaters, he ran into the store manager. After the quick pleasantries, he simply asked, “Are those sweaters going on sale anytime soon? My daughters would love them, but I am not prepared to pay full price for them.” 

   Have you ever asked for a discount? In some cultures the process of bargaining and haggling over prices is part of every economic transaction. But in other cultures, like North American culture, that simply is not the norm. While this is not a commentary on the diverse cultures of the world, asking for preferential pricing is a strategy that could save you some serious dollars. 

   Even in cultures where asking for discounts isn’t common on everyday purchases, we’re still prepared to do it for certain items. We couldn’t even imagine buying a car without first talking the price down at the dealership. Or buying a home without making a few offers and counter-offers. But if we start applying that same mentality to our everyday purchasing, we might just be able to make our hard earned dollars stretch just a little bit further.

And for the really advanced readers, if you take those savings that you asked for and invest them, you’ll be on a greatly accelerated path to financial freedom.

   So what happened to our friend buying sweaters for his daughters? Well, his daughters have a couple of brand new sweaters with matching smiles to go with them! The savings were almost 50% of the price tag, which of course feels pretty good. And the store manager made a couple of sales that he otherwise wouldn’t have. I’d say the whole situation turned into a win-win.

   Stepping out of our comfort zone and asking for a discount is an important, and often overlooked strategy. Rather than waiting for things to go on sale, we can simply ask for preferred pricing. This helps us save money, which we can put to better use as we continue our pursuit of financial freedom.

Dressing for Success

How often do you go for a haircut?

   This question sparked a pivotal learning point for Jay Abraham as he divulged in an interview with Ramit Sethi. The learning from Jay resonated deeply with me in relation to a topic one of my coaching clients asked about. The topic of dressing for success. 

   How often do people get their haircut? The answer, gave the stylist: it varies greatly between people. Some people come in every month, every 3 months, every 6 months. With such a discrepancy in the frequency of visits, one must ask the question, why? It is usually very obvious when people come in from visiting a stylist, they look fresher, cleaner, more professional. Despite the cliche, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." We do judge. And when someone takes time to dress well, we notice, and it reflects well on them. There are a few elements at play here:


   Think of a well dressed lady or man. Their stature improves. They stand taller, smile broader. When someone knows they look good, they exude an aura of confidence that lets the world know, "Yeah, I've got this". Confidence itself leads to a wealth of benefits, all of which can be externally triggered by the simple act of dressing for success. These benefits include; openness to tackling challenges, increased professional performance, happiness, and health. Not only are we more willing, and even more capable of taking on our obstacles, our performance also increases. Without self-doubt, we end up smashing through obstacles that otherwise we would have turned back from. You can see the impact of confidence in a common martial art demonstration, punching through a plank of wood. The key to success in this maneuver is to strike through the wood, embracing the confidence that you can break through the wood. On the flip side, if you don't believe you can break the wood, you'll hesitate slightly which will reduce force, and the obstacle won't be broken. This analogy perfectly illustrates the benefits that confidence can have when facing professional challenges. And through this, confidence brings us to the other benefit of dressing for success, competence.


   We need to dress the part for success, however that looks in your profession. You would be skeptical taking fitness advice from an overweight personal trainer, you may also discount any health advice received from a sick doctor. We expect people of their own craft to look and act the part. And that starts the moment we first see them. I would be concerned if my surgeon showed up to the operating room in sneakers and gym shorts, regardless of how talented she claimed to be. That same surgeon though, dressed in scrubs, would give me confidence that she knew her business, simply from how she dressed. 

   As the world becomes more progressive in their tolerances, some things will always hold their merit. And dressing well is one of those items. Regardless of the dress code for your profession, when you show up looking good, that speaks volumes.

   So if there is one take-away here, keeping up with your appearance grants you confidence and an air of competence that immediately sets you at the front of the pack. Dressing for success is an easy way to get a leg up on your competition, and look good doing it!

The Cost of Borrowing

   Last week we looked at interest rates and their impact on our financial accounts from the perspective of an investor. Even more common in our financial lives though, we use borrowings from the perspective of a borrower. Understanding how interest works before we are charged is imperative to avoiding the slippery slope of consumer debt that plagues many individuals. As a recap, interest is a charge on borrowed funds. 

   In its most simplified terms, borrowing with interest means paying back more than you borrowed. The difference is the interest paid. The lending/borrowing arrangements are incredibly diverse, but can be evaluated based on the Annual Percentage Rate of interest. UK and North American consumers are fortunate in that respect, as interest rates must be displayed in that form. This standardizes the cost of borrowing on most consumer loans by showing the annual cost of the loan. As the interest rates indicate the cost of the loan, the higher the APR, the worse the loan terms are.

   The most common source of short term borrowing we see are credit cards. The interest rates on these cards are astronomically high, often ranging from low double digits all the way to 20% or more! At interest rates like these, failing to pay off your balance before interest is charged dramatically increases the cost of your purchases. Other common sources of debt are; vehicle loans, mortgages, lines of credit, store financing, to name a few.

How to deal with Debt

   When paying off debt, your primary goal is to pay off anything with the highest interest rates first. This will reduce the cost of interest, and ultimately save you money in the long term. This is the mathematically best solution, and goes contrary to some other strategies. When available, you should also try to consolidate your debts into one single, lower interest rate loan. This can be especially hard to do if you already have poor credit, as banks and other lending institutions will charge you a higher interest rate to account for the extra perceived risk, or they simply may not lend anything at all.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have an emergency fund, you need a line of credit.

   Getting a line of credit when you don’t need one will result in more favourable interest rates. The line of credit costs you nothing if you don’t use it, but in the event of a financial emergency, being able to pay off credit cards using a lower borrowing cost option will save you potentially tens of thousands of dollars on interest in the long run. Note: this is a last resort backup plan, and shouldn’t be utilized to finance any purchases that are not absolutely essential to living.

When to use Debt

   Debt can be used for our financial benefit. We are well aware that home ownership for most of us is only attainable if we finance through a mortgage. This use of borrowed money allows us to enjoy assets that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. There is one main reason to use debt, and that is leverage for an investment. Leverage simply means borrowing to purchase something. In the case of real estate, we often expect the value of our investments to increase over time, and if the gains surpass the interest costs, we come out ahead. 

When to pay off debt

   If you have debt, there are times when it is more advantageous to not pay off the debt. Incurring interest expenses intentionally may be the right financial move if you can make more money by investing than you would save by paying off the debt. If you can invest at a 10% return, and only pay 7% in interest, you are ahead 3%. Unfortunately the future is never certain, so you should also take a risk premium into consideration. If in the above example, the investment return under performs expectations and results in a 6% return, you would have paid more in interest than you earned. 

   As a result of future uncertainty, to make the equation equal you need to assign a risk premium. To display this in a formula, we would look at the decision like this:

Expected Return = Cost of Interest + Risk Premium

   In the above example, we can use the 7% interest and a 2% Risk Premium. If our expected return exceeds 9%, we are comfortable taking the risk for the extra returns. If the expected return is less than 9%, we should pay off the debt for the guaranteed cost savings of 7% in interest charges.


   Borrowing money is an important part of our personal finance journey. Understanding when and how to use debt, and how to evaluate different options will ensure we make the right choices on our path to financial freedom. Some of the key take-aways from this article are:

  1. The higher the APR, or Annual Percentage Rate, the more interest you will be paying, and by consequence, the worse the debt is.
  2. Paying off the highest interest rate debt first will save you the most money.
  3. If you don’t have an emergency fund, get a line of credit before you need one. Your terms will be better, and in case of an emergency, those better terms can help keep you from financial ruin.
  4. Use borrowings to invest in assets that will increase in value. This is called leverage.
  5. Pay off debt first unless the investment return is more than the interest rate on debt plus a Risk Premium that suits your investor type.

Pick your Poison

Pick your Poison

   Marketers describe us as consumers, and we are. We are all creatures of consumption, from what we eat and drink, to the appointments we fill ourselves with, and the information we digest. And when it comes to the things we ingest, either physically, mentally, spiritually, we need to be vigilant about what enters our bodies. 

   Of course words of wisdom like this are easily passed over as too basic or trivial to even worry about. We all know that excessive alcohol consumption is bad for our health, or smoking carries serious long term risks. And these are all true! But the pitfalls of our pervasive over consumption goes far beyond the studies mentioned on the 6 o’clock news.

   Of the list of things that we consume, food and drink certainly picks up the lion’s share of the blame tab. Every week a new study is released discussing the negative elements of too much sugar, too many carbs, fats, acids, the list goes on. These studies can be summed up rather succinctly by saying: Too much of anything is bad for you. But aside from the food plate (formerly our well known food pyramid), what other areas of consumption should we be wary of? 

   The poisons we pick fall into two categories; time, and information.



   The alarm clock buzzes, we reach over and hit the snooze button. Wait, this isn’t the early 2000’s anymore. Our snooze button is actually a finger slide on our touchscreen. A few minutes later, the electronic rooster is at it again. Grumbling, we roll over and open our eyes, picking up that phone and sliding the screen up. First thing, let’s check social media, and probably our inbox to see what happened in the overnight hours. Great, calendar invites for today.

   Within 15 minutes of waking up, we already see 4 meeting requests, that’s half our day gone in meetings that we probably shouldn’t even be in. One of the most venomous poisons that we willingly consume is these irrelevant demands on our time. And not that we aren’t important, but a 4 line email or a 5 minute phone call would likely straighten out our issues without the need for an hour long meeting. 

   The consumption of time is incredibly poisonous for two reasons. First, it kills our productivity. As we run from meeting to meeting, we hardly have time to sit down and focus on our important tasks of the day/week/year. And secondly, consuming our time by running around being busy feels good. We love the feeling that we are important, that someone needs us, and by stepping in to be their hero, we forget about our own quest. 

   Over-consumption of time is a devastating poison to swallow. And this problem is only going to get worse as we become increasingly connected. 

It’s Time We Took Back Our Time.

   So what can we do to take this time back? The best strategy is to plan out your day the night before. Put on your calendar non-negotiable time to work on your priorities, on the tasks that are most important to your goals. Taking back your time before someone else tries to will vastly improve your success as you strive for greater and more abundant achievements. 



   Perhaps the most pervasive of all poisons is actually information. Think back to that electronic rooster crowing. As we load up our calendars with irrelevant meetings, what else do we consume? Social media captions of celebrities, news feeds full of stories of the latest tragedies around the world, and all sorts of horrific incidents. The same is portrayed on breakfast TV and 6 pm news. Sensationalist headlines all striving to out-do one another by bringing us the most corrupt and terrifying stories. Once we start down that slide of human suffering and misery, it becomes almost impossible to then take on the day’s challenges with an open, positive mindset. 

“It doesn’t matter where you get the bad stuff, it will still do it’s damage.” ~ Jim Rohn

   As we strive for achievement, we need to be conscious that negative stories and news will fill us with negative energy. This energy is not optimal for producing creative solutions to problems. In information, as much if not more than anywhere else, do we need to pick our poison well. 

What Poison Should We Take?

   As we each pursue different interests, and have different life experiences, the level and content of information we need differs greatly. If you have small children, you’d be well off to know about unsafe roads in your neighbourhood. Or the happenings overseas where a family member is vacationing. Or the government regulations that might affect your business. But none of us needs to consume all of the information we currently do. If you aren’t an aspiring Hollywood actress, knowing the habits and routines of the Kardashians is probably not helpful for our growth.

The Antidote:

   We can’t steer clear of all negativity. There will certainly be days were we eat too much, or have one too many drinks. And for almost all of us, we can’t reasonably control our entire calendar. But we do need to exercise some careful planning in all of these areas. Pick your poison. Choose what you want to consume, and what you don’t. Making these choices before they are made for you will vastly improve your rate and level of success. 



Action Exercise:

There are two things we can do this week to start picking our poison:

  1. Block off an hour each day to work exclusively on your priorities. This is a non-negotiable calendar slot where you focus entirely on your goals.
  2. Start unsubscribing from email threads that don’t serve you any more. Start small, with only a couple this week. Do you miss getting the emails? Do you even notice not getting them?

Understanding Real Interest Rates

Understanding Interest Rates
Why Stuffing Cash in Your Mattress is a Bad Idea

   Interest rates are one of the most commonly advertised terms in the financial world. High interest savings accounts, low interest credit cards, high interest rate bond yields, low interest rate mortgages, the list goes on and on. But what does that actually mean for us? And how do interest rates fit into our personal finances?

   Interest rates fit into our finances in two ways, the cost of borrowing, and a return when investing. We'll look at the two here.

The Cost of Borrowing

   Interest is charged on the principal, the amount borrowed, and is usually expressed as an annual percentage rate (APR). If the interest is compounded, the interest is added to the previous principal, and interest is charged on the cumulative balance. This is essentially charging interest on interest, and is how many people end up drowning in vicious consumer debt.

   We’ll take a deeper dive into the debt side of personal finance next week. For this week, let’s look at the other side of the equation, lending money for interest income.

Interest as an Investment

   There are essentially 2 ways to generate interest income, lending money, and storing money. Almost all bank accounts provide a small amount of interest income. To increase that interest income, we can lock our funds into a bond or loan of some form. With innovations in FinTech, there are increasingly diverse options for lending outside the traditional realm of corporate and government bonds.

   Bank accounts provide an excellent way to hold emergency funds, and funds used for day-to-day needs. I recommend at least 2 bank accounts, one should be a high interest e-savings account for your emergency fund, and the second should provide you no fee transactions for your daily needs. Both these options provide you liquidity, the ability to quickly retrieve your money, but the trade-off is a lower interest rate. 

   To receive a higher interest rate, we can invest in bonds and loans. The money here is set aside for a pre-defined period of time, and to compensate for your loss of liquidity, the interest rate paid to you as income is higher. For example, a 5-year bond might pay you 3% interest, while a 20-year bond may pay you 5% interest. The extra interest income is paid to you to compensate you for using your money for a longer period of time.

Learning point: Interest Rates (income) increase to pay you for the use of your money for a longer time-frame.

   There exists one more consideration when looking at these interest rates. That is the difference between the Nominal Interest Rate, and the Real Interest Rate. The real interest rate takes into consideration inflation, and is more important to an investor than the nominal interest rate. They are tied to each other by inflation.

   Real Interest Rate = Nominal Interest Rate - Inflation Rate

   When evaluating your bank accounts and debt investments (bonds and loans), often the Nominal Interest Rate is stated. Your purchasing power, or your economic result will be impacted by the Real Interest Rate. 

   To see this in practice, let’s look at a few examples:

Understanding Interest Rates Examples

   As you can see, the real interest rate means you only make money when the Nominal (or Stated) Interest Rate is higher than the rate of inflation. Or put another way, the purchasing power of your dollar decreases over time. 

Learning Point: If the Nominal Interest Rate is lower than the Inflation Rate, you’re effectively losing money.

   For this reason, storing the extra cash under the mattress is a bad idea. Not to mention, mattresses these days are quite comfortable without the extra padding. 

Key Personal Finance Strategy Take-Aways

   Carrying a large balance in your regular bank account does you few favors, as Example 1 above shows, inflation is slowly eating that money up (even if it doesn’t look like it!). To ensure your emergency fund is available, and able to stretch as far in the future as it does now, I recommend a high interest account to counter some effects of inflation. And finally, when investing in debt or loans, to ensure that you have a profitable investment the Nominal (Stated) Interest Rate isn’t the right interest rate to look at. Instead, you need to calculate the estimated Real Interest Rate. 

   Don’t worry, we’ve thrown enough math at you for now. If you want speculation on what inflation rates will look like in the future, a quick google search will provide you professional estimates. 

   Equipped with this knowledge, as you engage in debt investing (bonds and loans), you’re ready to make a calculated decision!

Formula Recap:

Real Interest Rate = Nominal Interest Rate - Inflation Rate

Repairing Vs. Preparing

Repairing Vs Preparing

   Are your efforts focused on achieving success? If we aren’t careful, we end up starting well behind the starting line. Success is a multifaceted approach, and as life gets busy we often focus on the most pressing concerns. This can lead us to neglecting certain areas of our lives. If we neglect some pillars of success in our lives for too long, instead of progressing towards our success goals, we end up behind the starting line and need to repair past mistakes and neglects.

What does this “neglect” look like?

   For example, you spend too long at work and your relationship with your wife/husband/partner is deteriorating. When you look at how you define success for your relationship, you need to repair the relationship before you can prepare and take action to achieve your desired goal. Or you skip the gym for too long, you'll need to regain muscle mass and heart health before you are able to push towards your fitness goals. Or you spend too much. Now you need to pay off your debts to bring yourself back to a place where you can continue working towards your financial goals. These are the neglects that need repairing if we fail to live a balanced life.

Got it - Live a balanced life. That doesn’t sound too hard. What’s the catch?

   The challenge often arises when we are making these trade-offs. We justify to ourselves that we are furthering our careers, or other aspirations. Focusing on certain areas where we see increased growth, especially in the short term. Such as working extra hard for a few months leads us to the visible promotion, while the strain that overtime puts on our relationships takes far longer to show stress fractures. 

   If success is the pursuit of our ideal life, those stress fractures set us back. Our careers might be taking off, or we’re in peak physical shape, or our finances are exceeding expectations. But those stress fractures in other important areas of our life eventually cause us to falter. And if not repaired, our foundations can even come crumbling down around us. 

What can we do about it?

   Living a balanced lifestyle is easier said than done. When we’re caught up in the moments of day to day living, we often aren’t taking the 20,000 foot view. That birds eye view of our lives, objectively evaluating each of our pillars of success; Financial, Physical, Career, Spiritual, Relationships, and Romance. Routinely looking at all areas of our life at once helps us notice any trends that are forming, for better or for worse. This self-review is hard, which is why we need good friends and/or success coaches who can give us the hard news, the straight truth, when we need it most. Having someone else in your corner provides perspective on the day-to-day challenges we all face, and helps make sure our foundations stay strong. 

   Success is a long game, and it’s far more rewarding when we’re preparing for future growth and opportunities, rather than repairing the neglects of the past.

The Coffee Cup Retirement

The Coffee Cup Retirement

   We've all heard about saving on the latte every day, and that will eventually fund our retirement. But this story has been sensationalized by media and spouted all over every personal finance blog ever written. Some in favor, some argue it's ineffectiveness. Neither are helpful at dissecting the story into actionable insights. To help us understand the reasons behind this overused example, a quote from leadership expert John Maxwell comes to mind.

"The secret to success is to do a little bit every day. Doing a little bit every day is a lot more important than doing a lot some day." Most people live in some day." ~ John Maxwell

   When looking at the coffee cup retirement example, the key is not that eliminating your morning coffee will make you rich when you retire. The numbers alone don’t support this assertion. Rather, the key is that if you make a seemingly small choice each and every day, over time that adds up to substantial wealth.

“You mentioned numbers, prove it.”

20-Years of Coffee
40-Years of Coffee

   As you can see, even after 40 years, saving $ 5.00 / day into a retirement account averaging 6% return each year won’t allow you to reach your retirement goals. Saving $ 5.00 each day is simply not sufficient to fund a comfortable and lengthy retirement, although it’s better than nothing. 

   As I’ve mentioned before, the minimum amount that should be set aside each year is 10%. The coffee cup retirement only works mathematically if your gross annual earnings are $ 18,250. If you earn more than that, the amount you need to save also increases.

“So the coffee cup retirement doesn’t work?”

   No, if you earn more than 18 thousand a year, the coffee cup retirement of saving $ 5 each day doesn’t work. But the principle of “small actions add up to big results over time” still stands. Using that as our take-away we can understand that cutting our morning mocha isn’t likely to lead us to financial freedom. But a small action, such as investing 10% of our annual salary each year, every year, will put us on a path to financial freedom. 

   Keep drinking that coffee, just as long as you save 10%. If you aren’t there yet, maybe $ 5 each day is a good place to start. Just remember, small positive choices every day will put you on a path to financial freedom.

The Painful Pursuit of Success

   The pursuit of success should be made through all reasonable efforts. I believe it would be an affront to our futures if we did not strive to become more than what we are now, at every stage of our lives. Every person who has tasted success, be it a professional athlete, a commendable home-maker, or a business professional, would all agree; success is a joy. Achieving greater successes is exciting, enjoyable, and exhilarating. But there is one thing we must all face to achieve these pleasures; and that is the painful pursuit of success.

   You see the milestones we talk about, those are the happy times, those are the signs that our efforts are paying off. But the efforts themselves, they are not fun. Those painful pursuits are the small, seemingly insignificant behaviours that most days we don’t feel like doing. Like showing up at the gym when we’re exhausted and the temptation to just hit snooze is almost overpowering. Or giving up on that much desired lazy night in to attend a networking event. Or taking the high-road because of the lessons others can learn from our restraint. These scenarios, and a hundred others like them every single day play out. And they hurt.

   Delaying instant gratification of simply doing what we want in the moment is the largest differentiating factor in achieving success. Successful people know this: what is undesirable or even painful in this moment, will be rewarded with the joys of success in the future. To borrow from our fitness fanatics:

No Pain, No Gain

   The truth in this statement cannot be overstated, not in the intentional pursuit of pain, but rather in the sacrifice needed to become great. Pushing ourselves at great lengths once or twice is not the path to success. Instead, it's the small, seemingly insignificant at the time, choices that lead us to success.

   The painful pursuit of success is thus: making the choices each day, each week, that aren’t the most enjoyable in the present moment, but pay us off with interest in the future.


Action Item Take-Away: 

   What choices are you making unconsciously each day that could be changed to ensure a brighter future? What choices could you make today that improve your life tomorrow?

   Think on this, write down the choices that you will start making today to ensure tomorrow is brighter. And then, take action on those choices.

Controlling Lifestyle Creep

   How much money do you need to live each month? Finding the answer to this question is an essential element of any successful personal finance plan. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always as easy to answer as we like to think it is. But as we start to organize our finances to set ourselves up for success, there is a process we can take.

Write down what you need to live your lifestyle

   Deciding how much money we need to live on starts with a list of all of our current spending. This list is important for two main reasons, the first of which, it helps us determine how much we can invest for our future. The second reason, is that list is an essential component for self-review down the road.

   If your current lifestyle demands more expenses than you make in income, this first step has highlighted a serious problem. Overspending will draw down on savings. Unless you are in retirement and planning the final chapters of your life,  this overspending could place you in serious financial hardship.

   As a general rule, our lifestyles must not cost more than we make in income each month. This means there will be left over resources to allocate to future wealth and plans. How much extra money we have left is up for some debate, but the lowest reasonable number suggested in The Richest Man in Babylon is 10%. Jim Rohn would argue that the number is higher, suggesting 30% of total income be put aside for charity and wealth.

Repeat your lifestyle cost list

   Periodically you should compare previous lists to current lists for your lifestyle expenses. This will provide a visual representation to how you have changed and grown over time. These lists are especially important when you experience an increase in income, to ensure that your lifestyle creep doesn’t surpass your income growth. 

Our spending habits change over time, so what?

   While our spending habits change over time, and as our income grows we become accustomed to a higher standard of living, we need to be conscious of all these elements. This is especially prevalent when looking at how much we save and invest for the future. Often times, when our earnings are lower, we tell ourselves we’ll save more for the future in the future when our income increases. This is especially common among young professionals just getting started in their careers and lives. As our lives and careers progress, we must be intentional about saving enough for future riches. The best way to do this; ensure we aren’t letting our lifestyle creep leave us poor in the future.

   What does your lifestyle cost? How much is left over for future riches? Are you living at least below the 90% of income rule? Answering these questions will help you determine if you’re on the right path to financial success.