Principles of Success #4 – Logistics

The principles in this series are loosely based on the Principles of Wealth, written by Erik Hamre, and featured in the novel The Last Alchemist.

The next principle is logistics. You want to get into the habit of figuring out the logistics before you start barreling through.

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My dad has a knack for building. He’s always told me that if I want something built, all I’d have to do was figure out how to make it and he’d take care of getting the supplies. I’ve taken him up on the offer for everything from a simple shelf to multiple custom built mannequins for a school project.

show.jpgWhat, you thought I was kidding?

Before my dad would ever get started, he needed a plan. Most of the time I come up with projects that are a little out there, so the plans aren’t easily accessible. This takes some research on my part to determine exactly how I’m going to make these things. If we wait to figure that out until we start the project, we’d only be wasting time and wood.

By taking a half an hour or so to take a few measurements and make some calculations, I can save time and prevent my dad from getting a headache. Then I can give him a clear list of the supplies needed and the steps we need to take to create whatever weird thing I had in mind.

So, before you do anything, sit down and think it through. This applies to life, as well as carpentry projects. You know where you want to end up, and you’ve got some idea of how to get there, right? Now you need to figure out the specifics.

What do you need to move forward?
How much will it cost?
What’s your timeline?
What skills do you need to learn?
Where can you learn those skills?
What potential challenges should you be aware of? 

These are just a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself before starting anything. Prepare for as many contingencies as possible and your journey will be that much easier.

At this point in my life, I’m pretty used to going through this checklist of questions for just about any situation. I would guess this is because I’ve been trained to think this way (thanks Dad!). If you’re not like me, and you normally dive into things without a plan, don’t worry. It’s an important skill to learn, but it’s not a hard one.

Start with something simple, like the weekly grocery shopping.

Rather than just making a list of what you have a craving for, start with a meal plan. That’s your intent. Once you’ve figured out what you want to make for the week, check what you have (it’s always a good idea to base your meal plans off of what you have first, and store sales second).

Then make your list, keeping in mind the layout of your store. Write your list so that you can make the shortest route to everything without having to backtrack (don’t put lettuce or fresh fruit at the end, because it’s normally the first thing you walk past). Beside each item, write an estimate of what you think the cost will be, so that you can make sure you’re remaining within your budget.

Then, all you have to do is put your plan in action! Simple, right?

Planning out the logistics for your future is the best way to ensure that it will turn out the way you want.

Will you have setbacks? Sure. But you’ll have prepared for them. Just because you’ve made a plan doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone. You may have to make a few adjustments once you’ve gotten started, but when you begin with a direction, you’re already closer to achieving your intent than you think.

Write down your plan for your life now. It will give you an opportunity to see where the gaps in your plan are. How could you deal with those obstacles once you get to them? If you can point out your mistakes before you’ve started, you’ll be able to avoid them.

 

 

Principles of Success #3 – Decision

The principles in this series are loosely based on the Principles of Wealth, written by Erik Hamre, and featured in the novel The Last Alchemist.

Now that you’ve found your Faith and solidified your Intent, it’s time to make a decision. This principle is about more than just formally declaring “This is what I’m going to do.” You’ve already done that. This is about getting yourself ready for the long road ahead.

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A lot of people struggle with making decisions, especially when the problem is particularly difficult. For instance, I had no idea what to do a few years ago when we were hit with a large medical bill after my husband got sick. The fees seemed outrageous and it felt like we’d been taken advantage of by everyone who had been involved. In order to resolve the issue, we gathered up the money and paid all of the bills as quickly as possible.

Making a quick decision is very important, but (and I can’t stress this enough);

If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you will make a bad decision.

So, rather than just making a decision because it’s quick, you’ve got to do some research. Make sure that you fully understand what the situation is and all of the options you can take.

I later found out that you can negotiate your hospital bills down. While it was good that I made a quick decision, it turned out that it wasn’t in the best interest of my family. Had we taken the time to research more options and get tips from people who had already been in our position, we might have been able to save ourselves some money while appeasing the medical system.

Despite knowing that we could have made a better decision, I don’t regret making the choice that we did. By making a quick decision and taking care of the problem right away, we were able to keep moving forward.

Even if you make the wrong decision, you move forward in some way.

While it would have been nice to have saved more money, we learned a lot about stressful situations like the one we had been in. We learned how to support each other, and we got a better idea of each other’s strengths in these situations. In the future, if we have to deal with this again, we’ll be much better prepared.

Forward motion, people.

Otherwise, you spend your time in limbo while you hem and haw about what should be done. If none of the options before you are exactly ideal, then you either need to do some more research or choose the one that you’ll be able to live with the most.

The fact that we could have been in a better situation had we done a little more research was moot for us, because the issue was already resolved. Which brings me to another important point;

Once you’ve made a decision, don’t change it. 

While it’s bad to waste time by being indecisive, it’s even worse to waste time by reversing a decision you’ve already made. Stand by the decisions you make, and deal with the consequences as they come.

You will have to make a lot of decisions on the road to success. Chances are, the snap decisions that you make with your gut are the best ones for you. After making sure that you understand your situation, stick with the choice that jumps out at you. Even if it seems like you made the wrong one, something good will come out of it.

You’ve already made a few important decisions here. You’ve decided to believe in your abilities over your fears. You’ve decided what you want to accomplish and that you will accomplish it. Don’t let that momentum go away. Keep at it.

You’ll be able to say you’re successful soon as long as you just keep moving forward.

Principles of Success #2 – Intent

The principles in this series are loosely based on the Principles of Wealth, written by Erik Hamre, and featured in the novel The Last Alchemist.

If you’re really serious about working to make your life the way you want it, you have to start with more than just a wish. Everyone has wishes and hopes and dreams. To be truly successful, you need to do more than just write down a goal (although writing your intentions does help).

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The difference between a goal and an intent is the severity of your ambition. If you set goals for the day and you don’t get to all of them, it’s not such a big deal. You can always do it tomorrow; it’s not urgent. An intent is urgent. While a goal is something that you want to do, an intent is something that you will do.

I can say over and over that I want to lose weight, and I want to be healthier, but it’s not going to happen until I really make it a priority.

The push to intention normally comes after some event that serves as motivation. It could be a bad experience at work that forms into a serious plan to open your own business. Maybe you find out that you or your spouse has a medical condition that encourages you to eat healthier.

That doesn’t mean that there has to be a serious impetus to take this step.

If you’re thinking about working toward your goals, you already have the motivation. You just need to turn it into an intent. Think about everything that frustrates you about where you are right now. Make a list of them, and rank them from most frustrating to least. Now, really look at each of those items. How many of them are actually impossible for you to change? Chances are, very few.

Whether or not you’ve chosen to believe it, you’re in control of your own life. If you’re not where you want to be, it’s because you’ve been too afraid to take the chance and go there.

Have faith.

Turn your goal into an intent.

“But where do I start?”

This is a question for your heart. What do you love to do? The road ahead is going to be tough. If you keep your heart in it, the process will be that much easier.

If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to do, that’s okay. Your heart does. 

Personally, I’ve always had a fascination with fibers. In following this passion, I’ve learned how to sew, knit, embroider, upholster, bead, and weave. While I still feel like I haven’t found exactly what I want to do, there’s a definite path that I’m following, just based on my personal interests.

Follow where your heart leads. 

Once you have an idea of what you love, think about how that can lead to your intent.

What do you really want to do with your life? What do you stay up at night wishing you could accomplish? It doesn’t have to be a fully formed idea right now. Your end goal might be as simple as cooking a homemade meal every night for your family, or going to every one of your son’s soccer games. Your goal might be to become a multi-millionaire.

My intent is to be able to stay home with my children. For my situation, I need to find a way to use my passion to be able to supplement my husband’s income enough that we can survive with only one steady paycheck. The path that I take to achieve my intent could be anything from knitting scarves to reupholstering furniture. The fact that I don’t have all of that figured out right now isn’t a big deal.

You will be presented with opportunities that match your passion. Make sure you keep your eyes open so you don’t miss them.

Principles of Success #1 – Faith

The principles in this series are loosely based on the Principles of Wealth, written by Erik Hamre, and featured in the novel The Last Alchemist.

Before anyone runs away, let me specify that this principle does not necessarily center around a religious faith. For me personally, and for my family, it does. That doesn’t mean that a belief in God is required. I am going to talk about my beliefs, though, so if that’s upsetting to you, you might just want to skip over the next section.

In Hamre’s novel, this principle came second. After some introspection, I came to the conclusion that before you can start thinking about what you want to do, you’ve got to iron out your beliefs. The Last Alchemist goes into a mini spiel discounting religion and any belief in God; focusing on the belief in one’s self over the belief in a higher power.

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Why does it have to be one or the other?

I will admit, for a while in college I totally thought I was too smart to believe in God. I thought that believing in a higher power was a crutch for people who weren’t strong enough to get through life on their own.

The entire time I believed this I was miserable.

I had no idea why. I felt so strong and independent and intelligent, but I was empty, too. Nothing I did mattered. I created things that had no purpose, so everything I did felt worthless. Then, one day I realized that the reason I have the skills and opportunities that I do is because God gave them to me. This knowledge gave me a purpose, which has truly made my life richer.

I can believe in myself because God has given me the tools to be successful.

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Faith

The true lesson of this principle has nothing to do with religion. Whether you believe your talent and ability come from God or a rock, the point is this:

You cannot be successful if you’re held back by fear. 

For my husband and I, this fear is for our children. The main fear, of course, being financial. How are we going to be able to provide for them when we seem to be back at rock bottom so frequently?

The answer is so simple I felt a little dumb when I realized it.

We’ve already figured it out. We’ve done it before. We’ll get out of it, because we already have. Each time we’ve experienced a financial setback, it’s been incredibly stressful, but we’ve learned to plan for them. Because of this, we’ve never had the same setback twice. Needing a major repair on our only car a few years ago rendered us nearly destitute, but now we budget for automotive surprises. Although this was different from the time we had a major health bill to deal with, the principles for getting back to security were the same.

Chances are, the fears that you have are over obstacles that you’ve already overcome.

Let go of the fear of failure. I know it can be awful to get on Facebook and see all of your friends doing great when you’ve just found out that you’ll be eating peanut butter for the next month. That stuff is going to happen. Life isn’t a steady ride to the top, it’s a series of successes and failures. Some days will suck and others will make you feel like you’re on top of the world.

It’s easy to believe in yourself when your day is going exactly the way you want it to. It’s on the days when your worst fears are realized that you need faith. You are capable of surviving. You already have.

Believe you can do something and you’ll do it.

Now, I’m not saying that working toward a successful, joyful life isn’t difficult. It is. It takes planning, sacrifice, and persistence. No one’s going to hand you the key to happiness on a silver platter. God will provide the door, but you’ve got to get up and walk through it. Faith in your ability will simply make the process that much easier and more enjoyable.

 

Inspiration from The Last Alchemist

I recently finished reading a book called The Last Alchemist by Erik Hamre. It’s a mystery thriller about a business student researching the life of a wildly successful man who disappeared. While the plot is incredibly well written, what inspired me was a set of “Principles of Wealth” that the author created to get the main character thinking about his own goals in life.

The principles given in the book are little more than stepping stones to get you in the correct mindset to be successful. In my mind, they have nothing to do with wealth, unless that’s what you believe makes a person successful.

Normally I can read a book in 1-2 days, especially the ones I’ve downloaded to my Kindle. Once I read the first principle, though, I found myself reading slow and rereading passages so that I could really let the ideas sink in.

While I was definitely interested in the story, I was more interested in using the principles to really think about where I am in life and where I want to go.

That being said, I’m starting something new. Using the ideas from The Last Alchemist as the starting point, I’ve come up with a set of principles of my own. These are more focused on family goals than monetary. I want to be successful, not wealthy (although I guess I wouldn’t turn that down if I got wealthy at the same time). I’m more focused on my life being full of joy and love and possibilities.

So, if you’re feeling like a slave to debt, and it seems like you can’t break through the walls holding you back from a successful home life, I encourage you to follow along. Take the time to really think about each principle and how it relates to you.

Since I want to spend a good amount of time with each principle, I’ll be posting them individually. For now, though, here’s the list of the main points.

  1. Faith
  2. Intent
  3. Decision
  4. Logistics
  5. Help
  6. Imagination
  7. Perception
  8. Tools
  9. Perseverance
  10. Investment

I’ll see you soon to discuss the first principle!