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Ramp Up Your Savings

uptrend.jpgBigg success is life on your own terms. One of the five elements of bigg success is money. We need to plan ahead so we have enough money to live our golden years on our own terms once we no longer work, another one of the five elements. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine our golden years being golden.

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The silver lining

There’s at least one silver lining (boy, we’re hitting all the precious metals today) in the dark cloud we’ve been experiencing with the economy – we’re saving money again! It’s not easy to save money, but many of us have realized how important it is to have a reserve.

Financial planners say we should save at least ten percent of our income to put toward retirement. We’ve even heard some recommend twelve percent.

A lot of us face a bigg challenge in socking away that amount of money. Some people may get discouraged because they can’t come close to saving ten percent. So they just don’t save at all.

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georgeI can relate to that because I’m somewhat of an all or nothing guy. But as my dad used to say, “Fifty percent of something is better than a hundred percent of nothing!”

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marylynnAnd nothing is what we end up with if we don’t stash some away now! But there’s no need to get discouraged if you’re not saving all that financial planners recommend.

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Ramp up your savings pain-free

Let’s consider a hypothetical couple that has a household income of $100,000. They should save $10,000 according to the experts, but they’re only able to save $3,000.

However, they are determined to find a way to get to that ten percent. They decide that, one way or another, they will make an extra $2,000 every year, year after year, for the next five years. So they plan to make $102,000 next year, $104,000 the following year and so on. This may come from pay raises, bonuses, or a part-time job or business.

Let’s assume that they’re able to invest all of this extra money in a tax-deductible retirement account so they don’t have to pay any taxes on this income now. They also keep investing the $3,000 base they started from.

By the fifth year, our hypothetical couple is making $108,000 and saving $11,000. So they’re now actually saving a little more than financial planners recommend and they did it relatively pain-free!

Ramp up your savings pain-free

Let’s consider a hypothetical couple that has a household income of $100,000. They should save $10,000 according to the experts, but they’re only able to save $3,000.

However, they are determined to find a way to get to that ten percent. They decide that, one way or another, they will make an extra $2,000 every year, year after year, for the next five years. So they plan to make $102,000 next year, $104,000 the following year and so on. This may come from pay raises, bonuses, or a part-time job or business.

Let’s assume that they’re able to invest all of this extra money in a tax-deductible retirement account so they don’t have to pay any taxes on this income now. They also keep investing the $3,000 base they started from.

By the fifth year, our hypothetical couple is making $108,000 and saving $11,000. So they’re now actually saving a little more than financial planners recommend and they did it relatively pain-free!

  • not being discouraged at what they could save now
  • saving every bit they could now
  • improving it a little bit every year

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The underlying secret

In this simple example is a secret that can help you with all your goals, not just your financial ones. Bigg success is life on your own terms. If you think about “terms” as time frames, you can reach bigg success faster.

We’ve said that you are the entrepreneur of a very important enterprise – your life. You may or may not be an entrepreneur in the traditional sense of the word. That’s immaterial. What’s important is that we can learn a lesson from successful entrepreneurs, particularly those who work with outside financiers like venture capitalists.

Milestones

An entrepreneur and a venture capitalist come to terms and strike a deal. The venture capitalist will invest a large amount of money in an entrepreneur’s company. However, the entrepreneur only gets a certain amount of it upfront. He or she must complete some agreed upon action – for example, get a customer – by a certain time to insure the venture capitalist puts in more money. These agreed upon actions with a deadline are called milestones.

As the entrepreneurs of our own lives, we think it’s helpful to set milestones in all areas of our lives.

Think about your bigg goal.

Then carve it up into milestones – specific activities you will complete by a certain time.

By breaking your bigg goal into little actions with deadlines, you can achieve things that you would think were impossible otherwise.

You can measure your progress each step of the way. You can take corrective action if you’re off the mark. Or if you’re ahead of schedule, you can celebrate your bigg success!

Do you set milestones?

Tell us how you do it by leaving a comment below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG or sending us an e-mail at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Thanks so much for reading our post today!

Please join us next time as we build on this subject of milestones. We’ll talk about creating a cumulative advantage.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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Treating If-Only Syndrome

prescriptionWhat do you do when things don’t go your way? You may feel discouraged. The events of life may just sap your strength of spirit. You lose your mojo!

It’s hard to live your life on your own terms when you’re feeling down, but it’s only natural for us humans to have down days.

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One cause of this is what we call If – Only Syndrome.

If only I had finished college.
If only I got a different degree.
If only I had taken that job.
If only I hadn’t quit that job.
If I had only done this instead of that, my life would be so different.
If only. If only. If only.

It’s easy to do. We start to beat ourselves up. We may even feel sorry for ourselves and mope a little.

As with many things, the right thing to do isn’t the easy thing to do.

Fighting these urges is hard.
Getting past the past is hard.
Lifting ourselves up is hard.
Fighting our natural urges is hard.

Focus matters

We get trapped on what might have been. What might have been doesn’t matter at all.

What does matter is what is and what can be.

You can be a bigg success. You can live your life on your own terms starting today.

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georgeI struggled with this when I was younger. I dropped out of college. I went on to start three businesses. But every time things got a little rough, I would beat myself up for not getting a degree. I thought that if I just had that degree, I wouldn’t have these problems. But I was wrong!

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The prescription for If – Only Syndrome comes in two parts. The first part of the cure is a healthy dose of …

So what?

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marylynnTo continue with George’s example, say you didn’t get a college degree. So what? How many people have succeeded bigg without a college degree?

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We don’t mean to diminish the importance of a good education. It does open up opportunities that may not be open otherwise. But it’s just one factor.

What about your experiences? They are irreplaceable.

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Now along with a healthy dose of “So what”, drink a little …

What can be?

Sticking with the college degree example, why don’t you get one now if it’s that important to you?

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georgeThat’s what I did; I went back to school. It’s not a path I would recommend. It was hard! I still had my three businesses, but I did go back and get a degree. It’s interesting … I then went on to get an advanced degree because I didn’t think I would ever go back to school again. Had I gone the traditional path, I doubt I would have ever gotten that advanced degree.

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What can be for you?

How can you make it happen? How will you find the time? How will you pay for it?

When you begin to focus on the actions necessary to move to where you want to be, you’ll feel energized. You’ll feel hope instead of discouragement.

What do you do when you feel discouraged?

You can share that with us by leaving a comment below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG or sending us an e-mail at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Thanks for checking in on us today. It means so much to us!

Please join us next time as we discuss one of the largest mistakes many people make when it comes to building their brand.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00363-040109.mp3

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What Makes a Hero a Hero?

hero You’ve probably seen the photos and the news stories of the “miracle on the Hudson” Captain Chesley Sullenberger was able to save over 150 passengers by making an emergency landing on the Hudson River after both engines of his plane failed.

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He’s received accolades from across the country, including Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York and two Presidents – President Bush who was the President at the time this happened and now President Obama who invited Sully, as his friends call him, to the Inaugural Ceremony.

The story is fascinating. We heard over and over again how calm and collected he was. His coolness kept the passengers calm and collected too.

What makes someone a hero?

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission defines a hero as “a civilian who voluntarily risks his or her own life to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the life of another person.”

That definition fits the mission of their organization, but is it expansive enough?

We turned to Merriam Webster. Two of their definitions of a hero stand out:

  • a person admired for his or her noble achievements
  • someone who shows great courage

We crafted our own definition:

A hero is an ordinary person who does something
extraordinary for the good of someone else.

It is a gift, not a sacrifice (although it may involve sacrifice) in the mind of the hero. It is the opposite of narcissism, but it is definitely not martyrdom.

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3 steps to heroism

Do you want to be a hero? We thought about this and it seems to us that becoming a hero is a three-step process:

Heroism starts with an attitude
Almost all of us think we have a duty to prevent harm to others as long as it doesn’t cost us too much. A hero expands upon that attitude. They feel a duty to serve others – to do good – whether or not it costs them something. 

It continues with preparation
This sense of a bigger duty drives them to preparation. They have a drive to be ready when the time comes.

Going back to Sully … as the pilot of a plane, he knew at some point there might be a crisis. So he gave a great deal of his free time studying everything situation he might encounter. It was his duty to be as fully prepared as possible should a crisis arise.

It completes itself with an action
The act of a hero is the manifestation of an underlying attitude. The success of that act depends on the preparation for it.

Sully had to respond because it was his duty. But his response didn’t start when the birds knocked both engines out of his plane. It began years earlier when he began studying flying.

So when the situation arose, he was ready because he felt a sense of duty and he had prepared.

Heroes, heroes everywhere

Heroism doesn’t always show itself in actions that make the news. There are heroes all around us. That’s what we’re going to talk about in our next two posts. Next time, we’ll discuss the hero behind the hero.

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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3 Questions for a Brighter Future

questions You and you alone create your future. You are the only person, place or thing with that power. With that being the case, it's up to you to create the future of your dreams.

One way to do that is to look back so you can look forward. Reflecting upon the past and pulling lessons away so your future is bigger and brighter. With the New Year upon us, now is a great time to review last year so next year lives up to its promise for you.

There's a simple three-stage framework for performing this exercise. It involves asking yourself three questions:

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What?

Start with the actual events of this year. What happened? Describe major events in your life. As you record your answers, test your perceptions to make sure they reflect the reality of the situation. If it helps, pretend that you are a reporter objectively recording the facts of the event.

So what?

At this stage, you move from reporting to understanding, from logic to emotion. That's why it was so important to get the facts right in the first step. What did this experience mean to you? How did it make you feel? Why did you feel that way? What have you learned?

Now what?

The previous two questions lead to this one. How will you apply the lessons you learned? What specific actions will you take as a result of the events you've outlined?

These three simple questions serve as a great outline to review major events in your life and develop forward-thinking plans to be a bigg success.

Let’s look at a couple of examples, using events from 2008.

Example: Volatile stocks

What?
The stock market can be very volatile.

So what?
I can lose money if I don’t understand the risk and how to manage it.

Now what?
I will learn more about investing and asset allocation. I won’t invest money in stocks that I will need in the next ten years. I will pay closer attention to my quarterly reports to make sure I maintain the proper asset allocation given my age and goals.

Example: Layoffs

What?
Times are tough at work; layoffs are possible.

So what?
It makes me nervous. I think I could lose my job.

Now what?
I will look for ways to help my company save money. I will make sure my boss is aware of the projects I complete successfully. I will look for opportunities to add additional skills so I’m more competitive.

Solid goals

In our examples, the “Now what’s” are a little bit fuzzy. You really want to refine them to turn them into solid goals. For instance, looking at the second example, instead of saying “I will look for ways to help my company save money,” turn that into “I will find one way to save my company $X (you pick a relevant amount) in the next 30 days.”

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Would you like more help turning your thoughts into concrete goals? Get our FREE Goal-Setting Workbook when you subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE too!

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We really appreciate you taking the time to read our post today. Join us next time when we look at the most important people of 2008. We think you’ll be surprised at our choices! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00297-123008.mp3

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We the People are Taking Back Our Country

we_the_people We usually talk about money on Mondays. As we discussed possible topics for today’s post, we realized there was no bigger issue than what’s going on in Washington and Wall Street. Our apologies to our international listeners, but we’re going to be domestic today. But as we’ve seen, it obviously affects everyone worldwide.

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We usually don’t talk about politics. We won’t be partisan; there’s plenty of blame to go around. We know that we may upset everybody today; that’s not our intention.

We think it’s time to look at the facts so we can make the right decisions here in a few weeks … who are we going to hire?

Not just for President, but for government at all levels. It’s time that we, the people, take back our country, our states, and our cities.

We’re sick and tired of the blame game and passing the buck on personal responsibility. Leadership is about taking responsibility. The leaders of our biggest companies aren’t taking responsibility, but even more sad, our elected officials aren’t bearing it, or requiring it, either.

We, the taxpayers, invested $85 billion in AIG. What was AIG’s response? They threw a $440,000 “party”. Sure they called it a “planning meeting” or an “executive session”. But how can you justify spending that kind of money for a retreat when you’re using our money and you’ve been on the brink of financial collapse?

It was a complete slap in the face and our leaders should have seen it as such. But what did they do? Turn around and give AIG another $38 billion two weeks later!

How many of us could walk into a bank two weeks after we borrowed a bunch of money in desperation and get more?

How successful would we be at getting more money if we so grossly underestimated how much it would take the first time around?

“Oh, and by the way, Mr. Banker, we know you’ve heard that we wasted some of it on a spa getaway, but we need about half as much again as we borrowed the first time. Will you lend it to us?”

Can you imagine the response?

Fortunately, AIG scrapped plans for another “party” after news got out about the first one. Of course, we’ve also learned that they tinkered with the idea of spending some of our money running an advertising campaign to apologize for the first “party”.

Some insight into the mismanagement

Warren Buffett was interviewed by CNBC’s Becky Quick back in August. Part of the conversation turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We’ll paraphrase …

Congress set up the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) back in 1992. The sole job of this agency was to evaluate the soundness, accounting practices, and the like of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Two companies … that’s all OFHEO had to oversee. Buffet, of course, notes that he does more than that all by himself.

It took 200 OFHEO employees and a $65 million dollar a year budget to do that.

Year after year, OFHEO reported to Congress. They stated that the accounting was sound. The directors were great. Everything was just fine. There was nothing to worry about.

Well, we all know what happened – two of the greatest accounting misstatements in the history of the stock exchange caused by management misconduct. What was OFHEO’s response?

A report to Congress blaming the management, the directors, the audit committee. Everybody but themselves.

200 people with a budget of $65 million overseeing just two companies. Yet they assumed no responsibility for this huge blunder.

The problem we have is that everybody blames anybody else every time there is a problem. It needs to end now.

How to put an end to it

The solution may surprise you. It starts and ends with us. We need to take personal responsibility. We made mistakes too. We bought in.

We saw government borrowing and living beyond its means, so many of us borrowed and lived beyond ours. From this day forward, that ends. We won’t forget this lesson. We will bailout ourselves. We will get back on our feet. We will prosper.

We also delegated too much. We voted, but we didn’t pay close enough attention to what our elected officials were doing. Well, Mr. or Ms. Politician, you have our attention now. And we’re going to keep paying attention.

What we can’t control

Here’s what paying closer attention has shown us – we see a complete vacuum of leadership. You’re not a leader if you don’t take responsibility for your mistakes. You’re not a leader if you don’t solve problems; you only assign blame to others. You’re not a leader if you can’t tell us where we’re at, why we got here, and what we’re going to do about it to make tomorrow better than today.

We can’t personally do much to change the leadership on Wall Street. We can’t do much to change who reports our news, because the media missed the boat on this one as well. We can’t choose the bureaucrats, like the ones at OFHEO, who oversee key agencies and put policy into action.

What we can control

We do get to choose who we hire to represent us. We have important decisions to make in a few weeks. Not just for President. Not just for the Senate or the House in Washington, D.C. We get to choose who will represent us at all levels of government.

So here’s how we put an end to it now. Quit thinking like a Democrat or a Republican. That’s another trap they’ve led us into and we bought in.

No, we will hire the best person for the job. We need to do our homework: What’s their record? What have they accomplished? How have they handled their fiduciary duties in the past?

The past is the best predictor we have of the future when it comes to human behavior. That’s how we would hire anybody else. Why would we hire our elected officials any differently?

We have access to the records of our current elected officials. We can know what they’ve done. We need to start paying closer attention.

Resources

Current legislation before Congress

Votes Database by The Washington Post

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Official site of the U.S. House of Representatives

Official site of the U.S. Senate

List of government agencies – federal, state and local

Find the official sites of state, county, and city governments

We the people

We’re looking for public servants, not party servants or power servants. We the people are taking our country back.

Go ahead, Mr. or Ms. Politician … take that special interest money. But you better be clear about who you serve. We the people.

Mr. or Ms. Elected Official, go ahead and listen to your party leaders. Just know that, on Election Day, we won’t vote for the person who serves the powers that be. We will vote for the person who serves us. We the people. 

Combined, we’re more powerful than Washington can ever be when we are educated and informed. We will take personal responsibility to learn who best serves our interest, and the interests of our children and grandchildren.

We the people are taking back our country.

What do you think? 

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