May 232011

Financial success is not as elusive as many people think — but you must follow some basic strategies to stack the odds in your own favor. Here are my 22 Commandments for financial success (not to be confused with my twenty-one keys for overall success in life 🙂  ):

1. Never compromise your integrity.

Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not gossip and trash others. Do exactly what you say you will do (or even 10% more). Integrity is integral to any long-term success. Many think this is a short-cut to financial success but there is not — those with gray areas in their ethics may enjoy temporary success but usually flame out before the game is over.

2. Focus on one strategically important project at a time, until the project is finished.

Multi-taskers do not outpace intense, single-minded, driven individuals. The fable of the tortoise and the hare is the most important story each of us must remember from our youth. Discipline is a very important quality to foster in your life.

3. Write down and fine-tune your goals on paper.

Keep your goals with you and review your goals every morning for 15 minutes without fail. Goals enable you to focus, to plan, to be in charge of your life’s destination, to avoid distractions. Do not make your primary goal your own wallet — financial reward is a side-effect of producing economic value for others — help others succeed to be a lasting success yourself.

4. Pay careful attention to where you invest your time.

Time is your most precious resource.  Keep a detailed written log of where you invest your time.  When at work, focus on work.  When with your family, focus on the family.  The better you manage the investment of your time, the better the quality of your life will become.

5. Work harder and smarter than everyone you know.

Working smart starts with goals, then plans, then supporting tasks… yet very few are serious about their planning and task management process.  There is no substitute for doing your planning homework first and following through with genuine hard work and effort. Be disciplined every day.

6. Adapt and overcome.

Every project will have set backs. Assume there will be setbacks and pre-plan what your “Plan B” and “Plan C” will be — pre-planning is an important step to not getting discouraged. Never look at a roadblock as a dead-end. Those that are determined to succeed, to adapt, to overcome, win.  The US Marine Corp teaches this principle better than any other organization on the planet. Excuses are for the less successful.

7. You will not succeed long-term, without good health.

The formula is 70% smart eating, 30% daily exercise.  Order fish and steamed veggies at every corporate dinner.  Drink only a little.  Work out every day possible, even if it is only for 30 minutes.  Those that weigh the same that they weighed at 21 when they are in their 50’s and beyond have an 80% chance of avoiding the major diseases that will topple so many people. Self-discipline matters in every facet of your life.

8. Add personal knowledge weekly.

Your mind needs fuel too, and not just in your chosen field. Read good stuff no less than five hours each week. Take notes while you read. Take a class or workshop every year. Watch lectures on the web. You will find that ideas of economic success come quicker if you feed your mind daily. 99% of television idles the brain while carefully selected reading strengthens it.

9. Search for and develop as many trusted mentors as you can.

You must invest a lot of time to search, find, and develop excellent mentors.  A mentor must be an optimist.  Once you have them, consult with them, often.

10. Choose to be a gung-ho optimist.

Preach optimism and convert others. Stop all complaints — it can be done. You will be amazed at the difference choosing to end all complaints will make on your own attitude. People that believe a project will work out, people that believe they will succeed, do.

11. Look for opportunities and embrace prudent risks.

You must first search if you expect to find. Risk is why so few people spank life’s ball out the the ball park. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Make prudent risk your best friend.

12. When in doubt, take decisive action.

The world belongs to the focused, driven, determined person with a solid plan and a lot of action.

13. Never walk alone.

Reserve a bit of time each day for solitude and pray for wisdom and making the right choices. We have so much opportunity and so many choices to make. God helps those that ask for help.

14. Plan big.

Set your sights and expectations high. You tend to hit what you aim at. Aim too low and you wind up underachieving by a lot.

15. Play the hand you are dealt to the best of your ability.

Did Helen Keller fold or play her hand? Life dealt her a pair of threes and she still changed the world. Don’t torpedo yourself by not given each and every day your best possible effort.

16. Don’t get swayed by other people’s opinions.

There are a lot of naysayers. That is why there is so much opportunity that other’s don’t see. There will be a day when people start complimenting you, as you success grows. Don’t let that sway you into big-head-syndrome either — stay true to yourself.

17. Create solutions to problems that have economic value.

The more you practice creativity, the more creative you become. Creative solutions are always in demand.

18. Ask great questions, then carefully listen to what people say.

Most people are so wound up about they want to say next, that they rarely hear what others are saying. A person that pre-plans great questions, asks great questions, and listens attentively is 1 in a 100. Make notes as soon as you can in your written journal. No memory is a match for pale ink. Stay disciplined on this core questioning, listening, and taking notes strategy and it will serve you well.

19. Specialize.

It is hard to become a financial success if you are just like everyone else.  Every industry offers room to specialize and differentiate yourself.  The specialist in a niche with excellent profit characteristics wins the game.

20. Engage in areas where you have true passion.

Work on stuff you genuinely care and are passionate about — passion greatly improves your odds of success.

21. Spend less than you make, and always invest your savings.

If you want to stay ahead, you must live on 80% of your income and invest the rest, unfailingly, year after year. If you start when you are 18 or 21, you will build up your wealth by the time you are 50 so that many of your dreams and goals can come to life.  The longer you wait, the greater the headwinds for financial success.

22. Measure progress and be very honest with yourself.

What gets measured gets improved. Businesses watch their income statements and their net worth statements for good reason. You should too. Create monthly statements for your family. You will find that when you will start paying attention to your income, expenses, and net worth, improvement soon follows. Don’t follow the “big hat no cattle” herd (I am from Texas after all).

There are more facets to financial success, but if you adopt just these 22 commandments, you will go far and prosper.

I.M. Optimism Man

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