Recently, a colleague shared a story about a network marketer who asks prospects if they want to work hard for five years or spend the rest of their lives in prison (working for someone else). The anecdote made me smile, because it's similar to a situation that transformed my life and my business more than 20 years ago.
A coach I listened to back then said to me, "You need to give 10 years of hard work like no one else ever will, so you can spend the rest of your life like no one else ever can." I made a commitment to this, and today I'm living the life of my dreams.
You can do it too, and here's how to work smart for those 10 years that will build the foundation for your success:
Step 1: Maintain a positive attitude in all economic and business climates. A recent article in Investment News reported that "70 percent of 329 advisors said that the economic downturn and its effect on clients have negatively affected their physical and/or emotional health." I, on the other hand, personally love markets like this, because there's so much money in motion and people are searching for qualified, knowledgeable financial planners. In fact, for the first time in five years, I'm taking on two new clients instead of referring them to my designated life transition instructors. Why? Because both referrals came from prominent estate planning attorneys who asked that I personally help these clients. I also accepted them because both are affluent widows, which is my niche market and I know I can really impact their futures positively.
Step 2: Sell expectations, not performance. I believe the worst thing an advisor can do (assuming they want to keep their clients for life) is to oversell performance. The reason this is a problem is because performance is too much out of our control. I prefer to manage my clients' financial plans with realistic expectations based on their needs and desires. I always tell people if they're looking to be at the top of the market, I'm not the right advisor for them. But if they want someone to help them create peace of mind in their lives and portfolios, then I'll be happy to help. I then take the time to learn my clients' goals and dreams through my AskLearnRiches(TM) questionnaire, and I focus on their goals instead of performance. And one other thing: While many advisors choose to manage their clients' money themselves, I believe hiring outside managers is important because it allows the client to fire the manager if they don't meet their benchmark without the client firing you.
Step 3: Learn to live debt-free. I understand that leveraging your home, second home and other assets may make you more money on paper, but I also know that it doesn't necessarily increase your peace of mind. Creating a plan that allows you to do what you want, when you want and with whom you want is, in my opinion, what does increase peace of mind. For me and my clients, this plan includes becoming debt-free. In fact, this has been the best choice I've ever made. Living debt-free allows you the freedom to make choices you simply can't when you're saddled with a ton of debt.
Step 4: Develop streams of passive income. One of the best strategies to making money in any market is to create diversified income streams from different sources. My diversified income model includes my personal portfolio of retirement savings, personal investments and income-producing real estate. I also produce income from my financial planning business (which includes hourly fees), money under management, sales from fixed annuities and insurance, and my marketing company, which has income from book and product sales, speaking engagements and an automated follow-up system. Some of these streams of income are more passive than others, and some require more of my time. However, as I move forward, I continue to work harder to generate more passive, consistent yearly income, which I recommend you also do. When we have diversified passive income, it gives us more opportunities to achieve our dreams and do good in this world.
Step 5: Be a blue elephant. At a conference I once attended, one of the speakers called top achievers "blue elephants." Why? He never told us. Maybe because they're so unusual! He told us to ask ourselves, "What is the blue elephant doing right now?" So I taped a sign on my telephone that says, "What is a blue elephant doing right now?" And I always ask myself, "Is this activity bringing me closer to becoming a blue elephant?" If the answer is yes, I keep doing it. If the answer is no, I stop. It's really that simple, and the blue elephant makes it fun and easy to remember.
Step 6: Commit to what you really want. One reason most people don't achieve their dreams is that they can't decide what they really want. You have to really think about this and create a clear picture in your mind of what you will attain with a series of achievable goals in areas of quality of life, credentials, annual income and net worth.
If you're still not achieving your desired results, you may need to examine your Worth Barometer.(TM) This is a term I use to describe a person's belief system and self-esteem. If you want to improve your worth barometer, one step is to write out a challenging question with your dominant hand and answer the question with your non-dominant hand. For example, you may write, "Why am I not earning $500,000 per year?" Then, with your non-dominant hand, write answers to the question for about 10-30 minutes a day until the answer appears or the problem disappears. Initially, your answers will be logical. But as you continue the process, your creativity will flow and you'll come up with more innovative solutions as well as discover what is really keeping you from the life and business you desire. This technique is effective because it taps into the right, or creative, hemisphere of your brain. A word of warning: If you've experienced serious trauma in your life, consult with a qualified professional prior to undertaking this exercise.
By following these six simple steps, what you accomplish in the next 10 years will free you from the work-for-the-rest-of-your-life prison in which so many others are serving time. It may seem a little daunting in the beginning, but when you look back on your life 10 years from now, you'll be glad you made the right choice.
*If you'd like to receive information about the AskLearnRiches(TM) questionnaire, "The 7 Principles of Becoming a Millionaire for Life," or to attend an upcoming Marketing Webinar, please leave a comment and your e-mail address in the forum below.