"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Take a moment to close your eyes and think about what your definition of “wealth” is. Have you got something in mind?

To me, wealth is freedom. Specifically, freedom of choice. When we're financially independent, we can structure our day exactly how we like and we have the means to fully experience life. It also offers the resources to contribute to the causes we care about, say, helping to find a cure for a disease that may have impacted your family.

Many people, sadly, have a negative connotation of wealth. It’s completely up to you to create your own definition, but I urge you to ensure it’s written in the positive. Reframing your mindset is one of the most fundamental steps in transitioning to being a financial winner.

Yet, we don’t teach this in schools.

Wealth does not guarantee you’ll be free of problems. In fact, for many people, building wealth creates a whole host of new problems because their same bad habits are just amplified. However, if you’ve got the right blueprint, wealth is an enormously powerful force for good in your family, your community, and the world.

With an idea of what wealth looks like to you, take another moment to think about what "lifestyle" you want. A lot of people over-complicate personal finance, but all we’re essentially doing is thinking about what life we want to live and then setting up the pieces that are going to enable us to enjoy that lifestyle.

Simple, right?

So close your eyes and fast forward to 5, 10, 20 years down the track: What does your ideal life look like?

Can you vividly describe your house, and where you are? Who are the people you’re enjoying it with? In that moment, what is making you the happiest?

Like with any worthy endeavor, we get the best results by beginning with the end in mind. With that foundation, let's explore some proven strategies you can immediately apply to achieve financial independence and become a financial winner.

1. Start now.

We see this with every goal—people have the best intentions, always promising to ‘get around to it' but never do. Make the commitment to start now:

If you’re not willing to make personal finance a priority, none of the other steps will help you. As the Chinese Proverb says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

2. Know where your money is going.

If you can measure it, you can manage it. In previous episodes, we’ve spoken about the importance of auditing your energy so you can stay happy, and we’ve spoken about auditing your time so you can stay productive. This is the version we do for managing your money.

Track every dollar you earn and every dollar you spend using a spreadsheet or, the old-fashioned way, on a piece of paper. (You can also use ASIC’s Budget Planner, which although designed for Australians is just as applicable globally).

Write down your:

Income:

Expenses:

Add these five expense fields together and multiply to create your Annual Expenses.

Next, take your Annual Income and subtract your Annual Expenses. How much is left? This answer will show whether you’re trending in the right or wrong direction. (Warning: This might be confronting, especially if you discover that your expenses are more than your income, but it’s much better to be aware now so you can take steps to fix it.)

Now, we’ve got a clear idea of where your money is going. Just remember: the aim is to have as much money working for you as possible, rather than the other way around.

That paves the way for step three…

3. Spend less than you earn.

One of the easiest ways to give yourself a pay rise is to spend less! Just as one of the easiest ways to give yourself a pay cut is to spend more. This is one of the most painfully obvious and simple tips, yet it eludes so many people.

The digital world means we’re constantly bombarded with advertisements, while at the same time getting hammered with posts on social media that fire up our human drive to keep up with the Joneses. If you’re not sure what it means to 'keep up with the Joneses', it’s trying to match the social status of your neighbors and friends by doing foolish things with money you don’t have, such as buying a new luxury car, just to impress them.

When you make a habit out of spending less than you earn, you have more money at your disposal to create greater wealth in the future. For example, if a bill arrives, you can pay it now without incurring an additional interest charge. If there’s an essential purchase you need to make, you might find there are favorable terms for an upfront payment, or a penalty for paying in installments.

If you’re currently in debt, do everything you can to pay off bad debt (i.e. debt that is not tax deductible) as quickly as possible, making sure to prioritize items that have the highest interest rate (e.g. your credit card). For example, if you’ve got $1,000 available, it would be better to put it towards a credit card bill that is incurring 18% interest, rather than a student loan that might only be incurring 5% interest. Aim to reduce and then eradicate your reliance on credit cards altogether.

(Note: some people can do well out of the bonus points assigned to new credit card recipients; however, it often requires a lot of research, an in depth knowledge of the fine print, and an ongoing focus to avoid penalties, so my preference for most people is to avoid credit cards altogether if possible.)

Again, the aim is to have as much money working for you as you can.

4. You don't miss what you don't get.

It’s human nature to spend all that we get—that’s why tax agencies like the IRS and ATO tax your employer first before you receive your wages. Yet, funnily, if we don’t have it to spend, we don’t miss it.

Personal finance classic The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason suggested that one of the key wealth creation tips was to “save at least 10% of everything you earn.” You might think that losing 10% of your income would be unlivable, but if the government introduced an additional 10% tax on income, most people would be able to adjust their lifestyle to accommodate. You might even be motivated knowing that 10% will be returned to you at a later date … with interest.

Rather than seeing how much is left in your bank account after you’ve enjoyed the week, make the commitment upfront—the moment you receive your pay—and save at least 10% of everything you earn.

There are even apps out there, like Acorns, that round up to the nearest dollar from everyday purchases and invests that tiny amount into a diversified portfolio recommended for your risk profile. For example, if you bought a $3.25 coffee, $0.75 would be invested into the portfolio. That might not sound like much, but you would be amazed at how much it adds up over a year, especially when you are able to harness the power of compound interest (more on that in the next post) and have the option of adding more anytime you like.

5. Make it a habit.

Too many people ignore the benefit of good money management because they believe they aren’t earning enough. “I’ll do it when I get my next pay rise,” they say. Only they never get around to it.

Regardless of how much you’re currently earning, get into the habit of good financial decisions.

If you struggle with change, technology is here to help! There are services out there nowadays that make the process automatic, so the habit is done for you. Previously, we spoke about apps like Acorns that enable you to contribute a portion of everyday purchases into an investment account. However, here are two other simple options to help:

Generally, you should follow this order when you receive your pay:

  1. Investment.
  2. Essential fixed expenses.
  3. Essential variable expense.
  4. Contingencies.
  5. Whatever is left can be made available for discretionary expenses.

Get into good habits as early as you possibly can.

6. Put your money to work.

Due to fear about losing all their money in the stock market, many people opt to leave their money in a savings account. However, this is about one of the worst things you can do with money you’ve set aside to invest.

Let’s look at a few countries to inspect their interest rates and compare them to inflation:

CountryInterest RateInflation
Australia1%1.3%
Canada1.75%2.4%
Japan-0.1%0.7%
United Kingdom0.75%2%
United States2.5%1.6%

Source: Trading Economics (July 2019)

In many cases, inflation is higher than interest so you’re actually losing money keeping it in the bank.

Financial winners invest their money wisely. An easy way to get started is to invest in an index fund, which provides low fees, diversification, and a decent annual return—ensuring you opt to reinvest all dividends and stick with it over the long-term. The stock market has one or two volatile years each decade, but historically has returned around 9% per year.

You can also use dollar cost averaging, which is a strategy to smooth out any volatility. The idea is that you continue to buy X number of shares each month, no matter what. When the market is performing strongly, your portfolio will be doing well, and when the market is weak, you can buy more shares at a cheaper price. This strategy protects against the futile task of ‘timing the market’ and over the long term you will have a lot more money working for you than you would have otherwise.

For example, if you invested in the Nasdaq-100 Index Fund in the US 10 years ago (between 2009 – 2019), you would experience the usual volatility but enjoy a strong overall average annual return:

Source: Yahoo Finance (July 2019)

If you invested in the Australian All Ordinaries Accumulation Index for that same 10-year period, the average annual return would be 10%, again assuming dividends are reinvested. Performance will vary based on the fund you choose and at what time you start, but remember:

For most people, keeping your money stuck in a savings account is far from ideal. Just remember that obtaining professional advice for your unique situation is extremely important because it can vary significantly depending on your circumstances, investment goals, and risk profile (we’ll touch on this more later).

7. Spend money on items that appreciate in value.

Financial winners build a diverse portfolio of quality assets that appreciate. In contrast, financial losers spend all their money (and then some) on items like jet skis and new cars that depreciate.

Let’s use an example. In 2009, Jenna’s after-tax salary was $50,000/year, and she decided to setup an auto debit for 20% of her pay each fortnight (equaling $10,000/year) going to a new account that she couldn’t touch for everyday purchases. Jenna’s skills increased in that time, and so did her salary, but she kept her contributions at $10,000/year.

The funds were invested into an index fund that averaged 9%/year. Prior to tax and inflation, here is what Jenna’s account would be worth:

Remember, this is just from 20% of her take-home pay from 10 years ago! Imagine if Jenna held the commitment of 20% of her income as her salary increased?

8. Harness the power of compound interest.

Albert Einstein once said: “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn't, pays it.” It’s the key to understanding how small sums add up, leading to enormous gains for financial winners and extreme losses for financial losers.

Let’s reflect again on Jenna in the last example. The longer she left her investment, the quicker it multiplied. Let’s add two more periods:

That’s the power of compounding!

Financial losers spend all their pay, and often borrow even more on credit cards, for items that depreciate, such as travel, clothing, and new cars. To illustrate the power of compound interest working against you, let’s think about Jenna’s friend, Luke.

In 2009, Luke didn’t listen to Jenna and decided to borrow $20,000 for a European holiday and some new clothes. Luke made these purchases on a credit card because the bank, who he trusted, said his financial history was good. The interest rate on the credit card was 20%.

Luke returned from holiday and noticed that each bank statement said he only needed to pay 2% of the balance ($200/month), which he did diligently. He met with Jenna who informed him of the problems with spending money on credit cards, so Luke cut up the credit card and never used it again.

However, the statements kept coming.

Eventually, after nine years, Luke was free of his credit card debt. Paying more than $23,000 in interest alone had taught him a valuable lesson. He realized that banks know compound interest better than anyone, and that’s why they seem happy to lend indiscriminately. Luke learnt the hard way that “Compound interest on debt was the banker's greatest invention, to capture, and enslave, a productive society” as Albert Einstein said.

9. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

At a recent haircut, the hairdresser, Michelle, was telling me how her life was going to change. A friend-of-a-friend had approached her about an ‘amazing opportunity’ in Las Vegas where they were going to pool their money, borrow some additional funds from the bank, and buy property that was guaranteed to return 15% per year.

Michelle was young and inexperienced with investment, and clearly too trusting of this acquaintance. Alarm bells should ring if anyone comes to you with an opportunity that boasts guaranteed returns, especially high ones. As the adage says: “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.”

Previously, we have spoken about investing in an index fund. For the average investor, this is a reliable strategy because it provides good exposure to the market (i.e. diversification) at a low cost. You can sell all (or part) of your investment at any time, and it’s regulated by the authorities such as the SEC or ASIC. If one company on the index fails, you’re still protected by the strength of the other companies.

On the other hand, if you invested all your money in a single company, you might wake up one day to find that the company has gone under and you’ve lost all your money. A parcel of many companies has much smoother returns and less risk than a single company.

For most people, buying a home is the goal. A benefit of this is the forced saving commitment as you work to pay off the loan. However, if you need to access funds quickly, you cannot sell the kitchen. If you’ve got a background in building or property, buying a house can be lucrative but, for the average person, starting with an index fund is often the better option.

If you do buy property, remember that most of the value is in the land, which should dissuade you from buying brand new apartments off the plan, lest you find yourself in a situation like this.

For speculative investments, such as cryptocurrency, only use money you’re willing to lose.

10. The best investment is knowledge.

I love the Zig Ziglar quote: “Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs.” The best investment you can make is in yourself. A commitment to your ongoing education will help you not only identify opportunities but recognize potential danger too.

For example, if in 2008 when the stock market crashed, you paid attention to the doomsday news stories and sold your index fund investment, you might’ve felt satisfied in the short-term thinking you had avoided further disaster. However, if you had invested in yourself too, you would’ve understood that the stock market is driven in large part by greed and fear, and that all you did was crystallize a loss. After all, the index fund was invested in real companies who have come through these downturns before. As a result of selling, you missed the growth that has happened since, which likely far surpassed the point where you sold.

The right book or podcast could be worth more than a million dollars to you, but most people would rather watch TV. The best investment you can make is in yourself.

11. Communicate with your partner.

Approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce (divorce rates by country), and if you’ve ever been involved in a divorce or witnessed one firsthand, you’ll know it’s definitely one of those things you want to avoid.

Financial issues, which in most cases can be alleviated through communication and planning, is the leading cause of relationship stress and marriage breakdown. Here are some interesting statistics:

Schedule time regularly to ask your partner about their goals, and then share your own thoughts. It might feel like an awkward conversation at first, but it will save you a lot of heartache—and potentially tens of thousands of dollars—down the track.

12. Seek professional advice.

This is an extremely important one. I strongly urge you to seek professional advice where your unique circumstances, goals, and risk profile can be evaluated, and an investment plan prepared for you after taking all that into account.

What’s the best way to find a good financial planner?

Once you’ve done the above, make a list of 3-4 people, or companies, that you think would be a good fit, and then take an initial consultation to see who takes the time to understand you. One of the best ways to judge the merits of a prospective financial planner for you is by the questions they ask and how attentive they are to your responses.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

In case you missed it:
11 Tips to Supercharge Your Productivity

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50 Best Personal Finance Quotes

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn't, pays it.” – Albert Einstein

“‘A part of all I earn is mine to keep.' Say it in the morning when you first arise. Say it at noon. Say it at night. Say it each hour of every day. Say it to yourself until the words stand out like letters of fire across the sky.” ― George S. Clason (The Richest Man in Babylon)

“Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner.” – Warren Buffett

“It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” – George Lorimer

“Buy when everyone else is selling and hold until everyone else is buying. That’s not just a catchy slogan. It’s the very essence of successful investing.” – J. Paul Getty

“The power of compound interest the most powerful force in the universe.” – Albert Einstein

“Never spend your money before you have it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.” – Henry Ford

“You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” – Warren Buffett

“The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator.” – Ben Graham

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Successful investing takes time, discipline and patience. No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” – Warren Buffett

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Life is full of uncertainties. However, I can guarantee you one thing: those who put an investment program in place will have a lot more money when they come to retire than those who never get around to it.” – Noel Whittaker

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because they planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” – Norman Vincent Peale

“Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.” – William A. Ward

“To attain emotional maturity, each of us must learn to develop two critical capacities: the ability to live with uncertainty and the ability to delay immediate gratification in favor of long-range goals.” – Noel Whittaker

“A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” – David Brinkley

“How many millionaires do you know who have become wealthy by investing in savings accounts? I rest my case.” – Robert G. Allen

“Don’t keep knowledge trapped in your head or your money stuck in a savings account.” – James Whittaker

“The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” – Phillip Fisher

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.” – P.T. Barnum

“Becoming wealthy is not a matter of how much you earn, who your parents are, or what you do … it is a matter of managing your money properly.” – Noel Whittaker

“What we learn from history is that people don’t learn from history.” – Warren Buffett

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau

“If you understand compound interest, you basically understand the universe.” – Robert Breault

“Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffett

“If you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%.” – Warren Buffett

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Every time you borrow money, you're robbing your future self.” – Nathan W. Morris

“I’m only rich because I know when I’m wrong…I basically have survived by recognizing my mistakes.” –George Soros

“Compound interest on debt was the banker's greatest invention, to capture, and enslave, a productive society.” – Albert Einstein

“Too many people spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” – Robert Quillen

“Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs.” – Zig Ziglar

“Sometimes a very expensive life lesson can be worth every penny.” – Noel Whittaker

“If you don’t value your time, neither will others. Stop giving away your time and talents. Value what you know and start charging for it.” – Kim Garst

“I just sit in my office and read all day.” – Warren Buffett

“Understanding both the power of compound interest and the difficulty of getting it is the heart and soul of understanding a lot of things.” – Charlie Munger

“The four most expensive words in the English language are, ‘This time it’s different.’” – Sir John Templeton

“Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get.’ Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.” – Warren Buffett

“Good and evil increase at compound interest. That's why the little decisions we make every day are of infinite importance.” – C. S. Lewis

“It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.” – Warren Buffett

“There’s always a way if you look hard enough.” – Noel Whittaker

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

“The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends.” – Warren Buffett

“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”

Albert Einstein

As we approach the halfway point of the year, many people shy away from any purposeful action, instead choosing to worry about ‘next year’. But, with the right plan, you would be astounded with how much progress you can make, even in 6 months.

Here are 11 productivity tips you can use right now to start getting the most out of your hours each day.

1. Start the day with your intent.

Most people wake up and complain about their alarm, the traffic on the way to work, their boss, the news, their commute home from work, then when their partner asks how their day was, they complain about it.

Total day's output = 0.

Instead, wake up and be grateful for the opportunity to share your unique gifts with the world. Think about your intent, your purpose. Ignore the sensationalized daily news schedules, stop stalking people on Instagram, and switch complaints for gratitude.

When you live with intent, it will be much easier for you to say ‘no’ to the distractions that derail your day.

2. Have a daily plan. Achieve it.

Dale Carnegie once wrote: “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.” A plan allows us to create a structure around it so we can allocate the necessary resources to get it done as efficiently and effectively as possible, while keeping us more resilient from distraction and procrastination.

Each day, write down three things you’re going to achieve no matter what. Perhaps it’s to complete a gym session, finish the first draft of a blog post, call a family member, or do a meal prep for the week. The important thing is creating the list so your brain can nag at you until it’s done.

(Note: I’m a huge fan of meal prep because it ensures you have nourishing food that can be quickly accessed, rather than interrupting your day to continually shop, cook and clean.)

3. Do your life's work first.

Most people want to start the day with the feeling of achievement, and for most that is responding to emails. The problem with emails is they’re like boomerangs—always coming back. Instead, do your life’s work first (i.e. the actions that are going to inch you closer to your 90-day goals), before turning to someone else’s agenda for your day. You’ll find you can do the rest on autopilot.

If you have to set your alarm an hour earlier in the morning to get it done, do it. If you want some morning inspo, follow Jocko Willink on Instagram.

4. Begin with the end in mind.

It’s not starting things that makes us successful, it’s finishing things. Only begin tasks that you are going to finish and give your best effort. Whether it’s a recorded but unreleased podcast, a stagnant YouTube channel, or training for a marathon that never occurs, begin with the end in mind always.

There’s nothing worse than having a whole heap of half-assed and incomplete tasks that have occupied your attention for months, or even years, where the only reason you haven’t gained traction is because you haven’t been consistent. Most people think starting things is the hard part, but it’s not. The hard part is continuing at the first sign of adversity. Be conscious of that and have an accountability plan to blast through it.

5. Use the Pomodoro Technique.

I first heard about the Pomodoro Technique when I interviewed John Lee Dumas for Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy. It requires you to have a large timer sitting on your desk and then segmenting your work time into focused intervals (typically 25 minutes), separated by short breaks (typically five minutes). Every time you complete a ‘pomodoro’, or work interval, mark your progress on a piece of paper with a tick.

After four pomodoros, i.e. 100 minutes of work time, take a 15-20 minute break.

Knowing that your output is capped to 25 minutes unlocks hyper productivity as you race against the clock—otherwise you’ll have nothing to show for your pomodoro—and keeps you focused knowing that a break is never too far away.

6. Do what makes you happy.

Doing what makes us happy gives us an extra tank of rocket fuel to commit to our work. It’s far easier for your brain to switch off if your boss is giving you the same boring data entry task for the 500th time or if you don’t even believe in the product you’re selling.

Apple founder Steve Jobs once said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.”

If you’re not sure what areas make you happy, connect with like-minded people, attend events, and add value to others unconditionally. This will give you exposure to more areas, and eventually you’ll find the areas that excite you where you can concentrate your attention.

7. Eliminate distractions.

Whether you're working in home or an office, make a list of the 5-10 things that interrupt you during the day. This could be anything from the phone ringing and social media, to getting bothered by work colleagues and even your own thoughts.

Break that list into four categories—people, technology, self, and other—and take actions accordingly:

8. Miss a meal, but don't miss a book.

We have access to history’s most brilliant minds right now. Why not spend 20 minutes a day tapping into their expertise?

If you don’t enjoy reading, turn your attention to podcasts or audiobooks. Importantly, when you’re reading (or listening to) these books, keep a notepad so you can brainstorm ideas along the way that will help you achieve your goals. After all, action is the real measure of intelligence.

9. Go to bed with a request to your subconscious.

Acclaimed inventor Thomas Edison once said: “Never go to bed without a request to your subconscious.”

Our bodies and minds are capable of extraordinary things while we sleep, and that rest time is essential for recovery, growth, and general well-being. Thinking about what we want before we go to bed also plants a seed of imagination that can allow our mind to focus on it for the next 7-8 hours.

Never underestimate the power of the subconscious. After all, every great endeavor, innovation, or achievement was once a simple thought impulse.

10. Review your success each week. Calibrate accordingly.

Checking in on your actions—the people you spent too much or not enough time with, the books you read or didn’t read, the fitness session that did or didn’t get done, or the progress you made or didn’t make towards your goals—enables you to adjust your schedule and routine to ensure the next week is better. With this plan of constant reflection and calibration, long-term success is assured.

And just remember, often, removing a negative influence in your life can be just as powerful as gaining a positive one, so pay extra special attention to who you spend your time with and what stimulus you allow your mind to feed on.

11. Be inspired as the hero of your own journey.

The number one productivity technique, which I never hear anybody talk about, is being inspired. When you’re inspired, it doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep you’ve had the night before, how much money is in your pocket, or where you’re working from. You wake up and get after it.

The best way to make that happen is to download my Success Plan Template, write out your 'Perfect Destination' in all areas of your life, and then backtrack it to the work you need to do today that will eventually make it a reality.

Once you’ve done that, you can release yourself from worry about the future because you already know how the story ends—after all, you wrote the story! That will inspire you to take the simple and consistent action that will get you where you need to be.

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Try those 11 tips to become a master of productivity.

Everyone tries to act like their super busy, but remember—it’s not how busy you are, but how productive you are, that makes all the difference. Output is everything.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

In case you missed it:
The Arnold Schwarzenegger Story

“When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. You cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others.”

Robert Greene

As the modern world increasingly exposes us to the criticism of others, it’s more important than ever to protect your energy and stay focused on your own actions.

Here are 10 tips for dealing with the haters.

1. Check in with your state of mind.

Our mental state has an enormous correlation with the meaning we assign to a given situation. To help create a positive outcome, ask yourself: What else could this mean? An errant comment mightn’t always be as harsh as it appears. For example, perhaps:

To change your state of mind, get moving. Change your posture, breathing and thinking to align with happiness, love and gratitude—after all, positive motion leads to positive emotion. Avoid or limit your exposure to things that sap your energy.

2. Know who your real friends are.

Napoleon Hill once said, “One of the unappreciated benefits of adversity is that it accelerates the process of identifying your true friends.” If people do not reciprocate your positive energy, take comfort knowing that the quicker they’re out of your life the better.

The world is a big place, yet so many of us cling to friendships that no longer serve us. Channel your energy into supporting those who bring out the best in you, and you in them.

3. Haters gonna hate.

One thing the world will never be short of is opinions. However, criticism and judgement are generally based on the sender’s own insecurities and ego, and it says much more about their character than it does yours. Interestingly, people who support the critics will eventually find out the hard way that those who talk trash on someone will happily do it to everyone.

If someone in your life allows their mind to be possessed with jealousy, envy and resentment, wish them the best and run like the wind.

4. Action / Discard.

The most successful people on the planet actively seek out feedback to help them improve. Tech visionary Elon Musk famously said: “Pay attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly from friends. Hardly anyone does that, and it’s incredibly helpful.”

A “congratulations” won’t help you, but a specific tip might. Action what you can then willingly discard the rest.

5. Proof that you stand for something.

Think about the athlete, entrepreneur, musician or politician you look up to the most. Are they immune from criticism? Absolutely not. In fact, those who make the decision to stand for what they believe in attract a whole swarm of haters. On the naysayers, UFC President Dana White said: “No matter how successful you become, one thing never goes away: negativity. Let it fuel you to get up and fight every day.”

If you’re willing to surrender to the critics, you’re not ready for success.

6. Comes with the territory.

Today, almost every post comes with a like, share and comment button. This has given every single person, no matter how ill-informed (e.g. internet trolls), a platform to vent their feelings. Instead, revisit your Success Planwhy do you want to achieve everything you’ve got listed? The clearer and more emotionally invested you are on what you want, the more resilient you’ll be.

Opinions comes with the territory, but as you’ve heard me say before: never EVER let those people who have given up on their dreams talk you out of yours.

7. Stay resolute and focused on your own path.

Too many people go through life wanting to balance the ledger. Yet, all you’re doing is robbing yourself of happiness in the present. As my mum (who continues to prove she’s wise beyond her years) once said after I had been wronged by someone I regarded as a close friend, “It’s not your job to dish out the karma.” She was right.

Stay resolute and focused on your success, and let the universe take care of the rest.

8. Lower your expectations.

Here’s the hard truth: it’s not everyone else’s job to support you, believe in you, or give you a pat on the back when you feel like you deserve it. For new entrepreneurs, especially, it can be a tough realization that—after investing all your time and money in a venture—the overwhelming support you thought you would receive from your social circle disappears as soon as your product/service is available. In fact, most people would rather buy from a celebrity who they don’t know in favor of supporting their friends.

Rather than let it frustrate you, continue to focus on creating more value and you will quickly attract a large audience of people excited in you.

9. Help those less fortunate.

One of the best ways to feel better about yourself is to help those less fortunate—when you see their faces light up, it will give you gratitude and an instant attitude adjustment. I used to do a lot of work mentoring high school students, and I spoke to one of them last week who is now a successful professional in his early 20s. Of course, I’m immensely proud of the life he’s made for himself, but what made me happiest was hearing that he now volunteers at his old high school to help others.

Pay kindness forward, while the haters hold themselves back.

10. Play the long game.

People are typically jealous of short-term success. The best way to prove them wrong is to continually work on your own version of excellence every single day.

Over time, even the most ardent critic can come to appreciate the sustained effort you took to make your mark on the world.

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My challenge to you is to be you. Not a discount version, but your best self. Use your actions to win the day, every day. While others gossip, your results will say more than words ever could.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it: ‘How to Overcome Bad Days

50 Quotes for Dealing with Haters

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard Baruch

“People will always have an answer for the question they won’t have to answer themselves.” – Conor McGregor

“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” – Will Smith

“One of my greatest weaknesses is also one of my greatest strengths: being underestimated.” – Sara Blakely

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

“To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest.” – Napoleon Hill

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” – Oprah Winfrey

“When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you.” – Marcus Aurelius

“When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. You cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others.” – Robert Greene

“Most haters are stuck in a poisonous mental prison of jealousy and self-doubt that blinds them to their own potentiality.” – Steve Maraboli

“Never take constructive criticism from people who haven’t constructed anything.” – John Shin

“I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic.” – Leonard Bernstein

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” – Dale Carnegie

“If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.” – Marcus Aurelius

“The time you spend hating on someone robs you of your own time. You are literally hating on yourself and you don’t even realize it.” – Joe Rogan

“He who has a why can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass.” – Napoleon Hill

“Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots.” – Nishan Panwar

“There will always be haters. And the more you grow the more they hate; the more they hate the more you grow.” – Anthony Liccione

“The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.” – Jordan Peterson

“Never EVER let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of yours.” – James Whittaker

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Winston S. Churchill

“Put your foot on the neck of criticism by reaching a decision not to worry about what other people think, do or say.” – Napoleon Hill

“There will be haters, there will be doubters, there will be non-believers, and then there will be you proving them wrong.” – Jennifer Van Allen

“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” – Jordan Peterson

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” – Marcus Aurelius

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington

“The best way to counter-attack a hater is to make it blatantly obvious that their attack has had no impact on you.” – Tim Ferriss

“Action is the real measure of intelligence.” – Napoleon Hill

“A critic is a legless man who teaches other people to run.” – Channing Pollock

“I don’t worry about the haters. They are just angry because the truth I speak contradicts the lie they live.” – Steve Maraboli

“It’s easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It’s a lot more difficult to perform one.” – Chuck Palahniuk

“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.” – Jim Rohn

“Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.” – Jordan Peterson

“Haters are all failures. It’s 100% across the board. No one who is truly brilliant at anything is a hater.” – Joe Rogan

“Learn to use the criticism as fuel and you will never run out of energy.” – Orrin Woodward

“When you are able to maintain your own highest standards of integrity—regardless of what others may do—you are destined for greatness.” – Napoleon Hill

“People work better when they know what the goal is and why.” – Elon Musk

“I was born to make mistakes, not to fake perfection.” – Drake

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” – Henry Ford

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” – Oprah Winfrey

“I don’t have time, energy, or interest in hating the haters; I’m too busy loving the lovers.” – Steve Maraboli

“No matter how successful you become, one thing never goes away: negativity. Let it fuel you to get up and fight every day.” – Dana White

“The only thing more frustrating than slanderers is those foolish enough to listen to them.” – Chris Jammi

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Don’t believe me? Just watch.” – Bruno Mars

“Haters don’t really hate you, they hate themselves; because you’re a reflection of what they wish to be.” – Yaira N. Juan

“We must all wage an intense, lifelong battle against the constant downward pull. If we relax, the bugs and weeds of negativity will move into the garden and take away everything of value.” – Jim Rohn

“The more successful you become, the more haters you get.” – Daymond John

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“I am the greatest. I said that before I even knew I was.”

Muhammad Ali

What do world-beaters like Muhammad Ali, Beyoncé Knowles, Lady Gaga, Bruce Lee, Conor McGregor and Jim Carrey all have in common? They recognize that ALL success starts by filling your mind with greatness.

You might have heard some variant of the quote: The path to success is to take massive, determined action. However, most people leap in headfirst, ignoring the critical first step of creating a comprehensive unique definition of what success looks like to them. As Dale Carnegie reminded us: “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.”

A clear plan gives you the mental fortitude to make the right choice in the many decisions you are faced with each day, resulting in more willpower, passion, persistence and other essential ingredients needed for long term achievement. Along the way, resources of all kinds that you need for your journey—such as people, finances and inspiration—will appear, as if by magic.

Once you’ve filled your mind with greatness and have a comprehensive definition of what success looks like to you, bridge the gap between dreams and reality through the process of autosuggestion:

  1. Clearly state what you want
  2. See it already in your possession and feel every associated emotion
  3. Outline what you are willing to do—the price you are willing to pay—in exchange for its attainment; and
  4. At least twice daily, confidently read the written statement of your desire out loud.

Remember, you don’t need to believe it immediately, as Bob Proctor noted in Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy. Through this process, complemented with daily action, champions are increasingly bolstered for success while those indifferent to their destination are lured to mediocrity.

Autosuggestion in Practice

1. Bruce Lee

In January 1969, aspiring actor Bruce Lee wrote out his clear definition of success (below). Today, he is remembered as the world’s most iconic martial artist, a global film star and cultural phenomenon.

2. Lady Gaga

On autosuggestion, Lady Gaga said: “It’s sort of like a mantra. You repeat it to yourself every day: ‘Music is my life, music is my life. The fame is inside of me, I’m going to make a number one record with number one hits.’ And it’s not yet, it’s a lie. You’re saying a lie over and over and over again, and then, one day the lie is true.”

3. Jim Carrey

Before he became a household name, film star Jim Carrey would often sit in the Hollywood Hills and look out over the city, visualizing how one day renowned directors and other people he respected would praise him for his work. In 1992, he went one step further, writing himself a $10 million check for “acting services rendered.” Dating it three years in the future, Carrey kept the check in his wallet where it would stare back at him numerous times each day, while he worked tirelessly to bring his goal to life.

Just before Thanksgiving 1995, the entertainer was given a film role that paid him $10 million. By constantly focusing on what he wanted most, Carrey made his dream a reality.

Time for Action

Having your mind constantly focused on what you want is an essential step to actually achieving it. Whether it’s Muhammad Ali declaring he is the greatest before history agreed, Bruce Lee demanding worldwide fame, Lady Gaga visualizing her meteoric rise, Beyoncé exercising in front of an Academy Award picture, Conor McGregor dreaming big despite his dismal amateur record, or Jim Carrey writing himself a $10 million check, convince your mind it’s a simple choice: win or perish.

Model the habits of high performers. Demand success, expect it, and let the universe show you the way forward.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

In case you missed it:
How to Turn Failure into Victory … and a Billion-dollar Empire

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