Can You “Attract” a More Meaningful Life?

Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time (well, actually about five years ago), I was experimenting with various ways to make a living. (I had the luxury of experimenting because I had taken the time to understand my financial situation before quitting my job.)

My goal was simply to replace my corporate income and support my household. If you had asked me, I would have said it would be nice to earn more, but I doubted I was willing to work that hard and it probably wasn’t possible.

The Book

I always enjoy learning and one day my friend Heather Sams, the photographer,  asked me if I would like to read the famous book by Napolean Hill, Think and Grow Rich, together.

Well, I always jump on anything Heather suggests, so I enthusiastically said yes.

The Goals

We both read a version of the book (she listened to it in her car) that included exercises and we would meet every week to talk about it. When we got to the part about setting goals, the conversation sounded something like this…

Me: “It says to set an outrageous stretch goal. I don’t see how this can be helpful, but what the heck? Let’s say $1 million by 2020.”

Heather: “I don’t know. I’ll make a list of the things I want to accomplish and figure out how much I would need.”

Me: “That’s a good idea, but I don’t even know what I want to accomplish, so I’m just pulling numbers out of the air. How about $10 million by 2035?”

The Reality of Numbers

You know how much I would have to invest monthly to have $10 million by 2035?

$8000 a month! Where could any ordinary person possibly come up with that much money? I would have to bring in $20,000 a month to support my household, pay the taxes and have enough left over to save that much.

Impossible, right?

The Revelation

About this same time, I had gotten involved with a Colorado network marketing company. I signed up because I like to shop local and they make a lot of stuff here in the state. I figured I could sell the products made in Colorado as part of my Hungry Chicken Homestead business.

The company’s annual conference was held in Denver, not far from me, and I figured I would go meet the other people on my team. I only attended for a day, but something amazing happened.

I met people who were making $20,000 a month!

Understanding What’s Possible

I’m not saying that everyone can make that much money. Obviously, it takes work, consistency and commitment to learning the profession. My point is that even though I had rolled my eyes at the exercise in the book, it worked! I had no idea when we began where I could possibly come up with that kind of money.

The goal and the reinforcing of it by repetition made it possible for my brain to see something I had never seen before. It’s not as if I had never encountered network marketing.  I had just never realized it could be a vehicle to where I want to go.

What I Concluded from this Experience

I’m not a big fan of the idea that we can “manifest” things with our minds, at least not in a magical kind of way. Hence all the eye rolling.

What I didn’t realize is that our brains are filtering out tons of information every day. And no wonder! We are completely inundated with data from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. It’s exhausting!

The reality is much more mundane than magic. The act of setting a goal and reinforcing it to yourself simply changes what information you take in. It may seem like magic, but really it’s just a change in mindset.

Apparently, I’m not the only person to think this. I came across the same idea in Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect.

Use This to Your Advantage

Are you wishing you could accomplish something and change your life? Try the exercise I described above and see how it works for you. I bet you’ll be as surprised as I was!

What Did You Do in September?

Well, folks… it’s Friday and September is almost over.

What did you accomplish?

I’m not asking that (of you and of me) so that we’ll feel inadequate. I’m asking so we’ll make lists of what we did and remember that we are making progress.

How to Succeed at Anything

I didn’t make up this concept. I’m just following along with the experts. They say two things that have struck me as important this morning as I’m trying to make a plan for the fourth quarter.

  1. Be consistent.
  2. Celebrate the wins.

In other words, it’s the little things we do consistently that make us successful.  That’s why it’s so hard to start something new. It’s hard to change your habits, but habits are what ultimately propel us to where we want to go.

Author Darren Hardy really drives this home in his book The Compound Effect.

In fact, it’s so important that he suggests that you begin by tracking whatever you want to change because it’s those little things that keep you on course or send you off into the weeds.

Hardy says even little things, like watching an hour of television news every day instead of reading a book that helps improve your life, adds up. That seven hours a week becomes 28 hours a month that you could have been going after what you want.

Using this Idea to My Advantage

This makes sense in the context of all the other things I’ve learned recently. For example, I’m working my way through Brendon Burchard’s The Charge.

Burchard devotes a whole chapter to the importance of integrating your successes into your identity. In other words, here is another small thing you can do consistently that will improve your life… track your successes.

If you combine the two ideas, be consistent and celebrate wins, you find yourself with self-confidence.

That’s how we get confidence and self-esteem, you know. By doing things.

When Your Friends are Relentlessly Positive

I have a very treasured friend who followed these principles to success. I have been privileged to watch Heather Sams, owner of Heather Sams Fine Portraits, consistently work on her business year after year. Sometimes things went really well, sometimes they were slower, but today she has a business that builds her dreams.

I consulted Heather one dreary day when I was feeling ineffective (as even the most cheerful, confident people do now and then). Did she commiserate with me about how hard it is to build a business?

No, ma’am!

She was not about to let me drag myself further into the hole. Instead, she put a big piece of paper on the wall and made me list out everything I’ve accomplished in the last 8 years.

You bet I felt better when I left. I took that piece of paper and put it on my wall where I see it every day. Think about it. Why would I deliberately integrate failures into my identity, but not successes?

That’s just silly.

Do This Today

Here’s what I want you to do now. Take a moment and write down what you accomplished in September. It can be anything from “Mowed lawn every week” to “Completed a plan to take over the world”.

Once you have a list, put it on your wall where you can see it. Don’t forget. You’re making headway toward your vision even if you feel like you’re just taking baby steps.

Sales is Not the Same as Con Artistry

Are you in sales?

If you run a business, the answer is “yes”.

Entrepreneurs do everything. We’re in sales, operations, finance, janitorial services… you name it. In my particular business, I am also the entire “Animal Management” department and the person responsible for keeping cats off the computers.

Entrepreneurs do everything, but we need to pay particular attention to sales, simply because with no customers we have no business.

There’s only one problem. We hate it.

Why We Fear Sales

I say “we” hate it, but actually I like it. After much research and experimentation, I have determined that being in sales is nothing more than strategically socializing and meeting for coffee. I like coffee and I like socializing, so there is no problem.

This is not a universal perspective. Many people I talk to say, “I’m just not a salesman” or “I like the idea of being in business, but maybe I can hire someone to do the sales part.”

I think they equate “sales” with a set of values and activities they wouldn’t like. In past articles, I’ve compared that image of sales with the main character of The Music Man, a fast-talking con artist.

It’s as if being a salesperson automatically means putting the desire to make the sale above the needs of the customer or even the obligation to be honest. As if the only way to be successful was to be selfish.

Luckily, that’s not how it works at all.

The Art of Making People Happy

In my soft-spoken, relationship-driven world, sales works like this:

  1. Someone asks me about what I do or about a product I sell
  2. I briefly explain it and then start asking questions to determine if this product could help this person
  3. The person answers the questions
  4. If the product could be helpful, I ask more questions. If it is not helpful, I change the subject

All I’m really doing is helping the other person determine whether she wants the product. Maybe I’ll provide samples or pictures, or maybe I’ll follow up several times if she wants me to, but I’m not going to sell anything to someone who doesn’t want the product or won’t be helped by it.

If the product will help the person, I will ask for the sale simply because most people need to be asked. They won’t act otherwise. But throughout the process, my goal is to help, not to take advantage.

And thus I am not acting at all like a fast-talking con man.

You Can Be An Ethical, Pleasant Salesperson

While I do like to make sales, my main goal is to help that person figure out what she wants. Sometimes I can help in other ways, for example, by referring her to someone who has what she really needs.

You can do this too. It takes some practice, but it’s a great skill to develop. If you can sell a product or a service, you can always make a living.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to learn, contact me about starting a “practice business”. I can help you.

And if it’s not right for you, I promise to tell you so.

 

Three Ways to Be More Productive

“I can’t believe it!”, I said to my friend shortly after I started my first business. “I can accomplish more in four hours than I did in a week at my corporate job!”

Productivity is a really big deal if you want to create anything.  It’s so easy to spend all our time doing busywork or getting sucked into the vortex of social media. It seems so trivial to waste an evening watching TV and yet if you can harness that time to your agenda, you move closer to what you want for your life.

I’ve been working on this productivity thing for years and here are three things I’ve learned.

Get (and Use) a Good Calendar

If you want to be productive, the first thing to do is move whatever you can out of your head and onto paper. If you’re keeping your appointments and to-do list in your head then you’re using a lot of energy to make sure you remember it all.

A good planner keeps track of that for you, freeing up your energy for your work… and your time for naps. A major benefit of the planner is being able to block out time for whatever is important in your personal life, like your children’s games or your weekly pottery class or your afternoon catnap.

I use one called Planner Pad, but there are plenty of others. Find one that works for you.

Remove Distractions

Our world is a veritable circus of distractions. Your phone is making silly noises, the computer is informing you that you have new messages and social media is reminding you to maintain your popularity.

And that’s not all! The dog is barking, people are shouting and your foot itches.

How on earth can anyone get anything done?

I really struggled with this one and I think the best way to do it is to start first thing in the morning. Don’t even open your email, just get right to the thing you want to get done.

Wear earplugs if you have to. You can get them at the drugstore.

Believe me, earplugs make everything better.

Find Interesting Work

This one is a lot bigger than buying earplugs and I know it’s not an option everyone can make happen right away. When I told my friend how much I was accomplishing, it was because I was so interested in the work.

According to Brendon Burchard, the high performance expert, high performers tend to be obsessed with their topic, suggesting that if you want to be productive, it’s extremely helpful to see the connection between what you’re interested in and what you’re doing.

I know this to be true in my own life. I’ve had the freedom to experiment with my business and I’m much more productive when the tasks are aligned with my interests.

Do you need a practical resource to move your career to more interesting, meaningful work? Download this book.

My dad, Dr. Steven Simon, wrote it after a long career of helping people find meaningful work. He can help you too.

Chances are that, like me, you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish when you love what you’re doing.