I remember being a kid and making up games all the time. Back in the late sixties, early seventies we didn’t have cool toys, video games, computers, smartphones and cable TV. We had boxes and dirt, actually a box was a luxury. You only had one if someone’s family bought a new washing machine. When we didn’t have a box, we would crawl inside the bushes and there was enough room under there for a nice fort. You would come out of there with scratches and your skin itching from the plant oils or bugs but it was worth it. We would spend hours making up games, on the fly, no instructions, just a couple of kids and a situation.
As we get older, we lose the ability to use our imagination.
How does this relate to lessons learned in finance?
So much of the success in finance relates to using your mind. Whether it’s your mindset, coming up with ideas, brainstorming, seeing a situation and creating an opportunity, or finding a solution when all around you is chaos.
Two areas that a kid is good at are; one dreaming and two creating ideas.
I don’t recall where I read it, but it said that most people make their annual goals too large and their lifetime dreams too small. I believe that. Everyone wants their dreams right now.
We write down we want to make $100,000 per year instead of $1,000,000 per year or “I will start my own business” instead of “I will create a business that revolutionizes how we eat that is healthy, tasty and inexpensive and people will line up to pay for it.”
We’ve all done the mental exercises of visioning our ideal life; what are we doing, where are we, who are we with. But do we filter our imaginations with fears and limitations? We wouldn’t have done that as kids. As kids we would have pretended to be king or the quarterback that wins the Superbowl, but as adults we change our dream to losing ten pounds and getting a promotion – well short of something BIG.
I recommend really digging in and dreaming without limits, increase it by ten. Instead of wanting $50,000 per year for your retirement, go for $500,000. If you fall short and only make $300,000, you’re still better off. Use that money to do everything you wanted to do. Retire at 52 instead of 72, golf at a country club instead of a crowded public course, move to an ocean-view house instead of a retirement community, hire a maid and lawn service instead of doing all that work yourself.
Make your dreams huge, anything you think about, make it bigger.
One you have the dream, make it happen. Work towards it every year, every month, every day, all the while picturing your dream and what life is like when it is a reality.
When you’re a kid you can create an idea out of nothing and at any time you want. We seem to lose this ability as we get older, but the good news is that we can get it back.
Sometimes our dreams are big enough, but we haven’t come up with enough good ones, or we haven’t really delved deep into what is really important to us and found out what idea would help us get there.
James Altucher in his great book, Choose Yourself suggests that you work on your idea muscle every day and that over time, you can develop your ability to generate ideas on any topic, at will. So if you lose your job, you would have the ability to come up with several ideas on where to find a new job.
James keeps a waiter’s pad with him at all times to capture ideas. A waiter’s pad is what they use to write down your order at a restaurant. They are fairly cheap, if bought in bulk. I instead bought a small notebook.
You then come up with a topic for the day and write down ten ideas for that topic. Some themes can be
1. Business Ideas
2. Book Ideas
3. New Careers
4. Chapters for a book
5. Part-Time Job Ideas
6. Products for the Face
7. Ten Ways to Save Money, and so on
Over time, your ability to come up with ideas does improve and you can frequently come up with more than ten ideas and do so quickly. You may hear something someone says and it will trigger your brain to think of an idea of how to solve a problem or create a business.
Use this new skill to rethink your dreams. Instead of “I want to retire and live on the beach”, say “I want to retire at 56 and live in San Marcos, Texas where I will trade stocks and make $5,000 per month and another $6,000 from my online products. I will golf three times per week at the local country club and not have to worry about crowds or expenses. I will take five vacations per year; one to see my kids and at least two that are international…”
When you have dreams that are more detailed, you can visualize them better and they seem real and achievable. Plus when you are more creative, your dreams can go from ordinary to extraordinary and make you more excited to realize them. Dreams and ideas that are banal won’t get you pumped up to work towards them.
Everyone has something within them that they want to do but they may not know what it is or have made that dream too small. Their own minds have down-played the idea so that you end up passing on it or reducing it so that it is easier to achieve. Thoughts like “I’m too old” or “I’m not smart” are dream killers.
Make your dreams outrageous and ones that stand out from the rest of the crowd. When you do, you’re more apt to work hard and come up with the money to fund them.
Next is our last lesson where I talk about my favorite money tip that I learned just within the last two years and it has really changed my focus and what I’m working on currently.
If you missed the first five lessons here they are: