Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
Thanks to Berenice Limon for the use of her image.
I am sick of people telling me to take the safe route and to not take chances. There will always be people that will advise you to live comfortably and not take on any risk or hardship. Get away from these people. They will only derail you from achieving your goals. Being comfortable never prompted anybody to change their situation or achieve their goals. Being comfortable should make you feel uncomfortable. People will allow themselves to be pushed around and bullied in order to remain comfortable. People will act in a painful situation to ease the pain or remove the source of that pain. Security and comfort is not afforded by a job, it is provided by your ability to produce.
“When you are tough on yourself, life is easier on you.” – Zig Ziglar
1. Achievement starts with a goal
Start with a goal. Desire and enthusiasm without direction is wasted. A goal will give you a direction to channel all of your enthusiasm and desire. How do you know your goal is a worthwhile goal? Ask the question of “why you want to achieve this goal.” If your answer is strong enough, then you know that you have a worthy goal.
2. Imagine the pleasure of achieving your goal
Close your eyes and see yourself in the future having achieved your goal. Think about all the benefits, pleasure and possibilities that will open up to you if you attain your goal. Doing this will help you visualize in your mind and emotionally commit yourself to achieving your goal. Remember that feeling of pleasure at reaching your goal. Latch onto this image and it will help you manifest your mental creation into the physical.
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” –Gloria Steinem
3. Imagine the pain of failing to reach the goal
Now close your eyes and imagine what the consequences are of not reaching your goal. What type of painful existence would you live or continue to live if you did not continue to move forwards and achieve you goal? Embrace that feeling of pain and let it drive you. Pain can be the greatest of all motivators.
4. Remind yourself of your goal
Reinforce your goal everyday. Keep you goal fresh in your mind. By doing this you will prod your mind to work out the problems in your way of achieving that goal. A goal that is constantly bubbled up in your mind will allow your genius to work on figuring different methods on how to achieve it. Never underestimate your genius.
Some of the methods to remind you of your goal is to write your goal on the ceiling of your bed so that you wake up and see it every morning and every evening when you go to bed. The headline of my IPhone task list is always the goal I am currently working on. I check this list several times a day to keep on task and remind myself of my goal. Whichever way you remind yourself of your goal do it at least once daily.
By keeping yourself focused on your goal you will remove distractions. I do not know who originally said this, “When you eliminate all other possibilities other than success, you are left only with success as a possibility.”
If you look up at the sun, you seldom see the shadows. – Helen Keller
5. Public Accountability
Tell others what your goal is. Arnold Schwarzenegger related a story about how he used public accountability to get the burning desire in his belly to achieve. While still in Austria and with little ability to speak English he would tell people that he was going to America to be a great actor. Because he let people know his goal, he used public accountability to strengthen his desire to achieve a goal that seemed impossible. Even when he arrived in America he was told his accent was too thick and his body too weird to ever make it. Despite it all he willed his way through all of his detractors and made it by never giving up on his dream.
Blog about your goal and give frequent updates. Here is a video of a guy that used public accountability to get to his goal. He posted a picture of himself on his blog everyday as he used public accountability to achieve his goal of weight loss.
Make a deal with somebody you care about. For instance, you could make a deal with your wife that you will quit smoking if she does the same.
Tell your co-workers about your goal. “I am going to quit smoking for the next 2 weeks” and give them frequent updates. Doing this will even encourage people to ask you for an update about your goal when you neglect to update them.
6. Do something each day that will get you closer to accomplishing your goal
Before going to bed each evening, take out a note taking device and create a stack ranked list of what you need to tackle tomorrow to get you closer to your goal. Start on the list from highest priority and focus on it until it is complete.
By doing something everyday to get you closer to your goal you will be surprised at the progress. This will also make your progress steady instead of having peaks and valleys of activity.
7. Fail your way to success
People are so afraid of failing and making mistakes that it often stops them from even trying. This mentality is completely wrong. If you want to succeed faster increase the rate at which you fail. We learn more from failure than we learn from success. Embrace and learn from failure and get back up and keep swinging. When obstacles arise you change your direction not your decision to get there.
After Thomas Edison failed 9000 times trying to create a practical electric light he was asked by a reporter whether he felt like a failure. Edison replied, “”Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” Edison invented the practical incandescent, electric light after he failed 10,000 times.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!” – Rocky Balboa
Each misstep is an education. There are two reactions that a person can have when hit by an obstacle. One, give up. Two, redouble your efforts. When you get knocked down, how you react to it shows your character. Bottom line is: do not be afraid to start something because you could fail and if you do fail learn from it, get back up and attack. An example is investing in the stock market. Invest slowly with money that you are not afraid to lose. If you do lose money do not let it stop you from investing, instead learn from your mistakes and consider it as an educational tuition fee. You will never learn, let alone succeed if you never try.
8. Create a mantra
Mine is: “I will do what it takes.”
We need more people that don’t know what can’t be done. – Henry Ford
May all your dreams but one come true. – David Gemmel
May all your dreams but one come true. – David Gemmel
This has been my most personal blog to date and I was very hesitant to publish it. Nonetheless, I hope this post is helpful to you.
Tags: 8 Ways to Make Your Goal a Certainty, achieve, achievement, achieving your goals, blog, create a mantra, fail your way to success, goal setting, Investing, limitlessunits, limitlessunits.com, motivation, never give up, pain as a motivator, pleasure as a motivator, public accountability, riposte101, tony huynh, work ethic
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Sunday, November 16th, 2008
It is not about how much you earn, it is about how much you save. You cannot build wealth without saving money. Saving money is achieved by spending less money than you earn. Saving money is like trying to fill a bath tub with water, you will first have to patch up the leaks. Here are some of the steps I have taken to patching up the leaks.
1. Gained More Self-Discipline
Self-discipline is the ability to put off gratification now to gain gratification later. Self-discipline is what separates us from the animals. I mean, think about it, humans are the only species on this planet that is able to deny themselves what makes them happy at this very moment for greater happiness down the road. To maintain self-discipline think about the reason for “why” you are saving money. Is it to buy a house, put your kids through college or another reason? Sit down for a few minutes to come up with an answer to the question of “why.” Setting a goal is one thing, but I have always found the answer to “why” you want to accomplish that goal to be infinitely more powerful. While I have always had some self-discipline, it increased ten fold once I answered for myself the question of why. The answer to “why” should be strong enough that you can cling to it to keep you motivated. Even if you fail to maintain self-discipline keep trying and keep training your self-discipline. Like a muscle, the more you train your self-discipline the stronger it becomes.
2. Clear debt first
I would always recommend clearing out your debt first. Start with your highest interest rate accounts and work your way down. Devote all of your earnings to getting rid of your debt. Doing this helps you avoid compounding interest.
For most people, their single largest expense is taxes. An American making around 100k a year pays 50% of it to the government in taxes. Anything you can do to minimize this expense means more money in your pocket. Of course I only advocate legal means to do this. The great thing is that in America we have so many government programs created to help us in this regard. Make sure to take advantage of as many available tax-deferring vehicles that fit your situation as possible.
Some of these include, but are not exclusive to Roth IRA, 401k, Traditional Roth, Medical flex-spending savings accounts and education savings accounts.
Also be sure you are taking advantage of any tax deferment available to you via your job or business. One advantage that being a video game developer is that it allows me to write off many of my entertainment expenses. These include computers, movies, game consoles, games and books. This can add up quickly so be sure to take advantage of this if you are able.
As always, before taking action please meet with a qualified tax consultant for the best way to take advantage of these or any other tax-deferring vehicles.
4. I quit drinking
Going out and drinking can add up quickly. I just cut it out completely. I even went so far as to cut out all caffeine and minimized my soda intake. This means that I not only save money by not going to bars and Starbucks, but I also save money anytime I eat out by only drinking water.
5. I work out at home instead of at a gym
This again comes back to self-discipline. The advantages of working out at home are that I can dress however I feel like and work out at any time.
6. Concentrate on what you need to live
Get away from the “keeping up with Jones’ mentality.” If you think about it, it is amazing how little you need to live. The cost of a quality life in the United States is low if you concentrate on only what you need. You do not need the fancy car or clothes to get by. Cut those extraneous expenses out and concentrate on getting a dependable car and home in a neighborhood with good schools to raise your children. Take Warren Buffet, one of the riches men in the world, who still drives himself around in a six year old Lincoln Town car and lives in a 5 bedroom stucco house he bought in 1958 for $31,000 as your role model instead of Michael Vick whose yachts and mansions are now repossessed as soon as the first difficulty arose. Again it is about how much you keep, not how much you make.
7. Got rid of my car
This may not be possible for most people. Living in Chicago, I have the advantage of being able to take the very convenient mass transit system exclusively to get anywhere I need to. While I do currently pay $75 for unlimited monthly uses of mass transit, owning a car is vastly more expensive. By not having to pay for car insurance, maintenance, registration, parking and fuel I am saving a hefty amount. If you can find a way to eliminate one of your cars, and are able to bike, walk or take mass transit to work, it can add up to huge annual savings.
8. Use credit cards
If you use your self-discipline to pay off your credit cards every month, then use your credit cards. I use credit cards for nearly every purchase I make. Doing this gives me a very accurate record at the end of each month of all my purchases and helps me keep track of my expenses. Credit cards also usually come with some great rewards. When you use credit cards, you will be building up your credit, while at the same time enjoy rewards like cash back, airline miles, etc… So use your credit cards and enjoy the rewards, but only if you pay them off every month.
Just because it is a deal does not mean you should purchase something. Use these online deal sites to help you find bargains on what you need and not to fuel your impulse buys.
10. Know where to scrimp and know where not to
Do not take this saving mentality to extremes. You need to decide where you can save and where not to. Personally, I save where I can, but I will also spend on my education. My education is the most important thing to me and while I use smart ways to save in this regard also, I am more willing to splurge if I can become educated in the process.
I also hire help when I need it, especially in important positions like your CPA or lawyer. I do not know who first said this, but I have found it to be very true: “the most expensive advice is free advice.” A CPA that you have to pay a little more for who is willing to go the extra mile and take the time to explain tax codes to you and how to best maximize them can end up saving you a lot more money than a discount CPA who will treat you like a number.
Tags: blog, clear your debt, CPA, credit cards, financial, get rid of your car, gym, how to save money, how to scrimp, internet deal sites, Investing, limitless units, limitlessunits.com, money, quit drinking, riposte101, roth IRA, save money, saving, self-discipline, tax deferring vehicles, taxes, tony huynh, what steps I have taken to save money
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Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
How could you not be aware of the plummeting US economy? Everyday the headlines of stocks plummeting and new layoffs grow louder. The short-term future may be bleak and I believe that the economy is due for a correction after so many years of prosperity. Despite all the scariness, I am continuing to invest in US stocks and I am not the only one. Warren Buffet, a personal hero of mine, wrote a great opinion editorial over at the New York Times.
“I’ve been buying American stocks…Why? A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors.”
There are ridiculous values out there right now. Great companies trading at unreasonably low prices.
“Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.”
While nobody can predict the short-term movements of the market, invest in the long-term. I am a long-term investor and I will be putting my bets on the United States.
If you have not read Warren Buffet’s mentor Benjamin Graham’s book The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition)
I highly recommend it. It is the most influential book of my investing life.
Here are my basic stock investing guidelines:
1. To buy a stock is to buy a piece of a company
A lot of people forget this principle. If you do not believe in or like the company do not buy the stock.
2. Buy what you know
This is the famous investing advice given by Peter Lynch.
Since I work in the gaming industry and spend all my time researching games, it is an area I understand. So I would rather buy stocks in gaming companies that I spend the majority of my time researching instead of a Bio-tech company that I know little about.
This rule also applies to products that I like and use. If a company does not produce a product or service I use, I will not invest in that company.
Check the balance sheets of the stock. I personally never invest in a company that has any debt. Also read their quarterly reports especially the risk segment. If you read this segment and still think that the stock is worth owning then you may have a winner. Learn how to read the numbers and balance sheet of a stock.
3. Do not buy stocks you are not willing to hold indefinitely
“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.” – Warren Buffet
I’m not trying to turn a quick buck in stock investing. Again it comes back to whether you like the company enough to own and hold a piece of it indefinitely.
4. Buy slowly
Do not move in on a stock all at once. If the stock continues to go down and you like the stock, continue to buy in. If the stock goes up, I generally do not continue to buy in.
5. Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful
Above all this is what drives my investing.
Disclaimer: Stocks involve risk; I’m only telling how I personally invest. Any investment decisions you make are your own.
Tags: benjamin graham, Bet on the US I am, book review, economy, intelligent investor, Investing, limitlessunits, limitlessunits.com, peter lynch, riposte101, stock investing, stock investing guidelines, stocks, tony huynh, US economy, warren buffet
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