How 2 Build A Business Online

While 99% of the population is going to work every day, trading their time for money … there’s a special group of in-the-know people who are waking up to a world of financial potential that most people don’t know is possible. Imagine what it would be like to get emails like this every single day:

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

1. Choose a great business idea, then start to build a website that attracts visitors.

Here’s a quick tip to come up with a great business idea: Combine one of your ideas/hobbies/skills to find something that you care about and figure out how that can be used to solve another person’s problem. Here is a written article of how to come up with a good idea and then validate it. so I’m not going to belabor the point here.

Here’s what to do: Create a simple website for pennies using WordPress or Squarespace that advertises what you do, and/or the product you’re offering. You don’t need any web or tech skills to make this happen. Both resources have ready-to-install templates. You just need to know how to use the internet!

Use regular tools (like Facebook, Instagram, a blog, etc) to start driving people to your website. Nothing secret or tricky here. Just talk to your friends, family, and accessible networks and try to start solving their problems. Identify their pain points and then go about actively solving them. This will help you finetune your idea.

Direct them to your site to pick up their free piece of value content that you’ve prepared for them. Which is the subject of Step 2 …

2. Turn those website visitors into loyal subscribers by offering them something free in exchange for their email address.

Create free, helpful content and ask visitors for an email address in exchange.

For example, you could offer a free 15-minute consultation, a tutorial video, a downloadable checklist, an infographic, a guide or other types of free content depending on your business and industry. The list is literally endless.

Add these people to an email list and keep building that list over time. Slow but steady wins the race. You can create HUGE results with a very small email list. I know this because many people were able to quit their job and commit full-time to building a profitable online business.

If you’re curious to know how I got started, and how you can begin your own journey to self-employment, you should enroll in my free mini course on making more money. It’ll take you step-by-step through the process of creating a new business using skills you already have.

I know what you’re thinking, so let me stress it again — you don’t have to be a “techie” or know any programming! The website itself can get up and running for less that $50 in a day. And you can use an email marketing solution like MailChimp to manage subscribers, send emails, and track results for free.

3. Turn those subscribers into customers by asking them to buy from you via email.

You can sell whatever you want — a physical or digital product, a course, a service, or even coaching. It’s all based on what’s interesting to you, and what you think you can help your subscribers with the most.

After delivering a ton of free awesome content for a while (emailing your blog posts, YouTube videos, or whatever else you create), now you have the “right” to sell. Really, this means you have a core audience — no matter how small — who anticipates hearing from you, who reads or consumes your work, and who relates to your message.

This is huge.

These people, your Tribe, actually WANT to buy from you. They’re eager for you to produce a real product because they trust you.

This satisfies our innate human instinct for reciprocity — but really it’s because they think that what you offer is valuable, and an actual product puts a price to that value.

Here’s an example how a simple idea can be turned into a $1,000/month online business:

Let’s say you’re a tutor who’s really good at preparing students for the SAT/ACT college entrance exams.

That’s a pretty in-demand skill set with a high hourly rate. But after a while, you might get burned out driving from house to house or teaching big classes.

There’s an easier way.

Instead of going door-to-door teaching the SAT, you could make a website that gives great SAT tips and strategies for free. Create a PDF guide of your top 5 proven strategies for raising test scores and, in exchange for their email addresses, give it away to people who visit your website.

Continue to build that list of email addresses over time. YOUR LIST IS YOUR MONEY MAKER. Treat it with utmost care and respect. Always remember these are real people.

Behind the scenes, you build a simple 6-week video course teaching lessons as if you were in front of a classroom.

(I don’t want to hear you say you don’t have the proper equipment! All you need is an iPhone. Don’t believe me? Casey Neistat is an acclaimed film directorproducer, and YouTube star with nearly 2 million subscribers. He films everything he produces on an iPhone. Yup.)

Once every month or two, send an email to your dedicated email list selling the course.

Every time you send, there’s a good chance people will buy. As the list grows, more and more people will buy

(Remember, you’re still peppering them with juicy content in between each sales push. That’s how they grow to love and respect you.)

If you priced the video series at just $97 (which is quite fair, considering how much private tutoring costs) and sold just 10 of those video courses every month, you’d make a quick $1,000 automatically … every single month.

From a TINY email list.

THAT IS LIFE-CHANGING.

  • That’s enough money for you to take a vacation.
  • That’s enough money to pay off student loans.
  • That’s enough money to pay down your debt and finally start saving.

And that’s what I mean. It doesn’t take a lot.

From here, the sky’s the limit. You can easily tweak the “dials” of your internet business and 2x, 5x, 10x that money easily with a few changes.

Keep growing your list and try to imagine what’s possible …

When you first start marketing online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the options.

You might know that “IKEA” feeling — when you’re staring at a big box full of pieces, and you’re not confident you have the energy or the patience to put them all together.

Which makes it easy to fall prey to what look like simple solutions.

Some will tell you, you don’t need a website for your business … you just need a Medium account, or some other “ready in 5 minutes” solution. “It’s free! It’s quick!” they say.

But it’s also dangerous. And here’s why.

Don’t build your business on rented land

You can read here about the sad story of a bookstore that was doing everything right, but still had to close … because the rent on their beautiful four-story space tripled overnight.

Bookstores, restaurants, and other brick-and-mortar businesses face this every day. Leases expire, rents go up, and businesses can’t survive the additional financial pressure. The only way around it is to own the land your store is on … but the cost of that can be prohibitive.

This is where it’s nice to be an online-based business. Because the equivalent of owning your building is to center your business around an asset you own and can control — your own self-hosted website.

Work for yourself … not Facebook

If the only place you can connect with customers is on your Facebook page, you essentially work for Facebook.

And they can (and do) change their terms of service whenever they want, without asking you, in a way that can create massive tumult for you. They can also delete your page just because they feel like it. They owe you nothing. And they’re too big to care about your problems.

If the only place you get traffic is Google (either through organic search or pay-per-click), you work for Google.

If 80% of your new customers find you on Pinterest or LinkedIn, you work for Pinterest or LinkedIn.

You have a much better option. You can rely on yourself, and use Facebook and Google and Pinterest as outposts to support your business.

Escaping digital serfdom

Building your business on someone else’s platform is called digital sharecropping (we didn’t come up with that term, Nicholas Carr did), but it could just as easily be called digital serfdom.

You’re the unrecognized peasant who does all the work and takes all the risk. The landlord reaps nearly all of the wealth and benefit.

You can do better.

The other problem with digital serfdom is that the landlord may or may not be here next year.

In the past, content creators put millions of hours into sites like Digg or MySpace. And to say those sites are no longer relevant is a huge understatement.

Sharecropped land, in other words, has a tendency to become less and less fertile over time. It can also be taken away from you at any time, whether or not you do anything wrong.

Here’s what to do instead

There are three assets you should be building today, and should continue to focus on for the lifetime of your business:

  1. A well-designed website with your own hosting account.
  2. An opt-in email list, ideally with high-quality automation features.
  3. A reputation for providing impeccable value.

These things are the equivalent of buying your building instead of renting it. It’s an asset, not a potential liability

More importantly, you can proactively protect your asset by taking website security seriously, avoiding spammy practices with your email, and cultivating a loyal audience who will vouch for you as being a good egg.

What are the best choices?

Our recommendation for your website is WordPress, which not coincidentally is the most popular content management system on the internet. The software itself is free, and it’s become incredibly simple to set up and make your own with spectacular designs (themes), specialty software (plugins), and high-performance speed (hosting). It’s also easy to find someone who will set it up for you — quickly and cheaply.

You’ve put a lot of time and effort into your business — don’t risk it by building your business on someone else’s land. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before to create a powerful website that you truly own and control.

If you still have trouble starting a business online. I created a online course just for you. A step by step process that will walk you through it at your own pace. This course consists of videos and articles that can help you learn how to get started and will guide you to increasing your income and eventually having the option to leave your job and do whatever you like to do. I believe that passion is more important than money, but money is also very important. Money is like oxygen. We need it to survive. What if you can take your passion online and use it to help others while increasing your income. Would you do it?

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Emotional Health

Hello and welcome to Month Three of The Nick James One-Year Success Blog. We hope you are having an excellent week!

What a great time to embrace change, opportunity and hopefulness. If you’re like us, your ambition to get caught up on the past, handle the present and launch into the future may be getting the best of you if—and we say if—you tend to be a little impatient. It’s hard to get it all done in a short period of time. Think of this process like we’re running a marathon and the ultimate goal here is overall success and improvement in the major areas of our lives. Just like compound interest, the slow but continual steps toward your predetermined goals will keep coming more clearly into focus each day.

On the other hand, if you’re not engaged in the above process of cleaning up the past, doing the daily activities and engaging in your future, then by all means start the process.

Cleaning up past messes, projects, etc., releases additional time and energy, and it’s amazing how quickly that time and energy can be redirected and invested into accomplishing more productive and rewarding pursuits and goals.

Doing the daily activities prevents additional cleanups of items that could potentially create new messes, and keeps you from having to pay the penalties of neglect.

Engaging in your future is where the biggest prize awaits. Only 3-5% of people are able to make the future investments of time and planning in the midst of doing their very necessary daily activities.

Let us stress that a little bit DOES make a difference. The first step creates momentum to take the next step, and so on. The act alone of engaging in the three steps above is the critical starting point in spite of how long or far the journey might seem. It’s the consistent, steady movement in the right direction that makes the small, incremental investments seem painless and creates the confidence and excitement to be truly self-motivated and driven toward your ultimate goals and purpose.

Take the first—or next—step, and make it a great week!

Health, Part Two—Emotional Health

Health is our all-important topic this month. When we look at health, we look in the context of humans consisting of three distinct parts or layers: the Body—the physical nature; the Soul—the mind, will and emotions; and the Spirit—the part of us that transcends this world and communes with God.

Our spiritual life is what gives us the foundation for living and provides the strength we need for everything else. Our Soul, the second layer, is the “intangible” part of us. You can’t touch it but it is there, and not only is it there but it is what drives most of whom and what we are! Then finally, our Body, the outermost layer, is the physical shell that houses our soul and spirit. All of these are intricately connected and affect each another.

We cover these three layers in four different parts this month:

1. Spiritual Health: Last week we looked at the benefits and importance of developing a vibrant spiritual life and gave you some easy methods to help take your spiritual life to a deeper level.

2. Emotional Health: The mind, will and emotions. This week we cover the importance of a healthy soul, specifically the mind, will and emotional aspects of life. We will look at how our inner person is such a vital part in making sure we live the kind of life we desire. We will learn how our emotional life can become healthy, strong and lively.

3. Physical Health—Nutrition: In Week 12, we will begin a two-part look at the body and physical health, concentrating on the area of nutrition. It is important that we fuel our body properly because energy comes from the foods we eat. Just like a vehicle runs off of the fuel we fill it with, if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our body, it will not run properly. Put the right kinds of foods in, and it will run like the high-performance engine in an expensive sports car!

4. Physical Health—Exercise: Week 13 will look at the important area of exercise. “I need to exercise” is the first thought that occurs to most people when they think of health. We do need exercise, and three weeks from now, we will take a more in-depth look at this important topic.

This week our focus is on the second aspect, Emotional Health.

As I think through this idea of Emotional Health, there are three main areas: the mind or intellect, the will, and the emotions. These three facets make up the inner life of humans and are a major driving force in who we are, what we do and what we accomplish. Let’s take a deeper look.

The Mind 
The mind may very well be the most amazing thing ever created. The vast depth and breadth of what the human mind can do and comprehend is simply incredible. Think of it, every invention or human creation started as a single thought in someone’s brain. The thoughts, the ideas, the calculations—all fantastic! There might be some who would argue that a computer is a more amazing feat, but it was a collection of human minds that conceived, developed and implemented the computer. Computers run based on how the human mind determines they will run; they are programmed by people!

When a baby is born, their mind is basically undeveloped and is only developed as input and training are given. As children, although our eyes and ears automatically pick up and process information, we are primarily trained and taught to think and process by our parents. They determine much of our input and give us our start. Slowly but surely we learn how the world works, how to think and how to process information. And as we continue to grow, we begin to think in deeper ways, develop critical thinking skills and are eventually able to go beyond the concrete and into the abstract. All of this is part of the natural process of mental development. Initially it is our parents’ responsibility to get us going in the right direction and encourage us to learn and to love learning. Just another reason parenting is the most important job in the world!

Eventually though, this shifts and we assume responsibility for ourselves and our learning. We don’t know everything when we turn 18, as our parents send us out into the world, and much of our success is determined by what we put into our minds once we get out into the world and start making our way. What and how we think determines much of what we are and what we become. This is why it is so important to continually, until the day we draw our last breath, develop our intellect. Sadly, for most people, the learning stops when they get their first job. But imagine what could happen if you kept up an accelerated learning curve for the rest of your life. What could you do, what skills would you develop, what unique philosophies would you adopt if you were one of the few who developed an appetite for constantly looking for good ideas, for new ways of looking at things, etc.? Commit today to that exciting process and see where it will take you.

The Will
The will is certainly one of the most mysterious and fascinating creations ever! We talk about will “power” and yet many can’t even explain or define it. The will can’t be taken out and poured in a beaker, and yet we know it exists and is integral to success and achievement. For our definition, we will say it is the part of us that is the strength of our self-determination. The will is what determines whether we act or not. It is our center of resolve and choice.

I believe the will is something that must be exercised in order to become strong. You can have a weak or a strong will and the determining factor is how often you use it. The ways in which it is exercised, combined with the frequency with which you use it, will determine how strong it becomes. Those who float with the winds of life and make few or no decisions have weak wills. When they need to use willpower they will have none. Those who regularly exercise it to make good, strong decisions will be able to hold fast and be strong and decisive when a major act of the will is needed. Whether it is the power to refrain from something that may not be good for you or the power to choose to do something you know will be in your best interest but are fearful of doing, a strong, highly exercised will can carry you through.

Let’s look at an analogy. If a person works out physically on a regular basis and slowly builds up the amount of weight they can lift, they will be strong enough to handle a crisis that would call for heavy lifting. If a log falls on the legs of a person for example, you want someone who is physically strong to be there. A person who is physically weak will be of no help in that moment. You cannot develop physical strength in a moment’s time. The same is true with strength of will. It is trained, it is strengthened and it is developed. When you do so, it becomes a powerful force of support in your life for success.

The Emotions
Emotions… what an incredible weight they carry in our lives. Sadness, fear, joy, anger, love, gratitude, peace, happiness… all of these are part of the almost immeasurable landscape we call human emotions. From the joy and wonderment of magical moments, like the birth of a child, to the intense sense of sorrow, regret and loss that can accompany the death of a loved one, emotions are at the very core of our existence. They are what provide the “spice of life,” as they say. They are a major piece of what we are and what we become.

“Don’t be emotional.” Have you ever heard that? Have you ever said that? The problem with that statement is that it is entirely impossible. We are, by our very nature, emotional beings. We are intended to be emotional. What most people mean when they use that phrase is, “Get your emotions under control.” Now that would be good advice. We are supposed to have emotion. We are supposed to feel things. You’ve heard me teach that our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect because it is important to know how to feel, how to respond and how to let life in so that it can touch us. Our emotions will either serve or master, depending on who is in charge. And when we have our emotions under control, they will be a powerful tool in driving us to accomplish amazing things!

The key is balanced emotions. You see, some people are virtually emotionless and that will not serve them well. Emotions can be a powerful fuel for us. The idea is to stay in balance with our emotions, to feel strongly and passionately but not get out of control. We would be wise to measure our emotions and intelligently manage them. You see, the trick is to let our emotions be a key factor in what drives us, but not the primary factor—to let our emotions be tempered and balanced with our mind.

Think of the unique and powerful blend of emotions, will and intellect that drove some of the major accomplishments of history:

– The compassion of Mother Teresa drove her to dedicate her life to caring for the poor of Calcutta.

– The passion of Martin Luther King Jr. drove him to be a beacon of hope and awareness and to help usher in the civil rights movement in America in the 1960s.

– The courage of the allied forces in World War II drove them to stand up to Adolf Hitler and his evil desires of world conquest.

There are so many other examples, but the point is clear: Emotions can and should be a vital yet balanced part of what drives us to accomplish great things.

Now a word of caution: Unbridled emotion can lead us nowhere and oftentimes much worse, to places we don’t want to go. But controlled emotions, governed by the will and focused by the mind, are at the heart of achievement and success.

The emotional life is something to be diligent in your development and care. If you make it healthy, it will take you farther than you could ever imagine.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Spiritual Health

Month Three Of Success: Health, Part One—Spiritual Health

As we look at the topic of health this month, the first order of business is to make sure our view of health is broad enough. If I were to ask you, “Are you healthy?” you might think simply of your physical health. You’d do a brief overview of how your body is and answer me based on that. If you feel well, then you probably view yourself as healthy. But this is only one aspect of health and being a healthy person. I would like to challenge you to think deeper. Let me explain.

As human beings, we possess one of the most complex designs the world has ever seen. We are not merely a body; there is so much more to our make-up. In fact, I believe there are three major aspects to each person, all intricately connected to one another. They are our body, the physical nature; our soul, the mind, will, emotions and intellectual nature; and our spirit, the part of us that transcends this world and communes with God.

Let’s view this is as a sphere with three layers. The first or innermost layer, the core, is our spiritual life. This is our most important aspect and gives us the foundation for living and provides the strength we need for everything else. The middle, or second layer, is the soul. This is the intangible part of us. You can’t touch it, but it is there, and it’s what drives most of what we are! The last, the outermost layer, is our body. This is simply the physical shell that houses our soul and spirit.

So, how are these connected? How do they affect one another? Obviously, a person’s beliefs affect their emotions. If a person is in a negative situation, they may experience anxiety or fear. That, in turn, could potentially cause physical ailments such as stomach problems, headaches or fatigue, for example. This is just one simple example of how the three areas of our make-up affect one another.

So, rather than simply viewing ourselves as physical bodies that need to be maintained and kept healthy, it would serve us well to develop a more holistic, well-rounded view of what it means to be healthy. As we develop each area, we will be able to achieve the health we desire in every area of our lives.

I believe there are four main areas of emphasis to do our topic of health justice and help you attain total health as a reality in your life:

1. Spiritual Health: Today, we will look at the benefits and importance of developing a vibrant spiritual life and give you some easy methods to help take your spiritual life to a deeper level.

2. Emotional Health: The mind, will and emotions. Week 11 will cover the importance of a healthy soul, specifically the mind, will and emotional aspects of life. We will look at how our inner person is such a vital part in making sure we live the kind of life we desire. We will learn how our emotional life can become healthy, strong and lively.

3. Physical Health—Nutrition: In Week 12, we will begin a two-part look at the body and physical health, concentrating on the area of nutrition. It is important that we fuel our body properly because energy comes from the foods we eat. Just like a vehicle runs off of the fuel we fill it with, if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our body, it will not run properly. Put the right kinds of foods in, and it will run like the high-performance engine in an expensive sports car!

4. Physical Health—Exercise: Week 13 will look at the important area of exercise. “I need to exercise” is the first thought that occurs to most people when they think of health. We do need exercise, and three weeks from now, we will take a more in-depth look at this important topic.

Right now, let’s focus on the first aspect: spiritual health.

There are four major keys to spiritual health:

A healthy spiritual life is one of the most rewarding things we can pursue. There are important things in this life, and it’s okay to spend time and resources to experience their richness in every way. Ultimately, everything in this life passes away, though, leaving only our spiritual life. Our physical lives here are temporal; our bodies wear out, but our spiritual lives are eternal—they last forever. This tells me that our spiritual health is our most important pursuit. The God questions are the most vital questions we can ask, because they influence our life in so many significant ways and the answers make an impact on us for eternity.

A healthy spiritual life benefits us in many ways. When we develop a healthy spiritual life and give it the importance it deserves, when we allow our spiritual life to impact the rest of our life, we receive tremendous benefits: peace, joy, perspective, wholeness, better relationships, purpose, significance, excitement and passion for life, hope for a better future, emotional stability, intellectual curiosity, and a better understanding of the importance of all that is around us. A healthy spiritual life reaches into every other area of our lives and creates a strong foundation upon which we build the life we desire. When we build upon the rock of a strong spiritual life, we exponentially increase our opportunity to live the benefits and blessings of a centered life.

A healthy spiritual life is developed through discipline, just as all things important to us. The great theologian G.K. Chesterton said of Christianity, “It isn’t that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, but found difficult and left untried.” This is true in so many areas of our lives, but especially true in our spiritual life. Just as we need to get into the gym to exercise on a regular basis, we need to get into a spiritual discipline on a regular basis.

A healthy spiritual life will bring a unique strength to the rest of your life. It is the foundation, the part of us from which everything else emanates and finds its strength and purpose. It centers us and gives us the kind of perspective we all need to live and lead successful lives.

With these things in mind, here are some simple ways you can begin to develop a deeper, richer and healthier spiritual life:

1. Make it a pursuit, as you would make any other area you are hoping to experience growth. Set your sights on a strong spiritual life and pursue it with vigor!

2. Set aside time to be alone and to work on your spirituality. Anything worth pursuing must have time devoted to it. In your pursuit of spiritual health, be sure to give yourself the necessary time to cultivate that inner life. Put it in your datebook; make sure you give it the time it deserves.

3. Read good materials about the spiritual life. As you know, I am a reader and encourage everyone to do the same. I am passionate about it! There are so many great books that will enable you to grow spiritually. My personal recommendation on where to begin is the Bible. If you listen to me for even a short time, you will see that I regularly quote the wisdom I have learned from the Bible. There are numerous books specifically written to help you grow spiritually. Take advantage of them, and read them during your time alone pursuing spiritual health.

4. Some people enjoy listening to music designed to deepen their spiritual life. Music has the power to move our spirit in ways most things cannot. I strongly encourage you to spend time on a regular basis listening to music that will encourage your spirit. Many of the classics fit this criterion, and there are so many great artists who help us focus on the inner spiritual life through excellent music.

5. Involve yourself in a community of faith. I believe our spiritual lives are best lived with other people (and not just our spiritual lives). We need others to challenge and encourage us. We need others to teach and learn from us—we are in this together. Yes, I know that when you get groups of people together, things can go awry at times, but I am convinced that more good than ill comes when we pursue our spiritual life with others.

Do these things on a regular basis and be consistent in your pursuit of spiritual health. Take time in a disciplined manner, because over time, as you invest in your spiritual life, you will see your inner core and foundations strengthening in ways you could never imagine, and that, in turn, will give you the basis for the kind of whole-life situation you are looking for!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Accountability

Before we dive into Part Four—Accountability, here is a review of what we’ve covered this month.

Evaluation and Reflection
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we will get there is to first know where we are right now and what our level of satisfaction is for where we are in life. With our focus on goal-setting, our first order of business and topic from earlier was to set aside some serious time for evaluation and reflection.

Dreams and Goals
What are your dreams and goals? Not related to the past or what you think you can get, but what you want. Have you ever sat down and really thought through your life values and decided what you truly want? This isn’t something someone else says you should have or what culture tells us successful people do or have. These are dreams and goals born out of your own heart and mind, unique to you, and come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. A couple of weeks ago, we showed you exactly how to figure out what you want from life.

SMART Goals
SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

Specific: Don’t be vague. Exactly what do you want?
Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you’ve achieved it or not?
Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life, while taking into consideration your current responsibilities.
Realistic: It’s got to be doable, real and practical.
Time: Associate a time frame with each goal. When should you complete the goal?

We’ve already looked at how to apply the SMART test to your goals and ensure they are powerful!

Accountability
Think of the word accountable. It means to give an account. When someone knows what your goals are, they help hold you accountable. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you (have you thought about inviting a friend to join you on this one-year journey?) or just someone you can give the basic idea to, having a person who can hold you accountable will give you another added boost to accomplishing your goals!

Accountability—a contract with yourself or someone else—is a vital key in the goal-setting process. In those early days, My friend held me accountable for my progress on the goals I had set. He asked those hard questions that helped motivate me to continuously work on achieving my dreams. Accountability puts some teeth into the process. If a goal is set and only one person knows it, does it really have any power? Many times it doesn’t. At the very least, it isn’t as powerful as if you had one or more people who will hold you accountable to your goal.

Think of the word accountable. Webster defines it as, “liable to being called to account; answerable.” In other words, it means to give an account of your actions to yourself or another person. Accountability is a very broad word, yet accountability is essentially follow-up. When someone knows what your goals are, they follow up and hold you accountable by asking you to “give an account” of where you are in the process. Human nature is such that when we know someone else is going to ask us about it, we are much more motivated to get it done. If for no other reason than we don’t want to look lazy and uncommitted to those we are accountable to! This is why having an accountability partner is so important. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you or just someone who you can give the basic idea to, having a place of accountability will give you another added boost to achieving your goals!

In the basic sense, there are two kinds of accountability: internal and external. Internal accountability is essentially the level of integrity you maintain not only throughout the evaluation process but also in life. It means that when you look at yourself, you judge yourself with honesty. This is where you hold yourself accountable to doing what you said you would do. If you’ve messed up, say, “I’ve messed up,” but if you’ve done well, then you can celebrate your progress. Let the internal accountability prod you and spur you on to greater action in pursuit of your achievements.

So first and foremost, it is our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable. We answer to ourselves. We take charge of ourselves. How do we do that? Here are a few ideas:

– Write down your goals so they become “objective.” You can’t go back and say, “That wasn’t really my goal.”
– Be ruthlessly honest with yourself when you assess whether or not you have met the goal (of course, if you were specific in your S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting, you won’t have much wiggle room here anyway).
– If you fall short of your goal, or if you are falling short while on the way, knuckle down and hold yourself accountable to do what it takes to make up the ground so that you can hit that goal!
– Set a time frame in which you will evaluate your progress and hold yourself accountable.

The second aspect of accountability is that it is external. Find someone else or a group of others to hold you accountable. When we commit to giving an account to someone else for our actions and goals, we take it to the next level. Now let me say that the external part of accountability will not work without the internal aspect. If you are not honest with yourself, then you will probably not be honest with others. Asking someone to hold you accountable and then knowing you won’t be completely honest with them will never work. In fact, Howard Hendricks used to have a series of accountability questions that went something like this: Have you done “A”? Have you done “B”? Have you done “C”? Now, have you told the truth on the first three questions? That is a good series of questions to ask!

Having an accountability partner or an outside source of accountability is a powerful force if done right. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set up an accountability partner:

– Choose someone who cares about you, but can be tough and honest with you. They need to care about you—and you have to know and feel that care—because you become vulnerable by making yourself accountable to them. They need to be tough and honest though, because you don’t want to have them shy away from telling you to get on the ball when you are slacking, getting behind or not doing the job. I think the expression, “tough love” would fit appropriately here. In essence, they love us enough to be honest with us about our progress.
– Tell them specifically what your goals are.
– Commit to being honest with them.
– Give them permission to speak words of encouragement, as well as words of challenge when the situation calls for it.
– Agree on a reasonable time frame in which you will allow them to evaluate your progress and hold you accountable.
– Follow up on their words when they challenge you or call you to action.

Accountability can be a tremendous thing. There is an old proverb that says one can put a thousand to flight, but two can put ten thousand to flight. When we have someone holding us accountable, we bring others onto our team who will make us stronger, who will make us soar higher, and who will cause our lives to be much richer because of their involvement.

Take a moment and really consider who you will make yourself accountable to in the pursuit of your goals. Now, go back through the words above and begin to work this process out in your own life. You will be extraordinarily glad you did!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Smart Goals

Welcome to Week Seven of Nick James Blog. We hope you are having a great week and are ready for this week’s journey.

The feedback is in, and after last week’s lesson on dreams and goals, most of you fall into one of three categories.

1) Exhilarated! You’re chomping at the proverbial “bit” to receive Week Seven’s SMART exercises.

2) Still on the “treadmill.” You worked really hard to get your dream list done, but felt a time crunch and are still finishing it.

3) “Week Six’s lesson? I’m still working on Week Four or Week Five!”

Trust us, we understand. If you’re in the second or third group, don’t worry, we’ve got a plan. This week, you’ll receive Week Seven’s lesson, Goal-Setting Part Three—SMART Goals, as scheduled. Then, next week, we’ve scheduled a little breathing room for you and left the lesson open so that you can continue to work on your SMART goals or play a little catch-up. If the latter, take a deep breath, all is well.

We hope you have enjoyed working through the goal-setting process. Although others might not totally “see” your goals, understand your feelings and what you’re starting to believe, it is exciting when we can peer into the future and vividly see our new reality.

Have a great week!

Evaluation and Reflection
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we will get there is to first know where we are right now and what our level of satisfaction is for where we are in life. With our focus on goal-setting, our first order of business and topic from earlier was to set aside some serious time for evaluation and reflection.

Dreams and Goals
What are your dreams and goals? Not related to the past or what you think you can get, but what you want. Have you ever sat down and really thought through your life values and decided what you truly want? This isn’t something someone else says you should have or what culture tells us successful people do or have. These are dreams and goals born out of your own heart and mind, unique to you, and come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Last week, we showed you exactly how to figure out what you want from life.

SMART Goals
SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

Specific: Don’t be vague. Exactly what do you want?
Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you’ve achieved it or not?
Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life, while taking into consideration your current responsibilities.
Realistic: It’s got to be doable, real and practical.
Time: Associate a time frame with each goal. When should you complete the goal?

This week, we look at how to apply the SMART test to your goals and ensure they are powerful!

Accountability
Think of the word accountable. It means to give an account. When someone knows what your goals are, they help hold you accountable. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you (have you thought about inviting a friend to join you on this one-year journey?) or just someone you can give the basic idea to, having a person who can hold you accountable will give you another added boost to accomplishing your goals! Next, we will show you how to set up an accountability partner.

Now, let’s get into SMART Goals.

I really like the acronym SMART because we want to be smart when we set our goals. We want to intelligently decide what our goals will be so that we can actually accomplish them. We want to set the goals that our heart conceives, that our mind believes and that our bodies will carry out. Let’s take a closer look at each of the components of SMART goals:

Specific: Goals are no place to waffle. They are no place to be vague. Ambiguous goals produce ambiguous results. Incomplete goals produce incomplete futures. When we are specific, we harness the power of our dreams and set forces into action that empower us to achieve our goals. We then know exactly what it is we are shooting for—there is no question. As we establish our priorities and manage our time, we do it for a specific goal to achieve the results we expect. There is no wondering or guessing. The future is locked into our minds, and we see it—specifically—and that is powerful! Never underestimate just how important it is to have very specific, concrete goals. They act as magnets that draw you toward them! A SMART goal is specific.

Measurable: Always set goals that are measurable. I would say “specifically measurable” to take into account our principle of being specific as well. Our goals should be such that we know when we are advancing and by how much. Whether it is by hours, pounds, dollars or some other scale, we should be able to see exactly how we are measuring up as we journey through life using our goals. Imagine if you didn’t measure your goals! You would never know which way you were going, or even if you were going anywhere! A SMART goal is measurable.

Attainable: One of the detrimental things many people do—and they do it with good intentions—is to set goals that are unattainable. While it’s very important to set big goals that cause your heart to soar with excitement, it is also imperative to make sure they are attainable. In the next section, we will talk about being realistic. So what does it mean to be attainable? An attainable goal is one that is both realistic and doable in a shorter period of time than what you have to work with. Now, when I say “attainable,” I don’t mean easy. Our goals should be set so that they are just out of our reach, so that they challenge us to grow as we reach forward to achieve them. In a minute, I will give you an example of a goal that’s both attainable and realistic. A SMART goal is attainable.

Realistic: The root word of realistic is real. A goal has to be something that we can reasonably make “real” or a “reality” in our lives. There are some goals that are simply not realistic. You have to be able to say, even if it is a tremendously stretching goal, that it is entirely realistic—that you could make it. You may have to say that it will take X, Y and Z to do it, but if those happen, then it can be done. I’m in no way saying it shouldn’t be a big goal, but it must be realistic. This is, to a great degree, up to the individual. For one person, a goal may be realistic, but for another, unrealistic. I would encourage you to be very honest with yourself as you do your planning and evaluation. It might be good to get a friend to help you, as long as that friend is by nature an optimist and not a pessimist. This can go a long way toward helping you know what is realistic. A SMART goal is realistic.

Knowing that perhaps you could use a bit of help differentiating between attainable and realistic, here is an example: Let’s say you are overweight and need to lose 150 pounds to get to your ideal weight. Is that goal attainable? Yes, considering you also make it realistic. For example, it isn’t realistic to think you can do it in five months. Eighteen to 24 months would be realistic (with hard work). Thus, losing 150 pounds in two years is both attainable and realistic, while losing 150 pounds in five months is neither attainable nor realistic.

Time: Every goal should have a time frame attached to it. Life is much more productive for us as humans because there is a time frame connected to it. Could you imagine how much more procrastination would happen if people never died? We’d just never get “around to it.” We could always put it off. One of the powerful aspects of a great goal is that it has an end, a time in which you are shooting to accomplish it. You start working because you know there is an end, and as time goes by, you work because you don’t want to get behind. As the deadline approaches, you work diligently because you want to meet that deadline. It’s a good idea to break a big goal down into measured time frames. Set smaller goals and work them out in their own time. A SMART goal has a timeline.

Be sure to spend some reflection time this week making sure your goals fit the SMART parameters. Go through the reflection questions and the action points in your workbook. Doing so will power-charge them and help you accomplish your dreams.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Establishing Dreams And Goals.

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for new ways to improve your income(click on book)

This week we will be discussing Part Two—Establishing Dreams and Goals.

One of the amazing things we have been given as humans is the unquenchable desire to have dreams of a better life. Even better, we also have the ability to establish goals to live out those dreams. Think of it: We can look deep within our hearts and dream of a better situation for ourselves and our families, of a secure financial future and healthy emotional or physical states, and certainly dream of deeper spiritual lives. But what makes this even more powerful is that we have also been given the ability to take action and pursue those dreams. Not only can we pursue them but we possess the cognitive ability to actually lay out a plan and strategies—setting goals—to achieve those dreams. Powerful! This week we will discuss this in detail—how to dream dreams and establish goals to accomplish those dreams.

What are your dreams and goals? Now let me clarify here: This isn’t what you already have or what you have done; this is about what you want. Have you ever taken the time to truly reflect, to listen quietly to your heart, to see what dreams live within you? Your dreams are there, everyone has them. They may live right on the surface, or be buried deep from years of others telling you they were foolish, but they are there. Back when I met my friend, he put me to work by asking the hard questions that got me excited about my dreams and helped me translate that excitement into strategic action to pursue all that I wanted. Now I’m going to walk you through the same disciplines that will help unleash the power of the dreams inside each of you.

So how do we know what our dreams are? This is an interesting process and relates primarily to the art of listening. This is not listening to others; it is listening to yourself. If we listen to others, we hear their plans and dreams, and at times others will try to put their plans and dreams on us. If we listen to others, we can never be fulfilled. We will only chase elusive dreams that are not rooted deep within us. Instead, we must listen to our own hearts to hear the dreams born out of the passions and desires we each uniquely possess. Quiet yourself and listen. Just like when you are quiet enough to hear your own heart beating within your chest, your dreams have their own rhythm beating within you; all you have to do is get quiet enough to hear the beat.

Now let’s take a look at some practical steps/thoughts on listening to our hearts and connecting to our dreams:

Take time to be quiet. This is something we don’t do enough in this busy world. We rush, rush, rush and are constantly listening to noise all around us. We must not get faked out by just being busy. Instead we must constantly ask ourselves the question, “Busy doing what?” In other words, are the activities you are participating in moving you toward your goals? If not, then work to eliminate those things and replace some of that time with quiet. The human heart was meant to have times of quiet reflection, allowing us to peer deep within ourselves. It is when we do this that our hearts are set free to soar and take flight on the wings of our own dreams! Schedule some quiet “dream time” this week. No other people. No cell phone. No computer. Just you, a pad, a pen and your thoughts.

Think about what really thrills you. When you are quiet, think about those things that really get your blood moving. What would you love to do, either for fun or for a living? What would you love to accomplish? What would you try if you were guaranteed to succeed? What big thoughts move your heart into a state of excitement and joy? When you answer these questions you will feel terrific because you’re in the “dream zone.” It is only when we get to this point that we can truly realize and begin to experience what our dreams are!

Write down all of your dreams as you have them. Don’t think of any as too outlandish or foolish—remember, you’re dreaming! Let your thoughts and pen fly as you take careful record.

Now look at your list and prioritize those dreams. Which are most important? Which are most feasible? Which would you love to do the most? Put them in the order you will actually try to attain them. Remember, we are always moving toward action, not just dreaming.

Why am I asking you to take part in this exercise? Because life is too short not to pursue your dreams. At the end of your life all you will be able to do is look backward. You can reflect with joy or regret. And we all know that joy from discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons. Those who dream, who set goals and act on them, are those who live lives of joy and have a sense of peace when they near the end of their lives. They will have finished well and possess a sense of pride and accomplishment, not only for themselves but also for their families. That feeling is priceless!

Remember: These are the dreams and goals born out of your heart and mind, goals unique to you, and they come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Your specific goals are what you want to achieve because they will make your life joyful and bring fulfillment for both you and your family.

Until next week, let’s dream and then do something remarkable!

-Nick James

Evaluation And Reflection

Take your life to the next level

I’ve often said that the major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes you do to accomplish it. This will always be a far-greater value than what you get. That is why goals are so powerful; they are part of the fabric that makes up our lives.

Goal-setting provides focus, shapes our dreams and gives us the ability to hone in on the exact actions we need to take in order to get everything in life we desire.

Goals are exciting because they provide focus and aim for our lives. Goals cause us to stretch and grow in ways we never have before. In order to reach our goals, we must become better; we must change and grow.

A powerful goal has three components:

It must be inspiring.
It must be believable.
It must be one you can act on.

When your goals inspire you, when you believe and act on them, you will accomplish them!

Goals also provide long-term vision in our lives. We all need lots of powerful, long-range goals to help us get past short-term obstacles. Life is designed in such a way that we look long term and live short term. We dream for the future and live in the present. Unfortunately, the present can produce many hard obstacles. Fortunately, the more powerful our goals (because they are inspiring and believable), the more we will be able to act on them in the short term and guarantee that they will actually come to pass!

So, let’s take a closer look at the topic of goal-setting and see how we can make it forceful yet practical. What key aspects should we learn and remember when studying and writing our goals?

There are four main areas of emphasis in writing goals:

Evaluation and Reflection
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we will get there is to first know where we are right now and what our level of satisfaction is for where we are in life. With our focus on goal-setting, the first order of business is for each of us to set aside some serious time for evaluation and reflection.

Dreams and Goals
What are your dreams and goals? Not related to the past or what you think you can get, but what you want. Have you ever really sat down, thought through your life values, and decided what you really want? This isn’t what someone else says you should have or what culture tells us successful people do or have. These are the dreams and goals born out of your own heart and mind, goals unique to you and that come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Does this seem a little daunting? Well, next week we will show you exactly how to discover what you want from life.

SMART Goals
SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

Specific: Don’t be vague. Exactly what do you want?
Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you’ve achieved it or not?
Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life, while taking into consideration your current responsibilities.
Realistic: It’s got to be doable, real and practical.
Time: Associate a time frame with each goal. When should you complete the goal?

In two weeks, we will spend some time looking at how to apply the SMART test to your goals to make sure they are as powerful as they can be!

Accountability
Think of the word accountable. It means to give an account. When someone knows what your goals are, they help hold you accountable. Whether it is someone else going through this program with you (have you thought about inviting a friend to join you on this one-year journey?) or just someone you can give the basic idea to, having a person who can hold you accountable will give you another added boost to accomplishing your goals! In Week Eight, we will show you how to set up an accountability partner.

So, evaluate and reflect. Decide what you want. Be SMART. Have accountability. When you put these four key pieces together, you put yourself in a position of power to catapult toward achieving your goals and the kind of life you desire.

Each of these points will be covered more in depth over the next month, but today I want to focus on the first one, Evaluation and Reflection.

The basis for knowing where we want to go is knowing where we came from and where we are. It is also knowing how well we have done achieving things we have previously set our eyes on. This is the essence of evaluation and reflection. We need to understand how to look at what we have done and then use that as a platform for what we want to do next.

The process of evaluation is relatively simple, but can be varied a bit. The important point is having a process! Here is the basic process for evaluation and reflection.

1. Find a quiet place. Reflection is best done away from distraction. It gives your mind space to think.

2. Take a regular time. Whether it is once a week, every other week, once a month or quarter etc., be sure to set aside a regular time at regular intervals to evaluate and reflect.

3. Look at what you have accomplished and where you are. Be specific. Be truthful. Be ruthlessly honest.

4. Write it down. Keep a record. This gives you the chance at the next stage of evaluation to see exactly where you were last time and keeps it as objective as possible.

5. Look forward and set your next goal. Stretch yourself according to what works for you.

That is the basic process of evaluation and reflection. If you have not done this before, then this will get you going. Be sure to follow the general idea and set aside time for your evaluation and reflection.

Now, the purpose of evaluation is twofold. First, it gives you an objective way to look at your accomplishments and your pursuit of the vision you have for your life. Second, it shows you where you are so you can determine where you need to go. In other words, it gives you a baseline from which to work.

We have all heard the quote that the unexamined life is not worth living. To evaluate and reflect brings us face to face with who we are and what we have become. More important, it allows us the time to dream and create a vision for what we want to become! Only when we take time out of our busy schedules can we get into the state of mind and quietness of heart we need in order to find that inner place where we see what we are and what we can become. Those who never take time to evaluate and reflect will blow to and fro through this life, living by the forces of culture, circumstances, societal pressures and, unfortunately, personal weaknesses. In contrast, those who take the time to evaluate will find they are like an oak tree in a storm: They have a firm foundation, know where they are going, how to get there and, ultimately, they will get there no matter what comes their way!

I would strongly encourage you to take a couple of hours this week to evaluate and reflect. At the beginning of this month, we encourage you to see where you are and note it in your workbook so that as the months progress and you continue a regular time of evaluation and reflection, you will see just how much ground you have gained—that will be exciting!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Learning And Education

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Hello, and welcome to Week Four.

As you know, we are focused on Personal Development.

In Month One, here are the four main components of Personal Development:

1. The Invitation: We looked at the possibilities and challenged you to accept the invitation to join together on this unique journey of self-development and discovery where you’ll set and reach higher goals, go for your dreams, change certain unpleasant things about yourself and make a significant difference in the lives of others.

2. The Plan: Last week we talked about the plan. All good things in life are upstream, but the natural flow of life is that downward, negative pull. To combat that downward pull, you need a plan, a map to help you reach your desired destination. We talked about the plan and considered the keys to creating and following a successful plan.

3. Association and Influence: We are affected by everything around us, including what we read, what we watch, who we talk with and who we spend time with. It all plays a part in how we view our world, our relationships, our opportunities but mostly ourselves. Last week we discussed the importance of our associations and the influence they have.

4. Learning and Education: over the next year will involve personal development, becoming a student and learning. This is the foundation: one of the basics or fundamentals to becoming more, to having more and to doing more, and we’ll cover this key aspect in this week’s edition.

Bonus Point: Personal Development is about having a celebration; creating your own unique, only-you-deserve-it-because-you-did-it, one-of-a-kind celebration!

This week, we will be discussing Point Four, Learning and Education.

Learning is the foundation for all success in life. It is where true success begins. Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process begins. If you want to produce change in your life, if you want to write your own future and destiny, then it begins with educating yourself as to what successful people have done and how they have done it. Learning is our way of peering into history and seeing what makes a successful life in all areas.

I was taught that a formal education will make you a living, but self-education will make you a fortune. Most people want to achieve wealth. And I would guess that all of you who are reading this are looking to achieve wealth and the blessings and opportunities it can bring. Since this is the case, apply yourself to self-education, as you are already doing in this blog! Take it seriously. Follow the plan diligently. Formal education isn’t bad. In fact, it is good and can be important and valuable. But self-education is where all the possibilities of wealth arise! That is where your entire world opens up and your dreams begin to take shape, and you begin to live the destiny you were created for!

The beauty of learning is that it provides answers to life’s questions. If you have a question about something, look for the answer! Learning is also good for course correction. Oftentimes in life, many people get off in the wrong direction. That’s okay, as long as when they have the opportunity for learning, they allow it to correct the path they are on. The more you educate yourself, the smarter you will work: and the more successful you will be!

Learn and grow! If you step up the self-education curve, you will come up with more answers than you ever would have thought possible. You will put yourself in a place where achievement will be natural and you will be able to help not only yourself but others as well, and that is what life is really all about!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Association And Influence.

In Weeks One and Two, we discussed The Invitation and The Plan. This week we will discuss Association and Influence.

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. view

If you were to evaluate the major influences in your life that have shaped the kind of person you are; this has to be high on the list: the people and thoughts you choose to allow into your life. My friend gave me a very important warning in those early days that I’ll share with you. He said, “Never underestimate the power of influence.” Indeed, the influence of those around us is so powerful! Many times we don’t even realize we’re being strongly affected because influences generally develop over an extended period of time.

Peer pressure is an especially powerful force because it is so subtle. If you’re around people who spend all they make, chances are excellent you might spend all you make. If you are around people who don’t read, chances are excellent that you probably won’t read. People can keep nudging us off course a little at a time until, finally, we find ourselves asking, “How did I get here?” Those subtle influences need to be studied carefully if we really want our lives to turn out the way we’ve planned.

With regard to this important point, let me give you three key questions to ask yourself. They may help you better analyze your current associations.

Here is the first question: “Who am I around?” Make a mental note of the people with whom you most often associate. You’ve got to evaluate everyone who is able to influence you in any way.

The second question is: “What are these associations doing to me?” That’s a major question to ask. What have they got me doing? What have they got me listening to? What have they got me reading? Where have they got me going? What do they have me thinking? How have they got me talking? How have they got me feeling? What have they got me saying? You’ve got to make a serious study of how others influence you, both negatively and positively.

Now here’s a final question: “Is that okay?” Maybe everyone you associate with has been a positive, energizing influence. Then again, maybe there are some bad apples in the bunch. All I’m suggesting here is that you take a close and objective look. Everything is worth a second look, especially when it comes to the power of influence. Both will take you somewhere, but only one will take you in the direction you need to go.

It’s easy to just dismiss the things that influence our lives. One man says, “I live here, but I don’t think it matters. I’m around these people, but I don’t think it hurts.” I would take another look at that. Remember, everything matters! Sure, some things matter more than others, but everything amounts to something. You’ve got to keep checking to find out whether your associations are tipping the scales toward the positive or toward the negative. Ignorance is never the best policy. Finding out is the best policy.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the little bird. He had his wing over his eye and he was crying. The owl said to the bird, “You are crying.” “Yes,” said the little bird, and he pulled his wing away from his eye. “Oh, I see,” said the owl. “You’re crying because the big bird pecked out your eye.” And the little bird said, “No, I’m not crying because the big bird pecked out my eye. I’m crying because I let him.”

It’s easy to let influence shape our lives, to let associations determine our direction, to let pressures overwhelm us, and to let tides take us. The big question is: Are we letting ourselves become what we wish to become?

Here are three ways to handle associations or relationships that might be holding you back.

1) Disassociate. This is not an easy decision, nor something you should take lightly, but in some cases it may be essential. You may just have to make the hard choice not to let certain negative influences affect you anymore. It could be a choice that preserves the quality of your life.

2) Limited association. Spend major time with major influences and minor time with minor influences. It is easy to do just the opposite, but don’t fall into that trap. Take a look at your priorities and your values. We have so little time at our disposal. Wouldn’t it make sense to invest it wisely?

3) Expanding your associations. This is the one I suggest you focus on the most. Find other successful people you can spend more time with. Invite them to lunch (pick up the tab) and ask them how they have achieved so much or what makes them successful. Now, this is not just about financial success: it can be someone you want to learn from about having a better marriage, being a better parent, having better health or a stronger spiritual life.

It is called association on purpose: getting around the right people by expanding your circle of influence.

Here are a few final thoughts on associations and influence:

When you succeed, you will create and attract more success around you. Success breeds success, so when you succeed, even at just a level above where you are right now, you will see that the people you associate with will also start becoming more successful themselves (which will also increase the level of your own associations!). That is one of the exciting by-products of success.

Initiate relationships with people who are further ahead in personal and professional development than you are. There are so many successful people around you who can help you in so many ways! And if they are successful, they are busy! So, chances are, they are not going to initiate anything with you, but they will more than likely be willing to meet with you or invest in you if you initiate contact with them. Of course, some won’t, but that’s okay; just move on until you find someone who will. Meet with them, buy them lunch or coffee. Let your association with them help you. Learn from them. Watch them. Let their experience guide you. But remember, you will have to pursue them, not the other way around.

Have people around who you can rely on to speak the truth to you. We need people who will tell us the truth. Even if it is negative, given with a heart of concern, truth will still build us up and move us forward. We don’t just want people around us who will tell us only the good or what we want to hear. Growing in our personal and professional lives means looking at the whole picture and dealing with both strengths and weaknesses. We need a good balance of people around us who can help us see all sides of an issue.

Carefully determine what will influence you. I use the word carefully because many people do not care about what they allow to influence them or who they associate with. And yet this is one of the biggest ways our lives are shaped. We need to be full of care: careful: when we are looking at who or what we allow into our lives and thus to shape and mold our lives. Look for people and information that will build you up and give you the next step you need to move forward in your journey.

Remember, your associations should move you forward, not impede your progress.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!