Continue Buying Those Lattes

January 22, 2014

latteThe way you ask a question will have a profound impact on how you answer it.

This is a fundamentally critical concept in the world of innovation. If you are working on a problem/opportunity, changing just one word can influence the types of solutions you get. I’ve discussed this concept extensively on my blog.

But did you know that the way you frame your New Year’s Resolution (if you set one) will have a huge impact on the actions you take towards the achievement of that goal?

According to a survey I conducted a few years ago, over a third of people set financially related goals each year.

For many this means, “save more money.”

Paradoxically, the goal – “save more money” – can have unintended consequences that might leave your bank account with less money in the long run.

When we want to save, we look at where we currently spend money, and how we can reduce those expenditures. For many, their daily stop at Starbucks is one of their guilty pleasures.

As a result, there are many financial advisors who will tell you to “stop buying lattes.” If a latte costs $4 a day, you could save about $1,500 a year by cutting them out. That’s a lotta lattes!

But cutting out your lattes requires a lot of willpower. And as it turns out, willpower is not an unlimited resource.

Let’s examine some scientific research on this.

Imagine individuals tasked with solving a complex problem. In the room where they are sitting wafts the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. On the table in front of them are two dishes: one with the cookies and another with radishes.

Although the combination of the olfactory and visual stimulation made the cookies irresistible, some individuals somehow managed to use their willpower to stay clear of the gooey chocolate.

Kudos to them. They win. Right?

Well, as it turns out, the people who resisted the cookies performed significantly worse on problem solving and other tasks. The willpower it took to resist the delicacies robbed them of their ability to perform a variety of activities. Researchers call this “ego depletion.”

What this implies is that the energy it takes to save $4 may in fact be robbing you of your skills required to make even more money.

What if, instead of focusing on saving $4 a day, you put your energy into finding ways of making an extra $10, $100, or even $1,000 a day? What if you used your latte as fuel for making more money?

There is of course nothing wrong with saving money. I am certain that all of us could do a better job and would benefit from it. But it is important to recognize there is a hidden cost.

As an entrepreneur, I would rather spend money on the guilty pleasures that energize me, help me stay focused, and in the long run enable me to make even more money.

P.S. Of course there are health implications of too many lattes. At 200 calories each, this may add an extra 30 pounds to your waistline each year. Other than bacon, my guilty pleasures are usually healthier (or at least lower calorie) alternatives.

Resolutions That Can’t Fail

December 27, 2013

It is that time of year when everyone sets their New Year’s Resolutions.

But only 8% of people are always successful in achieving the desired results. 92% fail!  (if you are interested in some fascinating statistics about resolutions, read this article: Interesting New Year’s Resolution Statistics)

But all is not lost. There is a better way.

Here is an article a wrote a while ago, but is timeless: Making Resolutions That Work

Or, if you prefer, you can read the variant of this article that appeared as a full-page article in the Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago (jpg).

The general premise is that instead of setting resolutions that are specific goals (e.g., lose 10 pounds, stop smoking, exercise 3 times a week), you want to create themes that help guide you and your decision making throughout the year.

These themes get me excited about the New Year.  They also make activities that might have seemed tedious, more enjoyable.

Starting today I am off for a week of reflection and contemplation. Early January I will share my themes for 2014.

What are your themes for the new year?

P.S. If you want to learn more about how to live a more “present moment” life, read Goal-Free Living

My 2012 Themes Revealed

January 12, 2012

Anyone who follows this blog knows that the New Year is my favorite time for reflecting on the past and creating the future.

If you have not read my article on “Making Resolutions That Work,” please do so.  Or, if you prefer, you can read the variant of this article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal exactly one year ago today by clicking on the image.

The general premise is that instead of setting resolutions that are specific goals (e.g., lose 10 pounds), you want to create themes that help guide you and your decision making throughout the year.

After spending a week of reflection, I have settled upon three themes:

  • More Money, Less Work, Greater Impact – This is my business theme.  In particular, I expect to create passive income revenue streams (i.e., make money in my sleep) through repurposing my content and levering channel partners.  By doing this, I can then focus my energies on activities that will have the greatest impact on business and society.
  • Rituals – I usually joke that I lack discipline, so I considered that as my theme.  But “discipline” sounds so harsh and not something that inspires me.  Then it hit me.  While on vacation recently I had some rituals (e.g., reading an inspirational passage upon waking or drinking tea before going to sleep) that I loved.  I realized I could treat “the things I need to do” as rituals.  If I think of writing, calling clients, managing the books, and other tasks as rituals, maybe they will inspire me more.
  • Perfect – This theme may seem a bit odd.  But when on vacation (reflecting on my theme for the year), I used the word “perfect” at least 100 times to describe the trip.  I realized that perfect is a state of mind.  When you declare things to be perfect, they are perfect.  How you see things gives you the reality.  Therefore, by declaration, 2012 will be “perfect.”

These themes get me excited about the New Year.  They also make activities that might have seemed tedious, more enjoyable (in particular the ritual theme).

What are your themes for 2012?

Make 2012 the Best Year Ever

December 29, 2011

For many years now, I have thrown away the concept of the traditional New Year’s Resolution.  In its place I have used themes that guide me through the year.  These themes are not specific destinations or goals, but are rather guideposts that help me make smart decisions.  In using this approach, I become more “present moment” focused (goals are future-focused).  This increases my happiness.  And equally important, it allows for opportunities to emerge that might be hidden using a traditional goal-setting approach.

If you want to learn more about creating New Year’s Themes, be sure to read my popular article on “Making Resolutions That Work” (a variation of it appeared in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year).

You may also be interested in some fascinating statistics on New Year’s Resolutions.  It is truly amazing how unsuccessful people are with their New Year’s Resolution setting.

Happy New Year.  May 2012 be your best year ever!

Making Resolutions that Work

January 3, 2011

It is that time of year when everyone sets their New Year’s Resolutions.

Here is an article a wrote a while ago, but is indeed timeless:

Resolutions That Work

I was going to post the entire article again, but I just received news that this will be published nationwide in a major newspaper in a couple of weeks.  So instead I am only including the link.

And if you like statistics and want to dig even deeper into them, be sure to check out this article:

Interesting New Year’s Resolution Statistics

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

December 30, 2008

In just a matter of hours, 2009 will be upon us.  If you have not done so, please read my article on setting New Year’s Resolutions.  You may also be interested in some statistics about New Year’s Resolutions.

Happy New Year!

What’s Your Theme For the Next Year?

January 2, 2006

In an earlier blog post, I discussed setting aspiration-based themes rather than goal-based resolutions.

What is your theme for the next year? In 2006, mine was “impact” — making a difference in the world.

Friends of mine had generosity, partnership, grace, health, “me”, new beginnings, adventure, and unpredictability.

Please post your theme as a comment. Thank you for sharing your inspiring stories!