When I graduated from college, I was filled with enthusiasm and excitement. My hopes for the future were matched only by the number of bills piling up. And it hasn’t been easier. Higher school added to the debt pile. Add marriage and a baby to the mix and life just got more expensive by the minute.
At a conference, I heard about the virtues of saving and investing. Of course, financial freedom seemed wonderful and also like a distant dream.
In my book, The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future, I share some of the principles that have helped me get out of debt in record time. And I’m not talking about some debt, I mean all debt, which is no student loans, no credit cards, and no mortgage either. No debt was my first goal, but financial security then became my next. I was determined.
My whole life has been focused on the study of success, financial freedom, and happiness. I knew the difference between “good debt” and “bad debt”, between bonds and high dividend stocks. I understood the concept of delayed gratification, of living below my means. Check, check, check.
But there were three underlying mindsets that made all the difference for me. It may sound counterintuitive. Some may dismiss these concepts as amateurish or soft. I understand. I also know that some of the “financial geniuses” who actually teach on the subject have trouble making payments on their credit cards. So don’t dismiss these mentalities altogether.
The first is desire.
You might think that’s obvious. It all starts with desire. In my book, I call it “The Law of Desire”. It is only when your desire is great enough that it activates the winds of accomplishment to propel you towards the impossible. I even go so far as to say that “Your desire sets the course of your destiny.”
I know it sounds a little crazy, but I haven’t just studied stock charts. I thought about my goals with such passion, such emotion and such specificity that I think it activated an internal motivation to succeed. I didn’t just think about what I wanted, but also why I wanted it. As the old saying goes, “When the ‘why’ is big enough, the ‘how’ is automatic. “
The second is gratitude.
The time to practice the art of gratitude is when you have little. Those who are grateful attract more opportunities. It’s human nature. We are more likely to give to those who are grateful than to those who feel entitled. Gratitude opens the doors of opportunity. Numerous studies on gratitude prove this scientifically.
It’s easy to moan and complain. The other day I found myself in a critical mood. I was not allowed to cross the faster security lines at the airport. My flight was delayed. My phone was not receiving an SMS. I had to make up for it. What an incredible opportunity to travel to another part of the world; my non-working phone gave me a little time to think; I was able to meet someone in the longest security line who turned out to be a valuable connection.
The third is belief.
Knowing your goal and believing in yourself is of critical importance to your success in any business. You cannot rise higher than your beliefs.
I often ask people about their failures, mistakes and struggles. I learn more from the answers than from their successes. Self-sabotage is a completely preventable type of failure. No one thinks they’re going to do this to themselves, but it happens every day. Why? Because too often we achieve a level of success that doesn’t match our internal view of who we are. We reach a new level, but because we don’t think we should be there, we end up behaving subconsciously in a way that will bring us back to a different level.
These three laws can play a crucial role in your success this year. Your goals may be to cut your debt in half or save an extra month’s salary. It’s awesome. Consider the three ancient laws of The book of errors: desire, gratitude and belief. As they did for me, these three laws can make a remarkable difference in your future.
Skip Prichard is the CEO of OCLC, a distinguished executive blogger, and the author of the Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future. Learn more about his book at www.thebookofmistakes.com.