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Monday Morning From New Hampshire August 4, 2008

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Thought I would take a break from the intensity of the last couple weeks of posts to talk in general about building your own life.  Just like I won’t tell you how to invest your own money, I also can’t tell you what is important to you in your life or how you would want your life to go.  For me, I enjoy the summers and ski season here in New Hampshire, while enjoying the fall through spring in Florida.  Just a few minutes ago I had a conversation with my son on something that was important to him and then had a conversation with a business partner about a deal that is going down with us.  This ability to be active in my son’s life as well as being an active investor is also important to me.  So I have designed my life to be able to accomplish all this. 

The second thing I have folks do in the Shafer Wealth Academy is to build a vision board that encompasses how they want to live their life.  You would be surprised how hard this is for most folks.  Do you want to continue to work in your field?  For the same company?  Own your own business? Live in the same place?  Live in multiple places?  Travel? etc.?  The truth is most people never assume any of this is possible.  Well, it is.  One job the media accomplishes is to fill people with fear.  Whether it is having your kid kidnapped, being the victim of fraud, losing your home, losing your money, the media tells you to be concerned/aware of the risks.  The truth is all this fear sells, if demands of folks to watch, to be aware of the risks.

The media tries to tell us that it is in the business of a public service to warn folks about risks.  The underlying assumption is that you can protect yourself against all risk.  The truth is the opposite.  You can’t protect yourself against bad things happening to you.  All you can really do is to look at the evidence of what works and what doesn’t and move on from there.

What I am saying is that since there is always risk in living, why shouldn’t you design your life the way you want to live it?  Why should you live how your boss, your teachers, Wall Street, Big Business, the media, tell you to?  I know there is comfort in the herd, but think about what is lost by adhering to the herd’s standards. 

When I was in graduate school, I had a professor tell me that I would not become a college professor, because “it was to hard” and “not worth it anymore.”  I was mad at him for a time being.  But even then I realized he was the wisest of my professors.  He was very good at sizing up people and also a stickler for adhering to reality.  I was among his last student before retirement.  He turned out to be right.  And even more important was that he instilled in me the importance of discerning what reality is really like, and using that as a basis for making decisions.  He was a mathematician by trade (PhD U Cal Berkeley) and a sociologist by inclination.  I often think about what I gained from my graduate school experience, and often I realize it was his perspective that has served me the best.

This is what I try to bring to my students at the Shafer Wealth Academy; to discern what the reality of their lives really is.  Then to look at what they really want their lives to be like.  We then bridge that gap as best as we can, as fast as we can.  But we always use evidence as our guide.  I believe as human beings, that is all we can do.

Gotta go, my son is melting down as 6 year old’s do sometimes! Sometimes I gotta remember I asked for this life :-).

Beliefs and Desires v. Clear Goals June 12, 2008

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I have had three conversations about the Shafer Wealth Academy in the last couple days that were all remarkably similiar.  There is a singular question asked that usually results in a uncomfortable silence, followed by an admittance.  What is your current wealth building plan? Ah………………………………….I don’t really have one.  The next question coming out of their mouth is usually how much the tuition for the academy is? ($1950 or 4 monthly payments of $495).  That is the key moment.  At that moment the decision is usually made, will I spend $1950 to get a wealth building plan?

Most folks have a desire to build wealth, at least enough to get them to a comfortable retirement.  Many understand it is possible and most folks really believe they will get there.  All that is important, but here is where folks stop.  You see it is painful to actually admit you have no idea how to get there, that you have no plan.  And it is even more difficult to take a look at the reality of your situation.  Better just to go on with your day to day activities and skip that part about financial reality.  Better to assume you will get there by doing what you are currently doing, however haphazard.

In his book, The Path of Least Resistance, Robert Fritz describes the dilemma.  There is a tremendous difference between believing something is obtainable and setting clear goals.  If you set clear goals you become responsible for getting there.  You then can measure your progress, or lack of progress.  However, with this measurement and clear goal setting we lose our ability to make excuses about any lack of progress.  Our self-limiting beliefs become challenged by clear goals and measurement of progress.  Psychologically, we lose the thing that makes us feel good about ourselves.  This is the dilemma.  Lose our ability to deny our reality, in order to make progress toward our desires/goals.

Large organizations literally spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions, to have consultants come into the organization and create clear goals along with metrics to record progress toward those goals.  I ask for $1950 to do the same for your finanical life.

If someone said to you, you have a choice; retire frugally, in a way that you need to constantly worry about having enough money to feed, clothe and shelter yourself or retire with enough to live comfortably, travel if you like, give to charities/your family, and have peace of mind, which would you choose?  That is an easy question, right?  But is it?  You have to give up the comfortable lies you tell yourself.  You have to take responsibility for the financial outcomes.  You have to stop living in the past and live in your current reality.  Whatever mistakes or great things that happened to you become irrelevant.  The only thing that matters is your current reality and your goals.   

Now if someone said, along with working hard to achieve a comfortable retirement, you have to pay for it up front.  And it costs $25,000 the same as a new car, would you forego that new car to get it?  How about skip that flat screen TV/entertainment center?

Somehow, I don’t really think it is the $1950 that is causing people to forego the academy.  No, the fear of losing our excuses; the economy is bad, my business has gone down, I lost money years ago in an investment,  it costs too much, I will get started sometime in the future, I don’t have the time, the government/my employer should take care of me, etc. is driving the bus.

I insist upon creating clear goals and instituting measurables toward those goals.  I insist upon members of the academy taking responsibility for their own retirements.  And yes I charge for my services, about the same amount as that Flat Screen TV/Entertainment center.  One will get you to your goal of a comfortable retirement while the other will drive your desires and divorce you from your reality.  You choose!  

If you are ready to shed those excuses click here: http://www.shaferwealthacademy.com/membership.htm

If you need to talk to me click here: www.shaferwealthacademy.com  and click on contact.  Fill out the contact information and I will contact you.