Unsolicited Advice for the New Year

Well, first of all, welcome to the New Year!  It’s about 5am, I’m sitting on my couch in my pajamas, just thinking about the upcoming year and feeling blessed for the year about to be over.  I’ve had a lot on my mind lately (I usually do).  Lots of ideas swirling around, lots of things I want to learn, new skills to tackle, and thoughts on how I can get better.  So, since all this is swirling around in my big old melon, I thought I’d put it down on a sheet of e-paper and force it down your throat.  We’ll call it unsolicited advice.  Isn’t that the kind we all love?  🙂

Before I dole out the forced advice, I’d like to preface by saying we all need to do this.  No matter where you are in your life, this advice will work if you’re willing to apply it.

Unsolicited Advice #1. Honest Assessment

It’s healthy to take a good, hard, honest look at where you are currently.  It’s a good idea to do this more than once a year, but for the sake…at least do it once a year.  Look at where you are, your circumstances, the decisions you’ve made.  What’s worked, what hasn’t?  What did you learn from the failures, and what corrections will you make going forward?  Assess every major area of your life: Spiritual, financial, physical, mental, social… We all need improvement in at least one or two of these areas.  Since I’m a finance guy, let’s look at that one for an example.

Let’s say you look back on your year, and you say to yourself “Self, this year was not good, financially speaking.  We pretty much just stayed afloat, and we’re really no better off than we were this time last year.  We basically survived.”  You know what?  Realizing that is a great start, so congratulations!  Now you can take responsibility for the decisions you made and CHANGE can happen!  Oh, wait…Did I say “take responsibility” out loud, or just think it?

Unsolicited Advice #2. Take Responsibility.

“Oh, man!  That advice doesn’t sound fun!” -Everyone.

Every New Year, I see people lamenting the year gone by.  “Oh, man…I’m glad THIS year is over.”  “Hope the next one will be better!” “Maybe things will finally turn around THIS year…”  What’s the problem with these comments?  The problem is that these types of comments come from a “victim” mentality.  A victim mentality is the opposite of taking responsibility.  Have you ever broken down the word “responsibility”?  Response + ability.  Meaning, the ability to respond.  If you take responsibility for where you are, you are giving yourself the ability to respond.  If you’re a victim, there’s nothing you can do.  You’ve lost control because you’ve taken the victim’s seat.  Don’t be a victim.

Unsolicited Advice #3. Strategize to Change.

Thus far, (yes, I said “thus”) you’ve done an honest assessment, you’ve taken responsibility.  Now you need to figure out where you want to be this time next year, and figure out how to change.  “Wait…I have to CHANGE?!”  The great news is that you don’t!  You can stay exactly the same and keep doing the same things!  Yay!  Laziness, I win!  You can stay the same and keep getting the same results, or you can change and start getting better results.  “That’s your prerogative.  You can do what you wanna do…” -Milli Vanilli

IF you want to change, it’s time to create a strategy.  Make a loose plan, a rough draft of what you need to do to change a circumstance.  Don’t worry about making it pretty.  Use a permanent marker on a bar napkin…who cares?  Just get some thoughts down.  But what’s this, you say?  Maybe you don’t even know where to start?  Here are some ideas.

Want to lose weight permanently?  Research lifestyle change, not diets.  Learn about exercise and figure out a goal.  Want to learn about personal finance?  DaveRamsey.com has a ton of info for free, as does Suze Orman.  You can learn about debt elimination, what’s the best thing to do with your tax refund, whether or not you should lease a car.  There’s a ton of great info out there!  Or, maybe your j-o-b isn’t allowing you to reach your goals, and you now realize it never will!  Research alternative incomes like franchises, how to start a mowing business, or maybe you’d rather do something online?  Personally, I love the idea of online business but I don’t know much about it.  However, I did find a way to learn it “on the cheap”.  (If you know me, you know I’m cheap! ha!)  If you’d like to learn it too, check it out here: Wealthy Affiliate

Unsolicited Advice #4. Take Action.

Dr Seuss - Time Passes

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that no amount of thinking, talking, desire, passion, planning, writing notes, studying, meeting at Panera (you know who you are!) will make a hill of beans difference if no action is taken.  Taking action is the most important part of any successful undertaking!  Whatever you do, whatever road you decide to take, just take action.  You don’t have to plan a year out, either…just have an overview idea and figure out what you need to do TODAY, then do it.  Just get out there and fail, learn from the failure, and try again.  Otherwise, you’ll be approaching the new year next year, like everyone else, saying “Man, I hope NEXT year is different.”

Here’s wishing you Success (whatever that means to you) in the New Year,

Chris Laymon

 

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Life is All About Choices

You know, I try to not be a judgmental person.  I really do!  Who am I to judge what anyone else does, or how other people want to live their life?  But, even though I try very hard not to judge people, I can’t help observing them.  I mean, really… is it possible to go through life and not even notice what other people are doing?

Sometimes, I see someone driving their new, amazing car and I think “Golly Gee Willikers, I’d LOVE to own a car like that…”  Other times, it’s someone’s huge house that catches my eye.  Yesterday, I was talking to a guy who owns his own business and has a lot of free time for golf and vacations, and I found myself a little jealous.  He’s got the big house, the big lifestyle.  That would be awesome, right?

Well, I don’t know… let’s analyze this for a minute.

Ok, quick side note here because I realize not everyone fits into a box.  For the purpose of this article, I’m going to define two groups:  Group A is the lifestyle lived on credit.  Group B is the lifestyle lived without the need for credit (or at least working toward that).  Of course, there are always exceptions to the examples used below so I’d like to make a quick mention of a couple of them.  

Exception 1: Let’s say there’s a woman who has a very high income and she lives a very big lifestyle.  However, she pays for everything with cash.  It LOOKS like she’s a Group A person, but in reality she is a hybrid. 

Exception 2: What about the guy who lives a very simple lifestyle, has almost nothing, but what he has he bought on credit.  The “pay by the week” tv, the furniture…everything is on credit.

The point is that you can’t always tell by someone’s lifestyle whether they’re in Group A or Group B.  It’s not necessarily what they have, but how they pay for it.  But another point that needs to be made: who cares?  People are going to live how they want to live, so you just have to do the best you can do!  🙂 

(Ok, side note over.)  Most times, a big lifestyle is largely paid for with credit.  Meaning, you don’t own anything.  It’s all financed in some way, so there are monthly payments that have to be made on every big ticket item.  That means there are a lot of bills, which means more stress, which means you HAVE to make enough money to pay them, which means if you lose your job or your business takes a hit, you’re REALLY up a creek (and not in a good way!).

A simple lifestyle (yes, this actually is an option) means that you pay cash for the things you want, and typically you don’t have a lot of the fancier things (cars, houses) that “the other group” has.  It means you have very few bills, if any, and a lot of extra cash (referred to as “margin”).  If you lose your job, or your business takes a hit, you shrug your shoulders and go find another job or do something different in your business.  Not a big stressor.  Basically, you live far below your means.

I realize it sounds like I lean toward simplicity.  That’s probably because I do.  But, it doesn’t mean I think any less of the group that wants to “live big” either.  There are pros and cons to both.  Maybe Group A gets to take killer vacations, drive awesome cars, eat at super nice restaurants, etc.  That would be pretty sweet, eh?  Then again, Group B probably has more peace and less stress.  Every person gets to make their own choices in life, and that’s the beauty of how this life works.

Now, don’t think just because I lean toward simplicity, that we sit around a candle at night and play “Rock, paper, scissors”, wearing homemade pajamas cut out of gunny sacks.  Simple doesn’t have to mean boring, and it doesn’t mean you don’t have anything.  We have plenty of “stuff”, we just don’t owe anyone for it.  When we wanted a set of dirt bikes to ride in the summer, we paid cash for them.  When we decided we needed a new mower because our other one kept breaking down, we paid cash for it.  We have decent cars and a house we built on our own with the help of family (on 6.5 acres).  We feel like we live a pretty nice lifestyle, and it’s one without the stress of job loss and a bunch of bills.

Recently, there was a big layoff at my job, and it was very clear that people were completely freaked out about it.  It was interesting for me to observe the difference between what they were feeling and what I was feeling.  I didn’t WANT to lose my job because it’s a really good gig.  But I wasn’t worried about it either.  I figured, worst case scenario, I could go get a job at O’Reilly’s slinging spark plug wires and oil filters and pay my bills.  That’s a nice feeling!  Contrast that with the people I spoke to, literally crying on the phone with me, worried about how they were going to make it.  That’s really sad.

I think it just all comes down to how you decide to live your life.  Do you want your life to be full of “stuff” bought with credit?  Toys, cars, boats, TV’s, etc?  Or would you rather live simply, with whatever “stuff” you have being bought with cash?  No judgment here… however you decide is fine.  But here’s the thing:

You need to decide ON PURPOSE.

Don’t let society choose for you.  Don’t live your life in “default” mode.  Don’t make the false assumption that “It has to be this way…what choice do I have?” We have the choices.  We can live our life on our own terms.

I began this blog based on that very premise.  Tami and I want to live our life on our own terms, on Laymon’s terms.  Not what society tells us we have to do.  All I want from this article is to maybe open one persons eyes so they realize that life is all about choices.

So, here’s your action item: Analyze your life.  Take a very unbiased look at the decisions you’ve made until now.  Notice how you’ve done things up to this point, and think about whether that’s what you meant to do or if those decisions were made on auto-pilot under pressure from society.  Decide how you really want to live your life, and adjust from here.

Or don’t.  🙂  It’s your life.

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What is “Location Independence”?

Have you ever heard of the term “Location Independence”?  I hadn’t until a few years ago, but ever since I learned what it meant, I knew I wanted it.  I’ll bet you will too.

Location Independence means that your source of income isn’t dependent on where you are.  Take a minute and read that again!  In fact, it doesn’t matter where you are, or where you live, whether you’re on vacation or at your house.  Isn’t that a cool concept?!  A good example would be a person who makes their living online.  They might have a home base in Denver, but they can still work on vacation in New Zealand or while at an airport coming back from Thailand.  If they want to do a backpacking trip through Europe, all they need is their laptop and a coffee shop that has wifi and they can stay on that trip indefinitely.  So, maybe a couple weeks and they’re ready to get home.  Or maybe they’re having so much fun, they stay 6 months!  It doesn’t matter because they can do their work anywhere!  (Man, how awesome would THAT be?!)

So, back to reality (for now).  Most people have jobs that force them to actually “show up”.  (Can you believe it?!)  We have to commute every day, many times at the worst parts of the day for traffic, and spend our day working “for the man” instead of doing what we’d LOVE to be doing.  The worst part is that, many times, we don’t even realize we’re making this choice.  Maybe we still think it’s NOT a choice.  Oh, but read on…

Let me just pop in here real quick and make mention that some people really love their jobs.  I get it.  I happen to love mine.  But, if I didn’t need the income from my job, I’d love doing my own thing a lot more!

So, I’m curious…how would you spend your time if your income didn’t depend on your location?  Would you travel?  Would you work on your house, or build a car?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!  Ok, you twisted my arm… I’ll go first!

If I could make my entire living online, here’s what my life would look like:  When we’re home on our farm, I’d always be working on a project in my shop, whether that was restoring an old car, customizing a motorcycle, fixing a lawn mower, etc.  I’d have my own paint shop where I could do my own paint jobs and I’d have all the tools to do body work.  I’d most likely buy a kit car and work on building a Cobra or a hot rod of some sort.   I’d buy a small motorhome or a small rv to pull behind my car and my wife and I (and our 3 dogs!) would travel all over the U.S. and Canada, staying at state parks. We’d stay at one until we were ready to move on, then we’d move to the next.  We’d spend our days hiking with our dogs, cooking out on the grill, and enjoying the sunsets.  Once we had enough of travelling for awhile, we’d pack up and head home to our base (our farm) near Tulsa, Ok.  It’s kind of funny, but I don’t know how long we’d want to be gone because we love our “farm” so much!  We have 6.5 acres, a large pond, a shop where I can work on projects and a house we built with our own hands…so, we really love the place!  But to have the freedom, the option to go somewhere and not have to rush back is what I’m after.  Whether we actually travel all that much or not is irrelevant to me.  I just want to know that I CAN.

Location independence, in my opinion, is all about freedom.  The freedom to live our lives the way we WANT to live them and not renting our time out to our employer.  Do you realize that when we have a job, we’re essentially selling ourselves for a certain amount of money per hour or per year.  People give up the best years of their lives, when they’re typically the most healthy and energetic, to an employer…all in the name of job security and making a living.  But freedom…wow, think about that for a minute.  What would your life really look like?  I’m betting you probably wouldn’t work at your job if you didn’t have to, if money wasn’t an issue for you.  Do you know how I know this?  Because I watch people.  I walk in to my job from the parking garage on a Monday morning and people are almost crawling to their office.  Friday afternoon, though, guess what?  They’re knocking each other out of the way, drifting their car out of the parking garage with Def Leppard blaring from their stereo!

Since I was about 19 or 20 (roughly a million years), I’ve been reading and learning about business, mindsets, wealth versus poverty.  I have honestly made a study of it, partially because it just interests me so much, and also because I’m always looking for the next “key” that can help me go to the next level.  My wife and I have reached a lot of our goals, but the one goal I still have that’s still out of reach?  Location independence.  Working independently of a “job” and spending my time doing exactly what I want to do.  I’m still working on that one!  🙂

So, after reading this post, you might be thinking “Well, yeah… who wouldn’t want that?  But it’ll never happen for me.  I’m too old, too scared, not smart enough, don’t have enough education, or I [insert excuse here].  But let me tell you something!  Of all the people you think of as successful, or rich, or famous…are any of them any different than you?  I mean, really…  You’re too old?  Well, has anyone your age ever made it?  Of course they have!  Do you ever see some successful person and wonder how they tie their shoes in the morning? They just don’t seem to have much “going on upstairs”, yet they’re successful.  My point is…if they can do it, so can you.

Life is too short to live it any way but exactly how we want to live it.  Keep pushing, my friends.  Maybe a plan and figure out the steps to reach that end goal.  I’m working toward mine right now.  And who knows?  Maybe one day, we’ll park our motorhomes next to each other at some beautiful state park in the mountains, and talk about what it took to get there.  To be location independent.  I’m thinking we’ll both agree that it was more than worth it.

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Stick Your Hands Up! And Give Me All Your CCMP!!!

“Whoa!  What kind of a deal is this?!  You can’t rob me from a blog post on the internet!  And further, if you tried, you’d have to pry the CCMP from my cold, dead fingers!  Oh, but…actually…this is a little embarrassing…but..what’s CCMP?”

Hey, take it easy there, big fella… Don’t get all riled up…don’t get your feathers in a bunch.  (Insert random, “old western” phrases here:)

Ok, so you’re probably thinking, out loud yet to yourself “What’s a CCMP?”

Well, I’m glad you asked, my friend!  Glad you asked!  A CCMP is a Clear, Concise Mental Picture.  But you’re thinking “A picture of what”, right?  Man, I know you so well…

In a word: Your future.  Ok, in two words.

Why in the wide, wide world of sports would you want a CCMP of your future?  Well, you wouldn’t!  Unless, of course, you wanted to plan your life and try to make it what you really wanted it to be.  I mean, you could just wander through your life, reacting to whatever happens and bouncing from event to event.  At the end of your life, you would have either “gotten lucky” and had a decent life, or you would have been victimized by the “bad hand” you were dealt.  I guess, in the case of the latter, you could spend the last few years complaining about how life isn’t fair and feeling sorry for yourself.  THAT sounds pretty good…  🙂

But, all kidding aside (well, to be truthful, probably MOST kidding aside), why not plan your life to be the best life it could be?  Why not figure out what would really be a killer life and take steps toward that?  Seems simple, right?

A CCMP means that you know exactly where you want to end up.  If it’s truly a CCMP, you should be able to instantly conjure the picture in your mind about the life you want to have.  It won’t be difficult or take much time, once you’ve spent the initial time to first figure out what you really want.  Also, an important point: Figure out your CCMP before you try to set goals.  If you do, your goals will be related to the CCMP and one will complement the other.  If you try to set goals without a CCMP, they may not get you any closer to where you really want to be.

Example:  Let’s say you spend some time developing your CCMP.  You learn that you’d really love to have a classic car restoration company.  You enjoy doing the actual work, but you imagine you’d eventually like to be the “big picture” guy and just manage the work.  At some point, you’d like this business to pay you income passively, so you can travel the world and go to car shows.  Maybe some of these shows, you could bring along a car or two of which you’re especially proud.  You’d really love just hanging out and chatting with the other people at these shows, and learning new techniques and concepts, which you could eventually teach your crew back home.  This would put you on the cutting edge of car restoration and give your company a competitive edge.

Great work on that CCMP, my special reader!  Wow, the more I’m reading that, the more it’s becoming part of my OWN CCMP.  🙂

Now that you have the CCMP, you can begin to set goals.  Goal 1 could be to go to a trade school to learn the ropes of auto body repair, paint, rebuilding engines, etc.  Goal 2 might be to work for another restoration company to gain experience and start to learn the actual business.  Goal 3 might be to find a great deal on a project car and begin working on it in your spare time.  Goal 4 could be to put up a website to chronicle your progress, set up a youtube channel with videos, and eventually show it at car shows.  Maybe you could sell that car and profit enough to buy something else and fix it up nicer than the first car you bought.  Goal 5 might be to start your own company and develop a following in the auto restoration world.

Notice how all these goals logically line up with your ultimate dream, your CCMP?  That’s why a CCMP is so important.

So, let’s approach this the other way, where we put goals first and the CCMP last (or not at all, which is more typical).

You have no idea what you want to achieve with your life.  When you finish high school, you do what most of your friends are doing. You go to college.  You declare a major, but 2 years in decide that’s not really your deal, so you change majors.  You cram 4 years of college into 5 years, but eventually finish.  You get the first job that seems decent and start working for “the man”.  That goes pretty well, so you decide you should get married.  You marry this person who seems pretty cool and someone suggests buying a house, so you do that.  Of course, you need a car (make that two) since you can’t be dealing with repairs on the old one.  So, now you have two car payments and a mortgage, and you’re now stuck at your job because you have so much debt.  (Plus, your company has excellent dental benefits!)

Jump forward 20 years, and you’re living a life you might never have really wanted.  You have a couple of good kids, and you tell yourself that’s what life is REALLY about, and your dreams were just a fantasy.  I mean… you had to do the responsible thing, right?

So, here’s a thought-provoking question for you: Which approach to life do the majority of people take?  The overwhelming majority of people take the second, of course.  They don’t realize it, but they do.  The reason they don’t realize it is because they never consciously sat down and chose what they wanted their life to be like.  They never developed a CCMP.

Maybe reading this has made you realize that you unconsciously chose “Door #2”.  So, your normal reaction might be “Dang it!  I really hosed this up…well, nothing I can do now…”  Don’t despair, my good reader!  It’s NEVER too late to make a change!  Take some time and figure out where you ultimately want to be!  I promise you it’ll be worth it.  Once you have your CCMP, you can start taking steps in that direction.  Don’t let your life be lived in “default mode”.  “Beast mode” is way more fun.  😉

 

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Is it better to push for “more success”, or be satisfied with where you are?

For the past 16 years or so, I’ve been reading business books, self-improvement books, etc.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to “break through the barrier” of my personal lid.  I’ve started businesses, went to schools, and generally just worked really hard to “figure out” how to make it in business.  I’ve spent probably $40k on education toward this goal.  (Side note: I thought that was a lot of money until I started learning that some of the “gurus” in businesses spend more than that annually.)

The truth is…the more I read, the more I research and study, the more I learn.  I seem to have “breakthroughs” from time to time, and I start to make changes.  Slowly, the changes are beginning to make a difference.

But I’ve been doing some thinking lately, and wondering if I’m doing the right thing.  The question, as the title of this post might suggest; “Should I push for success or be satisfied with where I am?”  I believe that the road to success in anything requires a person to learn who they are and what they believe.  For example: If a person believes that wealth is evil, they will never have wealth.  If they get it by accident (inheritance, etc.), they’ll get rid of it.  This is because their belief system MUST line up with their reality.  People always act from their belief system.  The mind is a powerful thing.  If we see lack in our own life, it’s almost surely because of our THINKING.

They say if you are born into a middle class family, it’s very difficult for you to break out of that class.  I was raised in a lower middle class family.  As a result, I received a lot of programming from my family and group of friends.  Not surprisingly, that programming was generally “lower middle class” programming.  Well, let me tell you…18 years of that kind of programming can take a LOT of work to undo.  When I started reading books and learning about “Abundance vs. Lack Mentalities”, the information I was learning was starkly different than what I had learned growing up.  I quickly realized that my new values of abundance didn’t line up with my old values of lack.  I began to believe in the abundance in the world.  I started to realize that there was opportunity all around me, and that if I wanted a different life than what I grew up in, I could have it.  My values were changing, but my programming was so ingrained that it would take years to begin to undo.

So, with that background in mind, I return to my original question.  Is it better to always be pushing for more success, or is it better to just be satisfied with where you are?

Actually, I think that answer has to come from each person as an individual.  If I know a guy who is a family man, who spends a lot of time with his kids and wife, but doesn’t make that much money…does his apparent “lack of ambition” mean he’s a bad person?  I think not.  I think that what’s important to him is family and time, more than money.  Honestly, I’ve had thoughts during my “journey” a lot of times (yes, I realize using the word “journey” makes me sound like a nerd.  I embrace my nerdiness.).  That’s only because I can see tremendous value in family time.  Heck, I can see the benefit of coming home from work, leaving work at the door, and just being able to relax with the people (and, in my case, puppies) you care the most about.  Not only have I had thoughts about this, but I’ve been tempted to adopt that lifestyle myself.  Sometimes, it gets tiring to always be pushing…to have endless “to do” lists, calls to make, meetings to set up.  I get tired sometimes.  Tired of running at 100% all the time and seldom really stopping.  People have told me things like “Man, you’ve always got so many things going…how do you do it all?”  I do it all because it all has to be done, but I don’t always like it (and it doesn’t always get done as quickly as it should).  Currently, I work a full time job.  A partner and I started a real estate investment company about a year ago (side business).  I’ve just begun working with a network marketing company because MLM has always intrigued me.  I recently began an Internet Marketing certification course because I feel like that’s one of the weak spots in my businesses.  And my wife and I are building our own house.  Don’t mistake that sentence as “My wife and I are having a house built.”  No, no… while I agree that having a house built comes with its own set of stresses, we’re actually building ours on our own (with help from family).  Do I sometimes feel overwhelmed?  Yeah, of course I do.  I have endless stress knots in my shoulders, and when a nurse takes my blood pressure and pulse, he asks if I took the stairs on the way to his clinic.  (I’m halfway kidding about these examples.  Halfway.)

My point?  I want to do something with my life.  I want to travel, to see places most people never dream of seeing.  I want to work myself out of a job and have the freedom to determine what I do with my days.  I want to drive a motor home all over the U.S. for a few years and just see places, and do things.  Most of my goals can’t be done while I’m tied down to a job, so I have to have businesses paying me when I’m not there.  Is it wrong to want these things?  Nope.  And it’s not wrong to NOT want these things.

People have to make their own decisions about their life, their goals.  Every person has to decide what’s most important to them, and I believe this decision needs to be made consciously.  If we don’t make this decision consciously, our sub-conscious will make it for us based on our past programming.  And that, my friends, would be a really sad thing.

 

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