Zo’s 5 Keys To Success And Happiness In Life

I don’t usually do this kind of thing but by listening to these things I am in such a good place right now and I just wanted to share them with you in the hopes that they could help you too. These aren’t the end all be all but if you can get on the right track with these then you will be well on your way.

1. Follow Your Passion

This is the year that you stop talking and start doing. 2008 is the year that you follow your passion and if you don’t know what your passion is yet that’s ok, this is the year that you find it. We will always have a reason to talk ourselves out of things or find excuses to put it off but not this year. This year you are going to do what it is that you really want to do whether its finding a better job, going back to school, or starting your own business. You can do it. For me it is cooking for you it may be writing or designing that clothing line you have always wanted to. Now I realize that you may not be able to do it completely this year but you can start to take the steps so that this time next year you can. In my opinion the scariest thing to most of us is not the thought that we might fail but rather the possibility that we may truly succeed. Do NOT be afraid to succeed, your dreams are out there waiting, go get them.


2. Get Your Money Right

This year you have to start getting serious about your money. The first thing I want you to do is get a clear picture of your financial situation, know the value of your assets vs your liabilities thus determining your net worth. For a lot of us that net worth may be negative if we include car notes, student loans, mortgages, credit cards and the like but this step isn’t meant to be depressing but rather empowering. If you net worth is positive then great, if not don’t fret this just means you have some work to do. If you have credit card debt attack that first. Pay down the card with the highest interest rate first or if you have a card with a balance that is significantly lower than the rest then pay that off first, we are going for little victories.

I am not someone who is going to tell you credit cards are evil, there not but if not used properly they can get you into quite a bind. In this day and age good credit is essential it will get you lower rates on houses, cars and loans and may even determine whether you get certain jobs. The main thing here to remember is that this is not free money and just because it doesn’t come out of your checking account doesn’t just mean you can spend freely. When used properly credit cards are just another weapon in your financial arsenal, used improperly you will soon find yourself surrounded by debt and that’s no fun.

Finally, you have to start saving and investing. There are a lot of myths here and I would like to dispel a few.

  • Keeping my money is a regular savings account is a good idea.”-No it is not. You have to maximize your returns and truly make your money work for you. The average bank savings account gives you such a puny interest amount that you never notice it. Today, with the increased access to high yield money market accounts there is no reason you shouldn’t be saving your money in one of them. They are FDIC insured and a lot of good ones have very low minimum and far better interest rates than most banks will give you. If you are going to save, keep your money in one these accounts and at least get a return you can see every month. My personal favorite is Emigrant Direct but there are many out there just do a search for money market accounts.
  • I shouldn’t invest because its too risky“- Investing is risky but hey so is crossing the street in some towns or eating vegetables and beef and pork these days if you listen to some people. The truth is over the last ten years as a whole the markets have done quite well and the average rate of return has been quite high. No longer is investing an activity of the rich and privileged, today anyone can and should invest. The internet has knocked down the barrier to entry of almost every field and investing is no different. With places like ShareBuilder and Ameritrade, investing is nothing but a click away and you can do it all from the comfort of your own home. Do yourself a favor and check them out.

The last thing I am going to say on the subject is plan for the future. Invest in your 401K, it is pretax dollars so if you are not right now you are leaving money on the table. Open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), either a standard or a Roth and start putting some of those after tax dollars away too. if you have kids consider buying them savings bonds online direct from the treasury department at TreasuryDirect and open a 529 College Savings Plan for them.

3. Figure Out Your Friendships

This is a tough one. Good friends are hard to find and great ones are even tougher to find. Friendships are like plants you have to feed them and take care of them if you want them to grow, if not they just wither and die. But here is a realization that you have to come too. You CAN’T be great friends with everybody. You have to decide who is going to be in your inner circle and focus on them. This is not to say forget everyone else but rather to know who your real friends are and give them 85% of your friendship energy.

One of the toughest parts of friendships as I learned recently is learning when to let them go. We become friends with people for all kinds of reasons, we went to school together, we were on the same sports team, or our parents were friends. A lot of time when you look at your list of friends and say “Why am I friends with this person”, the only kinda of answer you come back with is because we always have been. The truth is that people change, you and them. You know what I am talking about the party buddy you had back in college that ten years later even though you both have families or children still thinks you are in college.

Here I want to talk to the ladies in particular, how about the friend that hates her life and always tries to bring you down with her or tries to tell you why that guy your with isn’t any good but she doesn’t have a man herself. The wrong people can be just as poisonous to your life as any drug. In the end, people grow apart and it is much better to recognize this and end on good terms then to just fade off into the ether. When your lives are going in different directions and you hardly talk anyway its really best for both of you if you just end it altogether and agree to be associates, that way when you stop and think why you haven’t talked to them in six months or they forgot your birthday you won’t be so upset.

4. Reading is Fundamental

This year try to get back to reading. With all the super quick and accessible ways we have to get information, somewhere the art of reading seems to be getting lost. I admit that I am as guilty as the rest of us with my cell phone, laptop, PS3, and all the other distractions. But the fact of the matter is that a good book is still a very special and unique treat. Whether it is something new or old, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, go to your favorite place and get lost in a book.


Swap Leaner Meats In Like Chicken And Pork Instead Of Beef Once In A While

5. Get Healthier

Finally, and I know but I had to say it. This year I want everyone to commit to being healthier. Now I didn’t say lose 30 pounds I simply said get healthier. This could be exercising a few times a week in your living room, reducing the amount of sodas you drink and replacing those with water. How about instead of using vegetable oil to cook you use Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead and skip the flour from time to time.

I am telling you a nice piece of pan seared and oven roasted chicken can taste just as good if not better than the fried kind. Eat more salad, with the ready made ones they sell in the store you can eat salad at least twice a week, amp it up with some extra carrots, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, and maybe some turkey or grilled chicken breast on top. Remember, no matter how much money you make or what you want to do you have to be healthy to do it.

Those are my 5 keys to success for today, tomorrow and beyond and you can take them for what they are worth. I’m all about small changes in my life that I can stick with and that will actually be worthwhile in the long run. The bottom line is that nothing is impossible; the world is yours if you want it, and the only thing standing between you and your dreams is YOU. Stop talking and start doing. If anybody else more tips that they would like to share please leave a comment.

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