Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Write Your Story! Share Your Story! Change A Life!

This blog wants your story.  The premise is simple:

What is the ONE THING that you have learned from life that you would like to share with the world?

That's it.  Write it and send it.  You just might change a life!  Thanks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do You Need A Financial Advisor or Can You Do It Alone?

Examining where you are financially and putting together a Financial Preparedness plan requires a bit of time and effort. Inevitably, the question pops up as to whether to do this on your own or to work with a financial advisor.

The short answer is yes, either way. The long answer is if you choose to go it alone, make sure you have reliable sources of information.           

I’ve had the luxury of being an advisor and an individual investor.  What I’ve learned over the years is that there are pros and cons to working with an advisor or doing it on your own.  As I’ve said, every person needs to do what provides them with the most comfort.

The intent of this section is to provide you some insights to help you make the decision of how to proceed on pursuing your plan.  The reality is that most of the work will need to be done on your own anyway.  Gathering information, retrieving statements and thinking about your situation are all things that you will do.  You’ll also need to review your situation on a yearly basis.  These things shouldn’t be delegated to someone else.             

So let’s look at what you need to consider when deciding to choose or not to choose an outside resource to help you formulate a plan for your finances.

Some of the
pros of working with a Financial Advisor are:

  • A good one is priceless, and the cost will be easily made up in advice and convenience. They will spend the time to understand you and your financial needs and work toward your goals. A good advisor will be interested in you for the long term, not for short-term gain.  Remember that an advisor is running a business and a good one will understand that a long-term successful relationship with you will be mutually beneficial. 
  • They’re on top of the latest trends and products. In light of the latest mortgage backed securities disaster, this can be a pro or a con but I’ll list it as a pro here.  It’s important that you understand that an advisor provides advice; you make the decisions. Therefore, choosing an advisor doesn’t mean that you neglect your need to stay educated about investing and the current markets.  Your knowledge of investments and finances should grow as you work with your advisor.  Believe me, the good advisors value an educated discussion with a client!
  • They can save you time and worry. Retirement planning should be a major part of their job and a good advisor knows how to do it. For some of us, they save us the worry of whether or not we have the right information and are using it correctly. For many people this is a great source of comfort. Talking to a professional informs us and gives us the choices we need to make the right decisions.

Some of the
cons of working with a Financial Advisor (FA) are:
  • Cost. While not always true, when you consider the fees and expenses of investments and investment accounts, the cost of working with a financial advisor can be higher than going it alone. Always be sure to understand what all the fees and expenses are and how your advisor gets compensated. 
  • Bad advice. Really, this can happen as easily online or on the golf course as with a professional. A good rule of thumb is always to step back and understand the risks and alternatives when someone makes recommendations or provides advice about what you should do with your finances.  That goes for family as well as advisors.  Always remember that you are in control.  It’s your money.  In the end, they’re your decisions.  Not someone else’s.
  • Incentives. Financial advisors make their money by investing yours. Their incentive is to get your money working so they get paid. You should consider the type of investor that you are, but I believe that should be wary of commission only brokers. Instead consider flat fee or those that get paid on a small percentage basis. The thinking here is that they either have no incentive to “churn and burn” or have a direct incentive to make you more money because they get a small percentage of it.
  • Selling you what you don’t need. See above. If the advisor has not talked to you about risk and clarified the type of investors you are before they make an investment recommendation, you need to walk away from that conversation.  Also, watch out for big insurance or package deals that you have trouble understanding. Chances are the Financial Advisor doesn’t understand them either but gets a big chunk for selling them, possibly up to 7%. Ask them how they get compensated for an investment.  They’ll even respect you more for asking.
  • Good financial advisors retire too. Be sure that you’ve discussed your advisor’s “career plans” and any “succession plans” they may have for their business or when they decide to retire, you’ll be stuck with the task of finding another ace FA again.  

           The fact is you can do it either way. Some people feel better having someone help make their retirement plan for them, and others want to stay firmly in control. The rest of us lay somewhere in between and need to weigh the pros and cons of whether to hire someone to help us out or not.

How to pick a Financial Advisor?
If you choose to work with someone rather than going it alone, it leads to the question of how to pick a financial advisor, Certified Financial Planner™, or other financial professional. Like finding the right doctor or dentist, making the wrong choice could be damaging to your (financial) health. It’s best to proceed cautiously and ask a lot of questions before signing on with anyone.
  • Referrals. This is often the best way to find any professional, whether it be your mechanic, your brain surgeon, or even your hair stylist. Ask your friends and family but don’t stop there. They may “like” the person just fine, but always do more due diligence on your own. This is your financial health, after all.  It’s YOUR advisor, not your friend’s!
  • Interview several. Give yourself choices. Get second, third, and fourth opinions.  Let them know that you’re interviewing several other advisors to find the most appropriate one for you.
  • Google them. One of the advantages of the internet is you can find out about people. Do it. You might be amazed at what you dig up. Check out their standing with the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD). This is the regulatory body for stockbrokers and financial advisors.   
  • Ask them how they get paid. The reputable advisors will be happy to answer this question and as I said, they’ll respect you as a client for doing so.  If they don’t answer you or you don’t like or understand their answer, move on to the next advisor interview. 
  • How are they licensed? Can they sell mutual funds, stocks, bonds, insurance? Are they limited in any way?  It’s wise to work with an advisor who can provide you the most options as investments selected should be based on the needs of the client, not limited by what the advisor can or can’t offer.
  • Consider the firm they work for. Big names like Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley can be high quality but they can be expensive. If the financial advisor you’re considering is working as an independent they still have a trading and product platform they work within. Ask them who the company is and then research it.  Google the firm and ensure that they are not only legitimate but don’t have any pending judgments against them.
  • Ask them what their service level commitments and communication policies are. How often will they contact you? Do they conduct annual reviews? Quarterly reviews?  What happens when problems occur?  Who can you call and how quickly will they respond to your concerns?
  • Do they have specific designations? Many FAs have letters after their names. Unfortunately, these “qualifications” often mean only that the firm they work for had set up an easy class so they could get these letters and impress clients. Major firms are especially notorious for this. Many reputable advisors have gained the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP©) designation. The training to get this designation is intense and thorough. It indicates that the advisor has been through training that is focused on all aspects of financial planning including estate and retirement planning. A growing designation in the industry is that of the CFA (Chartered Financial Advisor).  This indicates that the advisor is extremely knowledgeable about investment selection and understanding the micro and macro factors impacting the markets.  Either of these designations should be view as a plus when considering advisors.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What is 'The Four Percent Solution'?

In the book, 'A Safe Retirement : The 4 Keys to a Safe Retirement'  I discuss ways in which you can determine how much money you will need on an annual basis during retirement. However, it is also fundamental to look at this important question from the opposing end. How much money are you allowed to spend without running out before you reach the pearly gates?
Of equal interest is how much are you allowed to spend and not build up an enormous surplus that you’re not able to enjoy yourselves?
Much thought has gone into these questions and into finding the exact sweet spot of allowing the highest possible income with microscopic risk of outliving your money.
            Here I’ll cover one such formula that has become a recent topic of debate and interest among people looking for that “magic” rate of withdrawal.  In my research with retirees, over and over I hear how people are animate about not touching the principal that generates their retirement income.  Certainly, this should be a goal and is critical to you staying on track with your plan as we’ll soon discuss.
            But is there a way in which people can take income and still ensure that their principal will remain constant?  Certainly we can buy CDs or original issue bonds (and hold until maturity) for this to occur.  However, the reality is that this approach not only yields low rates on CDs and it’s very difficult to gain a bond at the exact value that you’ll be able to redeem it at without fluctuations in price over this time.  Plus for most of us, our investment portfolio will be the major source of retirement income and that portfolio should be made of various holdings and asset classes (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) 
            So the question becomes ‘how much should I withdraw from my portfolio to gain an income while ensuring protection of my principal?’: 7%?  5%?  This is an interesting question when you’re seeking a percentage rather than an amount.  Even with a large portfolio, if you look at percentages rather than amounts for your yearly income, a single percentage change can impact your ability to maintain your principal.
            So, what is the right number?
            Fortunately we have professors, analysts and economists who are much smarter than me who study this stuff.  I'll discuss one approach that is gaining interest and attention: the 4% solution.  This is an approach that says that withdrawing 4% from your investments will provide lifetime income and you’ll never outlive your assets. 
     The Trinity Study -
            In 1998 a group of finance professors at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas published a paper studying the optimal percentage annual withdrawal from a retirement portfolio. They based their study on various portfolio asset allocation compositions between stocks and bonds. (I discuss asset allocation more in the following chapter, How to Maintain Your Retirement.) They considered the following portfolios where stocks are the S&P 500 and bonds are high-grade and from the United States:

  •  100% stocks
  •  100% bonds
  • 25% stocks, 75% bonds
  • 50% each of stocks and bonds
  • 75% stocks, 25% bonds
The interesting part of the study was that in any of the asset mixes, a withdrawal rate of 4% protected 100% of your principal.  What is also interesting is that a conservative mix of 25% stick and 75% bonds would allow for protection of principal and the ability to withdraw 6% of your portfolio.

            Below is a link to a chart from the study showing the decline in the portfolios over thirty years.
            However, to fully recognize the viability of this study in an individual’s portfolio as a driver of income, it’s necessary to consider and include inflation into the mix.  The more appropriate chart is provided below which takes into consideration yearly inflation and when this is included the 4% figure becomes even more pronounced.

Source: Sustainable Withdrawal Rates From Your Retirement Portfolio Philip L. Cooley,Carl M. Hubbard2 and Daniel T. Walz

    The numbers in the main body of the chart refer to the percentage likelihood of reaching the goal of not running out of retirement funds. When inflation is included (and it must be to be valid), we see that the greatest likelihood of not having to tap into principal occurs with a portfolio of 75% stocks and 25% bonds.
    Taken in the wrong light, this graph can be unsettling for the conservative retiree. Should you have your entire portfolio in stocks through good times and bad or you’ll end up in the street? No, but if you’re looking at a 30 time horizon and are not interested in tapping into your principal, you’ll need more stocks than perhaps would be recommended for the retired investor. And by stocks I don’t mean those selling for two cents a share and promising 1000% return in just a few short days. I mean a highly diversified portfolio of blue chip companies.
    The following are the conclusions from the study as pointed out from the online wiki on the study:
“The study produced a number of conclusions, including:

  • Withdrawal periods longer than 15 years dramatically reduced the probability of success at withdrawal rates exceeding five percent. 
  • Bonds increase the success rate for lower to mid level withdrawal rates, but most retirees would benefit with at least a 50 percent allocation to stocks. 
  • Retirees who desire inflation-adjusted withdrawals must anticipate a substantially reduced withdrawal rate from the initial portfolio. 
  • Stock-dominated portfolios using a 3 to 4 percent withdrawal rate may create rich heirs at the expense of the retiree's current standard of living. 
  • For a payout of 15 years or less, a withdrawal rate of 8 to 9 percent from a stock-dominated portfolio appears sustainable.”

    The Trinity Study actually found that a heavily stock laden portfolio of $100,000—tapped at 4% over thirty years, and assuming the rate was not adjusted for inflation—created a $700,000 portfolio at the end of the time frame. Wow. But based on historic market returns this is absolutely feasible.
    I think for most retirees and those considering retirement there is value in evaluating the 4% solution.  When the study “backtracked” with historic data, the numbers in the chart bare out the following comment:

“One scenario backtested in the Trinity study suggests that a retiree with a suitably allocated $1 million portfolio could withdraw $40,000 the first year, give herself a cost-of-living adjustment every year afterwards, and have a 98% chance of the portfolio lasting at least 30 years.” 

Sharpe’s Point - 
            Now before you run out and decide that the 4% solution is what you’re going to do, understand that it isn’t without debate. Nobel Prize winner William Sharpe (creator of the ‘Sharpe Ratio’) disagreed somewhat with the findings of the Trinity Study. He felt it was too rigid and risked building up an unspent surplus. If the goal is to leave a significant inheritance that’s one thing, but if, instead, maximizing the potential of a retirement portfolio is what’s wanted then 4% might not be the best avenue.
            He also cautioned that the solution would encourage fixed spending habits that can prove problematic in down markets.
            “’If a retiree adopts a 4% rule, he will waste money by purchasing surpluses, will overpay for his spending distribution, and may be saddled with an inferior spending plan,’ wrote Sharpe and colleagues Jason Scott, managing director of the Retiree Research Center at Financial Engines, and John Watson, a fellow at Financial Engines.”
            Sharpe’s idea then was that the real solution was regular monitoring and tailoring of the portfolio to find the optimal amount.
I couldn’t agree more, and it’s important to evaluate all of the information on this approach (we include web links to the content mentioned here and other resources for your research in the Resources Area).  If you work with an advisor ask them about this approach.  When looking at the research, it seems that 4% is a great place to start but this doesn’t mean that we can neglect the ongoing and important questions that only you, as the investor, must answer.
What’s the anticipated time horizon of the portfolio? The longer the anticipated lifespan, the lower the percentage withdrawal. It’s common sense. If you’re looking at thirty years or more, 3% might be a better figure.
In contrast, if you’re retiring older, and perhaps not in good health, a shorter lifespan can be factored in and therefore a larger percentage of the funds can be spent each year. Although, again, not written in stone, with an anticipated payout period of fifteen years or less, 8% or so could be tested as a permissible withdrawal rate.

Prudence and the Annual Review -
            It would appear the best course of action, as is so often the case, is to take these studies for what they are; guidelines. Considering a 4% annual withdrawal rate is an excellent starting point.
            Review the math yourself, or with your Financial Advisor if that’s your case, and see if it works for your situation.
Be prudent.
If timing the synchronicity of the end of the lifespans of both yourself and your portfolio isn’t exactly possible (is it ever?) then which is the worse evil; running out of money or leaving a bit extra for your loved ones? I know my answer.
The authors of the Trinity Study wrote:
“The word planning is emphasized because of the great uncertainties in the stock and bond markets. Mid-course corrections likely will be required, with the actual dollar amounts withdrawn adjusted downward or upward relative to the plan. The investor needs to keep in mind that selection of a withdrawal rate is not a matter of contract but rather a matter of planning.”

            Planning and regular reassessments are indeed the additional aspects to rounding out the 4% solution.
            I cover the importance of the annual review in more depth in my book, 'A Safe Retirement ; The 4 Keys to a Safe Retirement', but understand that regular reviews of your portfolio and overall retirement lifestyle needs are a key aspect to maintaining your Safe Retirement. Approach your annual budget from the aspect of how much can you spend. Start with 4% and see where it takes you; many financial planners report using this number with success. And then reassess each year at your designated annual review to make sure this number is still working for you.            
            Prudence is a lovely lady, make sure she’s part of your Safe Retirement and you’ll be living your dream for the rest of your lives. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Caregivers : Give Yourself a Break

“To the family—that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.”
-       Dodie Smith, Dear Octopus

Caretaking can be an emotionally powerful experience. The well being and comfort of someone you love is in your hands and you want to do the best job possible. You are helping that person stay out of a nursing home, to recover from a debilitating disease, or to go through the process of dying itself. Your role is invaluable and you may never fully understand the appreciation and gratitude felt by the person you’re looking after.
            However, you also need to take care of yourself. A recent study by Gallup shows that 16% of the American workforce is also a caretaker for someone. Of that group, the vast majority, 65%, are between the ages of forty-five and sixty-four with the next largest group, 22%, between the ages of thirty and forty-four. (source)
            What the study revealed was that whichever age group you belong to if you’re a caretaker chances are your health is suffering too. High blood pressure and reoccurring physical pain are two of the main culprits. Caregivers reported that not only did they have new health issues, but they also suffered from lower energy and productivity. The numbers showed this prevented them from participating in their normal day-to-day activities and they often didn’t feel well rested. Does any of that sound familiar?  
            And yet caretaking doesn’t only take a physical toll, but emotional and mental ones as well. You’re not just helping someone get dressed and bathed, standing up from a chair or sofa, or any of their myriad other day-to-day activities. You’re also taking on the responsibility of helping someone who’s experiencing the effects of old age to the extent they can’t fully look after themselves.
            You are in charge of medicines and must be alert for changes in symptoms or needs. You’re involved in their moods, which may include disillusionment and depression, and for making sure they’re socially active. As if life isn’t hard enough as it is, you’re now taking on someone else’s problems; but it’s someone you love and feel responsible for.
According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, taking a break from your caretaker role is “the most important thing a caregiver can do to sustain the ability and desire to care for an individual.”
What prevents many of us from giving ourselves the time and care we need is a feeling of responsibility for the loved one. We believe we’re somehow failing if we aren’t there. We tell ourselves it’s such an important role, how can we let this person down? We might feel we’re the only one who understands the person well enough to give the proper care. Some other person might go through the motions but miss the special details and compassion that only we know how to give.
The key here is to get out of your own way. You aren’t the only person that can give appropriate care and if you don’t look after yourself you won’t be able to do any caretaking at all. You don’t want to get worn down, either physically or emotionally and lose your motivation or ability to look after the person you love.
Your own life and well being are crucial to your job as a caretaker. Pay attention to yourself. Give yourself time to live your own life. When friends call to get together and you’re constantly saying no, eventually they stop calling. They’ll assume you’re busy and stop bothering you. Your world can diminish and with that bring in a host of ramifications. Some caretakers become angry or resentful. All this can be prevented. The first step is to let other people in.   

“The miracle is this—the more we share, the more we have.”
-       Leonard Nimoy

From the upcoming book, A Safe Retirement : The 4 Keys to a Safe Retirement

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Meditating at Fifty

There are many things you need to do when the doctor tells you that you need to lower your blood pressure.  I was lucky that it was not enough of a problem that I needed medication, not yet!  For me, diet and exercise were the easiest solutions.  I began each and of course they yielded good results.  But I wanted to incorporate something that I had wanted to do for years: meditation.

I had heard all of the good things about meditation.  Peace of mind.  Relaxation.  Lowers stress and blood pressure.  It all sounded good but I have a job and a family.  How the heck would I fit it in to my schedule?  How do I get started?  Oh and at 51, I wondered if a gray hair like me could actually do it.

Well, after a few months of doing it, the good news is that my blood pressure has been lowered (along with my weight-due to diet and exercise) and I’m finding that I’m better able to deal with the ups and downs that life throws at me each and every day.  I must say that I credit my outlook on the meditation.

The good news is not only that it works, but that any one can do it.  For those who consider themselves “too old” for meditation (as I did), the reality is that you may actually be the most appropriate age for it.

How to get started?  This is actually easier that I thought.  You don’t need a yoga mat.  You don’t need to sit in a lotus position.  You don’t need chimes, bells, an altar or incense.  If you’ve got a chair, you can do this.

I found that the best thing for me was a 99 cents ap for my iPhone called “Simply Being”  (  This ap allows you to start with a five minute meditation and work up to a 10 or 15 minute meditation.  It provides nature sounds, music and a comforting voice guiding you through the meditation.  It couldn’t be easier and the results will be immediate.

If you don’t have an iPhone, don’t fret.   All you need is to set aside 5 or 10 minutes of quiet time in a comfortable spot.  It may help to use a kitchen timer to alert you when your time is up. 

Simply sit peacefully.  Close your eyes.  What works for me is to then count my breaths.  This works for me and but it may not be the most effective option for you (you can find many solutions and ideas on the internet through Googling ‘meditation’). 

The key becomes to concentrate on what you’re doing now.  Thoughts will come to you.  The important thing is to let them but don’t dwell on them.  Let them go.  I promise they’ll come back after your meditation (they may not be as important then). 

Enjoy the peace and quiet.  It’s your time to do nothing.  When you end your meditation, you’ll be amazed at how refreshing doing nothing is.  (try this before you get started: )

I think the interesting thing about meditation that I’ve learned is that it can be accomplished in so many ways.  If you’re religious, you can say prayers and that constitutes meditation.  If you love nature, meditation can be enjoying the sounds of the woods and spending time looking at trees.  It’s whatever works for you but the results will include not only improved health but a better sense of enjoying the small pleasures of life.

And at this point in our lives, it’s the perfect time to stop, be silent and enjoy the wonders that life provides us.  They’re all around you.  Meditation makes you appreciate the world outside of you by calming the world inside of you.  Try it!  You’ll like it!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Being Single and Senior

United States Census Bureau data shows the majority of us will end up being senior and single for at least part of our Safe Retirement. The 2009 census numbers state that of those aged sixty-five and older 29% are widowed and 9.6% are divorced. Four percent have never been married which means over 40% of those over sixty-five are living on their own and as people age this percentage increases.

Single and Senior - 
            Given the statistics I quoted above, being single for at least part of our retirement is a reality we might as well get ready to enjoy. After all, what’s the alternative? This is your life and with a little planning and effort these years will be the best yet.
            When you think about it, you aren’t ever really alone in life. You have family and friends and neighbors, and even strangers. People are all around you going through the process of life just like you are. By losing your spouse you aren’t any more alone than you ever were, you simply don’t have that person to be with anymore. You need other good friends. I’ll get into dating and finding a new love in the next section, here I want to discuss good habits and ideas for how to get the best out of being single and senior. Most of these are reiterations of what I’ve discussed in past chapters but they’re worth revisiting in this context.
            The best thing you can do for yourself as you age is to stay active and positive. Period. If you find yourself single and wonder how you’re going to get used to it, much less be happy again, get out of the house. Call up a friend, go to church, volunteer, take a kite flying class, it doesn’t matter what, just do it. This is how you will learn to thrive and it’s especially important if you’ve just lost your spouse.
            It may be difficult at first but you need to be disciplined. The more active you become, the easier it’ll be. Pretty soon life starts to take on an energy of its own and before you know it you’re back to enjoying life even though you’re single.
            Remember that you need to communicate about important matters with your family and heirs. If something happens to you and you don’t have a spouse or significant other to take care of things, who will? Do you want your kids sifting through piles of papers and sticky notes trying to find the password to your email?
            Keep a list of important information and let someone know where it is and what it contains. Consider the following:

Ø  Passwords for email accounts
Ø  Safety deposit box location
Ø  Power of attorney, both medical and legal
Ø  Estate planning documents including a living will and what type of funeral you want
Ø  Bank and brokerage accounts
Ø  Names and phone numbers of your closest friends
Ø  Instructions for what to do with your pet if you’re unable to look after it any longer

Also, as we get older it’s good to have someone to talk to about decisions we’re thinking of making. Seniors are sometimes the target of fraud and if you’re considering making a new investment, especially a large one, be sure and get a second opinion.
Get a second opinion on any major medical issue and make sure you involve someone else. This isn’t so they can tell you what to do, although if you value their opinion in these types of matters that’s fine, rather it’s so someone else will understand what choices you had and why you did what you did. It may never matter, but one day it might.
Discuss with your children what you want them to have after you die and make sure you put it in writing in your will.
The nut of it is, if you’re single make sure you involve other people in the important decisions and directions of your life. Then, get out and have fun!


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Friday, January 21, 2011

Pursue Your Passion

“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken winged bird
That cannot fly.”
-       Langston Hughes

For many, retirement over the past couple of decades has morphed into a dynamic dream-realizing landscape. No longer is it considered to be the end of a career and therefore life; now it’s a beginning, an opportunity to reinvent yourself and rediscover long lost pursuits and passions. Along with lengthening life spans come renewed chances to explore areas long forgotten.

Some retirees mix leisure activities with targeted business endeavors, often for the intellectual stimulus far more than any monetary benefit. In this sense it’s interesting how goals change. What we pursued in our youth—status, money, new mates; in other words, outward signs of success—now takes a back seat to a different set of priorities. When we get in line with what’s of real value to us, our energy can be redirected toward this new set of inner goals. Those that fulfill a deeper sense of self and purpose in the world we live in. The key is to recognize and let go of the old goals and values and to let in the new ones. To be true to our authentic selves which we now have the time to express and explore.

In order to weather the storms life flings at us as we age, it’s absolutely vital to understand and pursue what gives real meaning to our lives. We can be waylaid by health, family, economic recession—you name it and life can throw it at you. By doing what gives us a deep seated feeling of worthwhileness, it’s that much harder to dent the positive attitude and happiness that inevitably follows.

Consider the following in your route to pursuing your passion:

Ø  Face your fears, whether of criticism, poverty, old age, whatever.
Ø  Seek out people who are already doing what you want to do.
Ø  Ignore and avoid negative people.
Ø  Get rid of extra stuff in your life. It just clutters up what’s really important to you.
Ø  Stay away from people who drain your energy.
Ø  Exercise, meditate or pray, eat right, and get enough sleep—in other words, feel good.
Ø  Write down your goals.
Ø  Get the people you love on board with your pursuits.