advice for my best friend

Quick – What’s the best free thing in the world that most people usually refuse to accept? That’s right, it’s good advice. We have all been there. Heck, sometimes we ignore our own selves when it comes to good advice. Since I absorb every self help and motivational book, video, and podcast I can find, I decided to set down a list of things I would tell my best friend – and then follow that list myself. Feel free to come along.

Do Something Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For

I have not been able to trace down the author of that quote, but it is quite powerful. Every single day of your life, do something that will bring you more knowledge, improve your skills, move you towards a goal, etc. If you do a little bit each and every day, that effort will begin to add up in your life and bring you a happier and more fruitful future.

This could also be thought of as planting a seed each day. Take that cooking class. Open that business you are passionate about. Learn to code a new computer program. Go on that vacation with your family or your best friend. Spend that extra time with your loved ones. You are essentially investing in a happier you.

Start Saving and Investing Today

Compound interest is your friend. And who doesn’t want to earn interest on their interest? The earlier you get started saving and investing, the more independence and freedom you will have in life. While money doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness,  the freedom and independence it provides actually does. Saving and investing money can be confusing and, therefore, scary. The best way is to automate the funds to go to various places so you never miss the money from your paycheck. Here are some good ways to get started:

If you have access to a retirement plan at work, utilize it now. If not, start an IRA. Then increase the amount you contribute to it every year. You will never miss the increases if you automate the deductions, and you will be building an impressive net worth. (Be sure to use an experienced financial planner or do your own homework before allocating those funds.)

Open an online savings account and set money to automatically transfer to it each month. (We opened up a Marcus online account and have been happily stashing money in it every month for a while now. We are saving money every month with absolutely no effort on our part.)

If you would like to go further, index funds are recommended by virtually all investment gurus. The Vanguard 500 Index is generally considered a good investment because it covers 500 of the biggest and best established companies around. It also has extremely low fees and can easily be bought through your own personal brokerage account. You can purchase EFTs one share at a time or you can buy directly into the fund for an investment of $3000 or more.  You can open a Vanguard account here. To learn more about the Vanguard 500 Index click here.

Be Who You Really Are

Remember: “If I want to be free, I’ve gotta be me.”

This quote was originally by Bill Gove, but is frequently repeated by Bob Proctor, who was one of his disciples. It reminds us to always live the most original version of us. Don’t settle for just okay in your life when you can be extraordinary instead. Never think about the things you can’t accomplish, but focus on what you CAN accomplish instead. Another famous man (Henry Ford) said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t – Either way you are right.”  Every day people accomplish things that were not possible, which tells me that almost anything is possible if you want it badly enough. Don’t stop growing and improving yourself every day.

Read Think and Grow Rich Every Year of Your Life

Most super successful people read as many books as possible each year. Some actually read a book each week. However, the quality of  each book matters. Think and Grow Rich has become the bible of success for many people around the world because is has proved its worth over the decades since it was first published.

There are many other classic books out there to help you along your journey. I personally like anything by John Assaraf or Bob Proctor. You can also find tons of videos by them and many others on YouTube that are inspirational and life changing.

Forgive Everyone for Everything

We humans are a grudge holding bunch. Secretly, we love to revel in the terrible things that bad people do to us. Only, there’s really no such thing as a “bad person” but only bad things done by imperfect humans. You have already heard the spiel about forgiving others so you can feel better yourself. Forgiveness is for you, not them. That is completely true. But the best and most unselfish thing to do is forgive them for both of you. We are all in this together, so sometimes you have to forgive others for being human. While you are at it, extend that same courtesy to yourself.

You Don’t Need To Be Perfect

Sometimes it is easier to forgive others than ourselves. Mistakes happen to everyone and no one can ever be perfect everyday in every way. Enough said.

Live in the Present, Not the Past or the Future

This is also known as mindfulness and it has been one of my personal downfalls. It took me years to learn how to do this. I literally used to spend around 90 percent of my waking hours worrying about things in the past I couldn’t change or imagined things in the future that mostly never happened. It takes some time to retrain your brain, but you can learn to enjoy your present moment in life. And what a difference it makes!

Exercise and meditation are two of the best ways to accomplish mindfulness, as well as monitoring your thoughts and redirecting back to the present when your thoughts slip to the past or future.  Of course, you can always revisit the past and plan for the future sometimes, just don’t miss the beautiful moments of the life you are living today.

Begin and End Every Single Day with Gratitude

Science has shown that positive and negative thoughts cannot exist in the brain at the same time. It is literally not physically possible. This means every time you choose to have a positive thought you are literally blocking out a potentially negative thought. Think about how powerful that can be in your life. When you start each day with gratitude, you prime your mind to think about happy, positive things all day long.  Also, when you end your day with gratitude, you prime your unconscious mind for your hours of sleep. (Yes, we all know our unconscious mind keeps working even while we sleep.)

So pick three things to be grateful for when you wake up each morning and three different things when you go to bed. Writing these down in a journal is even better because you can revisit previous entries from time to time and celebrate the accumulation of good things in your life.

Exercise and Meditate Every Day

Your body needs more activity and your mind needs a break! That is true of the majority of the population anyway. When your body gets both of these things everyday (or at least most days) it balances both your body and your mind because you are feeding both exactly what they need. Stress will literally begin to melt away and your true self will begin to emerge. Your health will likely improve as well.

These articles about exercise and meditation from Harvard Health back it up.

It’s Okay to Be Successful and Happy

This one trips up a lot of people, including myself. We (I) sometimes feel like we have no right to want financial success and happiness in our lives when there’s so much poverty and misery in the world. That’s like saying some people are starving so I must starve too. That makes no sense. There must be entrepreneurs to help create jobs for others. There must be authors to inspire others. This world requires creators and developers to give the world joy and fill its needs. Without that, we would become stagnant.

The trick is to be as successful as possible, but be generous with what you have. That’s a win/win situation for everyone.

Set Detailed Goals and Write Them Down

There is a HUGE difference between “I want to retire early” and “I will retire at age 50 with a net worth of $1 million and $15,000 of monthly  income.” Science has proven that people who write down their goals and make them very specific are much more likely to achieve them. It also helps to read over your goals everyday and maybe even post them on your bathroom mirror.

Everyday is a  new opportunity to achieve something wonderful in your life, so don’t spend time on things unless they make you happy or get you closer to your goals.

Keep Your Eye On the Prize

Always remember what success looks like. Lots of money with no close relationships would be misery. So would being broke with lots of friends. Balance is what we all need in life, so make sure to pay attention to your health, wealth, and happiness at all times.

I have chosen this list as the most basic things to make the most of life. Feel free to add to it as needed.

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