When I first graduated from college, I was full of enthusiasm and excitement. My hopes for the future were only matched by the number of bills that piled up. And it didn’t get easier. Graduate school added to the debt pile. Add marriage and a baby to the mix and life became more expensive by the minute.
At a conference, I heard the virtues of saving and investing. Sure, financial freedom sounded wonderful and also like a far-off dream.
In my book, The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future, I share some of the principles that helped me get out of debt in record time. And I don’t mean some debt, I mean all debt, meaning no student loans, no credit cards, and no mortgage either. No debt was my first goal, but then financial security became my next. I was determined.
My whole life has centered around studying success, financial freedom, and happiness. I knew the difference between “good debt” and “bad debt,” between bonds and high-paying dividend stocks. I understood the concept of delayed gratification, of living beneath my means. Check, check, check.
But there were three underlying mindsets that made all the difference to me. It may seem counterintuitive. Some may dismiss these concepts as amateurish or soft. I get it. I also know that some of the “financial geniuses” out there, who actually teach on the subject, are struggling to make payments on their credit cards. So, don’t dismiss these mindsets quite yet.
The first is desire.
You would think that this is obvious. Everything starts with desire. In my book, I call it “The Law of Desire.” Only when your desire is great enough does it activate the winds of achievement to propel you to the impossible. I go so far as to say that “Your desire sets the course of your destiny.”
I know it sounds hokey and a bit out there, but I didn’t just study stock charts. I thought about my goals with such passion, emotion, and specificity that I believe it activated an internal drive to succeed. I didn’t just think about what I wanted, but also why I wanted it. As the old saying goes, “When the ‘why’ is big enough, the ‘how’ is automatic.”
The second is gratitude.
The time to practice the art of gratitude is when you have little. Those who are grateful attract more opportunity. It’s human nature. We are more likely to give to those who are appreciative than to those who feel entitled. Gratitude opens doors of opportunity. Numerous studies on gratitude are proving this scientifically.
It’s easy to groan and complain. The other day, I found myself in a critical mood. I wasn’t allowed through the faster security lines at the airport. My flight was delayed. My phone wasn’t getting text messages. I had to catch myself. What an amazing opportunity to travel to another part of the world; my phone not working gave me a little downtime to reflect; I was able to meet someone in the longer security line who has proven to be a valuable connection.
The third is belief.
Knowing your purpose and believing in yourself is crucially important to your success in any endeavor. You cannot rise higher than your beliefs.
I often ask people about their failures, mistakes, and struggles. I learn more from the answers than I do from their successes. One type of failure that is completely avoidable is self-sabotage. No one thinks that they will do this to themselves, but it happens every day. Why? Because all too often we rise to a level of success that doesn’t match our internal view of who we are. We hit a new level, but because we don’t think we should be there, we end up subconsciously behaving in a way that will push us back to a different level.
These three laws can play a crucial role in your success this year. Your goals may include cutting your debt in half or saving an extra month of pay. That’s great. Consider the three ancient laws from The Book of Mistakes: desire, gratitude, and belief. As they did for me, these three laws may make a remarkable difference in your future.
Skip Prichard is the CEO of OCLC, a prominent leadership blogger, and the author of The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future. Learn more about his book at www.thebookofmistakes.com.