Spend your Time Wisely

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”–William Penn.

Now, you must be wondering why I am bringing up the topic of time management. Someone has said that time is money. I personally believe that an individual’s financial success largely depends on how she chooses to spend her time. If you spend time on activities which can make you wiser and improve your job and career related skills, you are definitely going to get higher ROI (return on your investment). After all, your time is also an investment. On the other hand, if you are going to spend time going for a window shopping or watching TV, you will not gain anything but lose your precious time and add on to your stress because you might run against the time for other activities. If you are true to yourself, you will definitely get a way out to end all your financial worries. You have to be conscious and be aware of what is happening around you. Try to find out what are the basic skillsets required for you job and what gives you a winning edge. It is not a bad idea to get a certification from your local community college or join an online community like (Coursera.org and Edx). If your colleague has recently got a raise because she knew a foreign language, why not sign up for a language course in your local library. It is free and it can give you a general idea whether you want to spend more time and resources on acquiring that language. Even, reading some financial planning books can help you manage your money and grow your investments effectively, which is truly rewarding. The possibilities of raising your income or building wealth are endless, provided you spend your time judiciously and pick your activities wisely. If you have trouble choosing the right activity, here is an easy way out. Ask yourself these 3 questions before you spend your next hour on any activity.

  1. Is this activity going to enhance my current knowledge about any subject whether it is finance or marketing?
  2. Is this activity going to make me richer one day, if I do it over and over again?
  3. Is this activity going to give me a competitive advantage over my colleagues/competitors (if you own a business) if I do it over and over again?

Needless to say, if you get the affirmative answer for even one question, you are making productive use of your time. On the other hand, if you get  negative answers for all the questions, you know that you are going to waste your time on some unproductive activity.

“Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs.”– Zig Ziglar.


What Money has Got to Do with your Brain?

“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.”–Robert Frost

 Have you ever thought why it is difficult for you to achieve your financial goals? You always think that you will be smart with your credit card or organize your finances, but you are never able to get into a financial discipline. The reason is that you are controlled by your emotions. You may also think at the time of making a financial decision, your brain stops working. In fact, your brain can guide you in your financial decisions and help you choose the right options. A little knowledge about neuroeconomics can help you get better returns on your investments. It is time to understand how neuroeconomics guides your behavior as far as investing is concerned. In fact, neuroeconomics suggest how we think and take economic decisions in different settings and how we can change the way we think and observe things. For those, who are new to investing, the book titled “Your Money & Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics can Help Make you Rich” by Jason Zweig, the Intelligent Investor, has many answers. The book will change the way you see how your brain impacts your monetary decisions. I have read the book recently. Here are some great quotes from the book.

  1. When the market was going up, you said you had a high tolerance for risk. When it went down, you became intolerant in hurry”
  2. People who keep up with the news about their stocks earn lower returns than those who pay almost no attention”
  3. “Professional investors, on average do not outperform amateurs.”
  4. “Everyone knows that beating the market is nearly impossible-but just about everyone thinks he can do it.”
  5. Everyone knows that Wall Street strategists can’t predict what the market is about to do-but investors still hang on every word from the financial pundits who prognosticate on TV.”
  6. Stocks have prices-Businesses have values.”

For those who need more investing tips, this book has many great lessons for newbie investors.

“Experiences shape the brain, but the brain shapes the way we view experiences, too.”–Helen Fisher.

My 3 Favorite Finance Experts

Well, there is definitely a lot of buzz around personal finance and investing and there are so many experts coming up with new strategies to save you money and help you get financial independence. Nonetheless, there are 3 experts that have been my favorite and when it comes to giving real advice, they know the ground realities and their personal failure has taught them many lessons worth sharing.

Suze Orman

Suze Orman is one of the internationally acclaimed personal financial gurus. She had worked as financial advisor for Merrill Lynch. Whether it is founding her own financial group called Suze Orman Financial Group or launching her own TV show, Suze Orman has forged her own path. She talks from head and offers a practical advice sometimes not easy to follow. Her biggest claim to fame is her expertise in dealing with money related issues using old-school thoughts and traditional methods. While her methods are conservative, yet she is a reigning queen in the field of personal finance due to simple money saving mantras and downright advice. She has written several books on financial management and she also rites a financial advice column for “O” Magazine. I often visit her blog at http://www.suzeorman.com/resource-center/ to get some real advice.

Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is an expert in the field of finance and real estate. Like Suze, Dave started his own investment group and very soon he tasted the failure and this personal failure motivated him to be financially free. He soon started helping other people with financial problems and his personal experience had helped Dave Ramsey to come up with money saving lessons. Ramsey is the creator of Financial Peace University, which is known for biblical teachings on finance and money. He has his own radio show and has written many New York Times Best Selling books.  Dave’s claim to fame is his simple lessons on money and strong focus on encouraging people to live debt free.  It is a joy to read Dave’s blog at http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/

Robert T. Kiyosaki

Robert Kiyosaki is famous for his contemporary approach to finance literacy. His claim to fame is the “Rich Dad Poor Dad” a book that made Robert Kiyosaki, an internationally acclaimed finance expert. He is an advocate of finance literacy for kids and believes that just like other subjects; financial literacy should be taught in schools. Robert Kiyosaki is not only an investor but also a successful entrepreneur who owns many businesses. He reveals his money making and money investing secrets in his blog at http://www.richdad.com/resources/rich-dad-financial-education-blog

While the above list is based on my personal choice and opinion and  if you have some experts who have influenced everyone in a big way, please share in the comments section.

Stop Judging Others

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

How many times have you felt that you have been judged on several occasions? Judging others becomes a second nature to many of us that we fail to see that we are destroying the beautiful moments in judging others. I am not talking about judging the work of your student, judging an artist before giving the rating or any other form of legal judgment. I am talking about being judgmental and forming an opinion about others without even knowing the complete facts. Sometimes people judge others based on their appearance and other physical features. This tendency to judge others keep some of us ignorant about new ideas and thoughts, because we are missing an opportunity to interact with a new person who may have solutions to our problems. So, never judge a book by its cover, discover more. Another dimension to this whole judging process is you are judging the other person based on your limited knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. As humans, it takes ages to discover the truth beneath the layers of right and wrong. Moreover, our perceptions change with time. What was wrong yesterday suddenly seems to be right today and what was right seems to be wrong. So, in all honesty, I have stopped judging people, as I have realized that may be I will do exactly what they are doing now when I will be in their shoes. When nature does not judge us, why should we do? Sun does not check our IQ levels to shine in our windows and neither do plants demand a character certificate to grow in our backyards.

“It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


Lessons to Learn from FIFA World Cup

“ We could all be winners if we learn the lessons that sport teaches us, strengthening the bonds that unite us’’— Pope Francis

The FIFA cup fever and frenzy may be over now after Germany won the title for the 4th time. But, this world cup taught several lessons to us and there are some solid takeaways not only for the football players in the making, but all of us.

• Nothing and no one can beat the dedication and superior performance. Conversely, no amount of advantage can compensate for lack of better performance. Clearly, Brazil, the winner of 5 titles failed to take the advantage of playing in the home ground and did not make it to the finals and lost the third place as well.

• Every member of a team is important and hence, everyone needs to contribute and not just one superstar. Football is much like a family, where it is important that all the family members contribute and give their best to realize the family dream and preserve the values. There is no single superstar in most of the successful families. Everyone member is the superstar.

• Winning and losing is a part of the game, but the most important thing is not quitting. Lionel Messi, the best football player by all standards displayed a wonderful performance throughout the tournament and really tried very hard in the finals, when the pressure was mounting high.

• Accepting the defeat gracefully is another great lesson taught by football world cup. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you lose or you fail. But, one must understand that failure is not the end of the world. If you will keep your head cool you will get enough chances to reverse the past failures. Wait for the right moment like Germany did to even the score with Argentina.

“Play the game for more than you can afford to lose… only then will you learn the game”—Winston Churchill

Start Living your Life Now

“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living” —Eckhart Tolle.

Living a life devoid of consciousness is the story of every other person. We all are looking for happiness in the outside world, without realizing that power to be happy lied deep within us. Savoring the present moment and reveling in the beauty of nature does not cost a dime, but it does need time. We continue to work day and night in the hope that once all our dreams are realized, we will find solace and happiness. So, we defer little pleasures like smelling the roses, walking in the woods and spending time with children. We all are on a wild goose chase which can never be ended. The only way to get rid of a mechanical roller-coaster is by realizing the importance of each and every moment and surrendering ourselves completely to the present moment. The only way to make your past beautiful is make the present beautiful by consciously living that moment without holding it back. Live in the moment and let it go.

“Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment”–Buddha.

You Are Special and You Got To Believe In Yourself

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”- Coco Chanel

At last I watched the much hyped Lego movie with my kids. The movie was fantastic and had a message for everyone including kids and adults. The Lego pieces were used as metaphors. The story was about most of us who live our lives in a mechanical way without realizing our inner purpose. The biggest lessons that come from this kids’ movie are

• You all are special and can choose to live a great life when you start believing in yourself.
• If you want to leave a mark on this world, you got to be different from others and need to realize your special powers.
• Don’t follow the bandwagon else you will not be able to distinguish yourself from others.
• If you choose to look the same way you have always looked like and want to be like other people in your group, you are not breaking that shell.
• If you will always stick to your comfort zone, you will be in the cocoon and never get to become a butterfly.
• Initially, you might face resistance but eventually your success will make people to accept you as you are and the world will get a new achiever.
• Even a small act which is different will give you an instant visibility and bring you on the spotlight.

Don’t worry I did not give out the entire story, so you can still watch the Lego movie with your family and enjoy.

Shift Focus Away From the Problems and Experience Serendipity

“There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery”—Jeff Bezos, the Founder of Amazon.com

I did not believe in serendipity. No, I am not talking about the 2001 rom com starring Kate Beckinsale, what I am referring to is the happy discoveries that are purely accidental. I always believed that our life is the result of what we give to it each passing day. But, I discovered that life throws some opportunities when we shift our focus away from the problems at hand. We are so caught up in our mundane lives and daily problems that we fail to make an important discovery which we all are capable of. A few days ago, an incident changed my belief on serendipity. Oftentimes, when I get caught in the problem (read the internet connection is down), I ask this question “Why God why?” Although, I call Time Warner, but to no avail. I don’t get any answer in return except for more sufferings and the feeling that I am helpless and have no control over certain things. A few days ago, when similar incident occurred (the net was down, thanks to Time Warner), I consciously tried to shift my focus away from that situation and told myself repeatedly that nothing in this world is more important than my happiness. Not even my emails and important projects. So, I tried my focus on other things which needed my attention and some time. I discovered that more I was away from my problems, more powerful I felt and was able to finish some important projects (organizing and cleaning) with great care and enthusiasm. I felt more energetic and happy despite spending good 2 hours away from my laptop. Suddenly, when my husband called and asked me to send an important email, I realized that the internet connection was restored.

Moral of the story: It is good to lose internet connection once in a while so that you can go and discover something new.

Start Your New Year with the Renewed Faith

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The week began with Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I am still caught in the spirit of that day. Of many pearls that I have collected from the ocean of Martin Luther King’s wisdom, the above quote is stuck to my mind. For me faith is like seeing the stars even when the sky is overcast. The belief that every cloud has silver lining is the most valuable asset an individual can possess. The people who have been successful are those who had a firm and indomitable belief in themselves as well as in the universe. Sometimes, you are scared to take the step but you got to stand and trust yourself and have faith in the universe. This universe never lets anyone fall, so you got to trust the universe. Life is not about giving up in the wake of winters and think about spring. If spring is in your mind, you will not be able to look for the good things winters have to offer. Therefore, one must learn to wait till the last step in the staircase rather than giving up in the first step itself. We can achieve new vistas only if we believe that they exist. This belief has to begin in our mind and spirit and then we can physically achieve those new goals. For years, people have believed what they have seen. But, sometimes you got to see what you believe in. The dreams manifest in reality only when they are strong enough and deepest convictions are followed. This year start your life on a new note with renewed faith and trust in the universe.

Failure is not Fatal

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
Robert H. Schuller

Indeed, many of us never attempt new things because of fear of failure. All too often, the fear of failure is a self-inflicted punishment and is not due to external factors. Even the most talented people give in to this self-created monster, because somewhere deep inside they believe that they are destined to doom. However, reality is the true manifestation of our thinking and our own mental image. So, if you keep telling yourself that you can’t fail, you feel light and stress-free. As a result, positive energy is generated and you start seeing yourself as a winner. With the positive mental image you can get the most difficult things done with élan. Winning becomes the habit of those who are never scared of failure and are not obsessed with success either. They just forget about the result and get immersed in the task at hand. So stay focused on your goal and you will never go off-course.

“Obstacles are things a person see when he takes his eyes off his goal.”
E. Joseph Cossman