What does Success mean to you?

Many people don’t know what type of marker they need to reach to feel ‘successful.’

A lot define success in terms of wealth.  But if it’s just a money goal you’re striving for, chances are, it keeps changing. If it’s being married, that also moves possibly to having kids – even high achieving, brainy, successful, happy, sporty kids. If it’s owning property, that too can change.  Is one enough?  Two or three?  How big do you want this portfolio to be?  Is it having $1 million in the bank?  Or as simple as an emergency fund of $5,000 set aside?   Do you ever think, “I’ll be a success when…  ”

As it turns out, Credit Suisse advised in 2013 that Aussies are the world’s richest people, according to the median wealth of adult Australians.*

So, let’s take a step back.  Figure out what needs to happen for you to feel like you are a success. What is it for you?  Each of us have very different measurements for success.  It might be achieving and maintaining a goal weight.  Conquering a fear. A visit to a country you’ve always dreamed of going to.  A happy life partnership.  Maybe a couple of kids.  A job that pays the bills.  Inner calm.  Health.  We all have different measures – time to find out what yours is.  You might find that financial goals are way down the list.

The important thing is to give yourself plenty of ways to feel successful.  Chances are, you are already successful; you just don’t allow yourself to feel it because there’s always something else you’re focusing on.

Each day, allow yourself to feel successful. Try and relax into a whole other way of seeing what is already working for you.  Congratulate yourself that you made it through another day.  There’s food on the table, a roof over your head, some dollars in your pocket, work to be done and goals to still be met.

Many find keeping a gratitude journal and noting each day what good things happen helps them to feel content.  It’s the little things that count.  It might be as simple as not losing your cool when everything around you goes to pot!  (Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!)  Let that put a smile on your dial!

Without trying to sound too ‘woo woo’ – there is external success that you can choose to measure by societal or personal standards; and then there is the internal success of knowing what and who you are, and being cool with that. This is quite possibly, the ultimate measure of success.

How do you measure your personal success?  Do you feel a success already?  Or is there one thing you want to achieve for you to know you’d ‘made it?’  I’d love to hear your take on success.

Time Flies!

So, for those of us who didn’t know… there are 8,760 hours in a year! Yep, that’s it.  And contrary to popular belief, we all get the same amount.

Have you ever noticed though, that some seem to be able to cram a whole lot more than others into their allocation of the same number of hours?

Some juggle families with successful businesses, travel and experiences.  Some are pleased to get out of bed, get the kids to school, remember to clean their teeth and fall back into bed each night after feeding the tribe.

Sometimes, our circumstances dictate how we spend our time, and other times it’s a choice.

Try and consider every hour as a blessing. Make it worthwhile in the way only you can by working out your priorities.  As they say, ‘every day above ground is a good day!’

Time is going by so fast and we often aren’t aware of how mindlessly we spend our precious time.  It doesn’t seem that long ago I brought by precious babies home from hospital, and now they’re 17 and 19 – how did that happen?

Learn to be mindful of how you waste hours – is it social media? TV?  Seasons and seasons of Netflix? Shopping?  Most of us wish there were more hours in the day to accomplish what we’d like.  So, buy out time… if you can.

Last time I checked, popular opinion was that ‘time is money.’  How do you value your time?  Maybe put a dollar value on it and see if you’d do things differently.  If you value your private time fiercely, make it a high number – maybe $300 an hour – what then would you choose to spend it doing?

Is spending more time travelling a priority?  Catching up with family and friends our first goal?  Being there for our kids as they grow?  No-one ever died wishing they’d worked more hours.

What do you want to do more of?  What do you want to really focus on?  Starting with goals can be the beginning of a beautiful thing.

I’d love to hear what you want to do more of… and how you plan to fit it in to your busy life.

Time to Learn!

It seems we are wired to be constantly learning and growing. Life is full of changes, in fact, it’s often been said that “change is the only constant.”  It certainly seems that way in the financial planning profession anyway…  and I’m sure it’s the same for you!

It might be then time to ask yourself; “am I still constantly learning or am I just clocking time?”  Do you continue to stretch yourself or have things settled into a fairly boring and predictable pattern?

It’s never too late to learn something new. You are never too old or too busy.  We’ve all heard about the 90 year old graduates that pop up fulfilling life long dreams!

What is it that you’ve always wanted to find out more about? These days, the Internet is a free library of anything you may want to learn.  Apps can help you learn new languages or take virtual tours of places you’ve always wanted to go.  Many courses are offered via on-line learning facilities that means we can study in our own time and in the comfort of our own home.

What is on your learning bucket list?

Lots of people ask me how they can learn more about financial matters… such as investing in the stock market.  Did you know that the ASX offer free courses via their Education Centre for first time investors, have a share market game, on-line courses, seminars and webinars and investment videos?  Check out their offering here:  ASX Education Centre

The ATO also offers much free advice and easy to understand videos on investing through to Self Managed Super Funds.  Go exploring here: ATO SMSF Education

And if finances aren’t your chosen subject, You Tube can teach you everything you need to know, from How the stick insect walks to How to trick people into thinking you have big boobs.

Looks like the world really is your oyster!  Love to hear what lights your fire and you’ve spent more time studying!

 

Time for a financial clean up?

When we think of giving something a good clean, we usually think of a room in our home, the pantry, our laundry or some cupboards and drawers…

The de-cluttering fad has taken the world by storm and experts and converts and hooked on the new levels of simplicity.  Just check with Pinterest!

But what about cleaning up other parts of our lives?  For example, cleaning up your relationships or your health?  There may be friends that you really no longer need to be in touch with, family members who never leave you feeling good or other relationships that it’s in your best interests to move on from.  Is it time to get serious about your health? Can you leave behind the daily lattes?  Lose the chocolates?  Maybe get that blood test to see why you’re feeling tired?  Book in for that overdue pap?  Or see to that dodgy freckle you’ve been meaning to have checked?

What part of your life most urgently needs you taking the broom to it and having a good clean up?

From what I see, many leave their finances in the ‘too hard basket’ for too long and find it a bit overwhelming to get started.  So, it’s time to get out the broom!

You may have lowered your standards and made up fantastic reasons for why it’s still acceptable in some form or another to not have your act together financially. Excuses have come first… until now!  But what if that all changed today? How can you start cleaning up this one area of your life?  It’s totally up to you!

Remember, everything great always starts with really small steps in the right direction.

Which will you tackle first?  A basic budget?  Consolidation of your super funds?  Paying off the credit cards?  Making real dents to the Mortgage?  Starting a savings plan for the kids’ eduction?  Putting away for the dream holiday?

You will be amazed how much progress you can make in a matter of weeks and months if you put some serious focus on this area of your life.

So pick something, anything!  And take the Domestos to it!  I’d love to hear what you’ve decided to tackle head on and how you’re going to go about it!

Check in with your “Want Levels”

Try and spend the coming week noticing your level of want… and for what.

Do you always need to get ‘stuff’ whenever you head out?

What do you want and will not stop until you get it: coffee? wine? snacks? checking your email… again?  looking at social media notifications? a treat? shoes? buying something?  buying anything?

Try and really notice how the mind has you hooked in it’s little clutches, until it gets what it wants.  It can be a bit addictive really!

Each time this week, stop and ask:  Do I need the coffee?  Or the wine? Will this end up in an charity bin in a year?  If I wait 24 hours, will I still want it?  Can I go without?  What if I directed the funds for that purchase somewhere else?  Will the earth rotate off it’s axis if I don’t check Twitter for 24 hours?  Isn’t 493 pairs of shoes enough?

Sometimes, the answer will be “yes, I still want it.” and that’s ok.  This is about starting to question our wants and be in control.

But, getting to a stage where there is a feeling of ‘no-wanting’ is truly liberating. Then we feel free.  After all, it’s ‘just stuff.’   Try and set yourself free from the mind bossing you around on a daily, even hourly basis.  You’ll ultimately get to a place where you can instantly spot what your mind has decided it needs for its latest fix.

Choose to deny the mind today.  In fact, give it the bird!

It’s highly likely your finances, health, well-being and waistline will thank you!

Women, Money & Shame

Most women I know are pretty excited to show off a new purchase – the fabulous new handbag, a great new pair of shoes, a piece of jewellery or that amazing dress – but when it comes to sharing our true financial status – that’s something that rarely gets a mention!

Being honest about what we have or don’t have, is part of cleaning up our financial lives.

If there’s levels of personal debt that we’re uncomfortable with, it’s not often we speak of it,  Shame tends to come in first place.   When we’re invited out, we’d rather not tell someone we can’t afford that particular restaurant or outing.   At times, our need to fit in is greater than our financial circumstances, and so we lie both to others and ourselves and go anyway, placing ourselves further into debt.

It’s time to own what is the truth. There’s nothing embarrassing about saying, “I’ve put myself on a budget these days, I want to save for a holiday and I’m watching what I spend.”

Have you even got a goal to work on that’s more important than your immediate want to spend?  It’s much easier to say, “I’ve got a trip to Europe lined up, so I don’t want to spend that kind of money.”  “I’m paying off the credit card…”  “I’m trying to get the mortgage down…”

The story we often tell ourselves, is that ‘we can’t afford it.’

It’s actually all about how you choose to spend money. Your friends are highly likely to respect you more and some may even start watching where their money is going too.

You might just start a savings revolution amongst your buddies!  Why not give it a shot?

2015 Women in Focus Conference

I was incredibly excited and honoured recently to be invited to the sixth annual CBA Women in Focus conference held in the beautiful Sheraton Resort in Hastings Street, Noosa.  To whomever was unable to make the event, and prompt the lovely Katie Mihell to include me in the guest list – I am eternally grateful to!

Due to prior commitments, I was unable to make the opening dinner, and so I hit the road at 4.30 am on the Thursday, arriving in time to quickly check-in and kick off with the first sessions at 8.15 am – and we didn’t stop for two full days.  I’d also lost my voice by this stage, thanks to the kindness of my daughter sharing her winter lurgies with me and this isn’t a good place to be with 180 amazing women cranking the decibel level at every opportunity.

The opening session kicked us off with Dr Fiona Kerr followed by Doc Jordy Nguyen and my brain was fried from inception.  Hearing about artificial intelligence, mind controlled wheelchairs and the hope of robotics for the future for those with disabilities hit close to home for me with an intellectually impaired and autistic nephew.  Cracking into his little brain and being able to communicate with this non-verbal little man now sounds like something that may just be possible in this lifetime rather than a pipe dream.

The breaks were a brilliant opportunity to meet up with some old friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen since our trip to Uganda with The Hunger Project in May and connect with some new and amazing ladies.

Panel discussions allowed various agricultural businesses to showcase their stories and their wares and I’m now a passionate convert to the Myrtleford Butter Factory.  I’ve devoured books by Cathy Burke, CEO of the Hunger Project and the fabulous Anita Heiss, a prolific indigenous author and all round great gal.

It was a blessing to watch new friendships and business relationships being forged and hear from inspirational women such as the passionate Rosie Batty, Australian of The Year and tired (not tireless) campaigner against Domestic Violence.  The story of the Allanah and Madeline Foundation was told and bra-burning passionate women such as Wendy McCarthy who has been paving the way for women everywhere since the 70’s were featured.

It was hard not to be overwhelmed with every presenter as brilliant and passionate as the last and all with a fabulous story to tell.  It didn’t just feel like I was among greatness, I actually was!

Andy Lark shared his fantastic adventures with Xero, another shared her ups and downs in building a billion dollar business Christina Re dazzled us with her spectacularly beautiful home-ware lines.  Mandy Gunsberger of Babyology told us all about her journey and her future adventures as she heads off to join the next Business Chicks Leadership and Immersion Program in Mexico.  I managed to score Beauty From the Inside Out by Doctor Libby Weaver and didn’t cease absorbing my entire two days.

An evening of country glamour had us up dancing at Yandina Station, and we boogied the night away to finish the conference in a fabulous marquee in the Noosa National Park.

The hashtag #disruption15 trended Australia wide as we cheered on our speakers and supported each other in the virtual and physical world.

It was an honour and privilege to be a part of this event.  I hope I take a long time to come down from Cloud 9 after this and will enjoy reviewing my notes for some time to come.

A little bit of life… according to Amanda