Influence Change for Personal Success

Lupe CamargoBuilding a foundation for a strong financial life begins with good habits. But what if you don’t have those habits, despite all the efforts to fully fund that 401K, grow that rainy day fund, or become debt free? With almost half the year behind us, how many are disappointed that the New Year’s resolutions lost steam along the way? How can you influence change for personal success?

The authors of Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success offer ways to change our unproductive behavior cycles. Based upon research in a number of psychological and medical fields, they show that traditional will-power is not necessarily the answer and that people are often affected in their behaviors by more subtle influences.

If we’re blind to what influences our choices, we have unseen forces working against us as we strive to move forward. Identifying and understanding those forces can help us turn the tables.

For change to occur, we need both the motivation and the ability to create it. Motivation and ability need to be applied to each of the following three categories (which, according to the authors, creates six sources of influence that drive our behaviors to either change or resist change):

  • Personal: what you do to change (or what you avoid)
  • Social: others who help or hinder your change
  • Structural: elements of your environment that can influence or block change

The authors of Change Anything suggest you design a plan that is adjusted to fit your personality, your situation, your weaknesses and your tendencies. Become a social scientist. Study yourself as the subject, and experiment with what works. Make it homegrown. You know you best.


By |2019-08-14T13:59:53-07:00June 19th, 2017|Books|

Tidy Up Your Finances

Camargo-WEBMany of us feel an urge to tidy up our homes and offices this time of year. Yet, this “spring cleaning” tradition may become obsolete, if Marie Kondo has her way. The organization consultant has captivated the world with her “KonMari Method” and best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Kondo’s promise? If you properly declutter once, you’ll never have to do it again.

Literally millions of readers have attested to the effectiveness and “magic” of Kondo’s method, as well as the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire. But what does all this have to do with your personal finances?

“Tidying isn’t just a physical thing, it’s an emotional thing. You face things around you, and you face your inner self,” Kondo said. Her decluttering method hinges on keeping only those material items that “spark joy” inside you when you hold or use them and letting go of those items that do not.

When you tidy your home, she recently told CNNMoney, you hone your judgment skills. After people shed clothes and items that don’t give them joy, they also become more cognizant of what does give them joy and more deliberate in how they shop and spend their money.

Even if you’re not interested in undertaking a full decluttering and organizing of your life, you can apply the KonMari Method to review and update your budget and financial plan. Just as Kondo asserts tidying is both physical and emotional, I have often discussed with clients that financial planning is both a physical and emotional process.

While you can’t throw out the electric bill if paying it does not spark joy, you can focus your thoughts on the things you enjoy as a result of buying that electricity. Do the ways you spend your hard-earned income day-to-day and the goals you are working toward long-term spark personal joy? If not, let’s meet and discuss how we can tidy up your financial plan and help you revive your motivation.

By |2019-08-14T13:59:58-07:00April 20th, 2016|Books, Current Affairs, Financial Planning|

365 Days of Gratitude

McCann-webThanksgiving came and went. We all said our thanks and then moved on to prepare for the next round of holidays – Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Day. Yet, wouldn’t it be great if we embraced the spirit of giving thanks all year long?

Many of us take time in December to review goals and make plans for the coming year. That’s an important part of achieving success. At the same time, let’s plan to take a moment every day to reflect on our efforts and give thanks for what we’ve experienced.

A few years ago, I read a slim memoir by John Kralik, 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life. The premise was simple. Kralik was facing the end of a terrible year and bleak picture of his life – a failing business, two divorces, distant relationships with his adult children, health issues due to being 40 pounds overweight. He knew something needed to change, but he didn’t have the wherewithal to take on anything big.

Inspired by a simple thank you note he received in the mail, Kralik committed to a simple experiment. He would write one thank you each day in the coming year.

He began by writing thank yous for Christmas gifts he’d received. Easy enough. As the year progressed, however, he struggled to find something daily for which he could be thankful. He had to dig deep. He wrote a note of gratitude to a client who paid her bill on time. He penned a thank you to the barista who greeted him with a smile. He sent a note to a friend who met him for a Friday lunch after a hard week.  Kralik realized over time that thinking about small blessings each day improved his attitude and made life’s challenges easier to overcome. His life improved in ways he never expected.

The connection between gratitude and success has been touted by many – from John F. Kennedy and Oprah Winfrey to Charles Schwab and Willie Nelson. It’s something we all can embrace.

“Develop an attitude of gratitude,” said Brian Tracy, international entrepreneur and best-selling author, “and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”

By |2019-08-14T13:59:58-07:00January 4th, 2016|Advisors, Books, Current Affairs|

Book Review, The One Page Financial Plan

Eng-webThe idea of simplifying the financial planning process to one page is appealing to me, and I wanted to read about how another financial planner would propose to do just that.

Financial planning can sometimes never get started because of how complicated it may seem from the onset.  There are potentially many moving parts such as a budget, tax plan, estate plan, life insurance and investments to name a few. In The One Page Financial Plan, author Carl Richards distills this process down to one key question to simplify your financial plan.

Book Review, The One Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards.

The One Page Financial PlanRichards does a great job of talking about financial planning without a lot of industry jargon.  In addition, the book helps address many of the mind games we play with ourselves when it comes to our personal finances.  When we make excuses for not addressing important topics regarding our financial life, this book encourages you to move in the right direction with simple suggestions that can be easily implemented into your lifestyle.

This book is a quick read that I believe many can reap benefit from over a lifetime.


By |2019-08-14T14:00:00-07:00June 15th, 2015|Advisors, Books, Financial Planning|

Keep Calm and Carry On Investing

World stock markets tested investors’ ability to remain calm early this year.  In the last half of January, S&P’s index of the total U.S. stock market fell more than 5 percent.  During that same period, international stocks, led by emerging markets, fell 6 percent in two weeks.  While the financial media was busy making silly “get out now” proclamations, market indexes recovered nicely.  Smart investors weren’t shocked, though.  These market events are normal and occur like clockwork.

Aside from working with a trusted advisor and a solid long-term plan, how does a successful investor stay unruffled during volatile periods?  Travis Bradberry, Ph.D., author of the best-selling Emotional Intelligence 2.0, offers valuable insight based on recent research from top universities on how successful people stay calm and focused under pressure.  A moderate level of stress is good. Under limited, intermittent stress, the brain grows new memory cells and stays more alert. When stress is prolonged, however, decision-making skills and one’s physical health can be harmed.

Bradberry focuses on some of the best strategies successful, productive people employ to stay calm and clear-headed. A recent study indicates that simply being grateful, or appreciating what one has, improves mood and reduces the stress hormone cortisol significantly.  Avoiding negative “what if” statements is another way to control stress.

“Calm people know that asking ‘what if’ will only take them to a place they don’t want or need to go,” writes Bradberry.

Taking time to disconnect is also healthy.  Forcing oneself to “go off the grid” by avoiding technology, such as email and even the phone, for blocks of time is refreshing and mentally recharging.  Avoiding negative self-talk is another big step.  Bradberry recommends putting things into perspective by writing down specific things that are going wrong, as opposed to thinking in broad statements like “nothing is working.” Relying on a support system of people you trust by simply asking for help and talking about worries is a highly-effective stress outlet and strengthens relationships.

By |2019-08-14T14:00:08-07:00March 6th, 2014|Books, Current Affairs, Financial Planning, Investing|