living todayforward
by Michael Harr, Co-Founder on February 19th, 2014

Fifteen years ago today, the classic office movie was made - Office Space.  In honor of this day, we bring you the best clips on the web and if you want to watch it in full, check it out through IMDB here.

by Michael Harr, Co-Founder on October 4th, 2013

The difference between people that accomplish their goals and those that don't, often comes down to who is more focused on the actions that lead to accomplishing a goal.  Many start well by setting a goal that is reasonable and time bound, but few ultimately reach their goals.  The reason for this is a lack of focus on action.

A goal can never be accomplished without action, and many focus on the wrong thing when working toward their goals - they focus on the goal.  It's not the goal that needs your attention, it's the set of actions that you will need to take in achieving your goals that demands your singular focus.  

Let's say you want to eliminate $8,623 in credit card debt by next year, so you set a goal that reads, "I paid off my credit card balance of $8,623 on October 1, 2014."  That's a GREAT goal!

BUT, what are the actions that you will need to take in order to get there?

Maybe those actions include creating and living on a budget, cutting expenses, increasing your income, automating your payments, paying 1/12th of the principal each month, using your tax refund, or any other action that will help you get there.  

Regardless of the specific set of actions that will lead you to the promised land, focusing on the question, "What to I need to do now?" will help you accomplish your goals.

When you set a goal, formulate an action plan and focus on what action you need to take now, in this moment.

By the way, the reason we're focused on budgeting is because it touches virtually all financial goals.  If you want to payoff debt or increase savings, odds are that a budget will be a good place to start.

by Michael Harr, Co-Founder on October 4th, 2013

This post covers selected highlights from a book that has significantly influenced our development in recent months.  We have quit many projects and tactics, narrowed our focus, and are now seeing the fruits of quitting.  Using Seth's nomenclature, we have quit cul-de-sacs, avoided cliffs, and have leaned into the dip that matters most.  While we haven't made it through our dip just yet, we move closer each day.  We hope you enjoy these highlights and highly recommend reading or listening to The Dip.

Purchase a copy of The Dip:  
Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble

Follow Seth's blog:  Typepad
The Big Idea

The Dip is a fresh perspective on succeeding in business.  While most business literature focuses on what you need to add to your endeavor to make it successful, The Dip centers on identifying which projects and tactics to quit, so you can throw ever more resources into making it through your dip.  This book is about strategically quitting those activities that don't lead you to becoming the best in the world.

'Best' in the 'World'

 To clarify, Seth isn't talking about being the best in the world, he's talking about being the 'best' in the 'world'.  'Best' is subjective and is defined by your chosen market.  'World' isn't the entire world, but your world.  The mass market is dying and millions of micro-markets are emerging thanks to technology.  As a result, find out what your micro-market believes is 'best' and know that these folks are your 'world'.

Three Curves

Seth offers three types of curves to describe the general worthiness of business endeavors - dips, cul-de-sacs, and cliffs.  Here is how they can be defined:
  1. Dips - The dip is the long slog between when you start a project or idea and when you become the best in the world at your endeavor.  As the cover of the book points out, the dip is the grinding lull that weeds out most competitors.  This weeding out action creates scarcity and scarcity creates value - those that make it through the dip are richly rewarded.
  2. Cul-De-Sacs - The word cul-de-sac is French for dead end.  These are different than dips because even if you make it through the long slog, there are no rewards at the end - merely a dead end.  Cul-de-sacs aren't worth your time or effort, so quit them as soon as they are recognized.  
  3. Cliffs - A cliff is something that you start and can't seem to stop until it's too late, until you've fallen off the cliff.
Seven Reasons for Failing

In thinking about why we fail in business, Seth offers seven reasons we may fall short in our work to be the best in the world at our chosen endeavor.
  1. You run out of time, and quit
  2. You run out of money, and quit
  3. You get scared, and quit
  4. You're not serious about it, and quit
  5. You lose interest or enthusiasm or settle for being mediocre, and quit
  6. You focus on the short-term instead of the long-term, and quit when the short-term gets too hard
  7. You picked the wrong thing at which to be the best in the world at because you don't have the talent
Questions Worth Answering

If you're having a tough time gaining traction with your work, we suggest using these questions that Seth poses in various parts of the book.  By answering these questions, you may find a way through the dip, discover a cul-de-sac, or narrowly avoid a cliff.
  • What is our world?
  • Can we make our world smaller?
  • What does our world need us to be the best in the world at?
  • Do we have the resources and wherewithal to be the best and grind through the dip?
  • What are our current dips, cul-de-sacs, and cliffs?
  • What should we quit?
  • What should we lean into?
  • When should we quit?

by Michael Harr, Co-Founder on October 1st, 2013

In baseball, the National League has a different set of rules compared to their American League rivals.  National League pitchers must bat for themselves rather than having a designated hitter bat for them.  As a result, National League teams generally score fewer runs and have to manufacture scoring at times by playing 'small ball'.

The general idea with small ball is to "get 'em on, get 'em over, and get 'em in" - meaning to get a base runner through a hit or walk, move them into scoring position, and then to get a hit or sacrifice to bring them home.  This small ball approach is what makes the National League unique - requiring a good bit of strategy and fundamentally sound baseball.

When you're trying to hit a savings or debt reduction goal, it pays to play small ball.  Often, this means taking a look at your income and expenses to find ways to boost your available cash.  In terms of spending, this small ball approach usually takes the form of spending a little less on your weekly expenses, cutting out non-essentials, putting unused cash to work, or redeeming cash rewards or points from credit cards.

As you make each of these minor adjustments, you start moving toward your goals a little faster, a little more assuredly.  While small ball generally won't lead to the achievement of enormous goals in a short period of time, it does have the benefit of moving you closer to where you want to be in a measured and reliable way - increasing your odds of accomplishing your goal with every penny, nickel, and dime saved.

Now, you may set your sights on a very aggressive savings or debt reduction goal where small ball simply won't get it done.  When that happens, you need to add an American League mentality.  More on that tomorrow.

by Michael Harr, Co-Founder on September 30th, 2013

Today marks the end of the month and the third quarter.  One of the most important habits that you can develop is measuring your progress and reflecting on what went right or wrong.

To do this, take a moment to put together a net worth statement - a listing of everything you own (assets) and everything you owe (liabilities).  Log into your financial accounts and update their balances both for today and a month or three months ago.  Use our free net worth tracking spreadsheet if you're so inclined.

Now, how do things look?  Did your net worth increase or decrease?  What's working and what isn't?  Take some time to reflect on your activities and outcomes so you can do a better job of planning and managing your money in the future.  A natural product of this exercise is to gain greater perspective on your finances while also finding better ways to move forward.

So, how we lookin'?

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