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How to Win the Fight Against Your Debt Before You Begin

[1] Start w/the Easy Pickin's, Step #1: Learn the 4 Winning Mindsets

 

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by Jared MacIlvaine in Out of Debt ASAP Chapters

What’s up ASAPers! Today marks week #3 of blogging out my new book, Out of Debt ASAP, live every Thursday! Enjoy Chapter 3!

Most battles are won before they’re ever begun. They’re won in the mental battle that takes place long before the actual fight takes place. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

The first major step in the Out of Debt ASAP strategy is to “Start with the Easy Pickin’s”, and it’s all about getting started off on the right foot with the easy stuff so you can feel a sense of momentum that you can build on as you go further into the strategy.

Today, we’ll start by discussing the 4 Winning Mindsets you’ll need to cultivate in order to succeed and persist in getting Out of Debt ASAP. Starting is nothing if you can’t finish, and finishing is impossible if you have a self-defeating mindset.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by a little-known guy named Henry Ford. You know, the man responsible for popularizing the assembly line and mass production of automobiles. When I first heard these 10 words, they completely changed how I thought about my life, my business, and my indebtedness. Here’s the quote:

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

The first time I heard this, it took me a second to fully understand it. Take a minute to really digest what this is saying.

If you think you can pay off your student loans in the next 1-3 years, then you absolutely can. If you truly believe you have the ability to problem solve, adapt, and work hard to get it done (and you DO!), then you’ll make your goal…guaranteed, for sure.

However, if you constantly say to yourself, “there’s no way I can do this. My balance is too high. My income is too low. I’ll be dead before I’ve paid off all my debt”, then guess what…all those debbie-downer statements will become self-fulfilling prophecies, and you’ll die at 80 years old still paying off the student loans you took out when you were 18.

Ok, maybe it won’t actually take 60 years to pay off your debt, but you get the point.

Waiting a decade to pay off student loans seems like a lifetime for a lot of us young people. Are you willing to risk being in debt that long by thinking negatively about your ability to pay it off fast? And for what…the sake of being “realistic” or “humble”?

At the beginning of the movie The Departed, Frank Costello (played by Jack Nicholson) says in his raspy voice, “I don’t want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me.”

Likewise, you don’t want to let your next 10 years be a product of your debt, letting it dictate what you can and can’t do. You want to impose your will on your financial situation and master it so that you can gain the freedom to start pursuing your greatest goals long before a decade from now.

To do it, you’ll need to cultivate these 4 Winning Mindsets:

  1. Have a Bias Toward Action – This is all about being willing to aggressively take whatever action step is in front of you at any given time.
  2. Commit to Grit – This is all about continuing to take action over a sustained period of time.
  3. Work Smart – This is all about taking the right action and making the most of your time.
  4. Create Value – This is all about turning your action into money.

Alright, let’s look at these more closely:

Winning Mindset #1: Have a Bias Toward Action

As you can see, there’s a theme among all 4 of these mindsets of taking action. That’s because the best plans are useless without significant action being taken to carry them out. The cure to cancer could be in someone’s mind right now, but without any action, they’ll never prove it works, nor will they get it into the hands of the people who need it.

The strategy laid out in this book will do nothing for you unless you start taking action today, and then continue taking action all the way until the finish line.

As humans, a lot of times we are tempted to over-think, over-analyze, or over-strategize in place of just going out and doing whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish. This is a form of “justified procrastination”, since we usually tell ourselves we’re “working” on our goal, when really we’re just imagining working on it.

Amazon.com’s career recruiting website lists out their Leadership Principles, and—you guessed it—number 9 on their list is “Bias for Action”. Here’s how their website describes it:

“Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.”

I appreciate that they mentioned speed here, because really, this whole book is about speed; hence the name Out of Debt ASAP. You don’t want to pay off your debt in 10 years or even 5 years, and to get it done faster than that, you’ll need to get off your butt and take action today, and tomorrow, and every other day until you’ve finished. You can’t afford to be inactive for months on end, day dreaming about what you’ll do to pay off your debt.

Have a sense of urgency, take calculated risks, and when in doubt, just do it!

Winning Mindset #2: Commit to Grit

If you haven’t seen Dr. Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk on grit, I highly recommend watching it. She has become a star in the field of the Psychology of Success, and when I first watched her TED Talk, I immediately realized that grit was the key to my success leading up to paying off our student loans.

Dr. Duckworth defines grit as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals”. Before I ever heard her use the term grit or her definition of it, I called this concept “having stubborn determination and persistent focus on your goals”.

Before we move on, though, I want to make something clear: I don’t think you should be gritty about getting out of debt, per se. The reason is that being debt-free in and of itself isn’t all that exciting.

What’s exciting about being out of debt is all the things that you are free to do and be once you actually pay it all off.

So, when thinking about committing to grit, you want to think about all the reasons why you want to be debt-free, and then be gritty about freeing yourself quickly so that you can do or have or be those things.

So, how can you become gritty? There has been some argument about grit and whether it is something that people “just have” or if it is something that is “learned and cultivated”. I am a firm believer that being gritty is a choice and can absolutely be cultivated if you don’t feel like you have an abundance of it right now. I am confident of this, because I have personally made the leap from being a chronic quitter to being exceedingly passionate and perseverant toward my goals.

Ten years ago, my life was a complete mess. I was addicted to several substances and had a major anxiety and depression problem. I didn’t have an ounce of grit inside of me. In fact, because of my anxiety and depression, I looked to substance abuse as a way of continually avoiding my problems and giving up on my goals. I was constantly mentally defeated, and I didn’t believe in myself or my ability to succeed in much of anything.

Ten years later, I’m a completely different person, and rather than being a chronic quitter, I am utterly determined to accomplish my goals and have had some pretty good success in recent years, mainly because I have chosen over and over again to not give up when faced with temporary failure.

With that in mind, I want to quickly introduce 4 concepts that can help anyone develop more grit in their lives, especially when it comes to paying off debt fast.

  1. Choose a right response to failure. Failure is the pathway to success. It is the best teacher and is almost always required to be endured several times before major success occurs. So, if this is true, it should affect how we view failure, right? A good friend of mine says, “fail fast and fail forward“. If you view failure as necessary—and one of your best teachers—you’ll feel more free to take action, keep your chin up when you fail, and learn from the failure so you can do better on the next try.
  2. Develop a “Growth Mindset”. Dr. Angela Duckworth mentioned the “Growth Mindset” in her TED Talk on grit as the leading way she’s discovered for people to develop grit. This is a concept that Dr. Carol Dweck has discovered, and rather than me explaining it here, take a look at this infographic that displays a clear and concise summary of the difference between a growth and fixed mindset:If you want to learn more about Growth Mindset, I recommend checking out this 8-minute video.
  3. Know your motivations and build a case for perseverance. Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” If you want to look like a genius, it’s easy! Just stay with your problems until you’ve solved them! I’ve found that one of the best ways to do that is to keep your reasons and motivations always before you. You want to build a “case for perseverance” by listing out—not just one or two, but—several reasons for why you want to get out of debt fast & also how you will reward yourself once you pay that last payment. The reason you want several reasons is simple: some reasons aren’t as powerful as others on certain days. There will be days where “financial freedom” holds no power for you, whereas “buying a house” is a potent motivator….and vice versa. In order to build a case for perseverance, I recommend making a list I call “The Simple 7”. The list contains 4 Convincing Reasons You Want to Get Out of Debt & 3 Ways You’ll Reward Yourself Once You’ve Done It. The Simple 7 is an important part of this strategy, and I have included it in the Out of Debt ASAP Action Plan to-do list that you’ll get when you sign-up for my free 30-Day Challenge at outofdebtasap.com (coming summer 2017!).
  4. Get some accountability! Dr. Duckworth calls this “surrogate grit”. Basically, as you get started on the journey of committing to and working towards a fast debt pay-off, you want to find someone that you can share your plan with and answer-to about your faithfulness to that plan. The best type of person for this is someone else who also has student loans and is also motivated to pay them off quickly. You could easily invite them to read this free book and sign-up for the 30-Day Challenge with you, so that—together—you can encourage and motivate each other to get free from your loans ASAP. Who could that person be for you? Why don’t you send them a quick text right now [bias for action!] and send them a link to this book on Amazon? (available summer 2017, but for now you could send them to outofdebtasap.com so they can sign-up for updates!)

Winning Mindset #3: Work Smart

Ok, so I am a huge proponent of hard work, and I don’t think anyone is going to leave their debt problem quickly without it. We are all way better off when we’re putting our whole heart into everything we do. However, hard work by itself has the ability to be far less productive if it’s not coupled with thinking smart.

To illustrate what I mean, here’s a simple example…

Let’s say you’re sitting around one day and someone offers you $1,000 to dig a huge hole for a pool in their back yard. They hand you a shovel, and even give you the first $500 up front. Great! You’ve just been given an opportunity.

The obvious next action is take the shovel that you’ve just been given and start digging. Let’s say it would take a week to dig out the pool. You work your butt off for 50 hours, and at the end of the week, you crunch the numbers and realize you made $20/hour. Not terrible, but what if you worked smart instead of just working hard?

If you would’ve thought for a little bit about another path forward, maybe you would’ve have discovered a smarter approach, like this…

You take the shovel and the $500 check, and you go to your local equipment rental shop and find out you can rent a small backhoe for $200/day. You call a friend, give him the shovel, and meet him in the backyard with the backhoe. After a long 10-hour day, you dig the entire hole. You pay $200 for the rental, $100 to your friend for his labor, and you take home the remaining $700. You crunch the numbers and realize you not only made $70/hour, but you also freed up 40 hours in your week that you can use to earn more money.

It’s a simple example of a powerful mindset that can maximize your time during your debt pay-off. Don’t pay attention to the exact numbers here, by the way. I’ve never dug out a pool and don’t really recommend you getting in the business. What’s important here is the concept:

Thinking creatively and smartly to find alternative ways to proceed that maximize the amount of dollars you can earn in an hour.

This means everything when it comes to speed and paying off your debt fast.

For example, you would make the same amount of money if you worked 30 hours at $10/hour as if you worked 10 hours at $30/hour. In both instances, you make $300. Working smart is having the best of both worlds. If you can think your way into making $30/hour, and then work your way up to 30 hours, you’ll make $900.

As soon as you start doubling and tripling your income (be it in your main-hustle or your side-hustle), that’s when you’ll really start to see your loan balance go into a free-fall. Just remember:

Thinking Smart + Working Hard = Working Smart

So, how exactly can you start working smarter and double or triple your income?

Winning Mindset #4: Create Value

The basic concept for getting out of debt quickly is very simple: you need to spend less money and earn more money. Well, that’s easier said than done.

Typically, with a little discipline and smart budgeting, most people can quickly start spending less money.

However, making more money can be a lot more difficult. Especially when you’re simply looking to your employer or others to give you that money in some way, be it through a raise, a new job, or a special opportunity. The solution? Stop looking to your employer or other people; look to yourself.

One of the most quotable men to ever live, Albert Einstein, once said, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”

By becoming a person who creates value, you give yourself great leverage in the marketplace to either renegotiate your compensation OR by charging a good business rate for the value you provide.

There are 3 Ways to Create Value in the context of the Out of Debt ASAP strategy, and while we’ll dive in deeper to these in Step #3, I list them out here:

  1. Create Value Within Your Current Job (or as you pursue a new job). In the last 10 years or so, I have had over 50 people work for me at some point or another. Some of my employees have been very valuable to the mission of my company/business, and I often looked for several ways to keep them happy, motivated, and well-paid, because I dreaded the thought of losing them. They were people of value. Still, I had other employees who were dead weight. Rather than looking to create value and make a contribution to our team(s), they often felt entitled and showed up each day to give the bare minimum. Rather than trying to find ways to pay them more, I would try to find ways to not let them screw up what we were trying to do. If I couldn’t do that, I’d just let them go. The attitudes and actions of the value creators, however, gave me much motivation to make sure they were happy and that I paid them the money they had earned, not the money they felt they were entitled to simply because they existed.
  2. Random, Creative Ideas. This would include things like your Student Loan Hacking Platform (easy to start, can make you $1,000+, AND will keep you super motivated), Garage Sale Hacking (you’ll hear from my friend Travis in the Smart Side-Hustle Directory about how he made more than $10,000 doing this during his debt pay-off), creative entry contests (my friend Shelby made more than $20,000 do these), or pitching a creative idea to a company (I made $2,500 in 10 hours doing this…no lie!). We’ll get into these more in a later chapter. Lots of good stuff here.
  3. Starting a Smart Side-Hustle. A Smart Side-Hustle is basically a service-based business (be it a “skilled” or “unskilled” service) where you’re charging a business rate rather than earning an employee’s wage. The simple fact of cutting out the middle man (an employer) and charging a business rate directly to your customer, means you’re doubling or tripling how much you’re making. Service-based businesses are great, because they’re relatively easy to get in and out of, and typically the start-up costs are very low—which means you won’t go into debt to start one up. More on this in a later chapter.

If you want to earn more money (without working 120 billion hours per week), the best way to do it is to recognize your own personal respons-ability to create value. The more you can see that creating value will afford you the ability to give yourself an increase in pay, the sooner you’ll be kissing your debt goodbye and heading on to fulfilling your dreams that your debt is holding you back from.

The Morning Ritual

Ok, before we wrap up this chapter, I want to talk about one last thing that you can do to help make becoming debt-free inevitable.

Almost every successful person out there has rituals that they practice for personal development. The basic idea behind these self-development rituals is this: do something every day that helps you become the person you need to be in order to see the results you want to accomplish.

There are several different rituals that these successful people do, but I want to focus for now on one in particular. Some people call it “Affirmations”, others call it “Declarations”, and still others refer to it as the “Law of Attraction”. I personally like to call it “Making Declarations”.

One of my favorite examples of this comes from Muhammad Ali, who said, “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” Presumably, he was hanging out in the gym as an amateur, throwing punches at a bag, and declaring over himself that he was the greatest. Sure, you could’ve called him a fool for it back then…but what about now?

Indeed, he would’ve been crazy if he had not coupled his audacious declarations with major action. Without a strong work ethic and plan of action, declarations like that are incredibly foolish. However, for those who marry the declarations with action, they become like jet fuel, propelling them to work harder and believe stronger in their ability to achieve their outcome.

Another one of my favorite examples of this is comes from mixed martial artist Conor McGregor. I’m not personally a big fan of MMA, but he is very much a believer in the power of declaration. He is famous for his trash talk leading up to the UFC Featherweight Championship in 2015 against Jose Aldo, who had won the previous 8 Featherweight Titles.

In addition to holding the Title 8 times in a row, Jose Aldo had only lost one fight in his entire career, going 25-1. Conor also had a strong record of 19-2, but most of his fights had taken place in his homeland of Ireland, and he had not yet won any championships on the international stage.

So, what did Conor McGregor say leading up to the fight? He said of Aldo, “He cannot beat me. He knows it. I can smell the lack of confidence and see the fear in his eyes. He’s already beaten.

Sounds arrogant and laughable, right? So thought a lot of people until Conor McGregor knocked-out Jose Aldo within 13 seconds of the fight starting. Conor dethroned the 8-time champion on the second punch of the fight. He said later, “My success is not a result of arrogance, it’s a result of belief.”

Making declarations fuels belief, and it helps line up your mental climate with what it takes to achieve your goal. Once you complete the steps I outline in this book, I highly recommend “Declaring Your Victory” out loud every single morning. Below, I have made an outline for what you could say.

Once you create all your metrics for your debt pay-off, I recommend plugging in your numbers, printing this out, and taping it to your mirror so that you can declare these out loud every single morning before you start your day.

Declare Your Victory:

  • I am thankful for the $x,xxx I have already paid on my loans
  • I will pay off the rest of my $x,xxx of debt by: xx/xx/xx
  • I will post every x week(s) on my Student Loan Hacking Platform
  • will meet my MVCG of: $x,xxx/month
  • To meet my MVCG, I will secure x clients/hours (per month, if needed) [this is your Bottom Line Marketing Metric]
  • I have what it takes, I am the perfect man/woman for the job, and I will destroy my debt within x months from today.

This may sound cheesy or crazy now, but the crazier thing would be to NOT believe these things or adamantly commit to them. The crazy thing would be to save face (to yourself?!) and stay indebted. It worked for Muhammad Ali, it worked for Conor McGregor, and it has worked for hundreds of other champions and wildly successful people. Why not let it work for you?

 

GET THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!

Learn the full story of how we paid off $72.5k of student loans in 20 months!

It's totally FREE!
100% privacy guaranteed! No messin' around!