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Anthony Robbins:
12 Reasons People Fail to Achieve Wealth

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Motivational supra-guru, speaker, philanthopist, and author Anthony Robbins has made an extravagant living from advising millions of people in ways to better themselves personally, financially, and spiritually. His books (Awaken the Giant Within, Unlimited Power, etc.) were written in the early 1990s and mid-1980s, respectively, and yet continue to sell millions of copies to the self-help crowd. His frenetic, over-the-top speaking engagements are repeatedly given to packed (and, not coincidentally, well-paying) arenas.

The actual merits of "success coaches" such as Robbins have been debated again and again in articles like Forbes magazine's October 9, 1995 piece, "The Happiness Hucksters," with entries like the following:

"I regard them all as similar to the Duke and Dauphin in Huck Finn," says Nicholas Lemann, who is writing a book about the American idea of success and meritocracy. "There's a lot of packaging, and very little inside. Most all of them say the same two or three basic things." But Lemann doesn't say this in anger. "They aren't unscrupulous stock operators that cause financial ruin," he adds. "They're just ripping you off for a couple hundred bucks for their tapes." That's not much more than the price of a couple of front-row seats for the Rolling Stones. If the happiness hucksters make people feel better and act more decisively, they may even in a way be socially useful.

Where these high-dollar motivational coaches are concerned, the ending of that passage hints at a simple truth:

Value is where you find it.

If the content, even only occasionally, speaks to you in a meaningful way, then it is not to be entirely disregarded. Worthy tidbits occupy numerous corners in Robbins' work. One of those tidbits are his "Twelve Reasons Why People Fail to Achieve Wealth and Security" in their financial lives.

1. They never clearly define what "wealth" means to them.

Exactly what would it take for you to feel financially abundant? Take a few moments to consider this question. As you do so, be as concrete and specific as possible. Consider just what it would take to make you feel financially secure. Vague, catch-all responses like "Wealth means I could buy anything I want!" are not acceptable. On the other hand, "Wealth means my home is paid for, I am debt-free, and all my monthly bills are taken care of by money generated from my investments," is getting much closer to the idea here. This latter circumstance is a tangible, calculable condition — you could spend some time looking at your expenses, crunching numbers, and seeing exactly what it would take to get to that point. And it is one that, given time, you would have a realistic chance of achieving.

2. They make "wealth" a moving target.

Of course life is all about change. It is a general human trait that no matter what we have, we almost always want a bit more. But our motivation to reach toward a specific goal quickly fades when we get close to it, and then, for whatever reason, decide that that goal isn't really enough. This doesn't mean you should quit striving and accumulating and growing. Rather, there must be a point at which you can pour yourself a cold one and say, At last, I have succeeded.

"No one wants to play a game where the minute you shoot the ball, they move the target," Robbins says. "You have to be able to win."

3. They define "wealth" in ways that make it seem impossible to achieve.

"If you're thinking you need ten million dollars, but you don't make more than fifty thousand dollars per year, that sounds pretty impossible," Robbins lectures. "But the truth of the matter is that you probably don't need ten million dollars to achieve the lifestyle you want."

This is why you must clearly define your goals and compute exactly what it will take to make them a reality.

Let's say you started with a goal of acquiring enough investment income to pay for, say, your monthly water / utility bill of $35. If your investment temperament were of the right sort, you could conceivably track down a REIT or oil and gas trust that pays a yearly divided yield of, for example, eight percent. (Of course, the value of your investment principal is subject to market fluctuation, and the company could always lower its dividend rate, but those risks are for another story.)

Given that yield of 8%, the dividends from an investment of $5,250 (not earth-shattering by any stretch) would pay you the necessary $35 per month.

At that point, you are no longer working to pay the water bill.

Your money is.

4. People make their goals so big, they don't believe they can ever achieve it, and they simply don't start.

An extension of #3 above.

5. They fail to make wealth an absolute "must."

According to Robbins, every person gets what he or she MUST have. Too often, matters of personal wealth are relegated to the level of SHOULD. "Write down a paragraph about why you MUST be wealthy, why you MUST have abundance, and what it will for do for you and your family," Robbins tells people. "Don't write why you'd like to be wealthy; write why you HAVE to be wealthy."

6. They do not develop a realistic plan.

Pretty self-explanatory, really. If you don't know where you want to go, and you don't have a map showing you the way, how are you going to get there?

7. They get a plan, then fail to follow through.

Just having a plan isn't enough. Take some action, no matter how small, toward your goals. And take it immediately.

8. They listen to experts and give experts the responsibility for making it work, rather than bearing that responsibility themselves.

We're back to that old tenet:   No one will care about your money as much as you do. You can look to others for advice, but you must look to yourself for understanding, implementation, and responsibility.

9. They give up when they face major financial challlenges.

Bad times and failures are going to happen. You, your character, your resiliency, and your abilities are all going to be tested. Sometimes, though, losses must simply be absorbed.

"The people that succeed are not the ones that never failed," says Robbins. "They're the ones that fell down and jumped back up as fast as humanly possible."

10. They fail to conduct their lives as if they were a business.

There's a word that gets attached to businesses that post losses year after year after year:   Bankrupt.

It's the same with your personal finances. When all is said and done, when all the bills and groceries and taxes have been paid, you must eventually bring in more money than you send out. Crunch the numbers, track your incomes and expenses, and resign yourself to posting profits in your personal life. Then work on making those profits grow.

11. They allow other people's pessimism or optimism to affect the intelligent implementation of plans.

People who are wealthy are those who have gone against the grain; i.e., they were buying when others were selling, selling when others were buying, or creating something that fulfilled an untapped need or niche. Generally speaking, in most any situation, if you run with the crowd, you're going to get trampled. You must think, and act, independently.

12. They never get quality coaching.

Find someone who is already where you want to be — or is well on the way to that point — and glean everything you can from them. There is no teacher like experience, and there are no teachers like the experienced.