How to Become Successful in Anything Worth a Damn

by David Ning · 18 comments

My grandpa always knew of a workaround, and my mom always knew of a more frugal alternative.

In my family, few could rival my grandfather’s creativity in creating handmade equivalents. Naturally, he became the go to person whenever we needed a workaround. Bought a camera that didn’t come with a stand? Grandpa would fix that with a few paperclips (I’m not kidding). Had a garage door opener with a broken clip? Problem solved with a few strings.

My mom is extremely resourceful when it comes to ways of saving money. Just when you thought you got maximum mileage out of something you bought, my mom could always reuse it in a whole new way. Every time I thought buying was the only option, my mom would give a suggestion for a free alternative.

I was lucky to be so closed to them, but there’s no need to envy me. If you don’t know anyone resourceful, then become one yourself. It’s not like you are missing anything to do so. In fact, I’d argue that you have too much to truly become more creative. My grandfather figured out how to fix and make his own tools because he had no money to buy them. My mom figured out how to save money because she didn’t have much to spend and a whole family to feed. They didn’t even purposefully set out to become successful at it, yet they could in some way be categorized as experts of what they do. If you want to become successful, here are a few crucial points to remember.

  1. Take Action – I sound like a broken record, but the obvious first step in succeeding with anything is taking action. Do you want to make more money? How about spending some time to think about how to achieve your goals?
  2. Limit Your Resources – The only reason why people bother with workarounds is because a total replacement is not possible (or easy). If saving more money is your goal, you first have to create an an perceived sacristy. Paying yourself first and retirement accounts are great ways to save because you limit your immediate spending power. The logic may not make sense, but the benefit is undeniable.
  3. Keep Thinking, Practicing, Doing – There really isn’t a comprehensive personal finance course available, but by constantly thinking about the subject, I’m able to teach you what I learn on the way to financial independence. The more you think about it, the more efficient you are at it, and the better you get at it.
  4. Don’t Give Up – I’m the first to admit that my grammar isn’t perfect, but I will continue to strive for improvement. I know that the more I write, the more sentences seem to flow and the more mistakes people point out, the better I will become. I am not giving up. Why should you?

The last point is worth repeating. Far too many people give up as soon as initial results don’t point towards success. Michael Jordan is talented, but he was cut from his high school varsity basketball team in his tenth grade. If he simply gave up, not only himself, but all of sports, let alone basketball will be very different today.

No one is born successful. There’s talent, but the reason for over achievement is largely due to the willingness to work hard, the eagerness to take action and the determination to not give up.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • stockmanmarc says:

    Ning,

    Very good article. As one of my very good friends says “Can’t Never Could”

  • Jen says:

    Ning,

    As the old saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. When we have everything we have ever wanted, we don’t make much of an effort to re-use things or make them last longer. Only when we are short of funds to buy things do we think about alternate ways to make the use of the things we already have.

  • kenyantykoon says:

    you really do motivational posts really well. thats one of the reasons that i like this site. i like the dont give up point most because you are a quitter and a looser when you give up(a little cliched but true)

  • Wilson Pon says:

    David, I totally agreed with your opinions, especially the first one. For those who only talks the talk, but didn’t take any action on it, is already destined as the loser…

  • Robert says:

    I think opening a savings account and transferring money to it from each paycheck is a fantastic way to save money without even realizing it.

  • Hi David – True, the statement of “broke b/c you want to be” is an extreme, however, it is quite rational in the sense that if you don’t want good grades, you won’t study. Hence, those with poor grades could actually be view as frugal, b/c they don’t have a great desire for a lot of money.

    Regarding adults and money. I don’t see many people giving 100%+ in their jobs all the time. And that’s fine. But, it also means that their chances for pay raises and promotions is less as a result. It’s all a balance.

  • I think we’re all pretty rational beings. If you want to be rich or successful, you’ll work hard at it. If you don’t want to be rich, you won’t work hard, or find ways to expand your income.

    Call us naive, but that’s just the way we see things. As Larry Winget once said, “You’re Broke Because You Want To Be.”

    Everybody knows that one of the keys to a good job is to get into a good school. Yet, not everybody studies hard in High School/Secondary School to get those good grades. I think part of the main reasons is simply people don’t want good jobs. It is what it is.

    Agree or disagree?

    • MoneyNing says:

      I agree with your point to a certain degree, but it’s difficult for a high school student to see the long term benefits of studying hard to get good grades when the TV and more time on facebook is so much more enticing.

      I don’t think people choose to be broke, but they just choose not to give themselves a better chance at becoming rich.

      • David B says:

        Most people are just too short-sighted (and sometimes lazy ?) to become wealthy or the best (insert your occupation/hobby here). My wife, who just closed her business a few months ago, had a number of mainly young pepole work for her over the years. Some of them were very intelligentt and talented and had great potential, but nearly all had the fatal flaw that they couldn’t follow through or stick to something long enough. I remember this one kid who is brilliant, but couldn’t come to work for more than a couple of weeks at a time before not showing up for a few months. We’d usually take him back because he was so good, but we knew that in a couple of weeks we’d need to get someone else to take over his work. We actually had several guys like this and could usually rotate them around when one would leave another one would be ready to make some money again. While this (kind of) worked out for us. It just kept these folks in a constant state of jepardy, and they were really just hurting themselves.

  • Things have changed over time. 40 years ago our country didn’t have “service” industries. Many people had no choice but to do it themselves. Today there is some one willing and ready to take your money for just about anything. Think about it, you can have somebody walk your dog and then you can call another that will clean up after your dog.

    While not everyone has the skills to do anything for themselves it amazes me how many people won’t even try.

    • Kate says:

      Your time is also valuable. When I was working two jobs — one of them involving extensive travel — I did not have time to do much housework, and to tell you the truth, I don’t have the desire to do it either. (I do it now that I’m retired, though.) I hired a maid to come in once a week and clean my house, do my laundry and take out my recycling and my trash. She was a very good, very fast, and very dependable woman, and she made a good living at doing housework, particularly for wealthy people with special needs. (I am not one of those.) Some people mocked me for spending money to hire a maid; however, with Carol the White Tornado to keep my house clean, neat and ship shape, I could concentrate on the work I did for pay. Carol also taught me how to pack a suitcase in under 5 minutes and not leave anything out, and she rearranged my furniture so it fit in the room much better.

  • Victor says:

    Experimenting with your ideas is the only way to succeed. It’s like trying to get a date. If you don’t ask, you are guaranteed to fail but if you do, chances of success is probably more than you think.

  • Sunny says:

    My father must be buddies with Jeffrey’s because he loves to make his own toys as well. When my brother and I were little, my dad would make us all sorts of houses and cars that would rival what you can buy outside. We never complained because we could even request our very own custom features, but I bet it was much cheaper for our family.

    • MoneyNing says:

      You may want to ask your dad to make you a couple of those cars to sell on a service like eBay. Maybe you will find that there’s so much demand you can turn it into a business.

  • The man or woman who takes action are usually the ones who succeed. The clear reason for this is that it doesn’t matter if they succeed the first time, they are ready to take action again and again. Taking action to me also means a willingness to work hard and to learn new things – you should always want to learn more about the world, how things work, history, etc.

    • MoneyNing says:

      The great thing about taking action is that you automatically learn new things as you starting executing. The experience you will gain from trying different paths is priceless IMO.

  • Jeffrey says:

    My father makes everything himself and it all started when he was a kid and had no toys. It all makes sense now.

  • Craig says:

    If you want something done right, do it yourself. If it means that much to you then get on it, get focused and go for it.

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