Thinking Big

Here’s the thing: we don’t think big. For instance, we set small goals and are happy and content when we achieve them. We let our fears define (and run) our lives. We spend time with people who (inadvertently) bring us down. We have a scarcity mindset with many things. We think that life is a zero-sum game. We think about trivial matters such as gas mileage, utility bills, insurance, and whatnot.

We try to save money when we need to invest in our time. We feel great when we save some money in lieu of spending more time doing something. We would rather do the things we are less-than-great at to avoid spending money (in the interest of spending time that could have been better spent elsewhere). We don’t invest in ourselves enough to get to the next level.

We don’t spend commensurate with our lifestyle in the name of being frugal. We don’t pay for things we find value in. We act cheap. We make excuses for not doing things. We procrastinate. We might like to talk big but not think and act big. We think about saving hours from our weeks (rather than thinking about saving a month in a year). For our customers/clients, we work on fixing things, which is not enough (more later). We are too busy focusing on why things won’t turn out the way we want (rather than figure out how to make it work).

Before you begin to think big, you need to stop thinking small.

The way we think informs the way we act. I wrote earlier about how our thinking determines our attitudes, which in turn determines our behaviors. If you want to change your behavior, you need to change your thinking about things. That’s the big difference between two people who are doing the same things but from vastly different thinking.

Define your fears so you can move past them. Our fears and insecurities can stop us from making any progress on things that matter. Set good goals and work toward building high self-esteem, which should be a daily endeavor.

Ignore small minds. Stop spending time with people who think small. You are who you spend the most time with, so spend time with people who have an abundant mindset (and who think big). Spend time with people that will elevate you (not bring you down). Spend time with those who are “better” (and farther) than you in life to get to the next level quickly.

Work on building an abundance mindset. Here’s what I wrote in the linked draft:

We don’t think big enough. Our modest/absent goals and aspirations reflect our small thinking. I could write a whole piece on this (and I will), but there are lots of examples that come to mind now. For instance, it’s pointless to get into the minutiae of spending money on everyday things like food, utilities, gas, and mileage (among other things). Only those who can’t afford it talk about it. This is the antithesis of having an abundant mindset. Stop talking about things and money by qualifying them as cheap or expensive (which is subjective anyway). We set small goals and we are happy when we achieve them. The problem occurs when we don’t set higher goals. If you’re not always moving forward, you’re moving backward.

Stop talking about trivial matters such as the rent you pay, your utility bills, or the gas mileage in your car. The fact that you’re talking about it only implies that you can’t afford it.

Are you saving money or time? I love this. Much too often, we are guilty of saving small amounts of money in the interest of losing significant time. My mentor shares this example — we spend $4 and park six blocks away (and feel great about saving the extra money) rather than spend the $10 and park it in the adjacent block. You can always make more money, but you can’t make another minute.

You have to spend money to make money. Invest in yourself. Work with a mentor or a coach. If you don’t have the money, find it. You need the mentor to up your game and upgrade your skills, which should help you make more money, let’s say. Most people have it backwards in that they will tell you they don’t have money to take that course or work with an expert. Find the money. Figure it out.

Hire experts. There are people who are vastly better at graphic design than you are. Why not hire them so that they end up doing a better job and saving you time so you can do things that only you can do?

Ignore small amounts of money. A difference between $700 and $1,000 is not a difference and should be treated as insignificant. If you’re complaining about that price difference, you simply can’t afford it. A real difference between amounts is, say, $700 and $7,000. The same goes for thinking twice about being frugal like buying a cup of coffee. You are not fooling anyone. Stop trying to save small amounts of money by wasting time. Make a decision and move on.

This is what I wrote in my draft on delegating actions to others:

Understand that we are always spending time or money (when others work for/with us). When we delegate things to others, we are choosing to save our time and spend money instead (by letting others do it). We can always make another buck, but we cannot create more time because it is the only non-renewable resource we have.

Get into the habit of keeping more cash in your wallet. If you keep $300 in your pocket now, start keeping an amount that is uncomfortable to you (such as $1,000). The point is not to spend all that money, but to get comfortable with keeping large sums of money over time. You have to think big to act big. Here is what I wrote in the draft linked above:

The point is to stretch your comfort level so that you’ll slowly grow comfortable with carrying large amounts of cash. Then, it’s a matter of time before large sums of cash (for instance, a couple of thousand dollars) start seeming unimportant to you. This is because if you were a millionaire, you would naturally perceive these amounts to be small and insignificant.

Pay for things you use and find value in. Don’t be cheap. Buy the best tools and equipment you can afford for your personal or work use. It will pay for itself quickly and soon you’ll grow into it. Buy the best things you can afford (fewer but better); if you keep it well (like a quality timepiece), it will likely outlive you.

Spend money commensurate with your lifestyle. For instance, if you are on the board of a few committees and you talk big, you also need to spend big. If you’re making a large purchase (such as a car), stop haggling with the dealer. Stop looking for “discounts” on purchases (such as watches) even from those who you know who can get you those discounts. If you have the money, you should travel first class. Pick up the check when you invite others out; stop expecting them to pay, and tip generously for good service at places you visit often.

As one of my mentors likes to say, if you’re over 25 with a college education and you can’t make an impulse purchase of $10,000, then you have an issue.

Stop asking people (of influence) to “pick their brain” over coffee. Why should they offer their time to you for free? Instead, offer them some value first. You have to give before you can take, but you don’t give with the intention of getting. You give because that’s a part of who you are.

Stop making excuses for not doing things. Either do them or don’t. Regardless, make up your mind and move on.

Thinking big is not a substitute for lack of action; however, it informs your behavior if you’re doing it right. You see, we can’t think our way to action. We all know that thinking is not a substitute for action/results. Yes, you have to think big, and then you have to do the work. If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter which path you take. When you know where you’re going, you’ll figure out a way because you can see the end in your mind.

Think big about your own business. Focus on results and outcomes, not on inputs and tasks. Think about improving conditions, not just fixing things. Raise the bar and innovate; the same goes for you. Focus on dramatic results for your clients (and for yourself), and not incremental growth.

In order to be successful, you have to think and act with success in mind. That’s what attracts you to prospects and clients alike. Who would you be or what would you do differently if you were already successful? I wrote about this in my draft on achieving goals quickly.

Stop undercharging and overdelivering, which is a sign of low self-esteem. High value deserves high fees. If you’re attracting “cheap” prospects, it’s your fault. If others are looking for discounts, simply choose not to work with them. They are not the kind of clients/customers you want for your business anyway. Stop running after every piece of business. The goal of business isn’t to work with anyone and everyone, after all — it’s to work with only those who believe what you believe. Then, you don’t run into these monetary and other trivial issues.

Rather than saving an hour a week, think about how you can save a month in a year. Work on doubling your income by doing half the work. Increase your fees and reduce the labor involved. For instance, in your marketing efforts, work on getting a column, not just an article, a book series, and not just a book. Stop trying to do more of what you’re good at. If you don’t keep reinventing yourself over time, you’re simply not growing.

Here’s the thing: the way we think about ourselves informs how we act. You have to value yourself and believe in yourself before you can expect others to do so. You have to think big before you can live large. As my mentor likes to say, we are not here to wet our toes in the water, we are here to make waves.

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