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FINALLY! The Stuff You REALLY Need To Improve Your Life
By PAUL SKORNIK
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Paul Skornik
All rights reserved.
You Must Always Acknowledge Your Reality
If you think that you can't have what you want out of life because you lack a fancy diploma or something else is missing, you are wrong! I never believed that I couldn't have success, and you shouldn't believe that either. If you're reading this book, that's proof of your desire to improve your life, and that's everything you need. If you don't succeed, it's your own fault.
I want to start this chapter by telling you that, while this chapter is about your metal state, it's not about holding crystals to your forehead and burning incense. Don't fight the concepts that I'm going to explain—it will make sense.
As a newly married young adult, I felt that I was experiencing far too many disappointments, misunderstandings, and frustrations in my life. With very few exceptions, every one of those struggles came as a totally unanticipated surprise. Regardless of the nature of my struggles, I thought I had too many of them to deal with. Yes, the definition of "too many" is different for everyone, but for me, each of those frustrating situations was unpleasant, and dealing with them weekly or even monthly was far too often.
My wife and I hated those setbacks and difficult situations because they were unpleasant and often resulted in bickering and blaming. Bickering and blaming does little to solve problems, and doesn't prevent the problems from happening again. Mostly, we both disliked arguing with anyone—regardless of who eventually won the argument. We preferred calm, pleasant, and productive relationships with each other and with other people. We also had too many financial struggles. We really wanted to be able to pay all of our bills on time and have lots of money left to do whatever we wanted to do. I became very motivated to figure out how we could permanently eliminate most of these frustrating situations that caused life to be so difficult. Even to me, those goals sounded like they were very difficult to reach. But I was determined to get as close to it as possible because struggling, arguing, being disappointed, and going without sucked. I knew that I didn't want to live my whole life like that.
I figured it out and I achieved my goals, and looking back, it now all makes sense, and that's why I decided to write it out for my family and friends.
Understand Your Problems
When people are faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, it's common for them to blame other people that are involved in the problems and then part ways. That happens with friends, employment situations, business associations, and all other types of relationships. Regardless of the relationship, separation without resolution usually means that the people either continue to struggle with life alone or find someone new with whom they'll share their struggles. They don't bother to understand the causes of the problems, so they eventually encounter most of the same problems again. Thankfully, my wife and I acknowledged that, except for a few rare situations, divorce doesn't resolve most of the problems. Divorce just gives people separate addresses and more expenses while they continue to fight about the same money, the same children, and all of the other unresolved problems they still have. My wife and I knew that our marriage was not the cause of our problems, so common sense told us that ending our marriage wouldn't solve our problems. There had to be a real solution.
Eventually, I figured out the first step: Don't try to deal with your problems. It's stupid and futile and doesn't improve your life.
Don't try to deal with your problems? Well, I don't mean that you should ignore your problems. I mean that spending your entire life trying to deal with problems is like signing up for a lifetime of playing Whac-a-Mole. No thanks! Don't stand there beating the moles as fast as you can for your entire life. The easiest way to end that struggle is to reach behind the machine and unplug it. The cord is the source of the problem, and that mallet is a crappy solution. The first step you must take to improve your life is to stop dealing with the same types of problems over and over. Dealing with problems is reactionary—that's not what you want to do.
Reactive solutions to an existing problem are only slightly helpful; they don't change what happened or explain why things aren't already how you want them to be.
The first step to developing a viable and permanent method to solving your problems is to first figure out why the undesirable situations exist and why better situations don't. A reactive solution is like mopping up a puddle of water that keeps appearing on the floor in front of the sink. Wiping up the water every once in a while does deal with the problem of water on the floor, but you're going to keep wiping up puddles until you find out where the water is coming from and fix that. Obviously, that's a situation that we'd normally handle properly, but you need to understand that successful people don't deal with problems—they identify the sources of their problems and then eliminate those sources. You need to, find the causes of the problems, and deal with those causes to prevent the problems.
How do you find the causes for all of your problems? Sometimes it's easy to find the cause of a problem and sometimes it takes some effort. The most important thing is for you to believe is that the only way to improve your life is to understand that you need to stop dealing with repeating problems, and to do that you must look at the problems honestly so that you can identify their causes. Remember; blaming other people doesn't prevent the problem from returning—and neither does ignoring problems. We all know that if we ignore problems, they rarely solve themselves; they usually get worse, and we see them continually until we do something differently. Sometimes, problems can't be anticipated—they come into people's lives and all we can do is deal with the consequences. My wife and I were no different. We found no obvious or easy way to deal with those situations either, but we knew that we were going to experience the same problems until we did something different. In those situations, all we can do is make sure we prepare for the unexpected. That might mean having some money in reserve, or buying better insurance instead of a better vacation. It's amazing how much smaller big problems are when we have the resources to deal with the problem. Big problems and unexpected problems are usually only problems for us when we're unprepared and have no resources or ideas how to resolve them.
Still, most problems that we deal with are avoidable and can be avoided if we identify the cause and only solve the problems once—correctly. In order to identify what was really causing me and my wife to repeatedly experience unpleasant situations, I had to start paying attention to my reality, and that required that I be honest with myself. That wasn't always pleasant or fun but neither was being unhappy because I was not getting what I wanted out of life.
I have to pause here and tell you that I was born with an overly pragmatic brain. I'm not sure if that's a legitimate medical condition (I suspect it's not), but that's always been a challenge for me to handle. One of the symptoms of being overly pragmatic is that I can't be satisfied with impulsive explanations that allow me to dismiss a problem. For example, when I find myself in a disagreement with someone, I can't take the easy option of blaming that person for the misunderstanding because I know that option won't prevent similar misunderstandings from occurring again in the future.
Even with my total commitment to my goal, it took years to incrementally figure out why unpleasant things really happened in my life. If you sincerely want to improve your life, look at each unpleasant situation and really examine the conditions that cause it to exist. More often than not, you need to look back further than the most obvious cause. I often considered what had caused me to be involved with certain people or to be in a certain situation that then caused me to make what turned out to be bad decisions. As the old saying goes, "Peel the onion all the way, even when it makes you very uncomfortable."
As I uncovered the true causes for my disappointments and struggles, I discovered some good news. I found that although I had a lot of different struggles and disappointments, there weren't as many separate causes that I'd have to work on. There were actually fewer than a dozen things that I was consistently failing to deal with properly. Those things were all part of the ever-present reality that was the major part of my life to which I didn't give near enough attention. As I learned how to deal with my reality, there were fewer disappointments, arguments, and regrets in my life. That was great, but here's the best part: as I correctly dealt with my reality more and more, my financial situation improved without my even working on it.
Let's look at why that happened without me working on that.
Despite the financial obstacles we all face, it's actually very easy to improve your financial situation at least a little bit. When you do something a little bit over and over, you end up with a lot.
So how does that work? No, I'm not talking about setting up a budget and tracking how you spend your money! Here's the simple explanation; people argue about all kinds of things, but most serious disagreements are directly or indirectly related to financial issues. Financial problems cause stress, and stress causes people to look for quick relief, which frequently results in blaming somebody. Blaming someone else doesn't actually bring relief, and it doesn't solve problems, so people continue to live with the same money problems and the same frustration and stress. If people can't meet their obligations or the expectations they have for their own lives, they're unhappy, even if they pretend they're okay. Again, early on, my wife and I were just like everyone else; we experienced the same stress and frustration. I don't criticize my wife or myself for failing to remain cheerful when we couldn't meet our commitments to our creditors, our children, or each other.
When my wife and I struggled with financial problems, the stress often caused more problems. Early on, our tendency to blame each other and justify our own faults would exacerbate the financial problems at least a tiny bit more. Once we agreed to work together to acknowledge our reality rather than blame each other, we started figuring out what really caused the problems and doing that stopped us from reliving the same struggles over and over. That caused our financial situation to permanently improve a little bit, which automatically improved our marriage a little more. As our relationship improved, we worked better together and made better decisions. This cycle of improvements in our finances and our relationship continued, and with a conscious commitment to not let setbacks break the cycle, it eventually led us away from financial struggles permanently. It doesn't happen instantly, but a little improvement over and over adds up to a lot.
Don't worry about how to identify the causes of your problems or how to find the solutions and implement the changes—you will not be left on your own to do that. The purpose of this book is to help you with all of that.
However, just to be perfectly clear, I never had wealth like Donald Trump or other super-wealthy people. Honestly, I never really wanted to reach that rare level of wealth that some people attain. We'll address that subject in Chapter 10. Still, I did reach a point at which I didn't need to worry about how I'd pay my bills, and we did get those things that made us happy. If you need more details than that before you decide if this book can make a difference in your life, well, I'll tell you this:
My wife and I bought a modest house. It was small but adequate, and over the years, we put every luxury item that we wanted into it and made it our home.
I paid all of my bills as soon as they arrived, set the thermostat to whatever temperature made us comfortable, and watered my lawn as much as was needed to keep it very green (yes, I know; some people think I need to apologize to some polar bears).
We bought any furniture, appliances, jewelry, clothing, shoes, and so on that we wanted.
We ate in any restaurant that we wanted to, and we would leave generous tips for exceptional service.
We started giving nice gifts for Christmas, birthdays, and special occasions, and each year, we gave away more money to family, friends, and charities than a lot of people earn.
We took three or four nice vacations each year.
We paid off the mortgage on our house and bought each other luxury automobiles.
We had years of income saved in investment accounts.
And, yes, we paid our state and federal taxes in full every year.
Most important, we didn't have to pick a few of these things. We were able to enjoy all of them at the same time, year after year! My wife and I used our understanding of reality to make consistently good decisions for our employers—and our employers compensated us well for many years for those decisions.
Oh, one last thing—I didn't write this book to make more money. I already live as comfortably as I want. Please believe me when I tell you that I wrote this book for you, not for me. Quite honestly, I'm not rich by the conventional American definition, and giving out that personal financial information isn't a poorly veiled method for bragging. I'd rather not provide my personal information because doing so is more likely to cause problems for me than benefit me. I told you about my personal finances because I want to help you envision what's possible for you. If you faithfully implement the principles in this book into your own life, your life will be infinitely better, too.
My wife and I were able to thoroughly enjoy life and each other. Then, in June 2006, she was diagnosed with a rare and terminal neurological disease. For the first two or three years, it was mostly an inconvenience. The following two years were very hard for her, but she persevered by maintaining as many purposes as possible and fighting through the difficulties. Despite her efforts, by late 2009, her ability to take care of herself was gone. Thankfully, we had enough money saved to allow me to stop working and give her full-time, personal attention. Being able to spend that time with her was more important than I can explain. I can't even imagine how horrible it would have been for her if I had needed to leave her with someone every day and go to work so that I could pay the bills.
By early 2010, her ability to understand what was going on was seriously diminished, and her ability to travel would soon be gone. So we spent that summer traveling, and our son, Mike, took care of everything at home while we were gone. We went everywhere—from San Diego to northern Maine, from Key West, Florida, to Bellingham, Washington. God bless Ed and Debbie Brinson for having us as guests in their home in Bellingham! Being able to spend that time together and having the money to travel together was such a blessing. The fact that we had previously worked to understand what had caused our problems and had learned to acknowledge and deal with our reality made it possible for us to spend that time together. We had figured out what we needed to do to end our financial struggles and enjoy our time together. If it were not for the horrible medical condition, we would still be enjoying our lives together.
Defining Your Reality
Dealing with reality may sound unappealing because you think it will be difficult or because it will make life far less spontaneous and enjoyable, but that isn't true. Learning to deal with reality is like learning to read. Learning to read required effort and discipline, but once you learned how, you never considered going back to not being able to read. Learning to read didn't make life more difficult—it made your life better. After your life improves as a result of dealing with reality for a while, I guarantee that you'll refuse to go back to the attitudes and the thinking that you're now so reluctant to change. Believe me—once you do it for a while, you'll think that not dealing with reality is incredibly stupid and it will make you uncomfortable when you think that you used to live that way.
You might believe that you already deal with your reality, and you probably do to some degree. However, most people deal with reality in reactionary ways. If you acknowledged and dealt with your reality as often as you should and in the way that you should, you wouldn't need to read this book. When you deal with your reality properly, you'll avoid problems, not call those problems your reality.
Excerpted from FINALLY! The Stuff You REALLY Need To Improve Your Life by PAUL SKORNIK. Copyright © 2013 Paul Skornik. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
1. You Must Always Acknowledge Your Reality.................... 1
2. To Really Change Your Life, Change Your Thinking.................... 14
3. Start by Understanding and Believing the Ten Truisms.................... 28
4. Truism #1: People Often Corrupt Their Own Thinking.................... 36
5. Truism #2: Believing Murphy's Laws Causes Needless Problems............. 48
6. Truism #3: People Need to Accept the Consequences of Their Decisions.... 56
7. Truism #4: Childhood Left Uncorrected Causes People to Fail............. 66
8. Truism #5: Sometimes, the Path of Least Resistance Just Isn't........... 79
9. Truism #6: Every Relationship Needs to Be Mutually Beneficial........... 89
10. Truism #7: Some People Achieve, but Most People Just Get By............ 101
11. Truism #8: One Single Factor Determines Every Person's Income.......... 113
12. Truism #9: If You Hurt Someone, They'll Probably Hurt You Back......... 120
13. Truism #10: Our Values Are Not Everyone's Values—and That's Okay....... 127
14. The Single Common Trait in All of the Truisms.................... 140
15. How to Deal with Your Expectations.................... 151
16. How to Deal with Other People's Expectations.................... 162
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Give yourself and those around you this exceptional book! The author defines common sense and human behavior with a mix of humor that give you repeated "ah ha" moments! Easy to relate and I look forward to reading this book AGAIN. I've had several people ask me if they could borrow this book and I am happy to share!
Very well thought out, the presentation is outstanding. The irony of “humor” really is still intact... the last page was laugh out loud hilarious..!!