I love joining different platforms to discuss mental health! That’s why I am excited to share my latest conversation with a hypnotherapist, Ashlee, and Sandra at Black Connections! In the first hour, Ashlee and I covered various topics from our unique perspectives to include mental health challenges in the military, proven strategies in hypnotherapy, masculinity and trapped emotions, and more!
We thought we were done!
As Ashlee and I were wrapping up the first hour (planned), Sandra began to provide new perspectives including the struggles returning citizens face adjusting to life after prison, childhood molestation, children in the foster care system, and more! The unplanned second hour became an hour of release, hope, and encouragement! Check it our for yourself.
Happy hump day! I am humbled and excited to join Jesse Iwuji on Chip Baker’s The Success Chronicles! Click here for the full discussion on Spotify.
During this short session, we discussed mindset, vision, collaboration, faith, and more! Get out your note-taking gear and be prepared to jot down some helpful nuggets!
Who is Jesse Iwuji?
Jesse needs no introduction, but in case you don’t know, in all things Jesse Iwuji does, there are two constant elements: his devotion to service and his inspirational nature to many. Jesse went from competing at the top level of Division-1A college football to rising the ranks of the military as a Lieutenant Commander, and is now the only current driver in all of NASCAR at the national levels that actively serves his country as a US Military member.
It has been key for Iwuji, who is currently serving in our country’s reserve fighting force, to honor his country while pursuing excellence in the business world as a business owner and on the track as a driver. It should come as no surprise that he has championed companies and charities that give back to our men and women in uniform.
Jesse is also a big supporter of NASCAR diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today he is one of two African Americans competing at NASCARs national level of racing. He was honored by NASCAR for two years in a row – the Diverse Driver of the Year Award. He is well versed both on and off the track!
It is fair to say in many ways Jesse is a first in NASCAR. While clawing toward the top tiers of NASCAR, Jesse Iwuji continues to take us all along for a memorable ride showing those who dare to dream that life truly rewards those who stay strong enough, long enough. Find this bio and more information about Jesse on his website: https://www.jesseiwuji.com/
Who is Olaolu Ogunyemi
A loving husband, father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer, Olaolu Ogunyemi has a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the “life of the party” because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he became intimately familiar with the bond forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children’s stories to help create loving and memorable family moments. He is the author of the Amazon best-selling children’s book, “Crow From the Shadow,” “Horace the Horsefly,” and “Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine.”
Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language, and an entertaining style that keeps listeners and readers hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.
Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, and spending time with his family. Connect with him on his website:https://parent-child-connect.com
Find out more about Chip Baker and The Success Chronicles?
Chip Baker is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, and forth-generation educator. He established The Success Chronicles to feature interviews from people of all walks of life for positive inspiration and motivation. Find out more about Chip and the great things he is doing here: https://linktr.ee/ChipBakerTSC
Hey folks! I felt it is the perfect time for a transparent post; I received my first one-star review. Specifically, it was a review of my newest book, Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine. Here it is:
At first, I was shocked! “How could someone think so little of something I created,” I thought. For a split second, I even considered pulling the book from the shelves to avoid “further embarrassment.” That’s when it hit me.
Naysayers will be naysayers. Believe in yourself, believe in your mission, and connect with people who can help you fulfill your purpose.
It is so easy to focus on the negative. We hone in on the people who did not support. We sulk in disappointment when we receive rejection after rejection. We replay the negative feedback (i.e. a one-star review) over and over in our heads. Trust me–I understand!
However, I want to challenge you to change your perspective! Show love and appreciation to your supporters. View your rejections as opportunities to continue to refine your pitch. Use the critiques to improve your craft while allowing the feedback that aligns with your purpose to validate your efforts!
I applied this thought process to my own brand, and I am happy to admit that I have already had the opportunity to read Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine to hundreds of children around the world! Also, amongst the sea of rejection messages, I still receive messages like this:
Lastly, here is a review that validated my purpose:
Be encouraged! Rejection is not the end, and negative opinions do not deserve your energy. Continue to push, thrive, and aggressively pursue your purpose!
Anyone else ever find themselves constantly battling a barrage of reoccurring toxic thoughts? If you are anything like me, it sometimes feels like you are losing that battle. What’s worse? Our thought patterns (i.e. our habit of thinking in a particular way, using particular assumptions) drive our actions. So we find ourselves in what appears to be an infinite toxic loop: our toxic thoughts create toxic assumptions which inform toxic actions. It’s time to breakout of that loop with these three steps:
Step 1: Create New Habits.
As in any other part of our lives, habits are formed by repetition. For example, this morning, my wife asked me, “why are you going to the gym so early if you are not required to go to work until a little later?” To which the only logical explanation I had was, “it’s a habit.” It is so much of a habit that I wake up at the same time (or earlier) even without an alarm, and if I try to lie there in the mornings, my mind will start racing and my body will start aching. So I just get up. The same is true when bedtime comes; I can easily fall asleep mid-sentence/mid-thought! (Ask my frat brothers who would have me out all night partying during college 😅.) Take a second to think about a habit like this you’ve formed over the years. When did you start? Can you even remember? My mom tells me that I’ve been waking up and falling asleep early since I was a young child. As it was when I was a child, that sleep pattern or sleep habit is fueled by an anticipation of what tomorrow holds.
This same logic applies to our thought patterns or mental habits. Whether we remember when the habits started or not, there is one thing that fuels these habits: our assumptions. In a previous post, I discussed my admiration for how our powerful brain gives us the ability to control our emotional responses. More specifically, I highlighted the cerebral cortex which, according to https://www.simplypsychology.org, the cerebral cortex “is the outer surface of the brain, [and it] is associated with higher level processes such as consciousness, thought, emotion, reasoning, language, and memory.” Many neuroscientists believe that our cerebral cortex “saves energy” by operating off of assumptions, and these assumptions are developed by our past experiences.
Author’s note: Most people stop here because they conclude since they cannot change the past and the past develops assumptions and assumptions fuel mental habits, then their mental habits cannot be changed. That is a very logical conclusion… Buuuuuut keep reading.
We can create new experiences! Here are a few tips to get you started:
Watch different movies and documentaries. I am personally a huge fan of action & adventure and comedies; however, National Geographic and The History Channel are also two of my personal favorites.
Take a vacation or travel to a place you have never been (even if it’s only a couple of towns over).
Try new food. I love food, so any post I get to mention food is a plus for me! Again, broaden your horizons!
Listen to a variety of music. We all have our favorite genre, but remember, we are creating new experiences. Listen to different genres and international versions of your favorite genre.
Take an interest in writing. Write about what you see. Write about your fantasies. Create a journal to record your thoughts and emotions or a food log (my least favorite lol) to track what you eat. Write a book if you’d like (I did it and so can you)!
All of these tips will work towards creating new experiences and ultimately developing new healthy mental habits.
Step 2: Indulge in Fresh Thoughts and Ideas.
Now that we have established a way to break our old habits through new experiences, we have to start programming our mind to think differently. In my studies of the Holy Bible, I found an excellent passage that universally applies to thought: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” -Philippians 4:8 NLT.
Let’s break this down to how it applies to life.
True: Let’s start by focusing on reality vs our perception of reality. One of the first cliches that comes to mind is, “perception is reality.” Wrong! Our perception is the lens through which we view life. (Sometimes our perception can be more like blinders than lenses). Similar to our assumptions, perceptions are based upon our experiences. Therefore, by creating new experiences, we are increasing our ability to see and understand reality through a clearer lens.
Honorable & Right: Despite what we may see on the news, I am a firm believer that mankind is inherently honorable (ethically and morally good). This thought inspires me to show goodwill and serve others, so I encourage others to think the same.
Pure: I love how Oxford Languages defines pure: “without any extraneous and unnecessary elements.” Sometimes our minds get so bogged down with negative things we consume on a daily basis. My recommendation is to be aware of the world around you, but don’t become consumed with the negative aspects of the world around you. My challenge for you is for every negative you read or witness, consume and meditate on at least two inspiring or positive things for balance.
Lovely & Admirable: Have you ever just stopped to take in the beauty of nature? I am a guy who loves warm weather; in fact, I have been frostbitten before, so cold weather and I are not best friends. Even so, I absolutely love a sunny day after fresh snowfall. Although the temperature may not be as warm as I’d prefer, I cannot help but walk outside, take in deep breaths of the cold, crisp, and seemingly filtered air, and smile as I see the sun glisten off of the sparkling snow. This is just one example of the peaceful places I have learned to admire and enjoy. What lovely things can you think of? Where do you go to find peace?
Excellent & Worthy of Praise: Think about the things you are grateful for. Even our worst situation is better than someone else’s best. If nothing else, you are alive and able to read this post. No matter how seemingly small or insignificant, celebrate every single win. You deserve to celebrate yourself, your accomplishments, and your life. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Step 3: Command your thoughts!
If you have ever seen the movie “Cast Away,” you may remember the main character, Chuck Nolan (Tom Hanks), floating on a makeshift vessel. This vessel had no steering wheel, sail, or any way to control or steer. Chuck was at the mercy of the sea–carrying him whichever direction it pleased. Is anybody willing to admit our thoughts are just like this? 🙋🏾♂️ Mine are! Sometimes my thoughts take me to a place of bliss, enjoyment, and peace; but more often than I’d like to admit, my thoughts take me back to the infinite loop I mentioned before if I let them. Sometimes following these negative thoughts seems adventurous and addictive, but I assure you they lead to a never ending cycle of toxic actions and behaviors. Therein lies my final piece of advice:
Command your thoughts!
Identify and write down your reoccurring negative thoughts. This is pretty simple: we cannot and will not get rid of what we cannot identify.
Identify your triggers. What is causing your negative thoughts? Is it TV? Is it the people around you? Is it social media? Take some time away (at least 30 days) from your triggers to see if that helps you improve.
Replace your thoughts with the thoughts we mentioned in Step 2: Fresh thoughts and ideas.
If you are anything like me, you read blogs like this with skepticism. Well allow me to encourage you; I use these steps in my daily affairs, and I have seen a huge change in my mental health and overall enjoyment of life! Start applying these steps to command your thoughts today!
Happy Tuesday! I had a couple of heartening moments yesterday that I want to share as encouragement to the fathers and male role models out there. It started with my oldest daughter who told me how excited she was to share my website with her friends when given the opportunity in her Middle School class. Additionally, she received a perfect score on a writing assignment. When questioned about it, she said, “I must’ve gotten my writing skills from my dad.” It really warms my heart to see how much pride she takes in my work and accomplishments!
Later yesterday evening…
Later yesterday evening, my son had his first basketball playoff game. This is his first year playing basketball, but he has worked tirelessly to learn more and improve. His most significant improvement over the past few weeks has been his jump shot. To aide in this improvement, I showed him a hand placement trick to become more consistent and accurate. He immediately latched on to this advice and even taught a couple of his friends. So it made me proud to see him use this technique last night to score the most points he’s ever scored in a game. He made me more proud when said (after a loss), “I’m not really that sad because I scored. I can’t believe I scored all those points!”
Fathers and male role models, your actions may sometimes seem small, but your impact is eternal.
These occurrences may seem small, but they mean the world to me! Fathers and role models, it does not matter how “small” your similar stories may seem to others, it is huge for those you lead! So whether you are feeling like the best father/role model ever or you are feeling pretty down right now, you are doing an awesome job! Thank you for the sacrifices you make and for doing the “small” things that leave a lasting impact. You are awesome!
Even if you’re not a father/role model, do me a favor: find at least father and/or male role model and tell him, “you are doing a great job! Thank you!” Shake his hand, pound it, or give him a hug if you can. It will mean the world to him.
You read that right! My newest children’s book, Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine, is finally here! Check out this cool (and completely adorable) commercial my daughter created!
How can you support my newest children’s book?
Great question that I am glad to answer!
My brother (Josh aka the illustrator) and I are going LIVE on Facebook and YouTube this Friday (2/18) at 10 A.M. EST on Story Time with Mr. Limata! We will read Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine, have a discussion, and do a Q&A session with YOU! I look forward to seeing you there!
As always, thanks so much for your support! Click here to check out my Amazon Author Profile for more information on this children’s book and my others!
I wasn’t originally planning on releasing a part two, but after receiving feedback from you beautiful people, I decided to continue the conversation and introduce “a winning strategy to conquer adversity!”
As you already know, life is a journey. In Part 1 (Click here for Part 1), we discussed a quote by award-winning poet, Theodore Roethke: “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” As I continued to read and think about this topic, it reminded me of a challenging hike I completed when I was doing the Mission Trails Regional Park 5-peak challenge. It was not the most physically demanding thing I have done (U.S. Marine Corps training will push you to your limits), but there were definitely a few extremely challenging portions.
There was one particular portion of the North Fortuna Mountain that gets fairly steep; especially after inclement weather. The natural competitor in me forced me to complete this trail numerous times…but the first time was not a pretty sight! When I first approached this portion of the trail, I heard a loud, Drill Instructor-esque voice in my head yell, “attack the hill!” So I looked down and began charging up the steep incline that led to the summit–pumping my arms and power breathing as I went. I kept my head down in hopes that this would somehow help me magically arrive at the plateau quicker. Unfortunately, this was not reality. The further I hiked, the steeper the incline became. After about two minutes, my legs were burning, I was panting, and I was raining sweat.
I finally glanced up… I was definitely not as close as I thought I’d be. In fact, I hadn’t made much progress at all! So I had a choice to make. You see, I had already determined I was going to finish the hike. (Once I put my mind to it, it is going to happen!) So turning back wasn’t an option, but I had another decision to make: how should I motivate myself to complete this hike? Should I focus solely on the plateau? How long will I dwell on my progress (or lack thereof)? Should I closely monitor my progress as I continue to go forward?
I chose the latter and restarted my journey. After a couple more minutes, I checked my progress. When I looked back I initially thought, “I haven’t gone anywhere!” Then I noticed some people who were close to where I started. “Those people look small,” I thought. “I am farther than I thought!” That’s all I needed to continue pushing! So I started to hike again; looking back every 5-10 steps or so to see if the people behind me were getting even smaller. After another couple minutes passed, I decided to look up to see how far I made it. “You haven’t gone anywhere!” I exclaimed to myself. The tree I marked during my last break was still relatively close. I made less progress this time than I did before my first stop.
This is where I started to feel sorry for myself. “I am doing my best to get in better shape, and I cannot even motivate myself to get past this hill!” That’s when it hit me. I could not efficiently move forward while gazing at the things behind me. While I was glancing back, I found myself slipping on loose sand, stumbling over rocks, and falling off the path. In hindsight, this made my journey even more rigorous!
I could not efficiently move forward while gazing at the things behind me.
The Winning Strategy!
With that in mind, I developed a new winning strategy that would eventually help me overcome this challenge and subsequently make it to the summit. Before I restarted, I established what I called “checkpoints” or “mini-goals” along the path where I would rest and reflect (i.e. celebrate my progress). While hiking, I paid close attention to where I stepped; ensuring I constantly progressed as each step was on solid or compacted soil. Lastly, I kept my overall goal in mind: reach the North Fortuna summit, take a picture, and enjoy sunrise and the peaceful nature around me. It is important to note, this portion of the trail did not get any less steep or challenging; however, I knew I had the winning strategy to conquer this adverse situation and achieve my goal.
There are a few things I learned from that hike that I believe are helpful…
Rest and reflect. One of the biggest contributors to successfully completing this hike was implementing my mini-goals. I set my sights on several large rocks, trees, or recognizable features along the trail and said, “do not stop until you reach that mini-goal.” Once I reached my mini-goal, I did a small celebration to commemorate my progress. In essence, I broke my journey into manageable chunks that I could physically achieve and implemented preplanned opportunities to refresh my mental resiliency. The stops were not long; just quick enough to catch my breath and celebrate my progress. As goes life. Schedule quick moments to rest and reflect on progress, then keep pushing towards your ultimate goal!
Live in the moment. While grappling with today’s challenges, we cannot allow ourselves to be burdened by yesterdays news or overwhelmed with tomorrow’s issues. Focus on traversing the path ahead of you and achieving your mini-goals instead of gazing at the things behind you or worrying about tomorrow’s uncertainties.
Be aware and selective of what (or whom) you allow to validate your efforts. I was gauging my success on the trail off of someone else. In retrospect, those people were taking pictures, enjoying nature, strolling, and most importantly, they didn’t even take the same trail. We currently live in a society where it is easy to allow likes, shares, comments, money, and praise to validate us. The issue is those things are temporary. We should only find validation in things that are permanent (e.g. your purpose in life). For me, it is inspiring others. My efforts are validated when my children’s books, blog posts, speaking engagements, and my platform in general inspires someone else to pursue their own goals and dreams!
Don’t lose sight of your goal. My overall goal was to reach the summit, and I did! No matter how challenging the journey, never forget where you are going. Your “why” is what drives you day to day. Your “where” is what makes the journey worth it! You can and will achieve all of your goals! Believe in yourself!
Have a fantastic day, and know that you CAN and WILL make it through these dark times!
Want a little help making it through these dark times?
I partnered with my friend Deb Kartz to bring you a FREE 21-day virtual summit! Therein, you will enjoy pre-recorded interviews with industry experts who will give you proven strategies to conquer anxiety & toxicity! Click here to register for free!
I am one of the featured speakers, and I am excited for you to join! I’ll be sharing my own methods on how you can conquer anxiety and toxicity! Anxiety and toxicity are just another way that sneaky “shadow” tries to creep into our life and our children’s lives. As my Amazon best-seller Crow From the Shadow says, “The Shadow is a person… or maybe a thing… or a place. The Shadow tells me who to be, how to go, and where to stay.” Not anymore! We are going to expose that sneaky shadow and kick ’em to the curb! Join us for FREE as we #defeattheshadow to conquer anxiety and toxicity!
It is no secret: we are living in dark times. It seems like every time there is light at the end of the tunnel, a dark shadow is cast to make the sunshine look more like a small flickering candle. The darkness of that shadowy tunnel seems to surround and embrace us until the small flickering light becomes nothing more than an irrelevant annoyance. I use this symbolism because for many of us, the darkness in the world parallels the hardships (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) in our own lives. The flickering light (hope/anticipation that it is going to get better) is more annoying than helpful. It just seems so much easier to give up. Right?
Yesterday morning as I was meditating (as I do every morning), I received a quote from inspiringquotes.com:
“In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”
I found that quote to be a bit oxymoronic. Darkness is the absence of light. Scientifically speaking, without illumination human vision is unable to distinguish anything. So what is Mr. Roethke talking about?!
I was intrigued, so I did a little research. That quote is actually the first line in the poem “In a Dark Time” by Theodore Roethke. Click here to read the full poem if you are interested. If you do not know who Theodore Roethke is, he is an award-winning American poet who “helped to produce a remarkable body of work that would influence future generations of American poets to pursue the mysteries of one’s inner self.” When he was only 14, his uncle committed suicide and his dad died of cancer. This had a significant impact on his life and influenced his work. (That brief bio does not do his life’s work justice! Read more here.)
I gave that quick background to highlight that his quote has credence, but that still left me wondering, “how does the eye begin to see in darkness?” That question led me to my own philosophy, we can create our own light in times of darkness. How? Allow me to introduce an easy to remember acronym: L.I.G.H.T.
Light at the end of the tunnel.
The first thing I will challenge you to do is shift your perspective of the “light at the end of the tunnel.” It is easy to view the light as simply an escape or exit from dark times. We exclaim, “if I can only make it to that light, I will be out of here!” The issue with that simplistic view is it does not allow room for “life.” Some days we feel like we make significant progress, but most days we trip, stumble, and sometimes fall as we focus on the exit and not the things around us. That makes the light seem like a distant dream or “hope deferred” as the great Maya Angelou called it.
Take another look. Don’t just view the light as a means to the end; instead, view the light as a tool that reveals the things around you. At times, that light may seem distant, but in times of darkness, even the smallest light will expose the stumbling blocks that lurk in the shadow. When you view the light as a resource, you begin to learn and grow from the dark environment. You begin to recognize and quickly step over stumbling blocks in your path that you previously would have missed! So yes, the light is the means to the end but it is also the tool that illuminates your path.
What inspires you? What is your “why?” We get tired sometimes as we traverse through the dark tunnel. We ask ourselves, “what’s the point?” That’s when our inspiration kicks in! It pushes us to limits we did not know we had. It drives us along our illuminated path.
So how do you find what inspires you?
Surround yourself with positive people who are headed in the same direction.
Think about the issues you are passionate about changing.
Find people you can help lead through dark times.
Our inspiration is usually centered around the value we bring to others. We all have a calling or purpose that is bigger than just us. Allow that calling or purpose to be your inspiration.
My good friend and popular Artist, Aha Gazelle, said it best, “the hardest thing about growing is you can’t feel the movement.” (Song: Invitation by Aha Gazelle) That is such a profound message and fundamental truth. I remember how it felt when I started playing basketball as a young child. I knew you didn’t have to be tall to play basketball, but it was a huge help! So everyday I would stand against the wall and record my height with a pencil. It was very discouraging because I could not see or feel the growth. Eventually, I started to measure my height out of habit instead of anticipation. It wasn’t until I looked back after a few months and noticed my pencil mark moved a little higher. I was thrilled! “I grew overnight!” I thought.
That’s a fairly humourous comparison, but we do this as adults. No matter how far we have actually progressed, we feel like we have not made significant progress. Stop doing that to yourself! Every step forward is progress you should be proud of! Even when you do not feel or see the growth, it is happening. Celebrate your growth!
If you read “In a Dark Time” in its entirety, you noticed Theodore Roethke was making the same point I am making right now, hardships exist to make us better. That hurts to even think about. We have spent so many years looking at darkness and hardships as a negative when in reality, they are necessary for our growth. As I shared before, I will compare hardships to the weights in the gym. The gym is full of things that can either crush you or make you stronger. It all depends on your perspective. Just like hardships, gym equipment is designed to create micro tears in your muscles. Sounds scary and counterintuitive right? Maybe. Until we realize that our body heals those micro tears to make our muscles stronger and more resilient than they were before!
So shift your perspective! Those hardships may cause pain or “micro tears,” but you will become stronger because of it! I know it is hard to fathom, and it may seem impossible that you will become stronger as a result of the hardship(s) you are experiencing right now. But like Nelson Mandela once said, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Why is it important to see, learn, grow, and develop while in darkness? Because it takes time to make it through. I have always been a fan of taking action and making the most out of every second we have here on Earth. As I said before, time is one of our most precious nonrenewable resources, so don’t waste it. Embrace where you are, and invest time learning more about yourself and growing those around you!
Yep, you read that right! I am giving you a FREE download! No gimmicks. I am just proud to introduce my newest resource, the #defeattheshadow Journal!
I vaguely define The Shadow as any opposing force that exists to keep us from achieving success. I created this resource to teach people of all ages how to overcome The Shadow! I specifically had parents, teachers, and mentors in mind. Not only can we benefit from these strategies, but we can use these tools to guide our children toward success!
19 “Mile Markers” to develop your financial management skills and set you on a journey towards financial success.
The road to financial success is always a hot topic, but around this time of year, we tend to throw out any trace of actually managing our finances. I mean really, it is such a thrill to find a good sale, right?!
Yep, it is all fun until we blow a proverbial tire (i.e. we run out of money before we run out of bills). That’s usually when reality sets in.
Some of us have no problem avoiding sales because we hate large crowds, standing in line, keeping up with the latest trends, or spending money in general… But then here comes this old crazy lady named “Sallie Mae” who just wants to rob us blind for trying to better ourselves. Trust me–been there, done that, paid enough for thousands of t-shirts but ol’ Sallie never sent me one.
I’ve got news for you: there is hope! My brother–Dr. Clement Ogunyemi aka “The Finance Doctor”– and I are going to give you some tips that will put you well on your way towards achieving financial success. Just think of us as your friendly roadside assistance technicians. We are going to help you change that blown tire and navigate towards a bright financial future! And get this, none of this is a secret. Many people (myself included) have embarked on this challenging but exciting journey and have come out better. Share this article with everyone you know, and let’s journey towards financial success together!
Roads are a record of those who have gone before.
The 19 Mile Markers
1. Set your goals!
Make a plan, stick to the plan, always deliver!
We must begin by writing down clear individual and family (as required) financial goals. Use this 4-point inspection to set your goals. Each of your goals should be:
Focused on specific events (e.g. retirement), activities (e.g. travel), and opportunities (e.g. lump sum debt repayment).
Aligned to your values, beliefs, and overall strategy.
Quantifiable–associated with a realistic timeline and your financial situation.
Simple, clear, and concise. Don’t overthink it.
For example: A lot of people say, “I want to be a millionaire!” Sounds great! Us too! But does this pass the 4-point inspection? Not quite. Let’s see if we can fix it.
I will achieve a net worth of at least $1 million by the time I retire in twenty years (focused). I will cut expenses by reducing my restaurant allotment by $100/month, cable subscription (save $125/month), and carpool to work (save ~$60/month on gas) (quantifiable). I will work with my financial planner to add this to my other monthly investments (real estate, brokerage account, etc.) (aligned) to take advantage of compound interest. (Simple, clear, and concise)
Last tip on this point, post your goals in common places. That way everyone in your house can see and believe in the goals. The refrigerator is a great place to post!
2. Develop and maintain a “can do” mentality!
Are you a doer or a don’ter?
Johnny Wu, Pain & Gain
Ok, ok. Enough quotes for today. But seriously, let’s develop “doer” mindsets. Repetition is everything. You are what you tell yourself. So we challenge you to adjust your vocabulary. Stop telling yourself what you cannot do! Instead, tell yourself what you will do. Look in the mirror and affirm you can, you will, and success looks GREAT on you! Eventually, your body language, habits, and work ethic will exude confidence and excellence.
3. You get the first piece of the cake!
Imagine this: you get a freshly baked cake every pay period. As soon as this delicious, savory, warm, sweet-smelling cake comes out of the oven, the entire community shows up at your doorstep to take a piece of the cake that you earned. Being the kind person you are, you let everyone have a piece–often leaving yourself with the crumbs (like the little crumbs that get stuck under your fingernails). Not anymore!
We are applying our favorite birthday rule: you always get the first piece of your cake! So we advise that you pay yourself 10% first. Make this automatic. It’s your money! Let it build your emergency fund. Build that fund to at least $1,000 (goal is 3-6 months of expenses). Then, continue to work this muscle to build your long-term savings/investing.
4. Write down every last one of your expenses!
Divide your expenses into two baskets: essential and non-essential. Within the essential basket, break them down even further into variable and fixed expenses. You are conducting a Sherlock Holmes investigation into [Insert your name here]’s personal finances. We want you to be the best forensic detective ever! Identify where you spend literally every penny (even the ones that fell out of your pocket into the couch). Here are a few more things to think about:
Find out where your money is going.
Learn to what/whom you are dedicating your time and resources (priorities) and what you can potentially cut.
Study your spending habits to understand how all your expenses tie together. You may reveal an ugly truth. (e.g. a $5 value meal may not seem like a lot, but it adds up when you spend that amount three times/day.)
5. Prioritize your expenses and pay them on time. (This is where writing down your expenses comes in handy.)
We are going to state the obvious, essential expenses take priority over non-essential. Every. Single. Time. (e.g. XBox Game Pass does not come before food for the kids.) So make your bill payments automatic. Here are a couple of things to think about:
Check out these four essential “expense tires” that your financial vehicle cannot run without: Food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. Prioritize these above all other expenses.
Live below your means. You cannot live a Boardwalk lifestyle on a Baltic Avenue income. (Yes, that is a monopoly reference.)
6. Develop a budget aka a “monthly spending plan.”
Ok, new assignment. You are now the Chief Financial Officer of [Insert your name here] Inc. Congratulations on the new assignment! 🎉 Your new job is to create a spending plan. Here’s what you must include:
How much money did you bring home? (post tax aka “net income”)
You have already written down expenses. So now, let’s create a “zero-based” budget.
Pay yourself first–How much are you able to set aside each month for your personal savings, emergency savings, kid’s college fund, etc.?
Don’t forget to prioritize those four expense tires (food, shelter, clothing, transportation)
Obliterate debt! (We will talk more about this on Number 14)
It’s ok to put your fun activities into your budget! A budget is not stressful, it is fun.
We will continue to “drive” this point home: You are telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
Give! Give! Give! Be charitable. The more you give, the more you receive!
7. Start learning more about your paycheck, benefits, tax status, etc.
This is where a good financial consultant and/or tax accountant comes in handy. A good finance professional will teach you how these things work so you won’t unintentionally give free loans to Uncle Sam (i.e. wait all year for a gigantic tax refund) or owe Uncle Sam a ridiculous amount of money when tax season arrives.
8. Plan ahead for large known expenses!
We’ll give you an example: Christmas is the same time every year. Why does it still come as a surprise to us?? Plan ahead. Save. (maybe catch some items on sale throughout the year). Whatever you do, be ready for known large expenses.
Emergencies happen, but failing to plan for known large expenses is often one of the biggest disruptions on our journey towards financial success.
9. Reconcile your checking account monthly.
You don’t want expenses sneaking out of your account. Reconcile what you spent and when you spent it. For example, I (Olaolu) noticed a $0.99/month payment going to Apple from my account. I did not know what it was for and neither did Apple. This is a small amount, but again, every penny matters when you are doing “zero based” budgeting.
If you are single, have a monthly board meeting with yourself. If not, have a monthly board meeting with your family.
It is ok to talk through what went well and what can be improved.
Here are some [nonconfrontation] questions you can ask: What went well this month? What are areas of opportunity?
10. Learn more about investing.
Again, having a good financial professional is key. Let them teach you the ropes. DIY investing doesn’t often end well.
Do not jump in the deep end of the pool! If you do not understand it, do not invest in it.
Stay away from get-rich-quick investments. It seems like there is a new one every week. Do not fall for it!
Educate yourself so you won’t end up in a situation you cannot easily escape (*cough* Bernie Madoff *cough*).
11. Develop a retirement plan as early as you can.
Time is on your side. The earlier the better. Take advantage of compound interest (aka interest on interest).
Make sure the risks align with your goals. For example, if you plan to retire in five years, you probably should avoid extremely risky investments. Conversely, if you have thirty years until retirement, you may feel more comfortable assuming more risks.
12. Develop a college plan for your children as early as you can.
Despite what we think, not all of our children will get an athletic scholarship. Some [most] of us will have to pay for our children’s education. It would suck if your kids are unable to pursue higher education because you did not prepare. It’s all about planning ahead.
Begin saving as early as possible (preferably 16-18 years but a late start is better than no start)
Plan as if your child will not receive a single scholarship. If they do, you created a substantial nest egg for your child to begin investing. Win-win!
13. Start saving for a down payment towards a home.
Owning your own home is a huge step towards financial success.
Despite what people may tell you, your home can be an asset if done correctly.
Make sure the asset side of the home outweighs the liability side (i.e. it’s worth more than what you owe on it).
A home can be passed down (generational wealth)
You are setting your kids up for success while starting a generational wealth cycle.
14. Become debt free.
Again, we cannot allow the lenders to eat all of our cake! The “Debt snowball” method worked for us, so that is what we recommend! Here is how https://www.ramseysolutions.com/ explains it, “The debt snowball method is a debt-reduction strategy where you pay off debt in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as you knock out each remaining balance. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the minimum payment you were making on that debt into the next-smallest debt payment.”
15. Learn all about insurance.
Insurance is a must have. Life, health, home/renters, disability, long-term care, identity theft, and auto insurance are seven of the top must haves! Do your research to find the best price for the best product. Review and update your coverages regularly.
Insurance exists to transfer risk of financial loss from you to the insurance company.
Insurance is like an umbrella–if you don’t have it, you risk getting rained on when the storm comes!
Remember, you are the CFO. You’re in charge of ensuring your company’s financial success.
Imagine you were also the CEO of your company. Would you give your CFO a bonus or would your CFO be collecting unemployment?
18. Develop an estate plan and will!
Another must have. We will all die someday. It is a fact of life. Do not make your family guess your wishes. We must normalize developing and discussing our wishes before we die. Do your best to avoid leaving behind a grieving family that is fighting over assets, money, or your wishes.
19. Have fun on your journey towards financial success!
We know this seems like a lot, but it is not a terrible journey. Is it challenging? Of course! But we were always told that all things in life worth having are challenging. Accept the challenge! Turn on your best perseverance jams! Let’s enjoy this journey to financial success!
Want to learn more about personal finance and/or need a little help on your journey towards financial success? Purchase Dr. Clement Ogunyemi’s book Nine Tenth! Regardless of your religious beliefs, the sound financial principles taught in this book are proven to work! Click here to find out more! Also, you can reach Dr. Clement Ogunyemi on his website: https://www.4qfinancial.com/about/
Meet the Authors (Yep, we are brothers!)
A loving husband, Father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer, Olaolu Ogunyemi has a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the “life of the party” because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he is intimately familiar with the bond that is forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children’s stories to help create loving and memorable family moments.
Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language, and an entertaining style that keeps families hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.
Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, and spending time with his family.
Dr. Clement Ogunyemi aka “The Finance Doctor” is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 4Q Financial Management LLC. The company assists clients in maximizing their wealth and reducing taxes. Some of its most popular services include Financial Management, Financial Education, and Tax Planning. Clients of all kinds are accepted. 4Q Financial’s offices are located in Northwest Arkansas where they have developed a remarkably positive reputation working with the local community.
Dr. Ogunyemi has been a finance professional for nearly a decade, with the scope of his work ranging from investmentbanking with Morgan Stanley to managing funds of the world’s largest and most profitable retailer, Walmart.
Dr. Ogunyemi holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management, Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Corporate Finance, and a Doctor of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.
More about The Finance Doctor
Through his experience, he has learned the importance of sound budgeting and spending. He is currently a Chief Financial Officer Consultant for several organizations and serves as a finance chair for several non-profit organizations.
His doctoral study centers around the importance and impact of financial literacy programs on an individual’s financial decision making.
A frequent traveler and entrepreneur, he enjoys working out and spending time with his beautiful fiancé, two sons, and his dog.