Monday, August 23, 2010

Practice Uncommon Appreciation
Written by Jack Canfield

A recent management study revealed that 46% of employees leaving a company do so because they feel unappreciated; 61% said their bosses don’t place much importance on them as people; and 88% said they don’t receive acknowledgement for the work they do.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, manager, teacher, parent, coach or simply a friend, if you want to be successful with other people, you must master the art of appreciation.

I’ve never known anyone to complain about receiving too much positive feedback. Have you? In fact, just the opposite is true.

Consider this: Every year, a management consulting firm conducts a survey with 200 companies on the subject on what motivates employees. When given a list of 10 possible things that would most motivate them, the employees always list appreciation as the number-one motivator.

Managers and supervisors ranked appreciation number eight. This is a major mismatch, as the chart below so clearly shows.

10 Ways to Really Motivate an Employee
Employees
  • Appreciation
  • Feeling “in” on things
  • Understanding attitude
  • Job security
  • Good wages
  • Interesting work
  • Promotional opportunities
  • Loyalty from management
  • Good working conditions
  • Tactful discipline
Supervisors
  • Good Wages
  • Job Security
  • Promotional Opportunities
  • Good working conditions
  • Interesting work
  • Loyalty from management
  • Tactful discipline
  • Appreciation
  • Understanding attitude
  • Feeling “in” on things

Notice that the top three motivators for employees don’t cost anything, just a few moments of time, respect and understanding.

Keeping Score

When I first learned about the power of appreciation, it made total sense to me. However, it was still something that I forgot to do. I hadn’t yet turned it into a habit. A valuable technique that I employed to help me lock in this new habit was to carry a 3” x 5” card in my pocket all day, and every time I acknowledged and appreciated someone, I would place a check mark on the card. I would not allow myself to go to bed until I had appreciated 10 people. If it was late in the evening and I didn’t have 10 check marks, I would appreciate my wife and children, I would send an e-mails to several of my, or I would write a letter to my mother or stepfather.

I did whatever it took until it became an unconscious habit. I did this every single day for 6 months—until I no longer needed the card to remind me.

Who Cares?

If asked, could you name the five wealthiest people in the world, or five people who have won the Nobel Prize, or the last five Academy Award winners for best actor and actress?

The point is none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers either; they are the best in their fields.
But if I asked you to list five teachers or mentors who believed in and encouraged you, five friends who have helped you through a difficult time, five people who have taught you something worthwhile, or five people who have made you feel appreciated and special – that’s much easier to do, isn’t it?

That’s because the people who make a difference in your life aren’t the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They’re the ones who care.

If you want to be remembered for being important to someone else’s life, make them feel appreciated.

Appreciation as a Secret of Success

Another important reason for being in a state of appreciation as often as possible is that when you are in such a state, you are in one of the highest emotional states possible.

When you are in a state of appreciation and gratitude, you are in a state of abundance. You are appreciating what you do instead of focusing on, and complaining about, what you don’t have. Your focus is on what you have received… and you always get more of what you focus on. And because the law of attraction states that like attracts like, the more you are in a state of gratitude, the more you will attract to be grateful for. It becomes an upward-spiraling process of ever-increasing abundance that just keeps getting better and better.

Think about it. The more grateful people are for the gifts we give them, the more inclined we are to give them more gifts. Their gratitude and appreciation reinforces our giving. The same principle holds true on a universal and spiritual level as it does on an interpersonal level.

I challenge you to discover ways to immediately appreciate someone in your life, starting today!

For more on this topic, read Chapter 53 in The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. It will give you great suggestions and ideas on how you, too, can find ways to appreciate those in your life.

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul©Inspirational Books)© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com/.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Part 2 of 3: The Stretch IRA – Making it Work with a Roth IRA

Before reading this post I would recommend that you read the following first:
In Part 1 I explained that the Stretch IRA is really just a concept of how you can Stretch an IRA across multiple generations, and I showed an example of how it can work with a Traditional IRA. Now I want to show you the same example, however, this time it will be geared towards making it work with a Roth IRA instead.

So, just like in Part 1, when I gave you some basic characteristics of a Traditional IRA, I want to give you some basic characteristics of a Roth IRA: (The same disclaimers apply here as in Part 1 – if you are interested in getting a Roth IRA, check with your tax advisor first, to make sure you are eligible.)
  • There is a maximum amount that you can contribute to a Roth IRA per year. Just like a Traditional IRA, in 2010 that amount is $5000.00 or $6000.00 if you are over 50 years old.
  • Any contributions made to a Roth IRA are not tax deductible like that of the Traditional IRA; however, the Roth IRA’s investment grows tax free and withdrawals are tax free too.
  • You may withdraw your Roth IRA contributions at any time, however, you must be over 59 ½ to withdraw any growth on the investment without a tax penalty.
  • You are not required to start withdrawing any money from the Roth IRA at age 70 1/2. Likewise, you can still make contributions to your Roth IRA after you turn age 70 1/2.
If the image above is too small, please double click to enlarge it.

Note: This example is assuming a very conservative %6 rate of return – and all of the Roth IRA withdrawals are tax free.

The story starts the same as it did in Part 1: Granddad Clark invested $91.00 per month, in his Traditional IRA, from age 25 to age 70. By age 70, he had accumulated $250,000.00. (Note: There are no age limitations for making contributions to a Roth IRA like there is for a Traditional IRA. In the Traditional IRA example in Part 1, after the age of 70 ½ Clark had to take Required Monthly Distributions (RMDs) and could no longer contribute to the Traditional IRA. With this Roth IRA example Clark is not required to take RMDs and could keep on contributing to his IRA, but for the sake of comparison, no new money will be added to the Roth IRA after age 70 – any additional money added will just be from the growth at 6% rate of return.)

Clark had done well for himself and didn’t need the IRA as his primary source of retirement income so; he decided he wanted to leave all of the money in his IRA to his heirs. Over the next ten years Clark makes no new contributions and takes no withdrawals and at age 80, Clark died and his wife, Marie, got his Roth IRA which grew from $250,000.00 to $447,712.00.

Marie then made her daughter Amy the beneficiary. Ten years later after also not taking any withdrawals and having the Roth IRA grow to $801,784.00, Marie died.

At that point, Amy was age 53, with an IRS life expectancy of 32 more years. (Note: Just like with the Traditional IRA example in Part 1, the originator of the IRA and the spouse are considered the first generation and Amy starts the second generation. One of the basic characteristics of a Roth IRA that I listed earlier that states that you are not required to make withdrawals at a certain age – that only applies to the first generation. Since, in this example, Amy starts the second generation, she will be required to withdraw money based on her life expectancy calculated by the IRS.) Over the next 25 year, by taking only the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), Amy had to withdraw $1,423,200.00 and still left her son Michael an additional $317,826.00 after she passed away.

From the amount left from his mother, Michael had to continue the withdrawing the RMDs as calculated by his mother’s life expectancy. And he was still able to withdraw $398,496.00 over the next 7 years before the account was emptied out.

So, by starting out with the same amount of money and just using a different investment vehicle – the Roth IRA instead of the Traditional IRA, the differences are astounding. Both examples started out with $250,000.00, but with the money in a Roth IRA, it is possible for $1,821,696.00 in Tax Free income to be Stretched over the same period of time as the Traditional IRA – a period spanning 52 years and three generations.

If you remember from Part 1 with the Traditional IRA, the income stretched over the generations was $1,225,765.00; however those were in before tax dollars, whereas the Roth IRA was totally tax free. The after tax total for the Traditional IRA ended up being $882,551.00, which is good, but, that’s a $939,145.00 difference in favor of the Roth IRA! Don’t you think this is important to know if you were planning on leaving a legacy for your family?

Coming soon - the grande finale - Part 3 of the series where I will wrap up the topic of the Stretch IRA and hopefully tie up any loose ends. See you soon!

I'm so excited to share this information with you. If you have enjoyed the information or feel that it would benefit someone else, please share it. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Saying No to Others is Saying YES to Yourself
Written by Jack Canfield

There are only two words that will always lead you to success. Those words are yes and no. Undoubtedly, you've mastered saying yes. So start practicing saying no. Your goals depend on it!

If you are constantly saying yes to other people, then you are constantly saying no to yourself and your goals. Ask yourself if what is being requested of you is in line with your goals, will it benefit you in some way and bring you closer to your success, or will you simply be spending your time on someone else's good opportunity?

How much time do you waste with projects and activities that you really don't want to do simply because you are uncomfortable saying no?

Success depends on getting good at saying no without feeling guilty. You cannot get ahead with your own goals if you are always saying yes to someone else's projects and agendas.

What a simple concept this is, yet you'd be surprised how frequently even the world's top entrepreneurs, professionals, educators and civic leaders get caught up in projects, situations and opportunities that are merely good, while the great is left out in the cold-waiting for them to make room
in their lives. In fact, concentrating on merely the "good" often prevents the "great" from showing up, simply because there's no time left in our
schedules to take advantage of any additional opportunity.

Is this your situation-constantly chasing after mediocre prospects or pursuing misguided schemes for success, when you could be holding at bay opportunities for astounding achievement?

If saying "No" is so important, then why is it so hard to say?

Why do we find it so hard to say no to everybody's requests? As children, many of us learned that "no" was an unacceptable answer. Responding with "no" was cause for discipline. Later, in our careers, "no" may have been the reason for a poor evaluation or failing to move up the corporate ladder.

Yet, highly successful people say "no" all the time-to projects, to crazy deadlines, to questionable priorities and to other people's crises. In fact, they view the decision to say "no" equally acceptable as the decision to say "yes."

Others say no, but will offer to refer you to someone else for help. Still others claim their calendar, family obligations, deadlines and even finances as reasons why they must decline requests. At the office, achievers find other solutions to their co-workers' repeated emergencies, rather than becoming a victim of someone else's lack of organization and poor time management.

"It's not against you, it's for me..."

One response that I have found helpful in saying "no" to crisis appeals or time-robbing requests from people is... It's not against you; it's for me.

When the chairman calls with yet another fund-raising event that needs your dedication, you can say, "You know, my saying no to you is not against you, or what you are trying to do. It's a very worthy cause, but recently I realized I've been over committing myself. So even though I support what you're doing, the fact is I've made a commitment to spend more time with my family. It's not against you; it's for us."

Few people can get angry at you for making and standing by a higher commitment. In fact, they'll respect you for your clarity and your strength.

So, how can you determine what's truly great, so you can say no to what's merely good?

Start by listing your opportunities-one side of the page for good and the other side for great. Seeing options in writing will help crystallize your thinking and determine what questions to ask, what information to gather, what your plan of attack might be, and so on. It will help you decide if an opportunity truly fits with our overall life purpose and passion, or if it's just life taking you down a side road.

Talk to advisors about this potential new pursuit. People who have traveled the road before you have vast experience to share and hard-headed questions to ask about any new life opportunity you might be contemplating. They can talk to you about expected challenges and help you evaluate the "Hassle Factor"-that is, how much time, money, effort, stress and commitment will be required.

Test the waters. Rather than take a leap of faith that the new opportunity will proceed as you expect, conduct a small test, spending a limited amount of time and money. If it's a new career you're interested in, first seek part-time work or independent consulting contracts in that field. If it's a major move or volunteer project you're excited about, see if you can travel for a few months to your dream locale or find ways to immerse yourself in the volunteer work for several weeks.

And finally, look where you spend your time. Determine if those activities truly serve your goals or if saying "no" would free up your schedule for more focused pursuits.

Be brave in saying no to good opportunities, stay focused on your higher goals and let people know that you are committed to those goals. People will respect your clarity and drive.

Remember, just as you are in control of your feelings and attitudes, other people are in control of theirs, so if they do get upset with you for saying no...well that is a choice they make for themselves.

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul©Inspirational Books)© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com/.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Part 1 of 3: The Stretch IRA – Making it Work with a Traditional IRA

What I intend to do over the course of the next few weeks to a month is to explain the concept of the Stretch IRA. In Part 1 I will explain the concept as it relates to a Traditional IRA; in Part 2 I will explain the concept as it relates to a Roth IRA and in Part 3 I will attempt to pull everything together and summarize it all.

Let’s start by first defining “What is a Stretch IRA?” Well, a Stretch IRA is not something that you can physically buy. You can buy a Traditional IRA and you can buy a Roth IRA, but you cannot buy a Stretch IRA. A Stretch IRA is really just a concept or a theory of how an IRA can possibly be Stretched across multiple generations. By understanding the Stretch IRA philosophy and by teaching this philosophy to your family and in turn having them teach their family is a great way to create a legacy for yourself that can affect your future family tree in a tremendously positive way.

In order to explain this concept, I’d like to show you an example of how a family could Stretch an IRA across multiple generations using a Traditional IRA. Then I’d like to explain how possible this can be to implement and I will be backing everything up with the actual numbers that can make this possible.

For Part 1 I will be just showing the concept as it relates to a Traditional IRA, so I’ll give you some basic characteristics of the Traditional IRA, however, if you have any specific questions, for instance, whether you qualify for one, please contact your tax advisor. Here are the most important characteristics of a Traditional IRA:
  • There is a maximum amount that you can contribute to a Traditional IRA per year. In 2010 that amount is $5000.00 or $6000.00 if you were over 50 years old.
  • Contributions made to a Traditional IRA may be tax deductible and the investment grows tax deferrable -- meaning you do not have to pay any taxes until you start withdrawing the money.
  • You may not withdraw any money before you are 59 ½ without a tax penalty.
  • You must start withdrawing the money and cannot make any more contributions to your Traditional IRA after you turn age 70 ½. At this point you must at least withdraw a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)
    which is calculated by your current age and your life expectancy. Basically, Uncle Sam would like to get all of his tax dollars back before you die!
I know this picture is small and looks complex; however, you can double click on the image to enlarge it and I will be explaining the picture in detail below.

Here’s how the story goes. Granddad Clark invested $91.00 per month, in his Traditional IRA, from age 25 to age 70. By age 70, he accumulated $250,000.00. (By the way, all calculations in this story are based on a very conservative 6% average annual total return.)

Clark had done well for himself and decided he wanted to leave all of the money in his IRA to his heirs. However, since this was a Traditional IRA, at age 70 ½ he had to start withdrawing money down from the account, so he decided to take only the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) as calculated based on his life expectancy. Clark lived for 10 more years, making $118,897.00 worth of before tax withdrawals and at age 80, Clark died and his wife, Marie, got his Traditional IRA that was still worth $295,106.00.

Marie then made her daughter Amy the beneficiary. Since Marie was over 70 ½, she had to start withdrawing too, and based on her husband's wishes, she decided to only take the RMD that was re-calculated based on her life expectancy. Ten years and $170,766.00 worth of pre tax withdraws later, Marie died, leaving her daughter, still with $308,759.00.

At that point, Amy was age 53, with an IRS life expectancy of 32 more years. (Notice: The originator of the IRA and the spouse are always in the first generation. Amy starts the IRA into the second generation and here is where something different happens. The IRA’s final RMD is now re-calculated to have to be totally emptied out in 32 years based on the life expectancy of the originator of the second generation - Amy.) Over the next 25 years, Amy withdrew $563,158.00 in before tax dollars and upon dying, left her son Michael an additional $296,550.00.

From that, still based on the RMD calculation based on his mother’s life expectancy, Michael was still able to withdraw $372,944.00 in before tax dollars and cleaned out the account over the next 7 years.

This goes to show how a $250,000.00 Traditional IRA could generate a total of $1,225,765.00 in income before taxes and Stretch over a period spanning 52 years and three generations.

If you think this is interesting, be on the lookout for Part 2 where I will show you how you can Stretch a Roth IRA.

I'm so excited to share this information with you. If you have enjoyed the information or feel that it would benefit someone else, please share it. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.