Develop (and Stick to) Your Financial Goals

“The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.”
– Cecil B. DeMille


I’m writing this blog on “Black Friday,” the proverbial biggest shopping day of the year. How many people, I wonder, are out there this very minute, frantically accumulating more “stuff” (for themselves and others), with little thought for the overall impact today’s purchases will make on their financial goals—if they even have their goals identified. Many, many people do not.
Are YOU a goal setter? If you are, and you’re a diligent planner and implementer, you’re probably a pretty successful person. If not, you can be!
Goal setting is a critically important discipline in every area of life but especially so in the area of finances. Many of your goals will involve substantial sums of money, and it takes planning to reach them. That’s why it’s so important to make a financial plan and set goals that stick.

For each of your goals, you need to develop a financial plan that gets you there. This means determining how much you’ll need to save and invest each month for each goal.  It also means exercising self-control (and avoiding the credit card trap) along the way so you don’t sabotage your own plan!
By developing financial plans, you’ll be in a much better position to reach your goals than if you go about it casually. All of this requires effort and discipline, but it’s not that tough once you start and stick to it. You’ll reach your goals sooner and more cost effectively if you become a dedicated planner, saver, and investor.
Looking ahead, which of your goals do you think will require significant sums of money? How have you planned for them? How do you stick to your plan when you’re tempted by “right now” wants? Share your ideas and questions with us; we’d love to hear your comments!

Celebrate the Season!

It’s been a great year for LifeSmart Publishing and What I Wish I Knew at 18! We are filled with gratitude for the many friends we made in 2012—not just around the country, but around the world!

With the holiday season rolling around again,

we think it’s time to CELEBRATE!

Our 2nd annual Cyberale is offering our What I Wish I Knew at 18 book and guides at substantial savings, just in time for holiday gift-giving and classroom orders for the New Year: 


What I Wish I Knew at 18 BOOK – $10.99

What I Wish I Knew at 18 STANDARD STUDENT GUIDE – $11.99

What I Wish I Knew at 18 CHRISTIAN STUDENT GUIDE – $11.99

Kit containing 1 book and 1 guide – $21.99


now through December 31st

Order at or 1-800-Booklog


and use the coupon code CHEER

What I Wish I Knew at 18 serves a wonderful gift or stocking stuffer for:


It’s our way of saying “Thanks!” for your support—

and to wish you a joy-filled Thanksgiving, Christmas, and holiday season!

Cheers and Blessings!
Your LifeSmart Team

Give Thanks, Give of Yourself

This week I am thankful—not for what I have for myself, but for what I have to give away. Really, life’s greatest joys come not in the getting, but in the giving. Don’t you agree?
            I have special admiration for people who commit their lives to serving others. They’re not motivated by fame or fortune, but rather by joyful service. Their qualities of generosity, empathy, compassion, and kindness seem to come naturally to them, and they’re inspiring treasures to us all.

            How you eventually impact the world will be driven by what you have to offer and what you choose to offer. What do you uniquely have to offer the world?
            This is a profound question, and one that will evolve throughout your lifetime. At any point, though, your personal assets will generally fall into three categories: your time, talent, and treasure.
            There are many different avenues that allow you to allocate these resources to serve others. To decide how best to give what you have to benefit others, there are three main questions to consider:

  • What talents and skills do I have to offer?
  • What groups or community segments (e.g., youth, elderly, homeless) do I feel most called to help?
  • What organizations will allow me to use my talents to help those I feel most passionately about?

            I encourage you to develop a servant’s heart as a way of life, embodying the qualities of generosity and compassion in your everyday dealings with people. Learn to proactively and instinctively use all three of your “asset” categories when various situations arise to which you contribute—not just money, but also yourself.

            Living life with a servant’s heart will bring help and hope to others and immense joy to you in return. You’ll receive far more than what you give. Nothing compares with using your gifts and talents to improve the world around you. This is the true spirit of Thanksgiving!

Have you experienced the deep thankfulness that “giving yourself away” evokes? Looking ahead, what new ways do you envision using your time, talent, and treasure to make the world a better place? Share your responses by commenting below; we’d love to hear your stories and ideas!

Recognize and Release Stress

Did you know all stress is not created equal? There’s good stress and there’s bad stress. What’s good stress? Your first big job interview. A plane to catch on an exciting vacation. A first date for which you want to look your best. These kinds of stressors can keep us motivated, moving ahead, and putting our best foot forward.
            But then there’s the bad stress. That’s the ongoing pressure we face during hard times, like breaking up with a loved one or battling a difficult health issue.
            The fact is, when we go through our most painful times, we often don’t take very good care of ourselves. We may eat terribly (if at all), sleep miserably (if at all), and bottle up our pain and stress. Some people hibernate like bears, lacking the self-confidence to be in public, or become tempted to seek solace in false comforts like alcohol and drugs.
            There is a better way.
In order to deal with your stress and preserve your health, it pays to tap into your stress outlets and learn to release your pain. That’s right: you’ve got to learn to let it go.

            For starters, when going through a rough patch, it’s essential to sleep and eat well and get cardio exercise. My best physical stress outlet is running. Not only does it help relieve my tension, but it also gives me time to pray and think more clearly about my situation.  I’ve found my best thinking comes when I run and allow my mind to roam free.  That, together with the physical exertion of my exercise, really helps restore my peace of mind.
            I also recommend reaching out to your support system. Friends cheer us up, offer helpful perspective, and, even help us stay healthy. As mentioned in an earlier blog, people with good friends get sick less often and recover more quickly! 
            Sadly, people are often reluctant to ask for help, forgetting that it’s a blessing for loved ones to answer that kind of call and offer needed support. By forgoing this option, we deprive them of sharing their gifts of love and encouragement with us.
            You may have different stress outlets than mine—and that’s okay. The important thing is that you have them. Whatever they are, don’t forget to use them. Remember that you still need to take care of “number one” while you’re traveling through life’s inevitable, turbulent times.
How well do you take care of yourself—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—during times of trial? Are you open to receiving support from loved ones who would cheerfully help? Do you stay connected relationally when times are tough instead of isolating yourself? Share your thoughts and ideas with us by commenting below; we can learn from each other!

Don’t Wait to Change the World!

Not long ago, I spent a day with high school students at a prestigious prep school. It was technically a “day off” on the school calendar, but over 150 courageous students showed up for this special program focused on tackling difficult life issues. The stories in my group ran the gamut, but they mostly involved a lack of parental love, excessive pressure to perform (coming from parents), and the drive to be popular (with peers). It was gut wrenching at times. 
          What struck me about this experience was: 1) the willingness and transparency of the students to admit need and be open to the wisdom of the adult mentors, and 2) the humility and commitment of the adults to also be transparent and real, and to invest their time and energy in our younger generation. This was but one small opportunity in a field of millions, and I felt honored to serve.
          All around us there are people and causes that would benefit from our time, our energy, our input, our investment. Are you paying attention to the ones that would benefit from you? In What I Wish I Knew at 18, I encourage my readers to take some time to evaluate what  “causes” inspire them and provide some guidelines for discovering what those are. You can also find those guidelines in my recent blog, “Know Your Purpose, Live Your Passion.” 
            Which opportunities will you take today to invest in others and help make life a little (or a lot!) better for someone else? Strike while the iron is hot and build a living legacy. Someone out there needs exactly you!

            Don’t wait to change the world!     

What are some examples in your life where you experienced pure joy and fulfillment? Or, where you had a significant impact on something or someone? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below; we’d love to know how YOU’RE changing the world!