“How Will This Move Me Forward?”

Saw an interesting tip posed by my man Tom Corley the other day, author of Rich Habits.

He says this is the “only question you ever need to ask yourself” before making a move. Which is kinda drastic in my opinion, but hey – here I am blogging about it!

Here’s the question:

“How will this move me forward?”

So simple, yet so profound! And something that could have served me well back in my college days too, haha… (does moving forward towards beer and girls count?! Maybe just 1/2 a point?)

Here are some times where Tom says is smart to ask yourself this question:

  • Before you turn on the TV
  • Before you click on Facebook
  • Before you cheat on your spouse
  • Before you gossip
  • Before you gamble
  • Before you light that cigarette
  • Before you feel like hitting someone

(I like how cheating on your spouse is right up there with Facebook, haha… How about when you use Facebook to cheat?? Do you have to ask yourself twice? (womp womp))

Anyways, a great question to think about for sure. And of course, it extends merrily to our finances and careers too. As much as we sometimes might prefer it didn’t ;)

Here’s a list I quickly put together on when you might want to ask yourself this question relating to your money… Will any of this help move you forward??

  • When you take out your wallet
  • When you take out your credit card
  • When you step into the mall
  • When you log onto Amazon
  • When you take out a loan
  • When you stop reading Budgets Are Sexy (the horror!!)
  • When you opt out of your 401(k) contributions (double horror!)
  • When you quit your job with nothing lined up (unless you’re doing it to read the complete archives of Budgets Are Sexy)

So as you can see, it’s a pretty powerful question. You don’t want to analyze yourself to death every second of the day, but I’d imagine that even just asking yourself this *once* in a more general way each day could serve you and your wallet pretty well.

“How will all my actions today move me forward?

Great question to have on your phone or computer’s desktop screen too! Or even as a daily calendar reminder? Imagine seeing this pop up every time you open it up in the morning? Would be pretty hard to ignore!

Check out Tom’s blog or book if you haven’t done so before… he reminds me a little of a modern day Napoleon Hill, and is always putting out short and sweet passages that tend to get me to stop for a few and reflect… Great for *millionaire research* too, as he spent 5 years interviewing the wealthy (and the poor to compare better) which later turned into a book and catapulted him onto the scene.

Here are a few nuggets from his research which I’m pretty obsessed about:

  • 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% for poor
  • 79% of wealthy network 5 hours or more each month vs. 16% for poor
  • 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
  • 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs 2% for poor
  • 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically 4 days a week. 23% of poor do this.
  • 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor
  • 44% of wealthy wake up 3 hours before work starts vs. 3% for poor.
  • 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% for poor.

So yeah – lots of things to ponder!

Now ask yourself: how will reading this blog post move you forward today? ;)

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  1. Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle October 30, 2017 at 6:19 AM

    I think it’s crazy to see numbers like that. I mean, only 17% of poor people write down goals. How hard is it to do that? Yet they don’t.

    My family growing up was pretty poor. And we fall into so many of those poor statistical categories. On the other hand, my husband has always known he would be a millionaire (God willing), and he definitely falls more into the wealthy side with a lot of his habits.

    It’s interesting to see both sides of the coin, from poor habits growing up to figuring out the right things to do to be successful in life. I think his “How will this move me forward?” is very appropriate when it comes down to it. Just pausing to decide if it’s worth our time can save quite a bit of wasted effort.

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:12 AM

      It’s interesting that your husband has always known he was going to be a millionaire! All about the *mindset* right there… (I like to say that I’m a future millionaire ;))

  2. Mrs. Kiwi @ KiwiAndKeweenaw.com October 30, 2017 at 6:41 AM

    “How will this move me forward?” is a good way to question daily behaviours. So I’m writing it on my phone unlock screen (at least I’ll have to see it before I open twitter). Though, sometimes when I get into a routine of always trying to move forward I forget that taking time to relax is also critical. While focusing on meditation/reading/reflection time is helpful in moving forward those strides are slow and hard to measure, especially when compared to time focused on a side-hustle or professional development.

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:22 AM

      For sure – def. hard to measure. Let me know if it helps having it there on the phone!

  3. Mrs. Adventure Rich October 30, 2017 at 6:46 AM

    We recently decided to delay a remodel on our home for this very reason. We realized that the money we would spend on the remodel will better serve us invested for the time being, so we are delaying the remodel and hitting our financial goals first!

  4. Cubert October 30, 2017 at 6:47 AM

    A solid bite of oatmeal wisdom from J. on a cold, dark October day. You know, I think there’s a sweet spot here between compulsiveness and analysis paralysis. It’s called “thoughtful decisiveness.” Or something.
    Sweet post. To succeed, you need to ABC – always be calculating. I think maybe Gwen used that originally?

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:23 AM

      Haha… I’ve got the water boiled for another healthy serving here shortly for ya ;)

  5. BD Mike October 30, 2017 at 6:53 AM

    Reading this blog, among others, moves me forward by:

    1. Helping me to stay accountable and to remember why I read it in the first place -besides its entertainment value :)

    2. Offering suggestions and sharing others’ experience for us to consider.

    3. Reinforcing positive behaviors.

    Thanks also for sharing the stats; I’ll check out Tom’s site.

  6. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance October 30, 2017 at 7:53 AM

    Wow that sounds like a lot of questions to ask ourselves before doing something. While those questions can prevent me from doing unnecessary things in my life, I feel like I might drive myself crazy with those questions every day.

    One question I ask myself frequently, however, is: what did I get done in the past 5,10,15,30 or 45 minutes? Sometimes I just want to unwind, but most of the time of want to keep track of my productivity. And that cuts down on lots of Facebook and tv show time.

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:25 AM

      I like that too :) Usually on Fridays I catch myself looking back over the week to see what I’ve done (or not done, haha..)

  7. Leo T. Ly October 30, 2017 at 7:59 AM

    In addition to your question, I would also add one more question to it,”where are you heading?” You can move forward, but are you heading in the direction that you want to go?

    Another question that I would ask is, “do you know when will you get there?”

    Just one question, I am asking an additional two questions and will be think of more questions to ask. So I guess I am moving forward after I’ve read this post. Hopefully, I will meet you sometime down the road, may be at FinCon? Lol

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:27 AM

      haha… I like it :)

  8. BuddyF October 30, 2017 at 7:59 AM

    I think its a great line to ponder on. I know from the past if I asked myself that question I might be a lot closer to retirement now. LOL

    The stats were interesting to me. I guess since I am not wealthy yet and just working towards it maybe that explains why i feel like I sort of fall in the upper half on those stats. Like I do not watch reality TV, but I also find that I do not get to exercise as much as I would like to. Maybe walking the dog would count. Also, I wake up about 2.5 hours before work, but that includes my drive in which takes 30 mins. So wake up by 5:30am and get to work no later then 8am. I wish I could say that every day I did one of the other items on the list like read.

    Anyway, i guess really these are just percentages and not one is higher then 88% so I guess there is still a chance for me. :)

  9. Barnabas @ The Dad Wallet October 30, 2017 at 8:01 AM

    I think that is a valid question to ask when purchasing or doing something big.

    To me, it’s interesting that 80% of wealthy people focus on one single goal! This is a big one for me to make sure I am focusing on something and accomplishing it, instead of having 100 ideas going at once.

    That way I can move forward.

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:29 AM

      Right! I struggle with that one A LOT too… I usually have two main ones going at a time (if not more) and really want to see what the hyperfocusing is like. I have to imagine your productivity levels just skyrocket?

  10. The Grounded Engineer October 30, 2017 at 8:02 AM

    This is a simple, but very focused concept. Life rarely throws you bluebirds, so you need to plan out how to achieve your goals. I’m still very much a work process with working to reach my goals.

    Do people write down their goals or type them in something like Evernote or OneNote? I’ve gone back and forth And haven’t decided which one is more effective.

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:30 AM

      I feel like a lot of people in this crowd use apps, but I tend to just write them down on notepads as I always forget to re-open the apps.

  11. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance October 30, 2017 at 8:06 AM

    This question made me stop and think as well. My initial reaction to it is to consider the long term along with the short. Sure, going out to a movie would be nice but will it move you forward as much as leaning a new skill? Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed this one.

  12. MK October 30, 2017 at 8:19 AM

    I just made myself a card to go in my wallet with your money questions on it. Boom!! Right there before I spend. And I’m going to tape one to my computer too.

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:30 AM

      NICE!!!! You owe me a beer when you hit your first million!

  13. Ms99to1percent October 30, 2017 at 8:21 AM

    That’s a good question especially I hate going backwards.
    However, I do use Facebook, watch reality TV, don’t always exercise 4x/week,…

    But at least I read BAS 3x/week :-), don’t use my credit card or shop much…I like your list better :-)

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:31 AM

      Mine’s easier to do :)

  14. Dave October 30, 2017 at 8:30 AM

    Just as with saving and investing, the above list of positive traits take discipline. If you want to improve your health, wealth, career, or just about any area of your life, it takes effort. If it were easy, everyone would be successful.

  15. Mr. Freaky Frugal October 30, 2017 at 8:41 AM

    Wow, I love all the Nuggets from Tom’s Research!

    I’ll try to find the book at the library. Thanks!

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:31 AM

      Let me know if you enjoy it! It’s a short and sweet read.

  16. Paul October 30, 2017 at 8:47 AM

    Dude, I woke up at 4:30 am today drove to Columbia to work out with an old trainer of mine. You planted that seed (well that and my wife also started waking up at 5 am to run). I feel so accomplished already and I just started work. I think you’re on to something with these Ben Franklin hours….Feels amazing.

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:32 AM

      GOOD!! I think i’m on year 2 or 3 now doing it? total game changer.

  17. Martinus October 30, 2017 at 8:56 AM

    Excellent post. The summary about what the wealthy do and what the poor do says it all. It is very simple: if you want to make more money you need to serve more people. I remember reading in a book about Conrad Hilton a quote that went something like “if you want to launch tall ships you need to go to deep waters”. Spending time watching reality tv is about as shallow as it gets.

    1. J. Money October 30, 2017 at 9:32 AM

      That’s a good one :)

  18. Owen @ PlanEasy October 30, 2017 at 8:59 AM

    Tom’s stats are super interesting, in particular these two stood out to me.

    – 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
    – 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor

    Goals are so incredibly important. They help provide direction, especially when asking questions like “How will this move me forward”.

    How do you even know what “forward” is if you don’t have a goal in mind?

  19. Budget Kitty October 30, 2017 at 9:28 AM

    I love this kind of stuff that shows thge difference in mindset between rich folks and poor folks. Little habits like watching reality TV seem harmless but when you think about all the other things you could be doing with that time you realize the TV is just an anchor holding you back from achieving your goals.

  20. Lily @ The Frugal Gene October 30, 2017 at 9:51 AM

    Wow I should be poor according to this. I like some forms of reality TV.

    The rich wakes up 3 hours before work starts?! I don’t think Jared and I wake up 3 hours after work has started

    The other one that stood out was the difference between the flossing habits of the wealthy vs the poor – not sure if you heard of that one. It was something like 80% of wealthy floss vs 8% of the poor that flosses.

    1. J. Money November 1, 2017 at 11:53 AM

      Interesting! and I totally watch reality TV too every now and then (Especially The Bachelor/ette haha….). No shame in a little escapism every now and then since you can’t work 24/7 :)

  21. Dave @ Married with Money October 30, 2017 at 9:57 AM

    I love this. It’s healthy to question the things you do, especially ones that tend to just become habitual (like checking Facebook). Even things that you THINK are moving you forward, it’s still good to question it; perhaps something you do has outgrown its usefulness but you’re still doing it because of habit.

    Tom’s got some great insight into what makes successful people tick.

  22. FIRECracker October 30, 2017 at 10:10 AM

    This reminds me of the advice an ex co-worker once gave me “doesn’t matter what happened in the past, how do we move forward”. Super useful when you run into an unexpected situation and need to figure out the next steps. Don’t dwell on the past, just think about how to move forward.

    Great insights!

    1. J. Money November 1, 2017 at 11:54 AM

      Yup yup – you’ve got smart ex co-workers :)

  23. Jax October 30, 2017 at 10:18 AM

    I frequently lament how I can never work through my to-do list each day, but somehow find plenty of time to check facebook/twitter/wikipedia. When I realize what I am doing I say to myself “this is why you don’t get things done” but trying out “how will this move me forward” might be a more positive way to curb that mindless behavior. I’m going to check if my library has that book!

    1. J. Money November 1, 2017 at 11:54 AM

      haha yes – it’s def. a more *positive* way to talk to yourself :) make it happen!

  24. Lisa O October 30, 2017 at 10:20 AM

    Happy Monday with a great article to get ya thinking this week!

    I love the number information vs rich and poor. I have a 50/50 on the list so that must mean I am a work in process :)

  25. Mrs. Picky Pincher October 30, 2017 at 10:54 AM

    This is … a really good point. I’ve been trying to do this from a time management perspective (mostly with my unholy love of television). But doing so with your money is fantastic too. After all, this mindfulness would probably keep us from making impulse purchases.

  26. The PouchPlan October 30, 2017 at 12:01 PM

    What a great, simple way to move your life forward. I’m 12 days into a 30 day TV fast and I’ve already read 4 books! Next book will be Rich Habits! J., Thanks for keeping good stuff flowing.

    1. J. Money November 1, 2017 at 11:58 AM

      HAH! Nice!!! Amazing what happens when you cut stuff out :)

  27. Tainted Tiara October 30, 2017 at 12:49 PM

    I use a similar approach when it comes to spending my money…”Will this help build my net worth?” Using that $5,000 to buy new carpeting or appliances would not be an entirely unwise way to spend the money, but throwing it at my debt will reduce my debt AND help build my net worth. It’s a trick I’ve used to stay motivated to pay off $40,000 of debt in the last year while increasing my net worth by $80k!

    It helps reduce the sting of the money being gone if it helps improve my numbers game!

    1. J. Money November 1, 2017 at 1:03 PM

      That’s a good one too :)

  28. Handy Millennial October 30, 2017 at 12:51 PM

    My personal favorites here: How will I move forward if I: stop reading Budgets Are Sexy (the horror!!), quit my job with nothing lined up (Exception! to read Budgets Are Sexy) Ha! I like this take on Rich Habits (which is a pretty awesome site too). Of course we can’t actually move forward every move, I’m not sure that our pre-historic brain would be able to handle so much concentration :).

    1. J. Money November 1, 2017 at 1:04 PM

      Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention ;)

  29. Deanna October 30, 2017 at 1:10 PM

    Love this list, and I love that question! I had this debate with myself the other day – should I go in to work on the weekend to get some work done on a project that I’m particularly motivated to make go as well as possible, or should I go to the beach to surf with my husband.

    Ultimately, I decided to go surfing with my husband because I would feel refreshed come Monday instead of drained from spending my weekend working, and I would be building my relationship with my spouse. It was much better than Facebook, reality TV, or any of those other things!

    1. J. Money November 1, 2017 at 1:05 PM

      As a husband myself, I can say i’d be absolutely delighted if my wife came out surfing with me! And even more so that she knew how to surf – SEXY!!

  30. B @ Save Dat Money October 30, 2017 at 2:34 PM

    It is such a great question to ask youself. Many people fall into habits or spend without thinking weather or not that dollar takes them a step forward or backward.

    “You don’t want to analyze yourself to death every second of the day” – This is true as well. For me, the key is to make the savings become a habit rather than a chore.

  31. Kristin @ The Wayward Home October 31, 2017 at 1:36 PM

    I think I’m going to be asking myself this question constantly from now on! haha. Great post :)

  32. Dividend Growth Investor October 31, 2017 at 3:43 PM

    This is a great concept. The best concepts to live your life by are vey simple, yet they are always jam-packed of insight.

    Now, how does this comment move me forward? ;-)

    1. J. Money November 1, 2017 at 1:06 PM

      It makes you a baller ;)

  33. ZJ Thorne November 14, 2017 at 6:48 PM

    I love this question. Especially because the answer does not have to stop you from taking the action. It is okay to sometimes not move forward; sometimes you need to rest.


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