I felt sweat trickle down the back of my neck…

I was up against a hard deadline. It was fast approaching four o’clock in the afternoon on a Wednesday in 2013. I had a huge decision to make…

The children would be home from school soon… And if I didn’t pick the right sandwich filling, there would be hell to pay.

After a hard-charging, 24-year career in finance, my biggest decision of the day was choosing between strawberry or grape jelly PB&J’s for my children’s after school snack.

I had sold one of my companies two years earlier and was trying my hand as a “house dad.” After two years of helping make macaroni necklaces and afternoon sandwiches… I was quickly reaching my limit of domestic “bliss.”

In short, I knew it was time to find my next big project.

As luck would have it, I was contacted at the time by an individual named Tom Dyson… who had heard of me through a mutual friend.

Tom – along with multimillionaire and New York Times bestselling author Mark Ford – ran a business called Palm Beach Research Group.

They convinced me to join their team. And they eventually became my mentors.

I learned a lot about the newsletter business from Tom. But it was Mark’s ideas that really changed the way I thought about creating wealth.

You see, Mark is one of the biggest thinkers on wealth building I know. When it comes to sharing his knowledge, I’ve found him to be most generous with his wisdom. I will tell you here and now… Mark Ford has done more for me than I can ever repay.

The knowledge he shared through his wealth-building essays and books has thoroughly changed my life. I credit Mark with getting me off the wealth “merry-go-round” where my wealth would boom-and-bust every few years.

Mark taught me how to be relentless with self-examination so that I wouldn’t fall into the haze of lazy complacency.

Mark has built dozens of businesses from scratch… creating millions of dollars of wealth in the process. He knows more about building wealth than just about anyone. He’s not just a mentor. He’s a “wealth coach.”

How to Make Your Dream a Reality

One of the most important lessons I learned from Mark is that – for most people – getting rich is a “dream.” The problem is that dreams are too close to fantasy and too far removed from reality.

You see, Mark told me what makes a dream “real” is when you turn it into something specific: a goal. He told me that goals should be specific, actionable, and time-oriented.

For the past five years, I’ve been following that advice. And I can tell you it has transformed my life.

I possess more wealth now than at any other time in my life. And I live a life today that is directly tied to my values.

Today, I can say I’m living my dreams: from where I live… to the work I do… to the wealth I’ve created… and to the relationships I’ve made with the people I care about.

I won’t tell you it wasn’t work… because it was. But I will tell you your dreams are attainable.

Today, I’ll share with you Mark’s three principles for achieving your dream… and how I’ve used them to live my dream life.

Three Principles to Create Wealth

First, if you want to build your wealth and live your dream life: You need money.

If you spend every penny you make, there’s no way you can reach your financial dreams. When I started on the path to my dream life, I found that no matter how much I earned, I spent it all.

Mark taught me I didn’t have a money problem… I had a spending problem.

He told me if I wanted to be rich, I had to drastically lower my expenses and save more while improving the quality of my life right now by making better decisions. He showed me I didn’t need the most expensive, most exclusive, newest thing.

He had me focus on buying quality items that could last 20 years or more. He showed me the true cost of spending by having me figure out the real cost of what I was buying.

For instance, he showed me how to save hundreds of thousands of dollars by buying a reliable car and keeping it for 15 years rather than changing a car every three years.

My personal rule of thumb to getting rich is to live well below your means so you can save over 60% of your monthly income. I know that sounds nuts… but it’s doable.

For me, I had to have some tough conversations with my then-wife and children. I made huge changes in our lifestyle, from downsizing our cars to chopping up credit cards and embracing staycations.

Second, Mark told me to look for outside-the-box ideas about how to create additional income.

For instance, you can focus on increasing your ability to earn more money by having a side hustle… improving your work ethic… and learning new work skills. I did all three.

I ran two consulting businesses on the side while writing two financial newsletters. I worked more diligently and started a program of skill improvement.

Each of these little changes didn’t do much by themselves. But over time, they collectively started to compound upon one another. Soon, I had an explosion of money coming into my life.

And because of Mark’s teachings, I wasn’t spending it all on a bunch of nonsense.

Instead, I put the next part of Mark’s wealth plan into place. I started putting 95% of my money into conservative, income-producing investments and strategies.

The other 5% I used to speculate in asymmetric investments like bitcoin, ether, pre-IPOs, and high-flying tech stocks. Many of those investments ended up making me a fortune… without putting my current lifestyle at risk.

I was finally off the boom-and-bust wealth rollercoaster.

Lastly, Mark told me I needed to step out of my comfort zone and reimagine my ideal dream life. He had me get clear on what my dream was. He taught me I didn’t have to buy into anyone else’s dream.

The Greatest Gift: Giving to Others

I owe a debt of gratitude to Mark Ford for changing my life. And I repay it by spreading his ideas and teachings through my writing.

I want you to have the freedom that comes from getting clear on what you want… and taking the actions to get it. That’s why this holiday season, I urge you to use some free time over the holidays to really think about your life.

Ask yourself, what do you really want? Ask yourself what you need to change to get from where you are to where you want to be. Put a plan together and start taking action in the direction of the life you want.

As you go through this self-examination, it’s easy to beat yourself up for past errors. I want you to do something different instead. I want you to embrace your mistakes with the same kindness and understanding you would extend to a small child.

We all make mistakes. That’s just the human condition. None of us are above that. The key to not repeating mistakes is to treat yourself with kindness when you do make a mistake. Learn from it. Write the lesson down in a notebook and change your actions.

As you do this little by little, the life you want will start to take shape around you.

So this holiday season, I ask that you love yourself enough to forgive yourself. I’m not suggesting you live in denial of your mistakes, far from it. I want you to embrace and face all of who you are with real honesty but no judgment.

If you can do that, then you can create the kind of change in your life that will bring about the life you have always wanted.

Let the Game Come to You!

Teeka Tiwari
Editor, Palm Beach Daily