Day 3: Five Day Writing Retox

Prompt: What am I more afraid of, failure or success?

This is a free writing exercise so the following might make little to no sense. Also, if you are doing this 5 day retox with me, please submit your pieces to catmartecoaching@gmail.com. I’d love to read them! 10 Minutes


More people admit they are afraid of failure vs. success. It makes sense to be afraid of failure because we should all want to succeed. Being afraid of success, on the other hand, is talked about less and yet so much more relatable. It’s not the succeeding part that scares us, it is everything that comes with it. Success can bring along power, authority, responsibility; success can feel like a weight on our shoulders that isn’t necessarily present if we fail. Of course, failure can bring on shame, guilt and disappointment. So what do most of us do? We don’t even bother and avoid failing or succeeding. For most folks the safest place is right where they are, neither failing nor succeeding (it’s called a comfort zone for a reason!).

What we don’t realize is that there is something to gain from both failures and successes and that something is insight. Insights into our own strengths and weaknesses, our own inner superpowers and vices. We learn about ourselves in a way that can only be achieved through the discomfort of failing and succeeding.


10 minutes completed! Only 4 months late 😅. I started this challenge to get myself back into writing and it worked, only I didn’t complete the challenge — yet! Who said it was 5 consecutive days anyways?! Like I said, it did work as I started working on an exciting new writing project that I’ve been thinking about sharing here. It’s a bit off brand but hey, rules are meant to be broken right? Until next time, xo- Cat

Day 2: Five Day Writing Retox

Prompt: If my success was inevitable, what would I do?

This is a free writing exercise so the following might make little to no sense. Also, if you are doing this 5 day retox with me, please submit your pieces to catmartecoaching@gmail.com. I’d love to read them! 10 Minutes


Honestly, I stared at this prompt for a few minutes before I understood what it was asking me. I think it’s asking what I’d do if I knew I wouldn’t fail, yeah? Well I would be more bold and more confident in my decisions I suppose. Right now I make a decision and try really hard to stick to it because indecision is so much worse, and yet, I am constantly second guessing myself and wondering if that is the right decision. But if I knew I wouldn’t fail, I’d know any decision would be the right decision because I wouldn’t fail either way. I think this is the wrong way to look at life though. I think we should do the things we love regardless of whether we will succeed or fail. I think the question should be, if I knew I would fail, what would I do anyways? Would I still want love if I knew it would fade away? Would I still want to be successful if I knew one day it would mean nothing?

The thing is, in the grand scheme of things, everything amounts to nothing because we will all rise and fall one day. One day we will all be 6 ft under (as a matter of speaking) and maybe there will be a brief moment of sower but soon enough the world will continue as it always has. This is not to be melodramatic, it’s just to say that life is full of impermanence and therefore we shouldn’t limit ourselves to those things that are definite. And really, what’s worth reading if we know how it will end? I think there is something beautiful about giving it your all without the certainty that it will work out in the end. Back to the decision making train real quick- I like to tell myself that all decisions are the right decision regardless of the outcome, because I can never go back and change the decision so it must be the right one, no? The same must be true of our outcomes- if we cannot change them, then they must be what’s meant to be and it is up to us to find the meaning in it. And if that is true, we can choose to find the success even in our misfortunes and then there would be no need for this question whatsoever.


Okay I went over just 1/2 a minute because I had a thought and I didn’t want to lose it when the timer went off. Without re-reading this one, I already know I went down a rabbit hole but I think there was definitely something there. Anyways, until tomorrow, xo- Cat

Day 1: Five Day Writing Retox

Prompt: Are you happy with your life as a whole?

This is a free writing exercise so the following might make little to no sense. Also, if you are doing this 5 day retox with me, please submit your pieces to catmartecoaching@gmail.com. I’d love to read them! Okay time starts now: 10 Minutes.


This is a tricky question because on the one hand, I am happy with my life as a whole and on the other hand, if I were to die in this instance, I’d feel like I left too soon and didn’t get to do so many important things in my life. I really want to own property, for example, and I know alot of folks might see that as a materialistic goal, but for me, it’s about being able to call a small piece of this earth home. It’s also a pride thing- I like to pride myself in the fact that I always accomplish what I set out to do and I haven’t quite done this one yet so I don’t feel accomplished quite yet. I had a basic list of things I wanted to accomplish in life, all of which I’ve accomplished except this one. Anyways, going back to happiness, I suppose I am grateful for all the things I have and that should make me happy, but they aren’t one in the same.

Happiness is a feeling I haven’t quite figured out yet. I understand joy as small bursts of happiness but how do we sustain happiness over time? Can we be consistently happy or is it better to be happy once in a while? It’s interesting because I don’t feel unhappy, I’m just not sure I am “happy.” When I start to think of the reasons why I should or would be happy, it is really a sense of gratitude, not happiness, so is happiness just a by-product of gratitude or can you be happy and ungrateful? I suppose some people are…


Well my alarm went off and it’s safe to say I didn’t get very far. But I guess that isn’t the point really. The point is to get writing. Again, if you did this prompt, I’d love to hear from you! Till tomorrow. xo- Cat

Successful people have mentors. That’s the answer. Why successful people continue to have mentors is another question. The answer is that no matter how successful we are or how much influence we have, there is always room for improvement. Throughout our lives, we always have the capacity to grow, learn and evolve. Our mentors are the ones who allow us to see what’s possible as we take note of their success and how they achieved it. With that said, it comes as no surprise a large part of our success can be attributed to our mentors and the people we admire. These people influence our direction in life and the way we view it. Your mentors are people who you aspire to be like. People who exhibit the qualities that you seek to attain. Ideally, you would know these people personally and make them a part of your social sphere, but even if such a person has not shown up in your life, you can still identify people you admire from afar. I’ve mentioned in a few posts my admiration for Dave Chappelle as a successful comedian and all around grounded person. 

I missed the Dave Chappelle show era and only recently discovered him a few years ago. At first he was this mysterious comedian rumored to have lost his mind and hid for 10 years while he recovered, but the more I learned about him the more I was intrigued. From what I could gather, he quit the Dave Chappelle show abruptly and was presumed a failure until one day he rose from the ashes and took back his throne as one of the most dynamic and cutting edge comedians of our time. Whether you like his content or not, it’s hard to ignore his authenticity and dedication towards developing his craft. What I’ve admired most about him was his willingness to push the envelope and take risks. He is fearless in his pursuit of social commentary and the art of comedy. Without realizing it, he became my mentor. 

That is just the beginning. Even more recently, I watched his interview on the Dave Letterman Netflix series, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.” I learned he’d left the Dave Chappelle show in an act of defiance as the show became less social commentary and more about perpetuating stereotypes. The essence of the show and his intent in making it had been replaced with what he described as ill intentions— so he walked away. Having not watched the show personally, my understanding is that it was a huge success. It was a breakthrough production for Dave Chappelle and his team. I can only imagine how much courage and self-awareness it took to make that move. Ten points for Dave. In my life and in my life’s work, I aspire to be fearless and grounded in my morals and ethics as my mentor has modeled for me.

Of course, the person that you look to as a mentor does not have to be a public figure; you can admire and look up to people in your own life. For example, I look up to many of my friends because they are motivated, independent, introspective, kind, genuine. They have qualities that I wish to increase in myself or . I also admire my mom for being hard working, extremely resourceful, wise, caring and brave, amongst other things. In short, I surround myself with people I admire, allowing myself to pick out an array of qualities that I wish to cultivate within myself. At the same time, it is important to be intentional about your mentors— people who you can go to when you need advice, inspiration and guidance. I have set people in my life who I look to for advice and when that comes up short, I look to people in the public sphere for inspiration.

How to find a mentor.

  • Join a mentorship program. Sometimes these can be part of your workplace or you can find different non-profits or community programs that offer these types of mentorship programs.
  • Spend more time with older, wiser people in your life (people you admire). If someone comes to mind, reach out to that person. Say hello and spark up a conversation. Invite them for a coffee every so often and let them know that you admire them!
  • Reconnect with a teacher/professor or counselor that has helped guide you in the past. Remember that one teacher who always believed in you? I bet they still do! Reach out to them and re-build that relationship.
  • Study someone you admire from afar (as I did with Dave Chappelle). If there is no-one in your present or past that you can think of, you can always study successful, admirable public figures, whether that’s Opera or Dave or Beyonce. Pick someone who truly resonates with you and ask yourself why? Why do you admire this person and what has this person done that you aspire to do?

Do you have other ways of getting mentors? I’d love to know.

TRIGGER WARNING!

Your procrastination is self-sabotage. End of sentence. Period. Point blank.

Okay now let’s unpack.

For everyone who has their ammunition ready to fire and say “I get my best work done last minute!” I say, yeah because there are no other options but do get it done at that point. This conversation is not about how effective procrastination is in your life, it’s about improving your productivity and crushing your goals. You cannot procrastinate on important tasks and get important tasks done quickly — they are mutually exclusive.

Why is procrastination considered a from of self-sabotage? Well first of all, what do I mean by self-sabotage? According to Healthline, self-sabotaging presents itself in behaviors or thought patterns that stop you from doing what you want to do. Sometimes it is obvious and overt, but for the most part, self sabotage happens in the depths of our subconscious. Procrastination, according to Dr. Piers Steel, a professor of motivational psychology and author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done,” is putting stuff off against our better judgement. The word originates from the Latin word “procrastinare,” to leave until tomorrow, and the Greek word “akrasia,” to do against your better judgment.

The reason why people engage in procrastination, despite knowing it is probably not the best solution, and in fact not a solution at all, is because they’d rather put off the task than have to prolong the negative emotions associated with said task. In the words of Dr. Steel, “People engage in this irrational cycle of chronic procrastination because of an inability to manage negative moods around a task.” It makes so much sense if you think about it. I put off telling my parents about my first tattoo because I didn’t want to deal with their outrage. I procrastinated on getting my license renewed because I had to stand in line at the DMV and be miserable waiting on their subpar customer service. On the contrary, I was never a procrastinator in school because I enjoyed writing papers (much like I enjoy writing now) and I enjoyed learning and getting feedback. At the most basic level, procrastination is usually exercised when it’s something we do not want to do, despite the fact that doing that thing may benefit us in the end.

We don’t necessarily procrastinate because we are “scared of the outcome” or because it seems like a daunting task. We might procrastinate because the task seems incredible boring (like standing in line at the DMV), or intimidating, anxiety provoking, self-doubt inducing, requiring patience that you don’t have, and so on. The key is to recognize exactly why you want to procrastinate on a given task and then work to overcome the root cause of your procrastination. The DMV example is easy enough— I realize it is boring and sometimes frustrating to go, but if I don’t go with plenty of time, I could risk missing a paper and having to return another day after my license has expired! Other ones are not so simple; why is it that people procrastinate looking for a new job when they really want a new job? Is it the uncomfortableness of being “on the market,” is it self-doubt of your ability to land a new job, is it anxiety over the interviewing process? Whatever it is, this is something you need to uncover because you can job search, especially if you have a job already. Otherwise you run the risk of procrastinating indefinitely!

Strategies to get Moving

Understand your Limitations 

More times than not, our limitations are self imposed. For example, we tell ourselves, I want a new job but I first need to fix my resume, and buy new clothes in case there’s an interview, and practice my interviewing skills, and so on. What we are really doing is stalling. Procrastination allows us to not have to deal with whatever feelings come up when we think about doing something outside of our comfort zone. While the thought of knowing we are procrastinating might make us feel bad, it also feels safer because we don’t have to set outside our comfort zone if we keep finding ways to stall. Other times procrastination is used as an excuse to let yourself off the hook for a job half done. Like when you have a big presentation for work or school, and you wait until the last possible minute to prepare. If you bomb it you tell yourself it was because you waited till last minute but you totally could have crushed it if you tried. If you do well, you reinforce the behavior and do it again next time. Either way, you are limiting yourself from the potential of having prepared, practiced and built the confidence to know you will crush it (and then go out and crush it).

Make a Definitive Choice 

Indecision is the twin sister of procrastination. They like to skip the yellow brick road hand in hand. The only difference is that indecision might drive you crazy— having to think about this vs. that, this vs. that, over and over again. The best advice for making a decision is to separate your self-worth from the outcomes. For example, if you make the choice to ask your boss for a promotion and they say no, it is not really a reflection of your decision to ask, whether you asked or not, the answer would have still been no. Another example: you make a decision at work to go with consultants A vs. consultants B, C or D. Consultants A turn out to be terrible consultants and you have to now terminate their contract and hire consultants B. At this point, it doesn’t matter that you “didn’t make the right choice” because you had no way of knowing the future and either way, you have the opportunity to fix it. The fact is there is no such thing as the “right choice” and indecision will only delay you making a choice whether the outcomes are favorable or not; or stop you from doing anything at all.

Welcome Delayed Gratification

The fact that we live in a world that reinforces instant gratification is nothing new. It’s also counterproductive to personal growth and the realities of how to achieve real influence and success in the world. Jeff Bezo didn’t just become rich and successful. There’s not such thing. Using this same lust of instant gratification, we push back things that we want to do or should do because those things produce initial negative emotions and delayed gratifications. Clear example: the thought of working out makes me feel really icky. I don’t want to sweat, I don’t want to feel tired, I don’t want to get up and do it. But like clockwork, every time I work out I feel great afterwards! It’s the delayed gratification of putting your body to work and doing something good for yourself. The key here is to shift your mindset— think long term. In the long run, it is wiser to get going now so that later you want enjoy the gratification. Don’t think about the initial uneasy, instead think about the final reward.

The Bottom Line

First and foremost, you have to know why you are procrastinating despite knowing you want to do it or doing it will greatly benefit you. Once you understand the root of your procrastination, you can work on overcoming or reframing or by-passing the cause whereby minimizing its effect. We all like to think we know ourselves but we often don’t ask ourselves the hard questions, so how will we be able to overcome something like procrastination? The other piece is to take action. It is not enough to know why, you have to use that information to learn, grow and adapt. What use is it that I know I have fear of failure if I never do anything to deal with it? Use this new wisdom you’ve gain about yourself to make a meaningful change. And if you need help, don’t be shy, reach out to me.

Related:

Part 3: Confidence is a muscle, Learn How to Train It.

From the 3 part series: How to Overcome the Fear of Putting yourself out there.

Achieving your personal and professional goals takes courage and a belief that you can accomplish them— it’s called confidence. In this mini workshop, Life and Career Coach, Cat Marte, will give you 3 life changing tips to improving your confidence plus bonus 3 tips that will help you go from inaction and procrastination to manifestation.

Sign Up to Watch the Free Mini Confidence Bootcamp


Articles Cited: Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control), How Self-Sabotage Holds You Back

I swear by self-reflection, especially the Buddhist philosophy that we separate from our thoughts. Our thoughts do not define us, they are not us, they are separate and independent of who we are as people. One way to achieve this awareness is through meditation— sitting still and metaphorically watching your thoughts pass you by. Soon you realize thoughts are fleeting, we aren’t married to our thoughts as much as we might have thought to be the case. It’s freeing. Unfortunately, like all things worth doing, meditation is hard. The good news is that I’ve found a good gateway drug to meditation through journaling. Especially prompt journaling. Prompt journaling adds a level of intentionality to each journal entry, allowing you to take a deeper dive into your thoughts, ideas, and self-limiting beliefs. You can then take those thoughts out of your mind and onto the paper. Like with meditation, once the words are on the paper, you can detach yourself from them. They are no longer yours, they now belong to the journal.

Example Prompt from my Journal

There’s no right or wrong way to journal. In the example you’ll see below, I am writing in a stream of consciousness format, half having a conversation with myself, half going off topic.

What does self-love look like?

For someone who was a people pleaser nearly all my life, I will resist the urge to say self-love is when I feel loved by others. That makes no sense anyways, but it’s the first thing that popped into my mind. It makes sense to want to feel loved by others having gone into a helping profession, but I think it has to do less with wanting to feel loved and more with wanting to make a lasting impact on someone’s life. It’s about the satisfaction in knowing I was able to be a good influence in someone’s life….Okay I’m rambling on and deflecting.

What does self-love look like? What does self-love look like to me? I think it looks like doing the things that I want to do and sticking to my guns despite negative feedback or discouraging feedback. Like when I was younger and my mom always wanted me to straighten my hair because only “straight hair was beautiful” and I said F-that, my hair is curly and I think that’s beautiful. At the time it was probably more of an F-you to my mom because like most teenagers, I thought she was annoying and controlling. At the same time though, that small act of defiance made me really proud of my hair because it was mine, it was how I came into this world and it was the hand I’d been dealt. It’s really more about accepting who you are and then growing to love yourself for being that way. Something else that just came to me was my teeth…random thought but I’ve always been so self-conscious about my teeth, they were either crooked when I was younger, now I have random gap that wasn’t there before. It’s always something. I used to not smile or laugh with my hand to my mouth because I was so bothered by it. Now I smile despite it. Now I smile and look in the mirror and stare at myself smiling just to get used to my new gap. Again I think it’s more about accepting myself and my “flaws” than it is about the stupid gap.

It’s not just the physical stuff, it’s everything about me. My personality flaws, my life choices, my failed relationships. I think self-love looks like loving myself even if I’m not prefect, even if I look in the mirror and see “flaws” or I look within and see “flaws.” It’s like I am marrying myself, “I promise to love me and take care of me, through the good times and the bad, till death strikes me down.”

Try it Yourself

Pick a prompt below and see how it goes. Ask yourself, how did it feel to release this prompt onto your journal? What did you learn about yourself?

I’d love to read some of your self-reflections! Contact me to share your prompts.

indfulness writing prompts:

  1. What does self-love look like?
  2. How do I value myself?
  3. When was the last time I carved some time out just for myself?
  4. If I could do anything in my life and money wasn’t an option, I would…
  5. The first thing I think when my head hits the pillow is…
  6. What if I cared for myself, as much as I cared for others?
  7. What is one area where I add value to the world?
  8. Describe a day in the life of your ideal self.
  9. If there was nothing holding me back, I would… 
  10. Describe someone inspirational – could be someone you know personally or someone you admire from afar. What about them makes them inspirational? Why them?

Coming Up:

Part 3: Confidence is a muscle, Learn How to Train It.

From the 3 part series: How to Overcome the Fear of Putting yourself out there.

Achieving your personal and professional goals takes courage and a belief that you can accomplish them— it’s called confidence. In this mini workshop, Life and Career Coach, Cat Marte, will give you 3 life changing tips to improving your confidence plus bonus 3 tips that will help you go from inaction and procrastination to manifestation.

Sign Up to Watch for the Free Mini Confidence Bootcamp

On payday I did what I usually do and filled out my budget spreadsheet, making calculations and adjustments and more calculations and more adjustments till it dawned on me that I am borderline obsessed with my budget (remember what I said about being obsessed with your goals?). I check it at least once a week and adjust as needed. I don’t know what life would be like if I didn’t have a budget…no wait, that’s a lie, life would be a mess, that’s what it would be. My budget is the holy grail of money in my life. With a tremendous amount of mental shifting and pain taking effort, I’ve finally instilled in myself the mindset that if there ain’t room in the budget for it, it ain’t happening— full stop. The fact is that budgeting is not something you do, it’s something you subscribe to. It’s a mindset. And if you don’t have a budgeting mindset then it won’t matter how many different budgeting plans you try, it will never help you stay in budget. 

Why budget? 

It’s tempting to think of a budget as something restricting when in all actuality it’s freeing in a lot of ways. When you budget, you don’t have to worry about over extending yourself and creating future debt for future you. You also inevitably cut out all the things that were nice but not necessary, leaving more room for all the things that are great and by their greatness make them necessary. For example, I used to go get manicures and pedicures all the time, and that was nice. Was it amazing? Not really. Did it fill my heart with joy? Eh. This might not be the same for everyone; someone else might treat getting their nails done as their ultimate treat/self care/self love routine, and that’s great! The key is to find what makes YOU happy and make room for that in the budget by taking out all the things that are just eh. 

Who budgets? 

Let me tell you a secret, not so secret: anyone with a significant amount of wealth, either in liquid assets or fixed has a budget. Sometimes it’s called an accountant or a financial advisor, but all it is is a budget! Another way to think about it is money management. How are you managing your hard earned funds so that you get the most benefit out of every dollar? The bottom line is, if you care about building wealth then you’ll budget your money, that’s who budgets…

My 4 Budgeting Rules 

  1. Adjust all of your expenses to occur during a one week period. This is the foundation of the budgeting plan I’ve laid out in rules 2, 3, and 4. It works is by giving you time to earn and plan for every dollar you make in a given month, and then pay all your expenses at once. This works really well for me because I get paid monthly (I know, at first I though WHAT THE HECK??). When I get paid at the end of the month, which happened to be Wednesday this month, I sit down and fill in my budget, then I go ahead and pay all my bills which are all conveniently due between the 1st and the 7th of the month. Once everything is paid and done with, I don’t have to think about a single expense for the rest of the month. For those who get paid weekly or bi-weekly, the same end result can be accomplished by setting all your expenses to be due at a particular time (say the end of the month) and then setting money aside each week or whenever you get paid to cover those expenses. This method avoids having to use one paycheck to over a big expense like rent or car insurance. Another way to think about it, is that you are creating weekly/bi-weekly sinking funds for your monthly bills and expenses. In 2, 3, and 4 below I’ll show you how it works.
  1. Plan for fixed expenses. You know every first of the month the rent comes knocking at your door, so why aren’t you prepared? You can reduce your money related stress by simply planing ahead. If you get paid weekly, you can take out 1/4 or 1/5 (depending how long the month is) of the rent money every paycheck. Say your rent is $800/month and you make $600 a week, you can set aside $200 a week to pay your rent, by the time the first rolls around you’ve got all you need and don’t need to scramble to come up with rent money or spend an entire paycheck and then some on rent. Same applies to their fixed expenses; if you know you pay $65 a month for your cell phone bill, you can put aside $15 dollars a paycheck (I promise you won’t even notice) and again by the time you come around to pay your cell phone bill, you’ll have all the money needed. Let’s use my income and expenses as an example.

I take home about $750/week and pay $1,200 in rent, $65 for my cellphone bill, $80 for internet, and $104 for car insurance monthly. In order to accumulate the payments for my fixed expenses throughout the month, I’d have to save 1/4 of all my fix expenses each week. That comes out to $362.25 a week for fixed expenses, but we aren’t done yet.

$300 Rent
$16.25 Cellphone 
$20 internet 
$26 insurance 
Total $362.25
Remainder $387.75
  1. Pay yourself first-ish. Some people say you should always pay yourself first, but I’m more like “I before E except after C” kinda girl. In other words, I like the idea of paying myself first but only after I’ve secured my basic needs. Without meeting your basic needs how can you accomplish any money goals when you’re only just surviving? So I like to make sure my rent money is situated, for example, before I get carried away paying myself first. When it comes time to figure out how much I should be paying myself, I decided on a percentage. At the moment, I am paying myself 5% of my paycheck to myself.This may seem small to some, but I rather err on the side of realistic and accomplishable. There have been many a time where I’ve tried to really stretch my goals, only to disappoint myself. I’ve basically learned the hard way that it’s better to start small and work your way up as oppose to starting too high and falling flat on your face. Let’s continue with my budget as an example, if I put side 5% of $750, I get $37.50, with my fix expenses, that brings my remaining balance down to 350.25 per week.

  1. Plan for Variable Expenses. Plan for variable expenses last because they are often more flexible and can be adjusted as needed. For instance, credit cards are variable expenses— sometimes you pay well over the minimum, sometimes you pay the minimum and sometimes you don’t owe anything at all. Because you won’t know with certainty how much you will owe in variable expenses, it’s good to set aside a percentage of your income to cover the amount that is equal to or greater than your minimum due. For example, I have 5 cards, the minimum combined of all 5 is $130 per month, so depending on what else I have going on that week, I may set aside $32.50 (1/4 of $130) or I may set aside a little more because I know I have nothing going on that week. This brings our remaining balance down to $317.75.

Depending on your family size, $317.75 may seem like not enough or more than enough. As a single person with no children or other dependents other than my dog, $317.75 per week is more than enough to spend on groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. The best part is that I know I’m putting money aside for upcoming expenses and do not need to stress out or over extend myself when it’s time to pay up.

The Bottom Line 

I’m not a financial adviser nor do I claim to know anything beyond the basics. With that said, I’ve been budgeting for a good 10 years now and I’ve learned a thing or two about what works for me and what doesn’t. I’ve basically taken the advice of the Dave Ramseys of the world to make my own plan and my own financial path. Hopefully this plan can serve as a guide or a starting point for others looking to get serious about their budgets. If you’re ready and excited to have the best budget game you’ve ever had, you can download my free simple budgeting guide to help you get started. 

Let’s be real, I was broke till not too long ago. But no more. I’ve been learning the ways of the rich and I’m here to share these golden secrets with you. It’s actually not a secret at all —the rich love to talk openly about how they got to where they are. You know what it is? It’s hard. That’s the real barrier to entry. The rich can feel comfortable sharing all their secrets because most won’t listen and those who do won’t follow through. It’s why the rich get richer and the rest of us resent them.

How Not to Get Rich

Sometimes it’s not about what you do or don’t do, but how you think. I first learned this lesson in Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad. Most notably, he said his rich dad thought he was rich before actually being objectively rich. He didn’t say “I will be rich” he said, “I am rich.” Right now I’m reading Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and it’s the same deal— those who believed without a plan B that they will accomplish something, inevitability accomplish that something. If you don’t have the rich person’s mentality, you lack vision and therefore cannot grow rich.

Most of us cannot conceptualize this mentality because we see things at face value. How am I rich now if my bank account is empty? To us, being rich is an objective, observable and measurable thing to be. You are rich if you have X amount of money and assets, full stop. The secret here is that being rich is NOT a status, it’s a mentality. In Think and Grow Rich, Hill describes it as desire plus faith. If you desire something deeply AND you have faith you will get it, it will come. Of course not magically out of thin air, but it will come eventually because with desire and faith, you will keep working and working at it until it comes true. If you don’t desire with relentless faith, you lack commitment and therefore cannot grow rich.

What I’ve come to accept despite my reluctance is that commitment is not enough. You could be fully committed to accomplishing your goals and end up getting knocked down so many times that you eventually give up. Say your an actor whose gone to 300 auditions and never had a call back, would you go to the 301st audition or would you finally call it quits? If you’d call it quits then you do not have a rich person’s mentality. Rich people are winners and winners don’t quit. According to Hill, Thomas Edison failed at inventing the light bulb over 1,000 times before he finally get it to work. If you quit, you lack perseverance and therefore cannot grow rich.

Rich Habits 101

People don’t grow riches, riches are inside all of us. Maybe your parents or your community didn’t teach you how to foster a rich person’s mindset but it’s never too late. It all starts with your mindset. You can cultivate this mindset by doing as the rich do.

  1. Hone in on your problem solving skills
  2. Change your spending habits
  3. Keep learning and Think Smart
  4. Obsess over the goal
  5. Be flexible

Hone in on your problem solving skills.

Poor dad thinks, well this was the hand that I was dealt, can’t do much about it, while rich dad thinks, I am rich, I just need to get the money to show it. Poor dad thinks, can I do this? Rich dad thinks, how can I do this? Problems are only problems because we don’t know the solutions yet. According to Kiyosaki, the rich do not disengage when there are obstacles, in fact, that’s when they lean in. That’s why it took Edison over 1,000 tries to figure out the lightbulb. Smithsonian Magazine reports a quote of Edison saying “I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” It’s the kind of mindset that fuels perseverance and that never give up attitude that allows failures to turn into lessons and lessons to turn into riches.

Change your Spending Habits.

Here’s a practical one. It’s not all in your head, you do also have to make literal changes to grow rich. I dive deeper into this topic on my post, Your Broke because You Act Rich, Except Rich people don’t act like that. One common mistake people make is living at capacity, or in other words, spending every dollar you make. When you live at capacity, you don’t have room to save and then what happens when you need money for an unexpected expense? You go into debt, that’s what happens! Even if tomorrow you start making loads more money, if you aren’t careful, you will experience lifestyle creep, where your spending habits re-adjust to match your income and your back at capacity. Changing your spending habits so that you live under your income capacity is a great way to secure funds for savings and cut out unnecessary (and detrimental) spending.

Keep Learning and Think Smart.

Attaining knowledge is one of the first steps to attaining success and wealth. Of course, it’s not just about attaining knowledge, it’s about how you use that knowledge. As Hill said in his best seller, professors hold a great amount of knowledge but they get paid very little. Someone who doesn’t hold half the knowledge of a professor but thinks smart has the potential to make triple that of someone who knows many things but not how to use them. The trick is to know what to do with what you know and to know when you should enlist in someone who knows more. For example, I know from experience if I have a salaried job I can easily do my own taxes because it is not very complicated. On the other hand, if I am self-employed, I should hire a professional that can help me get more bang for my buck and masterfully work through a more complicated process. In this way, thinking smart is simply knowing how to use what you know and what others know to your advantage.

Obsess over the goal

No one accomplishes a really hard goal that they are mildly interested in. First of all, if it’s extremely difficult or seems impossible (like building generational wealth) only someone that is unapologetically obsessed with accomplishing it will get it done. That’s why Bill Gates and Paul Allen spent day and night working on a software for a micro-computer that was more sci-fi than reality at the time. Gates and Allen were not only obsessed with the goal, they’re entire futures were resting on this goal. That’s the type of energy and weight needed for someone who wants to see their dreams come true. Let’s be clear here, it’s not just Harvard dropouts that make their dreams come true; Eminem started off with major disadvantages as a poor, white kid with nothing but a dream, only to become one of the most widely recognized and acclaimed lyricists in his genre. His story of rags to riches, like so many others, speaks to the tunnel vision and ‘can’t give up’ attitude that can bring you success and prosperity.

Be Flexible

Don’t be flexible with your goals, be flexible with the means. I once interviewed the CEO of a company I worked for and she said something I’ll never forget. She said, I am where I am today because I always said yes first and figured out how to do it later. She said first they asked her to open a branch office in another town she’d never lived in, so she said yes and then she learned how to open a branch office; then they asked her to manage the team at the branch office so she said yes and then she learned how to manage the team; then they asked her to be the director, she said yes, then they asked her to be the CEO and she said yes. Along the way she was asked to do so many other tasks she’d never down before but she said yes anyhow. The point is not to go around saying yes to irrelevant things, but to be flexible and take risks, learning as you go.

The Bottom Line

I hope everyone gets a few takeaways from this post, but most importantly, if you want something enough and you are willing to work hard for it, push through the lows and keep moving, you will get there. As humans we all have doubts, but our courage has to be stronger than our doubts. Most importantly, we have to believe more than anything that we will get there.

Who am I?

I know who I am.

I am a women.

I am Latina.

I am a reader, a writer, an investor, a compassionate person, a treehugger, an animal lover.

I am a human being.

I thought I knew who I was.

I am Black. My people are Black.

We come from the Hispaniola.

Our people are mixed with Taino, African, and European culture.

We ignore the Taino.

We ignore the African.

My generation needs to do better.

Break the chains of obscured history.

I am a women.

I am Afro Latina.

I am a friend, a daughter, an intellectual, an environmentalist, a meditator.

I am a human being.

Why Personality Tests are Useless

Director of the Personality and Self-Knowledge Lab at the University of California, Simine Vazire, told The Atlantic in 2017 that the only thing a personality test can tell you is what you already know. And that’s it folks; no mystery here, that is my thesis.

But let’s unpack this, shall we? Okay, first things first, let’s all agreed that the majority of people LOVE personality tests. According to Dr. Jennifer V. Fayard, the reason why we are so fond of personality tests is because “we want to learn about ourselves, feel that we belong, and understand others.” That seems reasonable.

The Problem:

#1 We’re gullible.

The number one reason to be weary of personality tests is our own susceptibility to the Barnum effect. The Barnum effect, as described by California State University, Fullerton, “refers to the gullibility of people when reading descriptions of themselves” assuming they are different and unique, even if it is a generic description given to many people. This phenomenon is especially true of big name personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram.

Both the Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram are widely recognized psychological tests created by a pair of psychologists and authors, respectively. The tests are promoted by household names like Ford, and are incredibility popular with HR departments. This recognition and prestige give its test takers a high confidence margin when they receive their results, especially if it aligns with the test taker’s own beliefs. What’s more interesting though, are the vast majority of people who accept the results even if they do not agree.

In her piece, Why Do We Like Personality Tests, Even the Bad Ones?, Dr. Fayard explains that one of the reasons why we accept inaccurate results is because we are biased in the way we process information about ourselves. This brings us back to the Barnum Effect, if we can relate to the results in some way, we are much more likely to accept them, even if they don’t exactly fit our perceptions of ourselves.

#2 We don’t know how to use personality tests.

There is an unfortunate disconnect between the intended utility of personality tests and how they are perceived. Dr. Vazire points out that personality tests are in fact meant as a tool for reflection; they do not offer any new insights on who you are, what your values are, how you would handle any given situation, etc, etc. Personality tests can not “see into your soul” they can only summarize your responses and group them together. In fact, Dr. Fayard argues that we are so trusting of our results, that we attach them to our identity and subconsciously fit them into our personality, whether they were truly accurate or not. Because we are so blindly accepting of our personality test results, it becomes hard to discern what came first: our personality traits or the personality test that outlined those traits.

#3 Personality Tests, by design, are BS

This is the killer. Most personality tests, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram, are founded on complete horse manure (to keep it PG13). Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? First, the Myers-Briggs was developed loosely on the work of Carl Jung, who pre-dates the scientific revolution in psychology, and thus did not use the scientific method to test his theories. In other words, Carl Jung based his theories on his own subjective experiences, as did the creators of the Myers-Briggs.

The other problematic aspect of the Myers-Briggs is it’s failed test-retest reliability. In psychology, and all sciences, it is important to get the same results over and over again to prove the reliability of any given instrument, drug, hypothesis, etc. The Myers-Briggs test has been shown to give different results to the same people who’ve taken it more than once, despite no major changes in their personality.

Moving right along, we have the Enneagram. This test was created by a former Jesuit with degrees in English and Philosophy along with his co-author, a scholar in East-Asian studies. It may very well be that these two co-authors are highly versed in the scientific method, and psychological research, but if they are, it is nowhere to be found as far as I can tell.

Regardless of this fact, the Enneagram has many of the same shortcomings as the Myers-Briggs, including the oversimplification of our personalities. Both the Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram use a “this or that” tactic to uncover our personalities, yet as it turns out, humans are more complex than that (who could have guested it?). The reason why these tests are developed in such a way may have something to do with our own desires to make things simple. In the words of Dr. Fayard,

When we interact with a person we know to be a member of a particular category or someone who seems like they belong to a category for which we have a schema, that schema is automatically activated and, like a script, guides our interactions with them. If we are familiar with the personality types in these systems, once a person tells us they are an ISFJ or a 7, we have a built-in template for how to understand them. 

In other words, we are using personality tests as a coping mechanism to help us compartmentalize complex individuals into nicely fitted boxes— and not to mention ourselves as well!

The Bottom Line

It seems that this argument comes up every few months between some of my die-hard personality tester friends and I. I’d like to point out that taking a silly personality test for fun is all good and well, but it becomes problematic when we start to depend on them to understand ourselves. When we accept any given explanation for being the way that we are, that explanation starts to manifest itself. The fact is, we do not do something or act in a certain why because we are “ISFJ,” it’s quite the opposite! There is a reason why personality tests are unpopular amongst most psychologist. The test cannot define your personality, it does not have the answers; you have the answers and you know yourself better than you think.


References:

Your Favorite Personality Test Is Probably Bogus by Jennifer V. Fayard Ph.D

Why Do We Like Personality Tests, Even the Bad Ones? by Jennifer V. Fayard Ph.D

The Dark Side of That Personality Quiz You Just Took by Paul Bisceglio of The Atlantic

The Barnum Demonstration by California State University, Fullerton Dept of Psychology

The Wisdom of the Enneagram, about the author by Penguin Random House

Not Every Flower Blooms

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Erin’s mom woke up early to make her and her brother, Bobby, pancakes before school. It was a big day. Erin and Bobby were taking their SATs today— well re-taking, Erin was retaking her SATs and Bobby was taking them for the first time. She’d already taken them junior year but wasn’t satisfied with her score. She’d actually scored pretty well, but that score wasn’t getting her into an Ivy league. Erin’s mom knew how much it meant to her so she made sure they were up and ready well before they had to be and made them pancakes as an extra special treat.

The night before Erin couldn’t sleep. She kept having nightmares about missing the test, she’d wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and panting, frantically looking towards the digital clock on her desk. “Omg,” she’d breathe out, “It’s only 3:25 a.m.” Around 4 she woke up again in the same panic. This time she didn’t go back to sleep, she thought to herself, I’ll just wait it out. But around 4:30 she fell asleep again while reading. At 6 a.m, her mom came in to wake her, she awoke startled and looked around for the clock. “Relax hunny,” said her mom, “You have plenty of time.” Erin looked at her with tense eyes. In resignation she let herself fall back onto her bed and took a deep breathe, “Thanks mom.”

Bobby wasn’t nearly as anxious as Erin, he was naturally smart and found school relatively easy. While Erin studied for months, Bobby picked up the study guides once or twice before the test. Not only was he not worried but he really didn’t care. With his grades and his sports history, he was a shoe in for Ohio State, and it all worked out because he always wanted to stay close to home. He’d maybe apply to a few other schools in the area, but that was just for fun, he was definitely going to Ohio State, no questions.

Erin really didn’t have time to care about Bobby’s master plan, she was too busy worrying about her know problems. Her mind was racing, Ok Erin, pull herself together, you can do this, you have to do this, this is the last thing you have. If this doesn’t work out, that’s it, just take your life girl, this is it. Nothing else to lose. I don’t think I can do this. Ugh snap out of it, you can do it, you have to do it. This is it…

Erin’s mom watched her from the archway between the kitchen and the living room with furrowed brows. She had a sense that something was not right with that girl—she worried too much about her grades, despite being at the top of her class, she obsessed over controlling every aspect of her life, she didn’t have friends, her boyfriend dumped her—she was going through a teenage breakdown for sure.

At the kitchen table, Erin cut her pancakes into neat little squares and began eating them one at a time, always adding one drop of syrup before popping it into her mouth. Every so often she’s check her wrist watch only to see not a minute had passed.

“RELAX Erin, it’s just a test, it’s not life or death,” retorted Bobby as he rolled his eyes at her.

“Shut UP! Yes it is! Ugh, you don’t know anything, you stupid child.,” she snapped back as she adjusted her position on the chair.

Bobby looks at her like she’s lost it, “Oh please, what’s the worse that could happen? I don’t even know why you’re taking this dumb test again, your score was nearly perfect.”

Erin takes a deep breathe in and out, “That is the point, it wasn’t perfect.”

“Yeah genius, it doesn’t matter, that score will get you into anywhere, what’s wrong with you?”

“Okay, okay, enough you two,” interjects their mom, “Bobby, leave your sister alone, we all handle stress differently.”

Bobby shakes his head as he gets up to take his plate to the sink. Erin stares at her watch again and quickly finishes the rest of her squares before getting up too. They grab their things and head for the car. Their mom gets into the drivers seat and drives out of the driveway towards school.


As Erin’s mom pulls up to school, Bobby and Erin start to collect their things. She stops in front of the main entrance, “Thanks mom!” They both say in unison as they jump out of the car. Bobby, who’s taller, walks away much faster than Erin.

“Hey Erin!” She looks back at her mom and sees her waving, signaling to come back. Erin is confused but heads back towards the car. “Get in Erin,” says her mom.

“Wait, what? Mom, come on, I’m going to be late!”

“No you aren’t, get in the car, now!”

Erin is frustrated but she knows better than to disobey her mom. She reluctantly gets back into the car, only to watch her mom drive off as soon as she closes the door.

“MOM! MOM! What are you doing? What’s going on?!” Erin is on the verge of a pain attack, the test starts in 20 minutes and she needs to be there 15 mins before. Her hands start to sweat, her head starts spinning, she’s not sure if she can feel her lips anymore.

“ERIN. Erin. Erin. Calm down Erin. Stop breathing so fast, take deep breathes. DEEP BREATHES Erin.” Her mom slows down and pulls over. Erin finally manages to get her breathe back to normal before she starts crying, “Mom, why are you doing this to me! You’ve ruined everything!”

Her mom grabs her hands and looks at her, “Erin, Erin, listen to me. You are not well. What were you seeking to accomplish in there, huh? I talked to your college counselor, he said your scores were outstanding, he said you had a very high chance of getting into any school you wanted. So why go to the trouble of taking the test again, hunny?”

Erin looked at her mom through hazing eyes, “It wasn’t perfect, mom, I need it to be perfect, don’t you understand?”

Her mom looked at her with sorrow, “Is this about Teddy? You know, I called his mom, she said he was very sad about your breakup. He said to her that he thought he wasn’t good enough for you and you expected too much from him. Hunny, I think you’ve become obsessed with perfection. You know, no one is perfect and that’s okay.” Erin was sobbing in her hands at this point. “Hunny,” began her mom, “I’m taking you to see Dr. Simone. I think you could use some help. I know you want to be perfect and I know you want to go to the best school and I know life’s been kicking your butt lately, but that’s what I’m here for hunny. It’s my job to pay attention, it’s my job to help you or find someone to help you. You are not alone Erin, you are loved and you appreciated.”

Erin looked up at her mom for a second. She saw her looking back at her with love and kindness in her eyes. She’d forgot that look. She’d forgotten people cared about her. Erin was so wrapped up in her own head, trying to prove to herself that she was worthy, trying to hold on to the rope so she didn’t fall off the ledge, that everyday she felt more and more alone. She thought if she could get a perfect score on this test, she could prove to that she was good enough. But what she really needed all along was for someone to pay attention, someone to realize she was struggling and closing control. It’s not a feeling she could easily explain, it was as if the world was slipping out of her hands and she had no control over it. She felt along, useless, worthless. She was lucky someone was listening, watching, paying attention. She needed Dr. Simone, she needed her mom, she didn’t need to retake that stupid test.

Wonder Girl

She walks a fine line between beauty and pain. What is beautiful and not painful? It isn’t love, it isn’t success, it isn’t vanity. There’s no such thing.

She wants to be free and she wants to be loved. She wants to love and she wants to be free. What is love if not a burden? Can you love and not care? Can you care and not love?

She walks a fine line between reality and everything else. What is life if not a struggle between what is real and what is fabricated? Can you see clearly into the lie? Can you live in pure reality?

She wants to be humble and self- indulgent. Can she be kind and selfish? Can she be good and evil? What is good and not evil? It isn’t man, it isn’t women, it isn’t nature. There’s no such thing.