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The secret ingredient to financial and career success

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Joshua Lott/Reuters/File

(Read caption) Success is impossible without relentless energy and hard work, Hamm argues.

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There actually is a single secret ingredient to financial success. It’s extremely similar to the secret ingredient for career success, too. Yet so many people overlook it or, even worse, look down upon it.

The secret is hard work. I’ll give you a few examples of what I’m talking about.

I’ll start off with someone you might not expect: Kim Kardashian. The overwhelming impression of her that I get from a lot of people is that she’s a “worthless” socialite – or something similarly derogative.

What they’re not looking at is that this image that they have of her is one that she’s invested a lot of time in constructing. Why? Because there’s value in it. A lot of value. I might not necessarily like the image she’s created, but I can’t deny that there’s a ton of work that’s gone into it and that there’s a lot of value in it, too.

If you see a picture of her in a magazine out on the town, there’s often a day or two of prep work that went into that picture. The choice of where to go, who to go with, when to go, how long to be there, how to pose, and so on. She has to cultivate a ton of press contacts to keep her name out there. She’s involved in a large number of small businesses, either as an owner or as a promoter.

She’s essentially set for life because of the businesses and other things she’s created for herself.

I’ll use a more straightforward example for my next one: Steve Jobs. Steve was the kind of person who would email people at three in the morning because he didn’t like the exact layout of an icon on a secondary web page.

He either built or co-built Apple and Pixar by having an obsessive focus on detail, a work ethic that would drive most people to drink, and a strong sense of what he wanted and a willingness to be “the jerk” to make sure that it happened.

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I’ll use myself for another example. I built The Simple Dollar in my spare time while working another full time job that sometimes demanded overtime. For at least a year, almost every spare moment I had was filled with writing and creating and promoting.

Today, I write two articles per day, every day, around the calendar year. On top of that, I’m handling things like server maintenance, contract negotiations, and countless other little things.

Whenever I go to the grocery store, I’m not just shopping for groceries. I usually have a notepad out, taking notes for a post. I have a notebook in my pocket at all times and another on my bedside table for ideas and notes that come into my mind or that I discover along the way.

I have to be very careful with how I manage my time so that I’m available for my family when they need me. That means largely filling up the rest of my time with work-related things. I rarely watch television, and when I do it’s usually with a laptop open. I read a fair amount, but a big part of that is that reading improves my writing skills. The Simple Dollar was built on me doing things this way, with a relentless work ethic.

What do I get from that? I have the ability to do what I enjoy for a living, which is writing. I have the flexiblity to spend the time I want to spend with my family. I have the level of material trappings which I desire (which, honestly, isn’t really that much). I have what I want because I worked for it.

Success isn’t created by sitting at home and watching Monday Night Football. It’s not created by complaining about others or finding reasons to do nothing.

Success is about hard work.

Whenever you see someone doing something that you wish you were doing, there’s almost always a way to cross that gap. Hard work.

Whenever you look at your debts and wish they would go away, know that there’s virtually always a route to debt freedom. Hard work.

Whenever you want something different for your life, recognize that you can have a different path. It just takes hard work.

Hard work, in the form of a lot of time and energy and thought, fuels almost every personal and professional and financial success out there.

Are you willing to work hard for what you want?


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