How to Avoid “Clusters of Misery”

“The harder I work the luckier I get.” – Samuel Goldwyn

They say that success is often just a matter of being at the right place at the right time. While I agree that having the casting director of the next great major motion picture as your second-cousin never hurts, I’ve always believed there’s more to success than luck. You have to work hard to put yourself in the right place, and then jump on any lucky opportunity your hard work produces.

Something else can derail your success: “Clusters of Misery”

Often, success means avoiding groups of people I call “clusters of misery.” You know the type. They complain about how the world owes them something but they never paid for it. They’re often more interested in tearing down everyone else’s success than building themselves up. They seem obsessed with all the reasons that success is going to pass them by.

This is also true with your money.

It’s impossible to be successful financially if you associate with people who don’t take care of their cash. A financial cluster of misery is a group of people who always want to eat at the best restaurants, drive the best cars, and give the best gifts, without being able to afford any of them.

To keep up with the cluster of misery, you need to spend money and then spend some more. It’s a never-ending downward spiral.

Often, there’s a big difference between people who look wealthy and people who actually are. The Millionaire Next Door, a best-selling book by Dr. Thomas Stanley, profiles millionaires and produces astounding findings.

The person who looks rich is usually not the person who is, in truth, wealthy. The wealthy don’t necessarily have huge incomes. They drive late-model cars. You’ll find them on a Friday night at the local diner instead of the top chef’s five star restaurant. They wear inexpensive clothes and shop for bargains.

Examine the people around you. Think about what you read, watch on television, and follow in the press. Do these help you achieve success or keep you from it?

My mother used to tell me “you are what you eat.” In this case, I believe you are what you think about. If you feed yourself a steady diet of frugal financial tips, you’re going to make good financial choices. If you spend your time thinking about the next expensive suit to buy, you’re probably going to find a way to spend money on it.

None of this is magic.

To avoid “clusters of misery” with your money, follow these tips:

  1. Feed yourself good reading/viewing habits. Visit online sites that are focused on helping you achieve positive results in your life (you already know a fantastic one!). Read biographies of successful people. Watch some of the good shows on television about starting and fixing businesses.
  2. Join groups that meet regularly and talk about good habits and success-oriented topics. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that people who joined Weight Watchers and attended weekly meetings lost nearly double the amount of weight of those who joined but never attended meetings.
  3. Avoid “friends” who are down-in-the-mouth and aren’t driven toward success. You can’t afford these people in your life. As a salesman friend of mine used to say when explaining why he didn’t like to take people along to watch him work, “if they aren’t helping, they’re hurting.”
  4. Listen to audio books and podcasts that reaffirm your goals and expand your thinking. I was surprised to learn of a new study at the University of Michigan showing that when someone is presented with the fact that their beliefs have been proven to be wrong, they grip more tightly to those misguided beliefs. Don’t fall into this trap. Leave yourself open to learning.

If you weren’t trained in the art of money management as a child, as many of us weren’t, you’re going to need to develop new habits as an adult. Hanging around with people who mismanage money, reading topics that don’t help your goals and watching endless hours of scripted television aren’t going to help you achieve success. An open mind and a constant feed of new information will help you to develop habits you missed and move you much closer to the results that you want.