Maybe you’re walking through the woods and a patch of sunlight hits the ground in front of you and spurs an idea for your next artistic creation. You could be dining at a restaurant and the ambiance makes you realize an image of a new way to work.

I know this: inspiration hits in funny places. I actually found inspiration for my 2013 goals last night at a friend’s concert.

Her band had spent a ton of time on set construction and paid great attention to the light show. There was swirling fog, lots of color and neat special effects. Not only did my friend and her band bring the little hall alive with music, but all of this “extra” light and imagery enhanced the performance.

There was something awesome about the experience, and it wasn’t the lights. It also wasn’t just the incredible music. It was the combination of the two together.

People in the audience were mesmerized. Some were dancing. Others swayed to the beat of the song.

I thought to myself, “What would happen if we eliminated one part of the show?”

That’s when I realized a money connection: the lights and effects were clearly secondary. The primary key to success in the show? The music. Her band’s success playing music made me realize why so many people fail:

Most people focus first on the light show, not on the guitar, keyboard, vocals and drums.

Let’s face it: successful money management and practicing guitar both FEEL like hard work. My friend’s hands are evidence that she’s invested hundreds (maybe even thousands) of hours earning her way toward that stage. The fact that people are moved by her craft isn’t a mistake. She was able to bring them to that point through that hard work.

By spending time practicing her “music,” she was able to deftly use her instrument on stage and make it look easy.

By contrast, a light show isn’t hard work. It’s simple. Plug it in and watch the result. In your financial life lights are as obvious as nice cars, expensive parties and exotic gifts.

Here’s where people begin their spiral into debt and despair: Creating a light show FIRST before perfecting your craft is a trap.

Many of us want our friends to know that we’re successful. To show your “worth” to others, many people take the course of buying nice cars, expensive clothing, great parties and exotic gifts.

The problem is that those are all the “light show” of your life. They visually show everyone just how great your music is….but sadly, in many cases, there isn’t any real music. Or if there is, the music isn’t good.

Focus first on your music (building assets and cash flow) and THEN work on the light show. If you turn those two around, unfortunately you’re bound to fail.

In 2013, a big question I’m asking myself is: how do I create great music with my financial picture? By making next year the 12 month period where you step up your “guitar” practice, the “light show” experiences will become sustainable.

We have great things planned at AbundanceBound for the next 12 months. I’m excited about the future and hope that you are ready to make more leaps in 2013 toward financial security.