Why Broke People Stay Broke

A half full glass of water next to a half empty glass of water
A half full glass of water next to a half empty glass of water

I wish I had a $1 for every time I received an email asking, "How can I afford personal development if I'm broke?" I'd likely take more online classes than I do now. What else would a self-proclaimed self-help junky do with such a windfall?

My response is typically the same. "Personal development can come in many forms. Your willingness to seek it out depends, like anything else, on whether you truly see it as an investment in your future or not."

Those who practice unwealthy habits will rarely see a workshop, seminar or online coaching series as such, but will jump at an opportunity to wield the "investment" term around when it comes to depreciating items. You know, like the classic "little black dress" or a name brand television. In essence, broke people tend to narrowly view things they can physically see as an investment. But, the fact of the matter is financially successful people invest in continuous education because they know that no matter what risks they take, if they lose it all, they know what it took to build it in the first place.

Therefore, the question is not really about if you can you afford personal development. Unless you enjoy staying broke, the question is actually how can you not afford it?

Don't be limited to believing that all personal development requires you to shell out thousands of dollars. There are hundreds of programs that offer no-cost and low-cost education in the area of financial literacy, small business development, the arts and much more. This journey is about the mindset. When you approach personal development as though, "Everything costs too much." or "There aren't any programs out there." then you're absolutely right. It is too expensive and there aren't any good programs out there for YOU. Meanwhile, someone who fits your exact profile in your very own city is taking advantage of all types of programming that is helping them get their life on track. Everything begins with a decision. You and only you have the power to decide whether your glass will be half empty or half full.

If your glass is in fact half full, follow the next few tips to help you get started on your personal development path today with these no-cost and low-cost tips.

1. Get your mind right and start where you are. Once you've wrapped your mind around the fact that you can and should move forward on this path, identify what area of life you want to improve in first and commit to just starting where you are. Your first target area may be finances, business, relationships, health, spirituality, parenting or any number of areas. The beauty is that as you continue to seek out opportunities for growth, the Universe will continue to bring amazing possibilities, as well. Just commit to beginning today.

2. Read for an hour or more per day. A 2012 study by the Nielsen Company found that the average American household spends over 5 hours per day watching television. This translates to 9 years of life spent watching television and essentially wasting precious time. Imagine how much further along you would be than the average person just in making a conscious decision to read over allowing your brain to essentially slip into comatose which is what happens in TV watching.

3. Incorporate learning into your normal routine. Check out books on audio from the local library or even download a few on your mobile device. You can listen while getting dressed in the morning, cleaning up the house, working out at the gym or on the go. Some of my clients use their long commutes driving to work or riding on the train as an opportunity to learn on wheels. Instead of wasting time on Facebook while you're waiting before an appointment, carry something you can pull out and read. The point is to make this apart of your lifestyle, as opposed to declaring that you "don't have time" to read.

4. Take advantage of FREE opportunities to learn. Don't ignore every late-night infomercial. Some offer tickets to complimentary half-day seminars. Don't go with the attitude that someone wants to sell you something. While you may be 110% right, you set the rules for how that game is played in your world. Go with the understanding that you want to learn at least one new concept, as well as have an opportunity to network with new people. If you're truly not interested, don't feel pressured to buy anything. Simply take your notes home, determine what you can and cannot use, implement immediately and move on.

5. Find a mentor. Your success, in any area of life, is strongly determined by the people you surround yourself with. Not only do you require the support and encouragement of others to make meaningful progress, but you will often find yourself leaning on them for advice, as well. My personal rule of thumb in this area is to not take advice from someone who is not where I want to be or has never been where I'm going. Look to mentors who are willing to be transparent about their triumphs and failures to help you navigate your course just a little better.