Is there anything in your life you want to improve?
- Your finances?
- Your health?
- Your business?
- Your marriage?
- Your relationship with God?
Perhaps, parenting skills? Interpersonal communication skills? Your overall mindset?
The good news is, you can improve all of it.
There are levels to improvement. I call it “The Commitment Ladder,” because each level requires more commitment. Each level gets more in depth and produces more results.
As you climb higher, it gets more tailored to you, and you’ll improve faster.
I present to you: The Commitment Ladder:
Level 1: Read Articles/Watch Videos
The internet has created access to more information than we’ll ever be able to intake in our lives. Every day, more articles and new videos come online. With over 2 million articles published daily, and 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, you’ve got options. 1
Articles and videos can teach you a lot. Plenty of people have fixed their finances, built businesses, and lost 100lbs, by acting on the things they learn reading articles and watching videos.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Freedom Sprout YouTube channel.
It works for some people. But an article or a video can only go so deep. The advice isn’t personalized to your needs. And as with anything we get for free, we tend to take it for granted, and ultimately, devalue the information.
To find the best articles, and save time, find a great curated newsletter. Here are some great ones to start with, depending on what you want to learn:
- Apex Money – The top finance articles, sent daily
- J. Money – Great finance articles, sent weekly
- TLDR – Tech, science, and coding articles, sent daily
- The Hustle – Business and tech news, sent daily
- Hacker – Startups, tech, programming, sent weekly
- Lifehacker – Everything related to life, sent daily
If you want to go a step further, pick up a book.
Level 2: Read Books
Books are better than articles and videos for a few reasons:
- They aren’t free, so we put a higher value on the information
- Authors often pour years into the research and production of their book
- There are millions of books, so it’s easy to find advice specific to your needs
- It’s easy to find reviews to determine quality, before we commit to reading it
Just look at a book written by any blogger. Their articles are great, but the book content is more valuable. Authors simply spend more time creating a book than they do writing articles.
You can see my books here.
To get you started, here are 10 books you must read:
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- How to Win Friend and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Mindset by Carol Dweck
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
- The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
So read some articles, but then, buy a book on the subject if you really want to start learning. And then, take another step and find a support group.
Level 3: Join a Group
Keep reading, but now it’s time to climb up a level.
Find a support group, either on Facebook or elsewhere online, to connect with like-minded individuals who are going through, or have been through, the same change you are working on.
You can take this to level 3.5 by joining a mastermind group.
Jack Canfield gave a good definition of what a mastermind group is:
A mastermind group is made up of people (usually 6 to 8) who come together on a regular basis—weekly, biweekly, or monthly—to share ideas, thoughts, information, feedback, contacts, and resources. 2
Whether it’s a mastermind or a Facebook group, connecting with others helps you see where you need to improve, and allows you the opportunity to help others do the same.
Start by joining the Freedom Sprout Facebook group. It’s free and helpful for anyone who wants to improve their finances and their mindset.
The Commitment Ladder increases accountability as you climb. It’s one thing to learn what to do; it’s another thing to be held accountable when you do it.
Here are a few mastermind groups to consider (some aren’t cheap):
I’d suggest finding a local group first. Word of mouth is the best way to find a good accountability or mastermind group.
If you don’t feel like you’re learning enough at this point, you can climb to the next level and take a course.
Level 4: Take a Course
This could mean a college course, but more likely it will be an online course, specific to what you’re trying to learn.
With all the free courses out there, you don’t even have to pay in the beginning… just remember how we tend to value free things.
If you want to improve at anything, just Google “[topic of improvement] course” and you will likely find hundreds of options.
A good course may cost a few thousand dollars. Take time to do the research.
You can try the Balanced Life Course for less than a hundred bucks and it covers every area of your life, broken down into five pillars.
Like books, courses have reviews. Find a course with reviews that appear to be honest. Try to read between the lines with the reviews, and be mindful of fakes. How can you spot fake reviews? Typically, if every review is positive, and going overboard to explain how amazing the course is, you may be looking at fake news.
People who have already spent the money and been through the course will be hoping and expecting to get value out of it. We tend to brainwash ourselves into thinking we made a good purchase, especially when we spend thousands of dollars. 3 So in addition to fake reviews, beware of reviewers who are trying to convince themselves they made a good purchase.
If the course is actually valuable, the reviews will go into detail about all the ways the course is worth it. Look for video reviews on YouTube that give a complete breakdown of the course. It’s easier to tell if someone really found value when you can actually see them and hear their tone. For an expensive course, it’s worth spending time to wade through reviews for a few hours.
Before you pay for a course, here are some places to find free ones:
If you want to go a step further, or feel like you didn’t learn enough, it’s time for a mentor.
Level 5: Find a Mentor
Everyone needs mentors.
It’s never a bad time to find a mentor, but there are guidelines. A mentor isn’t just someone who gives you advice; we would just call that… a person.
Everyone likes to give advice. Lots of it. Lots of bad. Some good… lots of bad.
If you want to find a mentor, you have to look for someone who has what you want in the area they will mentor you in. And it’s perfectly fine to have multiples mentors for multiple areas.
We’re all unique, so we all want different things for different parts of our lives. It’s rare to find someone who has everything you want in every part of life.
You wouldn’t take financial advice from someone who is drowning in debt. You wouldn’t take marriage advice from someone who cheats on his or her spouse. I have marriage mentors who know nothing about the military. I have military mentors I would never seek marriage advice from.
Jeff Goins wrote some wise, but not-so-easy steps to finding a mentor.
While a mentor is great to have for as long as he or she is willing to do it, there is a more direct and specific route: a coach. This is the top of the ladder.
Level 6: Find a Coach
The most direct, quickest way to get better at anything is to hire a coach.
They’ve been there. They know the steps. They hold you accountable.
Over the last few years, I’ve realized the value of coaches. A coach is a person who is specific to the task at hand. He or she guides you along, shows you the steps, and answers all of your questions.
Accountability is huge. I’ve hired a fitness coach to keep me accountable. The results were unlike anything else I had tried. Not because my coach knows everything I could ever want to know about diet and nutrition (though he does), but because he held me accountable, and developed a plan specific to my life.
Likewise, when I published my first book, I hired a coach. All of the steps were laid out for me, from getting an ISBN, to knowing how to market the book, to understanding how to set up my author profiles (and where to set them up at). She showed me every step along the way. Her coaching saved me hours, if not days, of my life.
That’s what it’s all about. If you aren’t familiar with something, you can either spend hours trying to learn the topic on your own, or you can spend an hour or two finding a good coach. Either way works. Some things are better learned on your own, while other things are better learned with a coach.
Full disclosure: I am a financial coach, so of course I am biased and think coaches are great. But I’ve also hired my fair share of coaches for other things, because I truly believe in their value.
Here are some coaches I personally recommend:
- Me (Finance Coach)
- David Hawkins (Fitness Coach)
- MK Williams (Book Publishing Coach)
- Kinsley Jordan (Life Coach)
Your time and money are important. Sometimes it takes some money to buy time. Hiring a coach in whatever area you’re struggling with is a great way to spend some money upfront, and avoid spending all the time it would take to learn about the topic on your own.
The Commitment Ladder
Those are the six levels of commitment. The more committed you are, and the higher you climb, the faster you’ll improve.
Any time you’re working on yourself, you have to decide how committed you’ll be.
I suggest climbing as high as you can.
Each level takes a little more commitment, and in some cases, more money. But this is a quality over quantity game. You could get hundreds of used books for the price of a coach, but the coach will get you where you want to be exponentially faster, compared to how much time it will take you to read those 100 books.
The best method is a combination of every level.
If you want to improve anything in your life, follow the ladder:
- Start with some online reading and research
- Find a good book on the subject
- Join a group for more minds and accountability
- Take an entire course on the subject
- Find a mentor to walk you through the subject
- Find a coach to push you towards your goals
When all the steps work together, you can’t help but improve.
When you climb the ladder of commitment, you will grow.
If you can think of some more great ways to learn new information, comment below. There could be an entire step of the ladder I’m missing.
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- P, Singh. (2015, May 18). 2 Million Blog Posts Are Written Every Day, Here’s How You Can Stand Out. MarketingProfs. | MerchDope Staff. (2020, February 26). 37 Mind Blowing YouTube facts, Figures and Statistics – 2020. MerchDope.
- Canfield, J. (2016). Why You Need a Mastermind Group & How to Create Your Own. JackCanfield.com.
- Ariel & Kreisler. (2018). Dollars and Sense. Harper.