Understanding your nut requires that you sit down at least once — preferably right now — and list out all of the expenses of your monthly life. If you don’t do this regularly, the number might surprise you. It’s funny how little things like daily coffee at your favorite corner place, occasional donuts for the office, and grabbing milk at the quick mart instead of on sale at the supermarket add up. Be honest and give yourself a real number–your current “nut”–that needs to be cracked every month in order to maintain your current lifestyle.
The necessity of cracking the nut every month can be a lift or a drag on your productivity. Getting through every month requires that you get your hands on a certain amount of money. The least amount of money that will keep unpleasant things from happening is your nut.
Some people work best with a big nut to crack. They relish the pressure. It makes them feel more vital, and spurs them on to greater achievement.
Everybody doesn’t react this way. Lots of very effective people are pressure sensitive. Very little of it makes them try so hard that they drive success away. Other pressure-sensitive people become so cautious that their productivity suffers. Instead of spurring these individuals on to greater achievements, money pressure destroys their confidence, shrivels their ingenuity, and exhausts them with sleepless nights.
Here’s a success secret: Discover what works best for you. Then arrange your life so that you’re working under that exact amount of money pressure. You’ll have to learn what monthly nut will put that amount of pressure on you by experiment. When you’re studying this question, don’t give any weight to what you think should motivate you. The only thing that’s important here is what actually does motivate you to higher production.
I’ve known salespeople who simply wouldn’t work effectively unless they were about to have something foreclosed or repossessed. Then they’d suddenly switch on the hard work and become enormously creative and effective. Other people I’ve known lost all their flair for success under a surprisingly small amount of money pressure.
For most of us, the best-sized nut is one that we have to strain to crack, but it’s not one that’ll bend our bones. Then as we get stronger, as we gain in experience and skill, most of us need a larger nut to crack if we’re to keep up our pace.
Know exactly what your nut is at all times. Review it every 90 days and decide whether its size is helping or hurting your march toward greater success. When you’ve made that decision, change your lifestyle to bring what you’re committed to spend in line with what makes you earn the most.
If you work better under money pressure, leverage your investments and buy your rewards and luxuries on credit. Do this within reason, of course, and keep a wary eye on the general condition of the economy at all times.
If you perform best without money worries, never buy anything on credit unless you really structure the plan of how to pay for it. Be more prudent and frugal with your money. Have an amount put away that can cover your actual nut or obligations. It lets you work more relaxed and creatively. Rent until you can buy for cash; invest with cash only; buy luxuries with cash only. Above all, keep the nut you have to crack every month thin shelled.
Copyright Tom Hopkins International. Excerpted from The Official Guide to Success book.