Blog | Personal Finance

2021 New Year’s Resolutions or Financial Freedom Goals?

Learn how to use the Triple-A Triangle to provide the future of your dreams

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Are you making a New Year's resolution for 2021? Did you keep the one you made last year? If not, you are not alone. According several studies, about 80 percent of new year’s resolutions fail by February. With these results, you may wonder whether or not it's worth it to even bother making resolutions. Well, when it comes to money, I think a better idea is to:

Make financial freedom goals instead of resolutions.

Every year around this time, Robert and I sit down and decide what we are going to accomplish in the year ahead. But instead of creating New Year's resolutions, we develop solid goals for the upcoming months.

We establish business goals, fitness goals, goals for our marriage, personal goals, and more. And rather than just say we are going to do something, we make actual plans and take action. This is one of the secrets to our success — after all, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

How to get what you want

We all have hopes and dreams. They start when we’re young: “I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up!” And they continue through our adolescence and into adulthood. Our hopes and dreams often define us. But there is a huge difference between having dreams and actually achieving them. The question is, how do you get what you want in life?

The truth is that you cannot have what you want unless you do something. It’s impossible. Think of some “wants” in your life. Maybe it’s success, wealth, or health. In order to accomplish any one of those goals requires that you do something. Success requires accomplishments. Wealth requires delivering a product or service that someone is willing to buy. Health requires eating well and exercising.

Whatever you have is a result of what you do.

The definition of do is “to perform, to execute, to accomplish, to exert, to be the cause of.” There are three types of doing that are necessary to reach a goal. I call this the Triple-A Triangle. Some women start, but do not reach, their financial goals because they are only focused on two of the three dos. Those women who reach their financial goals are fully committed to working through each part of the Triple-A Triangle. They ASPIRE, ACQUIRE, and APPLY.

The Triple-A Triangle™


This is the dream, the very clear vision of what you want. And it's much more than saying, "I want to be a millionaire."

It's what you will have once you reach your goal, such as, "I will have the freedom to pursue my love of travel," "I will be able to contribute more to my favorite charity," "I will be able to spend valuable time with my children," etc.

The do of ASPIRE is that you must:

  • Choose your dream or your want.

  • Have a clear vision of what the dream looks like in your mind.

  • Refer to this visual regularly, ideally every day


This is the education part of do, where you gather the information you need to take action. What do you need to study to reach your financial goals, and how are you going to get that information?

The do of ACQUIRE:

Whether it's reading a book, watching a finance video or television program, listening to an investment podcast, or conducting some research online, set aside some time each day to increase your financial education and learn about money.


This is the stage where most people stop due to fear. But in order to reach goals and be successful, it is necessary to apply the knowledge you acquire and take action. You can’t sit on the sidelines forever if you want to reach your goals.

The do of APPLY:

This is the put-what-you’ve-learned-into-action stage. Applying the knowledge is where you make the offer to purchase, put your money on the table, take on your first client, buy the stock shares or gold, make the sales call, or ask for investment dollars. The technical phrase for applying knowledge is “putting your butt on the line.” Without the APPLY step, nothing happens.

True knowledge comes from putting what you’ve learned into real-world practice.

An ongoing cycle

It takes all three parts of the Triple-A Triangle to achieve your goals and dreams. Confucius said it best: “To know and not do, is to not yet know.”

Many women accomplish the ASPIRE step and move into the ACQUIRE step and get stuck there. They attend all the seminars, read all the books, and are constantly researching online. The problem is they never move into the APPLY stage. Why? My guess is fear — fear of making a mistake, of losing money, of looking stupid, of people saying, “I told you so!”

It is only by applying the knowledge after you acquire it that those fears will dissipate. All three steps are necessary to achieve your financial dreams. It is primarily the APPLY stage that stops so many women.

The stages of the Triple-A Triangle are in constant motion. It's a lifelong journey of aspiring to do more, acquiring more information, and applying more of what you've learned. And there is no better time to start than now.

After all, how many times have you or others said things like:

  • "I'll start my diet tomorrow."

  • "I'll stop smoking on Monday."

  • "I'll stick to a new budget after the holidays."

Well, instead of waiting for an arbitrary date, why not begin working on your goals right now?

What do you aspire to be and have?

How are you going to acquire the knowledge you need and apply what you've learned in order to reach your goals?

Success and financial freedom are waiting for you — no matter what your current situation is. It's time to take action and make your goals for 2021 a reality!

Only you can control your financial freedom

For some, new year’s resolutions include going back to school for a formal education, thinking that’s what’s holding them back from a better life. In fact, according to an article in the Washington Post, a 2018 Harris Poll found that two-thirds of 14- to 23-year-old students want a degree “to provide financial security,” ranking it above all else when it comes to their motivation for going to college. Oh dear, that’s not how it works at all. There’s no guarantee that fancy education will set them up for success. They’ve clearly never heard of The Rich Dad Company or any of our teachings.

I wish the clueless kids and young adults who responded to this survey a heartfelt “good luck.” If they think they will have job security by working for someone else, they need to wake up and smell the coffee! And it’s not even their fault — our education system has failed to teach them otherwise, and their parents probably don’t know any better either.

A job is not the answer

What most people don’t realize is once you become an employee, you trade control for that “steady” paycheck. He or she can make you do work you don’t want to do with zero regard for deadlines and hours, reduce your paycheck and benefits on a whim, or even fire you — and the worst part is, you’ll never even see it coming. That’s why teaching our children to get a job is not only terrible advice, but also a scam.

Now, I know most of you think this is what you are supposed to do. It’s the American dream: Get a job with a “reliable” employer who will give you a great salary and benefits for work you like to do. In return, you’ll get to take a nice vacation each year, buy “stuff,” and save for your retirement. Wow, it sounds like a great deal.

The reality, however, is that once you start working for someone else, you lose control of your life and your earning potential. You’ve turned over control to a corporation that doesn’t view you as anything but a number who produces something they need (until they no longer need it or need it from you, that is).

My best advice? Do not rely on others as your sole source of income. Why? Because anything can happen! Just look at these stats:

  • Sure the unemployment rates have been low in recent years, but look at the history since 1929 here — history shows that it will certainly rise again and people will lose their jobs. And we’ve already seen this, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Were you be prepared? Or did you become another casualty of Corporate America?

  • These 12 major corporations laid off workers in 2018. There are many reasons for those layoffs, but do those really matter to the employees who are out of jobs? And what about all the layoffs due to COVID in 2020? Here’s a list of major companies that downsized — these employees didn’t even see it coming, it all happened so fast. And don’t forget about all the mid-sized businesses and mom-and-pop shops that shuttered their doors last year, most likely permanently.

  • The majority of small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) do not offer health, retirement or other ancillary benefits, Paychex found in a survey. Furthermore, 17% of respondents said they did not see the need to offer retirement benefits to their employees. Seems like there are fewer and fewer perks for being an employee, these days.

Designing your life

Make no mistake about it: When it comes to your journey to financial freedom , remember that you are the architect of your life and, therefore, you need to be in control. Your long-term success depends upon figuring out what you want and how you are going to get there in a way that fits your values, spirit, interest, and passion.

As E.E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” So ask yourself: What is it that you really want deep down in your heart and soul? And when you find that answer, you must take action to make it happen. Perhaps you want to get started in real estate investing. Or maybe you want to start your own business.

As you move towards achieving your financial dreams, pay attention every now and then to how much of your doing is spent in each part of the Triple-A Triangle. Only when you find the right balance will you start to move through every stage — ASPIRE, ACQUIRE, APPLY — and begin to find financial success and freedom.

Whatever it is that you want to do, please know that you cannot rely on anyone but yourself to make it happen. There is much more to life than the traditional, American dream. Think big, take control of your life and start your journey to financial freedom today.

Original publish date: November 15, 2018

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