The other day I heard someone brag about how they had devoted ten years of their life listening to a certain personal finance “expert.”

The part that was most concerning to me is that they hadn’t progressed very far through the steps this individual was teaching them. They were convinced they would finally be debt-free in the next few years.

After 10 years of listening to this person, I would hope they would be much further along than just a HOPE to finally be out of debt. I have heard this same thing from many people I know; and yet, they seem to revere the teachings of this “expert.” Very few I know actually make real progress listening to this person.

It’s not uncommon for us to become inactive in our pursuit of financial freedom because we listen and read, but never take action. We are often the easiest person to fool.

It makes us feel better when we at least read a book on personal finance with honest intentions, but deep down we know that unless we take action things are unlikely to change for us financially.

It is for that reason if we really want to make progress being told EVERY step we must follow will only get us so far. This route makes us good at following orders but are we progressing? Lasting change comes when we feel empowered to make our own decisions.

We develop a desire to make our own decisions at a very young age. This only intensifies as we get older. As the saying goes: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

This is why you should follow thought-leaders that help you think through the process, and develop your mindset opposed to those who tell you exactly what you should do. You are more likely to act if you are making the decision on your own and following a path you map out.

Am I being Empowered by the Financial Experts I Listen To?

At the beginning of any journey it is important to have a mentor, and having a certain level of dependence on this person is okay – at least initially.

That being said, the key to any good teacher is creating a student who progresses past what they are able to teach. An excellent teacher wants to see you grow and become independent, whereas many gurus need you to be dependent – that is how they make money.

Most financial professionals create steps they want their listeners to follow. When you are first getting started it is likely these steps are necessary. The question is, what do you do when you get to the end of these steps?

As you progress is your mindset changing? If the answer is no, you are likely listening to someone who wants you to remain in these steps forever. Mindset is what really changes the individual.

Are you learning how to think through these financial teachings to find what works best for you?

After all, when someone is teaching the masses their message must be generic in nature. There is no way to personally individualize it for all of their listeners. Everyone’s situation has unique differences and twist – which is why you need to be able to learn and apply. Be very cautious of someone who teaches that finance is a one size fits all.

Many teachings are universal in nature and apply to everyone. Many are not. For example, getting out of debt is important for everyone. When to buy your first investment property is unique to each individual. Something like the investment property decision is one that only you can make and you’ll need to be prepared to do so.

If we depend on someone else for each step we must follow we are creating a dependency that prevents us from growing. We must be willing to learn from those who have more knowledge than us while striving to progress, learn, and make financial decisions on our own.

We should only listen to those voices that empower us and help us grow our mindset!

Here are a few steps for building wealth:

1-      Follow the right financial experts: If those you are learning from are not teaching you how to make your own decisions you are not being empowered. Long-term dependency will limit your success. Find those who are teaching personal growth as this will translate to financial independence.

2-      Take action: Don’t get stuck in the rut of inaction. There is a fine line between learning and paralysis of analysis – which is overthinking to the point of inaction. Learn the basics, apply them, and build upon it as you grow your net worth.

3-      Be optimistic: Don’t beat yourself up. As human beings we are too tough on ourselves. Growth is gradual. Be okay with small steps. As long as you are moving forward your momentum will increase. At the beginning the progress will be gradual but as that growth compounds so will your progress and momentum.

4-      Have a clear plan: Know what you want from financial freedom. Not having a clearly defined goal will waste a lot of time. What is your motivation: retire early, start a business, stress-free living, spend more time with your family, etc. Clearly define what you want from your financial freedom and set a timeline for it – this goal will hold you accountable to yourself.

5-     Learn as much as possible: This is perhaps the most important step. Empower yourself by absorbing as much information as possible. There are many great resources that are free that can help. A few of my favorite are: Books, Podcast, Twitter and YouTube.

It is important we select carefully who we listen to – especially for something as important as finance. If your “expert” is giving you a checklist of what to do without teaching mindset you need to expand your reach and listen to other perspectives. Even if they are, there is no reason to limit yourself to once source of information. You will benefit greatly by being rounded and absorbing as much content as possible.

Ultimately this will empower you to make your own financial decisions and act upon them.