I have to admit, it’s good to be home.

If you’ve been following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (…and if you’re not, you should be!), you may have noticed that we’ve been racking up some serious miles lately. After spending two weeks with our kids in France and Spain, Holly and I were home for less than a week before heading out for Fincon in Dallas. (BTW, Fincon is an awesome financial media conference, and maybe the greatest work event EVAH!)

Yes, these experiences have been amazing. Yes, I’m extremely lucky and thankful that I have the opportunity to do this. No, I’m not complaining.

But, after being on the road for 19 of the past 24 days, it feels awesome to be back at home… in my own bed… working at my own desk… and hanging out with my dog. #firstworldproblems

It’s Hard Not to Compare

So, while I was at Fincon last week, I met a lot of amazing people who are doing incredible things. Some of them are my close friends, some of them are acquaintances, and some I barely know… but everybody who attends this conference is a winner. You’d never know it by the friendliness, humbleness, and sense of mass collaboration in the group, but several of the attendees are millionaires many times over. And frankly, when you’re there, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others.

At last year’s Fincon, I heard Patrice Washington (who is amazing, BTW) give a great speech that has really changed the course of my life and business. The gist of it was this: Stop comparing yourself to others; specifically, stop comparing the beginning of your journey to the end of somebody else’s. That really stuck with me, and I think she is absolutely spot-on.

So, what in the world does all this have to do with you?

When we compare our level of success with others, and we all do it at some point, things get dangerous. Whether it’s money, travel, or business, we compare where we’re at to those who have been doing it longer, differently, or who have differing goals all together. This is recipe for getting discouraged, making mistakes, or just giving up.

Seriously, don’t do it.

Sure, the end results are what grab eyeballs. Those gigantic income reports and the spectacular European vacations are what get the oohs and ahs. But, never forget that everybody had to start somewhere… and that almost always means taking care of the basics first.

Where Massive, Long-Term Success Actually Starts

Unfortunately, we rarely get to see where everything begins. All we see is an “overnight success story” that actually took 10 years in the making. There’s rarely a “start here” manual that explains where this person came from. I mean, that stuff is too boring, right?!?

Wrong. Taking care of the basic financial fundamentals is the most important thing you can do. Period.

What I’m trying to say is this: If you’re a fan of ours (thank you, thank you, thank you, BTW!), don’t compare our journey with yours. It all takes time. Yes, we travel the world and work from home now, but it isn’t fair to compare where you’re at with where we were 5 years ago. There’s a heck of a lot of work that happened between then and now. Be kind to yourself, be proud of where you’re at, and look all the steps you’ve taken to improve your situation.

Most of all, don’t forget where this all started for us. The travel, the work from home business, the lifestyle – this all started because we made one simple, life-changing decision: We promised ourselves that we were going seize control of our financial lives.

That’s it.

We were just a couple of normal people, working average paying jobs, who decided to take control of our finances, get out of debt, and use the money we had more efficiently. That’s where everything we do today stems from. And honestly, it’s where you should start too.

5 Financial Action Items to Reach Your Dreams

Whether you want to travel the world, work for yourself, or just feel more financially stable, it all starts with taking better care of the money you already have. When you use your money wisely, everything starts falling into place. Sure, your results may be different from ours, but that’s OK. Everybody’s path is different. And regardless of the end result, you’ll be in a much happier place once you start controlling your money instead of letting it control you.

Here’s how to get started:

Budgeting – Being on a budget doesn’t mean you need to starve yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to lock the doors, shutter the windows, and not leave the house for the next 27 billion years. No. A budget is simply a monthly plan for the money you already have. It helps you be more deliberate and strategic your monthly spending and saving. That’s it. Learn how to create a simple budget of your own here.

Tracking – Now, this one can be a real eye opener! While a budget is your strategic money plan for the month, tracking your spending shows you the results. This is where you find out what you’re really doing with your money. Tracking your spending can be done with a sheet of paper, simple spreadsheet, or plenty of other apps and programs that help you do it automatically. When used with your budget, this can absolutely change your financial life.

Cutting – After you’ve started a budget and tracked your spending, look for places where you may be able to make a few cut backs. Now, this doesn’t mean you should give up the things that you need to survive. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should cut the things that really make you happy. Instead, cut your spending on things you don’t care about so you have more money to spend on the things you do. This simple shift in mindset is all it takes to start creating the life of your dreams.

Saving – Now that you’ve tracked your spending habits and identified places you can improve, it’s time to start saving. You can save for anything – retirement, a new car, or a spectacular journey to Europe! It doesn’t matter what it is, just set a goal and start socking money away. Use your budget to be strategic about it, and break it down into monthly (or even weekly) chunks. When you have a solid goal in mind, it’s that much easier to stick with your plan.

Grinding – With these simple tools at your disposal, you have all you need to get ahead. Next, it’s all about grinding it out. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Instead of wasting time on get rich quick schemes, do it the right way and start taking care of the money you already have. This won’t happen in six weeks, you could easily save the money for the trip of your dreams within a year or two – and that’s without ANY debt! I promise, once you get in the habit of using these new money skills, you’ll never have to worry about money for the rest of your life. Seriously, this stuff is that powerful.

Giving Yourself Permission

It's hard to resist comparing your results with the end results of somebody else. Remember, it takes time, and don't forget where to start!Whether your long-term goals include traveling the world, getting out of debt, or working for yourself, just remember that you have to start somewhere. Give yourself a break and stop comparing the beginning (or middle) of your journey to the end results you’ve seen elsewhere.

True overnight success stories are more like unicorns than they are the average Joe. In almost every case, regardless of the field, success typically comes after years of doing the right things. The small things. By taking the basic fundamental steps, continuing to improve upon those, and not giving up.

No matter your goals, you can do it. Give yourself the time and permission to get there.