Donald Miller on Personal Change

DonMillerFantastic author Donald Miller ( has a great 20 page paper on how to change your life. If you don’t follow Donald, he delivers this advice from experience – his books chronicle his life journey over the years from the child of a broken home through weight issues, career success, struggling for meaning, and broken relationships toward a destination of a healthy adult.

His manifesto on change can be found here:


Click to access start-life-over.pdf

Read it as he walks through the five keys to ACTUAL change:

  1. You were designed to change.
  2. You are in a relationship with yourself – make it a healthy one.
  3. It’s ok to quit.
  4. You become like the people you hang out with.
  5. You can only do 3 big things a year. That’s it.

His advice really relates to all of life, but in the context of this blog its especially useful as a blueprint on how to change your financial future.

We are all born with and raised into tremendous impactful financial worldviews. If you were raised rich or poor, by spenders or misers, by over-talkers or hiders, by nerds or free spirits, by planners or panics – we are all carrying biases that impact our spending decisions. If you are willing to see them, own them, and embrace the first principle, you can own your future.

Second, Don makes the fantastic point that you respect yourself more if you make respectful decisions. This sounds obvious in retrospect but it never really clicked with me until he articulated it this clearly (Isn’t that what great authors do.). Build a habit of making decisions that you can be proud of.

Third, Miller gives an example of Bob Goff who tries to quit something every week. This can be a great speed bump that helps you change financial behavior. Can I cut up a credit card? Can I buy packets of oatmeal and give up eating out at breakfast? Can I quit watching TV 1 day a week and do a part time job? Can I quit procrastinating and write a check to a Scotrade account? Do one thing, no matter how small, each Thursday that leads toward a healthier financial future.

Fourth, hang around financially healthy people. Unhealthy financial people spread subconscious lies about money. “Only the rich can win nowadays”, “It takes money to make money”, “I’ll never be able to be debt free”, “I’ll be paying on these student loans the rest of my life”. These attitudes are contagious.

Lastly, don’t try to change your entire life this year. Let’s just focus on one financial decision that will change your entire future. Maybe decide to live on a written budget this year. Maybe decide to make it one year in school without taking out student loans. Maybe sign up for the 401k at work.

I broke my thumb around the time I graduated college and I didn’t have health insurance. I was able to skillfully avoid all the surgery and medical bill collectors for a couple years but eventually I made one big decision. I pulled my credit report, called all the collection agencies and started negotiating payoffs I had been avoiding for years. It took another 6 months or a year to get them paid, but that one decision paved a path for me to buy a home, start saving, start paying off student loans, and start living without guilt. I began to look at myself as someone who could handle complex problems, was responsible with money, and was willing to confront stressful situations.

That story illustrates those five points and I encourage you to read Donald Millers manifesto and take some time to think about practical applications.

One thought on “Donald Miller on Personal Change

  1. Pingback: Serious Issues require serious solutions | Graduate Free

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s