Whose Wall is Your Ladder On?


Tom Corley boats - crop

At the start of my sophomore year in college I was required to pick a major. They call that matriculation – selecting a particular course curriculum in order to receive a specific college degree.

I did what most children do. I asked one of my parents. In this case, my Dad. He told me to pick Accounting – “you’ll never starve,” he said.

What he really meant is that if I became an accountant, I’d never be poor.

That meant a lot to me because we were poor at the time and I didn’t want a poor future.

So, I took my ladder and put it on my Dad’s wall. Then, I proceeded to climb it for 28 years.

I got my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) license. Then I went to grad school at night and got a Masters degree in Taxation. To help my CPA clients manage their money, I got my Series 7 license for financial planning. Then I got my CFP (Certified Financial Planning) license.

By the time I was done climbing my Dad’s wall, it was 2009 and I was age 47, unhappy, unfulfilled and wondering if this is all there was to life.

And that’s when I discovered my purpose in life.

I had always written articles. Most were technical in nature and related to accounting, taxes or financial planning. I wrote hundreds of those articles. But after completing my Rich Habits study I decided to apply my writing skills and write a book about my findings.

I published my first book, Rich Habits, in 2010. It became a huge bestseller on Amazon. In 2013, Rich Habits rose as high as #7 in all books in the United States. I was ahead of J.K. Rowling, Tony Robbins and even Sheryl Sandberg, whose book at the time, Lean In, was #1 on the NY Times bestseller list. And I stayed in the Amazon top 100 for nearly three weeks.

I’ve since written three other books. I’ve spoken on the same stage as Sir Richard Branson. I’ve spoken to thousands and thousands of people across the United States. I’ve been to Canada and Australia to share my Rich Habits research. I’ve done over 300 media interviews, over 150 radio interviews and dozens of TV interviews. My research has been shared by the media in 25 countries.

I’m not rich yet, like the millionaires in my Rich Habits study. But since I put my ladder on my wall, my income has doubled and I feel happy. My mindset has shifted from negative to positive. I feel energized like never before. I feel optimistic. I see a different future. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I know I will be writing until the day I die.

That’s because, for the first time in my life, I am doing what I am supposed to do.

My new life began the minute I decided to put my ladder on my wall.

Don’t waste your life following someone else’s dreams and goals. It’s your life. It’s your ladder. Find your wall to put it on.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. Angela Hale says:

    I must say..this was an awesome read this morning. Daily I read your inspirations and share them with my family. I have a small business and have been hesitant to branch out, call it the comfort zone. However I have always seen myself creating job opportunities for others. Not just being someone’s boss, but creating an opportunity for investment in others to help them earn a living wage. Being a business owner that people would be proud to work for. I know it sounds crazy, however I have so many ” small businesses” in my head, I’ve just been too chicken to release them..until now..

  2. Tom, thanks for sharing. That is inspiring! I would like to know more about your ladder. Did you set goals? Did you actually have a picture of a ladder with a goal for each rung of the ladder like a ladder/vision board?

    I am reading that book Rich Dad Poor Dad. And the author said one of his dads told him to climb the corporate ladder. The other one, the entrepreneur, told him to own the ladder, and he meant it!

    I am looking forward to reading your books. All the best!

  3. Love this! Thanks for being an inspiration Thomas!

  4. I wish I’d known this back when my parents’ were trying to force me to put a ladder on their wall. I tried and my ladder rungs kept breaking until I finally said, “no more” and got off their ladder – much to their disappointment. Your post helped me understand their point of view – i.e., they wanted me to have a degree in something solid (like your Accounting) so I could have a safe future. Being a creative person, it was like stuffing a huge round peg into a tiny diamond shaped hole. Was never going to work. This was very inspiring – freeing – so now I’m off to get my ladder on my own wall and get to work!!

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